Samsung SmartCam HD Plus + SmartCloud Is Easy DIY Security System

October 24, 2016

11:20 am

Now more than ever, home security is not only a necessity, but is also readily available regardless of your budget. With Samsung’s SmartCam HD Plus, the popular tech brand is giving consumers access to both daytime and nighttime monitoring, with several unique qualities that are lacking at similar price points.

However, while the hardware itself works relatively well, the software is what makes this less user friendly than desired. From Canary to Nest, many home security brands put a heavy focus on usability and user experience, which is where Samsung hits a weak point. Regardless, this is a quality camera that will easily allow you to keep an eye on anything with an internet connection, with the unit indoors.

In addition, the company rolled out several cloud subscription options earlier this year. Although this particular offering is not new, it makes this device even more appealing for those who found the local memory to be limiting.

We tested the Samsung SmartCam HD Plus over a few months, using it while out of town, at work, and even during the recent Hurricane Matthew. Throughout each, we were able to keep an eye on things (at least until the power went out).

Features and Specs

Setting up the SmartCam HD Plus itself is incredibly easy and only takes a few minutes. Between the app and the hardware, it’s a matter of finding the vantage point you’d like to keep an eye on, plugging the camera into a power source, and using the in-app walkthrough.

Connectivity

For any IoT device, connectivity is always a concern. In a traditional one router setup, this particular camera had no issues connecting the SmartCam in any location in the home. The camera can support the current lineup of WIFI offerings, with the exception of wireless AC, which is only just starting to rollout.

Viewing Angle and Video Quality

Like many other security cameras, the SmartCam HD Plus has a larger field of view to ensure it captures as much of a zone as possible. At 130 degrees, it can easily cover most entry ways, doorways, windows, or other areas around your home and office. The recording and streaming video itself can be adjusted, but maxes out at 1080p. For a security camera, both the 30 FPS rate and resolution is relatively high, which also makes the hardware standout

Night Vision and Two-Way Audio

The night vision mode on the camera is relatively standard. It works best in entry points and only works for up to 32 feet, but if you have additional lighting in an area, this is extended a bit.

Where the SmartCam stands out is the two-way audio. Most DIY security solutions at this price point don’t allow you to speak back through the hardware itself, which is a nice addition to the camera. It’s not the loudest speaker, but it does work. We used it mostly on our dogs to let them know we were watching, which in turn caused them to just bark at the camera a lot and freak out.

Specs
  • Focal Length (Zoom Ratio): 2.8mm
  • Angular Field of View : 130˚
  • Films in 1080p
  • Focus Control: Fixed Lens
  • Active audio detection
  • Onboard memory (128GB max) or cloud options
  • No ethernet support
  • WIFI WIFI 802.11b/g/n
  • Video compression format H.264
  • Resolution 1920×1080 / 1280×720 / 640×360
  • Max. Frame rate: 30FPS
  • Streaming Capability Multiple Streaming(Up to 4 Profiles)
  • Supports up to 5 users
Optional Cloud Subscriptions

Starter: $5 month/$50 year, 5 days of recordings

Essential: $8 month/$80 year, 7 days of recordings

Elite: $20 month/ $200, 21 days of recordings

Hardware and App Design

They say hardware is only as good as the software behind it, and unfortunately for Samsung that is the case for the SmartCam HD Plus. The camera itself looks very similar to the Nest, it’s built well, and the power cord has a solid distance, but it does have one weak point. It has some trouble staying on certain angles, but when mounted it reduces this issue. On the app side, that’s where things become a bit of a pain though.

Security, whether it’s DIY or installed for you, has traditionally been less than intuitive. This passes along to the SmartCam app, which has a great deal of options, controls, and settings, which in turn also makes it a bit of a mess to navigate. The setup process is simple enough, but text is all over the place as far as font sizes go, settings are tucked away within each camera, and most of the icons are hard to decipher. For the most part, expect to have to play around with each option to see what it does. The manual will help as well, but we know you’re not going to read it.

On the flipside, some competing offerings don’t have a web app to monitor the cameras, which luckily is not the case here. Besides the app’s ugliness, the system does work well and as intended.

Pros and Cons

Highs
  • Cloud and local media recording
  • Day and night monitoring works well
  • Two-way audio works relatively well
  • Overall easy to use
Lows
  • The app is not super intuitive
  • Hardware has issues staying at certain angles

Overall Thoughts

Should you buy the Samsung SmartCam HD Plus? For the price point and offering, yes. For Samsung, it’s clear by both design and pricing that this is their competing solution to Nest, albeit slightly undercutting them. Overall it does work well and it gets the job done. But unless you’re patient, you will likely become frustrated with the app. This does also allow for multi-camera system setups, just like competing solutions, but will save you quite a few dollars in the end. With the cloud offering, this does also make it a head-to-head competing offering. We give the Samsung SmartCam HD Plus a 4/5.

Price: $125 + optional monthly subscription

Where to buy: Amazon, Costco

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Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he's likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@)elliotvolkman.com or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.

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