ByZim Watson 2017-04-20 32167
Whether intended for personal or public use, IP cameras are highly useful gadgets. With the handy IP camera installed, you will be able to keep an eye on your home, office or storage space when you are not around. A great security feature, it facilitates your daily life and grants you that evasive peace of mind when it comes to the safety of what matters the most.
As the demand for security is growing, more and more IP cameras appear on the market, sporting sleeker designs, upgraded feature sets, easier installation and use and more. In this post, we take a detailed look at one of the latest offerings from Xiaomi - the Xiaomi 1080P smart IP camera. You've probably already seen the colorful ads. But what is Xiaomi's IP cam really like? Read on to find out about our hands-on experience, buying advice, suggestions and the final verdict. We promise to keep it real!
|>>Part 1. Package contents|
|>>Part 2. Design & Appearance|
|>>Part 3. AP mode & Remote mode|
|>>Part 4. Key features test|
|>>Part 5. Conclusion & Suggestions|
Once we unbox the Xiaomi smart IP camera, we can see the square-shaped IP camera, a USB power cable, a card pin, a user manual, and several cute stickers which can be pasted on the camera to make it more stylish or cute.
Design & Appearance
The Xiaomi smart IP camera is a small cube with a big round lens at its front. Looking like a miniature robotic cyclops, the camera's design brings fun into functional.
|In addition to the 110 degree FOV 1080P lens, you will find two IR lights and an ambient light sensor on the front of the camera. IR lights ensure that the camera will be able to produce clear footage even in the dark. And the ambient light sensor automatically detects the light of the surrounding area helping the camera lens use just the right amount of light.|
The bottom of the camera is equipped with a strong magnetic mount which is also an adjustable bracket. With it, you can easily secure the camera onto any metal surface - you can use a metal plate to attach it to a wall or ceiling for maximum coverage.
|Thanks to the adjustable bracket, you can easily regulate the camera's height expanding its range of vision. The camera can also rotate to up to 180 degrees to the left and right.|
|On the bottom of the cube, there is also a SETUP button and a micro SD card slot. When pairing the camera with your mobile device, you will need to use a pin to reach through the small hole and press the SETUP button. If you want the footage recorded, you will need to insert a micro SD card in the slot.|
|At the back of the camera, you will see a USB port, a power supply port and an indicator light. To power the cam, simply insert the USB power cable into the slot and connect it to the power source. What's really convenient is that you can even use a power bank to supply juice to the camera, letting you take and use it anywhere. You will also see a USB port at the bottom, but currently it has no practical use and is meant for software updates performed by Xiaomi'sengineers.|
AP mode & Remote mode
The Xiaomi Smart IP Camera offers two usage modes: AP and remote - both have their strong and weak points.
You can connect the camera to a mobile device (phone or tablet) directly if they are in the same LAN (are connected to the same WLAN/WiFi network) and are within 10 meters of each other.This way, you can view the footage right on the mobile device in real time.
● The camera can be used without Internet connection - it can connect to your mobile device via WLAN/Wi-Fi network (the WiFi signal is produced by the camera itself).
● Since the camera can be charged with a power bank and can create its own WiFi network, you can also take it outside (just make sure to keep the distance between the cam and your mobile device within 10 meters).
● You can view the real-time CCTV images on your phone or tablet.
● The image is clear and smooth without delay.
● You can set an 8 character password for the AP mode connection that can prevent others from connecting to the AP mode network and look through the camera's CCTV footage and images - an important security feature.
● Since you can only watch footage on your mobile device when it's connected to the same WLAN/WiFi network, you will not be able to keep an eye on your home when you are away, using cellular date or other Wi-Fi networks.
● When you are using the AP mode, you need to be connected to the camera's wireless signal, you will not be able to surf the web while connected to the cam.
● The connection will break frequently if you don't forget other WiFi network before connecting to the AP mode's WLAN network, because when the AP mode's WLAN network is weak / unstable, the phone will automatically connect to other remembered stronger WiFi signal.
● AP mode's connection is easily influenced by and negatively influenced by distance (10 meters max) and obstacles (such as walls, appliances, etc.)
If you choose to connect the Xiaomi IP camera to the phone through remote mode, you will need to connect the camera to the internet through an available WiFi network and make sure your mobile device is online as well (connected to internet through cellular data or any available WiFi network). Use the Mi Home app to pair the two devices. Now, you can view the footage remotely in real time - a great way to keep an eye on things when you are away.
● Remote control is easy to set up and is an efficient way to keep an eye on your property when away.
● You can see what's happening in your home/office, capture images and record videos for evidence in case of any accident. That is really secured and assured.
● The connection initialization between the camera and your mobile device may be slow.
● If your internet connection is not stable and breaks suddenly, the remote connection will break and you won't be able to see what is happening anymore.
● Your network's stability and bandwidth for your camera and mobile device will influence the quality of the feed and images. It will also influence transmission speed, possibly resulting in delays and not allowing you to see what the camera is seeing in real time.
Key features test
On the Xiaomi smart IP camera's product page, you can read about most of the camera's promised features like its 1080P resolution, 8x digital zoom, IR night vision, IR-cut auto dual filter and LED fill-in light, two way audio, motion and sound detection, dual camera setup, AP mode, portability and more. But is it all it promises to be? I've been fooled by advertisements before so now I don't take any chances. For this post, I've tested Xiaomi Smart IP Camera's key features to provide my readers with the most accurate picture possible.
After I connected the Xiaomi IP camera to my phone with its official application Mi Home, I saw the dynamic monitor menu on the app's interface. There are three resolution ratio levels - Low, High, and Super. The default resolution ratio setting is Low: the image I saw was not too clear. So I changed the resolution to Super. I thought the image quality would improve significantly - but the difference was not big at all. What I saw was definitely not 1080P quality - so I think the specs may be a bit exaggerated there. Below you can see the three images taken at different resolutions.
Low - High - Super quality images
Full screen "Super" 1080P image
The camera features an 8x digital zoom which would make a good function for when you need to see specific detail. Despite the camera's unimpressive resolution ratio, I have to admit that the zoom feature is quite functional - at the very least, you can easily distinguish objects to get a bit more detail. You can see two zoomed in images below.
4x digital image
8x digital image
In the evening at my home, after I switched on the Xiaomi IP camera and turned on the IR night vision feature in the IP camera's setting, I turned off all the lights making sure the room was totally dark. I watched my phone screen: the moment the room went dark, the screen turned dark as well and nothing could be seen.
However, a mere second later, the two IR lights on the camera lit up and it switched to night mode letting me see everything quite clearly on the screen - naturally, in black and white.
Xiaomi cam's night vision mode works pretty well - and, in my opinion, is one of the camera's strongest features.
This feature enables two connected devices (Xiaomi IP camera and your mobile device) to act as an intercom. I pressed the Speak button on the Mi Home app on my phone and said something. My voice came through clearly from the IP cam.
I tapped the Speaker icon on the app to turn it on, turned up my phone's volume to the max and moved the phone away from the camera. I spoke a few words next to the camera and heard them coming out of the phone speaker - loudly and clearly. The only downside is a 2-second delay in sound transmission - but it does not really affect the overall performance. The two-way audio feature performs quite well.
Some IP cameras can be quite a pain to install: lots of cables to connect and fixings to attach. And once installed, the camera can be difficult to move around, often requiring help from professionals. This is not the case with Xiaomi Smart IP Camera - it's really easy to install. With just a handy mobile device, a USB power cable, a power source and a WiFi signal (only essential for Remote Mode connection), the IP camera is ready to work when you are. It's worth repeating that the camera requires a 5V 1A power supply - so you can use a power bank to power it up and use it anywhere even on the way. The cam's mobility is really convenient.
Conclusion & Suggestions
Having used the Xiaomi Smart IP Camera and tested out its key features, here's the conclusion I've arrived at.
● Thanks to its two connection modes (AP and remote), you will be able to use the camera whether there in an Internet connection or not - a WLAN/WiFi network will suffice.
● Hooking up the camera is really easy - as is its operation. So, even if you are not tech-savvy, you will have no problem installing and using it.
● Fun and functional appearance easily matching any interior.
● Small and portable - you can take it and use it anywhere and power it up with just a power bank.
● The strong magnetic mount makes it possible to attach it to any metal surface and even hang it upside down from the ceiling.
● The camera sports a 110˚FOV, and can rotate for up to 180 degrees to both left and right sides, which expands the monitoring scope.
● The IR night vision feature is very useful as it lets the camera capture clear images even in the dark.
● The motion and sound detection can alarm the user of unwanted presence or the sound of the smoke detector. When using the remote mode, you will receive alerts right on your mobile device.
● The two way audio feature works as a real time intercom - but with no distance limitation.
● The IP camera sharing function allows two Xiaomi accounts to use this camera at the same time. For example, both the husband and wife can use the IP camera to check on the house or keep any eye on their kids.
● When using the remote mode, image quality and transmission speed depend on your Internet connection. If the connection is unstable or the bandwidth is too low, you will experience poor feed and image quality as well as significant delays.
● When using the AP mode, you will not be able to surf the web on your mobile device as it will be connected to the camera's WLAN/WiFi network.
● There is a distance limitation for the AP mode connection: the two devices should be stay in maximum 10 meters.
● The monitoring image quality is below the promised 1080P.
● The camera's angle can only be adjusted manually.
● The camera is very easy to uninstall. For instance, if the power cord is pulled out by a pet or intentionally unplugged by an intruder - the camera will stop working.
● The IP camera only supports wireless connection way - which may not be the most stable option and puts your footage at the mercy of the network.
Overall, the Xiaomi Smart IP Camera comes with a nice set of features and an affordable price tag. It's easy to operate, is user-friendly and a worthy entry level security choice - which I would highly recommend for personal use. However, if you are looking for a comprehensive solution for some vital occasions / places such as the office, bank, or government building, Xiaomi IP camera's security level cannot satisfy the high requirement. So I'd suggest you going with some more secured, professional, and multifunctional IP cameras.
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