It needs to be reliable and easy to use for it to be able to give you the level of security you want for your family and home at anytime whether you are there or away on business or vacation. There are many choices available with Simplicam being one of the latest products to give you the ability to keep an eye on your home andd/or loved ones when you’re not there.
The Simplicam is a wide angle 107 degree IP camera that sends notifications of motion, sound and face recognition events. You can view live feeds of your home and with the subscription plan you can view recordings of these events. It has a number of uses over and above the detecting and recording the criminal when you are away.
It can be used as a nanny camera to ensure your children are safe and being looked after properly or as a baby monitor. If you have workmen in your home you can check it see are carrying out their duties as they should and not wandering around your home. You can use it to see what your pets are up to. Another possible use is to keep in touch with your elderly parents and to see they are okay.
In this review we look thoroughly at whether this camera makes securing your home and loved ones a straightforward process and can be relied on when you need it most.
- 1 Installation
- 2 Contract And Subscriptions
- 3 Support
- 4 Cameras
- 5 Video Storage
- 6 Alarms And Compatibility
- 7 Notification
- 8 Simplicam Remote Monitoring
- 9 Battery
- 10 Sensors/Detection
- 11 Setting The Camera
- 12 Camera Panel
- 13 Coverage
- 14 Wireless or Wired
- 15 Dimensions
- 16 Features
- 17 Accessories
- 18 Pros
- 19 Cons
- 20 Simplicam Consumer Ratings
- 21 Simplicam Price
- 22 Summary
There are 2 ways you can set up the camera – both are quick. You can either use a mobile device by downloading the app or use a computer by plugging the camera into the computer using the short cable provided. The instructions for set up are included and it takes about 3 – 5 minutes to get it done. You can then move the camera to the location you want to monitor.
It can either be mounted on the wall using the wall mount, or placed on a shelf or table using the stand. The only restriction in choosing a position is that it needs to be within 10 ft of a power outlet so that the long USB cable can be plugged into the power adapter.
The requirements for using a Simplicam are:
You need a mobile device that runs iOS 7 or Android 4.x or later. For using on a computer (Mac or PC) it needs to have Flash Player installed and the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer
It does not work with Chromebooks or Windows or Blackberry.
Your internet and WiFi requirements are that it is 802.11 b/g/n and runs on 2.4 GHZ with an upload speed of 1 mbps per camera. The company recommends no more than 4 cameras per internet connection but if you want more cameras you can have them but you may need to check with your internet provider whether you will have enough bandwidth to service them without causing issues for your other internet services or being charged a penalty fee.
Installing. The best place for detecting intruders is across from a door – front or back as these are the preferred points of entry. You may also want to cover the main bedroom too as that is the room most burglars head for. This is because this is where most people will hide their valuable, cash and guns. If you don’t want one in your bedroom then you could cover the access to the bedroom.
But you don’t have to have the cameras mounted permanently and they can be moved to any place you can get power to the camera. You could set them up in different locations depending on your need – if you want to cover certain rooms while you are out to keep an eye on people working in your home like a nanny or someone looking after your pets you can move them to a better position and then move them to another location when your requirements change. There is no need to set up the camera again as long as it is still covered by the original WiFi network.
Contract And Subscriptions
There is no contract required to be signed to use this product.
There are some Closelli Recording Service plans you can subscribe to, to get the video recording and face detection/recognition features. These can be paid for by the month or the year but can be cancelled at any time.
However, any unused portion of term you’ve paid for is not refunded.
The basic vs the plans and their features are:
The basic – for the cost of the camera you get two way talk, notification of motion detected to your mobile device, detection zones where you can tailor notifications to the zone you want to monitor within cameras field of view and schedule on and off times. You can’t record or store video locally or on the internet. You also get an 11 day free trial of the recording services.
With the paid subscription plans you also get video recording storage on the company’s cloud servers, face recognition/detection , the ability to stop recording certain people, the ability to save videos from the cloud to your own devices, and be able to share clips quickly with others.
The prices are
$4.99 per month or $49.99 per year – gives you up to 24 hours rolling video storage plus up to 1 hour video that is stored on the cloud while your subscription is active
$13.99 or $139.99 per year – gives you up to 11 days rolling video storage plus up to 3 hours video stored on the cloud saved while you are subscribed
$22.99 or $229.99 per year – 21 days recorded video plus up to 5 hours video stored while you are subscribed.
If you let your plan expire you lose all your videos including those you saved.
For each camera you need a separate recording plan. You do get a 40% discount for each additional camera. Three camera on the first plan would cost = $4.99 + $3.00 + $3.00 = $10.99 per month.
On a day to day basis you may not want to store video online or only want the 1 day storage but when you are away from home on vacation or away on business you can upgrade 11 or 21 days because you won’t have chance to view video or check on your home. Then when you return you can then go back to the level of coverage you are comfortable with.
Customers report that they have had very good dealings with support in working through the few issues they have when the product doesn’t work out of the box as expected, with the problem being solved over the phone or a replacement sent with return postage paid by the company for the original product to be returned.
They can be contacted between 10 am – 5.00 pm Pacific Time – Monday to Friday by phone or live chat. These hours do mean you may have to contact them during your work hours if you’ve got a problem which is not the best time to be contact them with as you probably won’t be at home where you have the problem but at work.
When I contacted them by email as part of my research for this review they responded very quickly with full answers.
The camera is 720 p HD with a built-in microphone and speaker. The video is clear in both night vision and during the day. It is in color in the day and black and white at night time. The switch between the 2 is automatic and this seems to go seamlessly.
The most effective range is up to 20 ft away for seeing things clearly and being able to have the ability to identify someone from the video although the view does get a little blurry at the edges.. You can do a digital zoom up to 4X on the live feed and recording but it does cause the image to get blurry as you’d expect. It doesn’t matter if you are viewing over WiFi, 3G/4G or LTE the video is clear.
The sound from the speaker is clear but does sound a little “tinny.” When listening in it is possible to hear what is being said but it can sometimes be a little difficult when there is a lot of background noise. There is a slight delay on the speaking of up to 1 – 2 seconds but this doesn’t present too many issues with effective communication. You can use it to speak to pets to reassure them, kids, nanny or workmen if you need to from anywhere you can get a signal and connection to the internet. Or you could speak to someone who shouldn’t be there in an attempt to persuade them to leave.
The Simplicam camera is fixed as is the lens so it does not pan or tilt. But it does give a wide angle view of 107 degrees which can gives a good coverage of an area and if it is situated in a corner of the room it can cover the whole room.
The camera can only be used indoors.
You can view outdoors by setting it up to look out a window which works well during the day. At night you need to turn off night vision to prevent reflection from IR lights so you need to illuminate the area you are watching permanently or with motion sensor lights.
If you are wanting to watch a porch or your front door or back door you might want to consider the Ring Video Doorbell which can capture video when it detects movement or someone pushes the doorbell and has a 2 way speaker system to talk with anyone at the door. It can work with your existing wired doorbell or on its own but you can’t move it around like the Simplicam. It does give you good coverage of one of the areas targeted by criminals (doors) and it might save you opening the door to a nuisance call.
If you have a house or warehouse that is unoccupied and not heated/cooled you may find that this camera is not for you as it is specified to operate in temperatures between 14 degrees F and 115 degrees F.
You can only store video on the company’s cloud servers when you are subscribed to one of their monthly or annual recording plans. If not you can’t record and can only view a live feed and receive notifications that motion has been detected.
If you choose to subscribe to the recording services video is stored for a rolling period, so for the 24 hour service once the video is over 24 hours old it is deleted.
With the recording service the video is uploaded to the server constantly while the camera is on. The events detected by the camera are marked on the video timeline for easy access from your mobile device or computer.
With the plans you can download video clips to your computer or anywhere else for safekeeping or for sharing with others and use it to share the clips quickly with other people.
More than one person can be viewing the live feed and recorded video at the same time. Everyone logs on using the same email and password.
All recorded video are encrypted AES 256-bit encryption and use Arcsofts own video format that can only be watched using Arcsoft’s own software.
The video timeline makes it easy to rewind and fast forward and jump around the video to scroll through the recorded video without having to watch it in real time.
Once video has been recorded to the cloud you can download video or share it with others by choosing the start and end point on the video timeline and clicking on the share or save buttons. You can use this for clips you want to save for posterity such as if oyur pet does sometihng cute or if you have break in you have some evidence that can help the police in their investigations and for insurance purposes too.
Alarms And Compatibility
It does not sound an alarm when it detects motion or sound or a face.
Although it has a similar name as Simplisafe it can’t be integrated with it, nor is it compatible with other home security system or home automation. There have been no recent announcements as to whether they have intention to make it compatible with alarm systems.
It can work well alongside a monitored or unmonitored system. Simplisafe is a system monitored by a professional monitoring center will try to call you first if they have received a notification of a possible security alert. When you get a call you can check your camera before having police dispatched.
You can also get it to work with an unmonitored system that works with a cellular network rather than internet which provides a secure method for communicating such as Fortress Security Store GSM-B or PiSector PS03-M (they aren’t as modern looking as the Simplicam but they are reliable). These work by notifying the owner and up to 5 other people that an intruder has been detected. Here again you can check your home with your Simplicam to check whether it is a false alarm. Or if you get the notification from your Simplicam you can sound the alarm remotely to try to scare the intruder away if he hasn’t triggered the siren.
You can receive notifications of face detection/recognition , motion or sound events to your smartphone by email or push notification every time one is detected. You can change the setting if that is too frequent to getting a log of the events every 10 minutes, 30 minutes or one an hour to cut down on the volume you are receiving.
You can set up as many people as you want to receive email notifications of events by setting them up on your account. For push notifications the person needs to download the app and sign into your account using your email and password.
The event notifications are normally somewhere between 5 – 10 seconds after the event has been detected if you have chosen to receive every notification.
When you have the recording service you receive a link to the event recorded for you to watch as soon as you click through from the link to the event.
When you have not subscribed to the service you are notified only when there is sound or motion detected.
With the Closelli recording service plan you can also add the Face Detection and Face Recognition which can help with tailoring what you are notified about. With Face Detection you can set it so you are notified only when it detects a face. With the Face Recognition you can also have it only notify you when it detect someone it doesn’t recognize, or to not notify when you are at home (because it recognized you when you arrived home) and also to stop recording. The Face Detection and Recording is not a 100% at the moment as they are still developing and it keeps getting better with each release of the software -it sometimes falsely recognizing someone or doesn’t recognize them or detect a face.
Simplicam Remote Monitoring
It is possible to remotely view cameras from anywhere in the world you can get WiFi access or 3G/4G or LTE.
To give multiple people to your camera is to give them your email account and password to your account. You should only give that to people you trust as you would anyway. More than one person can view the cameras at one time – there is no restriction on the number who can sign in and view.
So you do need to be careful who you give access to. It does prevent giving it to a neighbor while you are away to help with keeping an eye on your place for instance.
You can view multiple cameras from your phone but you can’t watch them all at the same time. There is a still picture for each camera that you tap on to take you to the live feed from that camera. It does mean you can’t follow the action as someone moves from one camera to the next without having to come out of one and go to the next one or see everything at once.
There are no batteries required.
The system is powered by way of plugging a USB cable into the power adaptor that is plugged into the house supply. It does not have a battery backup which does mean when there is power outage the camera is not working.
This camera has the innovative feature of Face Detection and Recognition that is not available on any other home monitoring cameras today. it doesn’t work 100% but certainly is an interesting and useful development for managing when the camera is on and sending notifications.
The face recognition manager works with the sensor detection so that if it recognizes the person it can either ignore the person for notification and recording purposes or it can record and notify when that person is in your home.
Face recognition is the latest detection that has been set up. You can set the system to recognize people by having the camera take photographs and video of people’s faces. It stores this information to allow it to know when it sees someone stored in its’ system. This means you can set the notifications to ignore people or let you know when they’re home or turn the camera off. At the moment it can be set to recognize up to 10 people. It is in beta so there are some bugs to be ironed out to get this working 100% but it does look a promising feature to help you stay informed as to what is going on at home and maintain privacy too.
Face detection is different to Face Recognition in that it detects faces but doesn’t recognize who they are. You can change the setting so that it only notifies you when it detects a human face, so it should ignore your pets or flashes of color. It doesn’t work 100% of the time but it is getting better with each new release of the software.
The motion detection is by an algorithm on the company’s servers detecting changes in color and this can sometime result in it being too sensitive to changes in light such as car headlights or sun reflecting off the cars as the pass by. You can turn the sensitivity down and modify the zones in view by using a grid to ignore certain zones to prevent it sending too many false alerts.
You can change this by going into the App and using the Detection Zone functionality by going into Preferences > Detection sensitivity and use the grid there to select the areas that you want to turn the sensitivity down so the camera ignores that part of the grid.
Sound is also detected, so when it detects loud noises, such as someone breaking down a door or a siren you can have it send you a notification.
You can turn the sensitivity up and down so that it only picks up major events on a sliding scale.
Setting The Camera
You can turn the camera on and off from anywhere that you can connect to internet with your phone – whether that is on the other side of the country or New Zealand as long as you can connect to the internet you should be able to do it.
The camera can be scheduled to come on and off at set times so you don’t have to remember to set it in the morning when you leave or turn it off when you get back from work.
Using the Facial Recognition, that is only available when you have a paid subscription plan you can have the camera turn on and off when you come home or leave. It doesn’t work a 100% of the time as it is still under development, in this use of the technology it replaces the use of geofencing used by other smart devices that use the person’s smartphone to detect when a person is home or not.
The home screen of the app shows your cameras using a snapshot to indicate each one. At the top is an icon to access your settings. Along the bottom is an events icon for taking you to a listing of the motion, sound and face events which you can use to jump straight to the recorded video (if you have a recording plan) and an icon to take you to your favorites – recorded video and snapshots you want to save and finally a button to let you know which plan you have subscribed to.
To view the camera feed you tap on the still photo and if you have the recodring services you have the choice of live feed or to view recordings. Without a paid plan you can just view the live feed.
On the Account changes screen you can set up Face Recognition, change your password. You change your preferences here to change the name of your device, manually turn camera on/off, schedule on/off times, adjust your notifications settings, with recording services you can use face recognition to stop recording when recognized. You can adjust the detection sensitivity for motion and sound. You can turn the HD element of camer on/off, the microphone on/off, adjust night vision from automatic or turn it on/off, rotate the camer view 180 degrees and change your WiFi network.
This is all easy to do and the app is intuitive.
At the front of the camera is the lens, microphone and IR LED lights for night time illumination. At the back of the camera is the speaker and plug in point for USB cable for supplying power to the camera.
The distance the camera can be from your router is dependent on your WiFi signal but it seems to be somewhere between 50 to 100 feet. The signal to the camera strengthened or distance increased with the use of WiFi repeater or extender that is compatible with your WiFi network.
Wireless or Wired
The camera uses your WiFi to communicate with the internet. It works only with 2.4 GHZ, it won’t work with 5. GHZ. Communication is wireless but it is connected to your power supply by way of a USB cable and power adapter.
The camera is 3.7 inches by 3.5 inches by 1.6 inches when folded up and weighs 6.7 ounces.
You get the following in the box:
1 Simplicam – a wide angle camera with 2 way speaker
1 10 ft USB power cable – to use to power the camera
1 Adapter – to plus USB cable into the house supply
1 Short USB Cable – for using to set up camera using your computer rather than smartphone
1 Quick Start Guide
There are no accessories for this camera currently. Nor does it work or integrate with other smart home devices.
You can receive notifications and view the camera from anywhere in the world you can access the internet
It is very quick and easy to set up
It is portable and you can take it with you
With the paid recording services the video is stored on the internet and not in your home preventing it from being stolen by a burglar
You get a 107 degree clear view with only a little fuzziness at the edges
You can use the digital zoom to zoom in 4 X on live video and recorded but it does degrade the quality
You can decide how often you are notified from immediately to once every 10 minutes, 30 minutes or hourly with a log of events
You view the camera remotely or view recordings so you can keep an eye on your home, children or pets anywhere you want at anytime
Facial Detection and Recognition will help in managing your notifications when the bugs have been resolved
Image quality is clear in day and night vision. The switch between is seamless.
Video can be stored on the cloud when you choose a Closelli Recording Services plan so it will be available even if camera is stolen
Does not use geofencing to turn cameras on and off i.e. it doesn’t detect when you are at home by using your phones location to turn the camera off and turn it on when you leave
Does not integrate with other smart home devices or alarm systems
It is dependent on the internet being up and the house power supply being up to work
To record and store video you have to subscribe to one of their subscription plans
You are reliant on the company’s servers to access and record video
The Face recognition and detection is not 100% reliable with it sometime not recognizing someone as a person added or thinking a cat is a person etc.
There is no pan or tilt functionality
It can only be used inside as it is not rated for outdoor use although you can use it through a window but you need turn off night vision if you want to use it at night
It is not full home security solution but can be use alongside one to provide greater protection
Simplicam Consumer Ratings
The majority of customer reviews state that they are very happy with their purchase. They like the ease of set up and the quality of the video, the App itself and the notifications. They are pleased that everything works as it should apart from the Face Recognition and Detection but they appreciate that this is in development. The company is improving this function as they go.
The number one complaint from some customers in there reviews is to do with having to pay for cloud storage to be able to record video, unfortunately this seems to be the way these cameras are moving.
The cameras do offer the free options for cloud storage don’t seem to have as much functionality, the video quality is not there and aren’t as easy to set up. I’m not sure what the long term viability of the free solutions cameras are as how do they pay for the notifications and any other services they provide ongoing. So all though there is a price to pay with Simplicam it probably means it will stick around for longer and be more reliable in the long term.
This camera is priced up tp $50 less (at time of review) than the Dropcam Pro. It doesn’t have as wide a field of view but it does have the Face Recognition (beta) that Dropcam does not come with. The video quality is not quite as good as Dropcam nor does it have geofencing yet, and Dropcam does integrate with nest products.
When buying if for the first time you have a choice of price points. At $149 you just get the camera and the basic plan that includes notifications and the ability to see live feed or for $199 you get one year’s Cloud Recording Services from Closelli that gives you face detection and recognition and 24 hours rolling video storage. The price of the cloud storage does compare favorably with Dropcam where you can get 1 days storage for $4.99 versus Droopcams cheapest option of 7 days at $9.99 per month – although this different periods does make it difficult to compare.
You can check the pricing options here: Simplicam
The simplicam is a very good camera for the price for monitoring your home as part of an overall security plan or to keep an eye on things from afar, see what your pets are up to or to check up on your kids or see that the workmen or nanny are behaving themselves. It could also be used to help in keeping an eye on elderly parents especially if they don’t live locally.
It works well as part of your overall security plan in that if your security system misses detecting someone breaking in the camera can then pick them up and notify you and record what is happening or if you are notified by your security system you can use the camera to see what is going on at home prior to calling emergency service to prevent false alarms.
It compares well with the Dropcam and when the Face Detection and Recognition works more reliably it could even move ahead of it for functionality and it is more affordably priced.
Filed under: Reviews
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