Netatmo’s first security camera, called Welcome, was designed to monitor the interior of your home or office, and introduced facial recognition software so that it could alert you to strangers, or ‘welcome’ anyone else.
It’s joined here by the more expensive Presence – which retails at £250 (around $305, AU$405) – an exterior proposition which comes with a dimmable LED floodlight and object detection that can differentiate between people, animals and cars, alerting you to the ‘presence’ of any, or all of those things.
And while Welcome was a slim, shiny, smartphone-friendly design for keeping in touch with your family, this angular, architectural surveillance cam is aimed squarely at protecting your property, be that a home or business.
It’s an IP camera that works wirelessly over Wi-Fi, either on its own, or teamed up with more Netatmo cameras that can all be controlled by the free Netatmo iOS/Android app called Security. There’s even a watchOS app for Apple Watch fans.
Design and installation
The relatively high price feels somewhat justified when you weigh this well-built and aesthetically pleasing device in your hands. Its all-metal construction is waterproof to IPX7 standard, includes a cluster of dimmable LEDs and comes with a mounting plate that allows it to simply replace an existing outdoor light.
There’s no internal battery, so you’ll need to hijack the power cable that’s already in place. There’s no Ethernet port either, which means using your smartphone and the companion app to help the camera join your home network. Luckily, our router was located within range, but you may find that moving your router is more practical than installing a new power line for the camera.
The headline feature here is the sophisticated object recognition software that uses Netatmo’s companion app to send you a text or email when a car, an animal or a person crosses its path. It works with surprising success over distances of up to 20 metres in daylight and a little less than that when using its infrared sensors at night.
You can fine-tune the system by focusing on specific zones, which is done by pinching and zooming on the parts of the screen you are interested in, like a garden gate, or your driveway.
As a floodlight, Presence is equally flexible and impressive. Few security lights are dimmable, but this one has a sliding scale of brightness and you can choose to have it triggered by either motion or low light.
The grille at the back guards a speaker and microphone, adding two-way audio and making fairly clear sound recordings to go with the Full HD video.
Another significant feature that could outweigh the initial cost of purchase is the fact that you don’t need to pay a subscription here. With video recorded directly onto a bundled 64GB microSD card, you don’t need a costly cloud server, as is the case with Nest, Samsung and others. You could also set up your own FTP server, if you find yourself recording more frequently.
The iOS/Android app, which as we mentioned is called Security, gives you intuitive control over this and any other Netatmo cameras you have, making it easy to scroll between each camera view. If you have just one camera, you’ll see a timeline of the activity recorded that day. When you turn your phone from portrait to landscape, the image becomes full-screen.
There’s also rather slick watchOS support, so that you can see images from the camera directly on your Apple Watch. It’s now available as a complication, meaning you can add the feature to your watch face.
The resolution goes up to 1080p at 24 frames per second, and we were able to zoom in and capture crisp video clips, although we noticed that zooming introduces quite a lot of video noise.
Aside from the reassuring build quality, convenient floodlight feature and useful object recognition, the big advantage here is the camera’s flexibility. We were able to decide whether we received an alert when a car came up the drive, or if a person entered by the gate, and also choose whether to record that clip or not.
The crisp corners and severe styling of this camera-cum-floodlight will divide opinions, but none will disagree with its reassuring build quality. The adjustable LEDs and intelligent object recognition are also features that push the Presence ahead of your average CCTV solution.
With its intuitive interface and variety of alert settings, we enjoyed using the Security app, while the watchOS extension is a real bonus for Apple Watch wearers.
It is easily as appealing as the intelligent Nest Outdoor Cam, but with one major advantage: the Netatmo is subscription-free with video stored locally, or on your own server, not an expensive cloud service.
With a raft of cheap IP cameras arriving on the market, our first grumble here would have to be the price. Dimmable LEDs aren’t cheap components and while the other IP cams tend to be plastic, this all-metal box costs more to produce.
And unlike the inconspicuous dome cameras, this big unit is somewhat in-your-face and refuses to blend into the aesthetics of a period home.
The absence of an Ethernet port could prove problematic. Substantial external walls can block the Wi-Fi signal from your router indoors, limiting your installation options and reliability.
Other minor complaints are the absence of geo-fencing, which could stop the device going off when you get home, or a timer function to avoid alerts when you definitely don’t want to be disturbed.
The Presence security camera is a very confident follow-up to Netatmo’s indoor Welcome cam and they work well as a team, but this is the one you should be looking at to protect your property. The object recognition software is no gimmick. It works well and is configurable enough to be useful in many situations. We liked the way it could send an alert only when a car entered our part of the drive, while turning on the floodlight for anyone who approaches.
The design looks great on a modern office block and silly on a quaint cottage, but regardless, this is an effective and flexible deterrent that feels like it’ll last longer than most security solutions.