Samsung’s indoor IP camera is often used in conjunction with the company’s SmartThings smart home system, where it can be triggered by a window lock for example, but it also serves very well as a standalone security camera for an office or commercial premises.
Offering Full HD resolution images, two-way audio and a fully articulated mounting bracket, the SmartCam SNH-P6410NB – which retails at £130 (around $160, AU$210) – can be instantly installed to remotely monitor your house or office, sending alerts to your phone when it senses any sound or motion.
Using a decent CMOS sensor, this camera is able to record fairly smooth, clear and natural-looking images in 1080p, or two lower resolutions if you’re worried about your bandwidth. We found that our heavily loaded home network did drop out a few times during testing when in Full HD mode.
Motion sensors will trigger a recording, if you specify that, storing them locally on a microSD card, or storing your footage in the cloud for a fee.
The companion app, called SmartCam, allows you to set up push notifications and gives you a live view of your room (which you can zoom into).
A built-in speaker and microphone enable communication, in case you need to scare off any actual burglars. Alternatively, you can play them one of three tunes, including a lullaby. Okay, this last one isn’t a security feature, it’s in case you want to use the camera as a baby monitor.
The simple circular design and glossy white finish makes this compact security camera blend into the background, especially when mounted on a white ceiling.
It feels rather lightweight and plasticky, as though it wouldn’t take much to snap the stand, so we’d recommend installing it out of harm’s way. You will only need to accommodate the power cable if you choose to connect via Wi-Fi instead of the bundled Ethernet cable.
The twisting and rotating bracket means you can have every angle covered, while the wide angle of the camera lens generally puts the whole room in view anyway.
Installation and use
This camera is especially easy to set up, thanks to the inclusion of an Ethernet port and cable, which means you don’t need to establish a Wi-Fi connection. However, connecting wirelessly is also made simple by Samsung’s SmartCam app. Download this free app onto your Apple or Android device, sign up to Samsung’s free service and it will walk you through the process of connecting the camera to your Wi-Fi network.
We found that the camera quite often lost its connection with the wireless router, even though they were in the same room, which of course means you lose the feed and the recording, so we would advise making a hardwired Ethernet connection if possible.
The app will also let you specify when you want to be alerted by phone to either movement or noise at the camera’s location. You can also connect it to your Google account to receive emails, or to Picasa if you want to have images automatically uploaded there.
The software isn’t quite as slick and intuitive as the Nest or Netatmo apps, and there’s no ‘timeline view’, but it is fairly easy to navigate. Instead of a scrollable timeline of events, recordings appear in a basic list, or a calendar view for checking back on monthly happenings.
The hardest thing to achieve, via the settings, is how to set up recording schedules and zones of motion activity, which are buried deep in the menu system.
More annoying is the camera’s tendency to lose its wireless connection, as mentioned, and also the constant demand for passwords. You need a password to adjust the app and another to address the camera every time you view it. If you’re signed into your phone, we think that should be enough to check your own camera.
The video quality available here is quite impressive. Set to 1080p resolution, both live view and recorded clips are clear and bright. The quality drops as you zoom in of course, but it’s still good enough to recognise faces as they pass below the camera. There’s no actual face recognition software here, mind you. That remains the preserve of more sophisticated cameras like the Netatmo Welcome.
What is useful is the way your recordings can be saved onto your phone, or directly onto a microSD card. So instead of paying a monthly fee for storage on Samsung’s cloud servers, footage is held locally, which also feels more secure. The slot can take a 64GB microSD card, although you don’t get a card bundled.
The integration of two-way audio adds some useful functionality, especially if you happen to need a baby monitor, but don’t expect hi-fi quality from the speaker. What you can do, rather surprisingly, is add your own speaker to boost the sound output by using the available mini-jack port. This is a bonus feature that we think few people will actually use.
The compact and circular design is unobtrusive and quite easy to accommodate, especially if you are dispensing with the optional Ethernet cable. It’s also very easy to set up and quite simple to use.
Video resolution can be set to Full HD quality, provided your network is up to the task of streaming it, so picture quality is another strong point.
Incorporating a microSD slot is another significant advantage that eliminates the need for a monthly subscription to cloud storage, while offering a better sense of security.
Users of Google alerts and Picasa will also appreciate the integration that this camera offers with those two services.
The all-plastic build quality is not reassuring. Most of the security cameras we have tested use metal in the bracket or stand, and this camera feels a little vulnerable without that reinforcement.
It is also fiddly to install with two cables to pin out of the way. Of course, you can disregard the Ethernet cable if you plan to use a Wi-Fi connection, but we found the Wi-Fi connectivity to be particularly weak and unreliable.
We also found it a pain to have to input a password every time we wanted to adjust, or even check the live view of this camera. At times, the app is not the easiest piece of software to understand either.
With its appealing design, microSD storage slot and the surprise bonus of an audio out jack, this little camera is a cut above the most basic IP cameras. The 1080p video quality is decent too, capturing video clips which are reasonably crisp.
While it is easy to set up, Samsung’s camera is not the most user-friendly design we’ve tested, but it does offer enough flexibility to suit many commercial and domestic situations. The fact that it’s backed by a major brand, with good integration with products like SmartThings, Google alerts and Picasa is also reassuring.
For a fairly modest outlay, this security camera delivers a good set of features, and a reliable performance – provided you use the Ethernet cable and not Wi-Fi, that is.