on April 1, 2014
Samsung SmartCam HD Pro, SNH-P6410BN
I've had this running for a couple of days now and it's my first security camera purchase. Here's my impressions of it so far...
CAMERA & ACCESSORIES
The camera itself is a unique shape, not bulky or heavy. It would've been nice to offer more color choices such as gray or black (which I would've preferred). Stand is low and can move up and down to adjust the angle of the viewing area. The base is slightly smaller than the camera, has thin cushions underneath to avoid scratching the surface. It seems stable enough to prevent being knocked over easily, but I am concerned about the base not being wider or heavier and not having thicker rubber padding underneath to give it better grip. As for accessories, I can only comment on what I've used. The ethernet cable worked as it should, only used once during set up before going wireless (choice of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz). The power adapter's cord is approximately 8 ft. long and barely reaches my outlet, be prepared to use an extension cord if needed. Other accessories included are mounting hardware and Quick Start Guides in several languages, but I didn't use those. I found the set up video to be more helpful instead (see link below).
I won't list all the specs, you could see them in the ad's pictures or in the Data Sheet I listed (see link below). So, I'll comment on the features I've used so far (indoor use only).
I first set it up on the window sill next to the front door to see visitors approaching from the driveway and walking path. The daytime quality was very good whether watching it live or reviewing recorded video. Although I must mention that it showed a strong glare when the sun was shining on the window from that side of the house. Otherwise, it was a clear video with only minor reflection issues when viewing through a window. Then, I relocated it to record inside the house. I watched my son play and I walked around normally in the viewing/recording area to test it. Camera quality was at its best in a well-lit indoor environment, especially with WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) switched on. I only tested the speaker/mic features during set up, it has volume control for both and like the live video, there's about a one-second delay. Motion Detector (even at the lowest sensitivity level) still captured us from 10-15 feet away, that shows good range. To explain how sensitive the Motion Detector is, I've viewed night time recordings of a fly buzzing around the family room. Of course the video is in black/white, but you know the sensor is very good at detecting motion if it captured an insect on video at night. I was impressed, although I could see these false alarm alerts annoying some people if it happens too often. But that was only the first night after set up and I decreased the sensitivity to its lowest setting and kept it there. The second night, Motion Detector didn't record any insects flying around and didn't have any other false alarms. Maybe it was calibrating the sensitivity since I kept adjusting the settings on the first day.
Samsung's SmartCam website for viewing live feeds or recorded content seems more user-friendly than most I've seen while researching on YouTube. Regardless of computer skill level, I feel this should be easy to navigate for most users right away. On the SmartCam website, there's three viewing choices: Low Speed Network (640x360) [NOTE: Product description states 640x480], Mid Speed Network (1280x720), and High Speed Network (1920x1080). You can set up several cameras, rename them, and give each one a password, too. I also downloaded the SmartCam app from Google's Play Store and use that more than viewing from a PC. You're able to manually record live feeds and even take pictures from your smartphone, all data saved on the micro SD card installed. Speaking of micro SD cards, I had a problem with a high capacity SanDisk 64GB Ultra Class 10, kept getting "error" messages even though it can be read on my PC and android phone. So, I'm temporarily using an older SanDisk 4GB Class 4 micro SD card which the security camera recognized right away and you can even format the card from your phone. Also, there's a feature to have Motion Detector pictures sent to your Gmail account where they can be saved on Google's Picasa. So far, it appears that I'm getting both notification pictures through Gmail and recorded videos saved via micro SD card at the same time. While recording, I've found the Motion Detector playback feature to be quite helpful. On the phone app it shows a calendar, pick a day and then it shows a graph on what times they're recorded, can quickly view one video after another by pressing "Okay" instead of going back to the menu to play the next video. On the website using a PC, select the calendar day, then "Motion Detector" on menu and it displays a time bar graph where you can scroll through the recorded videos. In the settings, you can increase the Motion Detector sensitivity as well as set up "Continuous Recording". I tried the constant 24-hour recording at first, but it used up a lot of memory, so I unchecked the box to only record small clips of 30-45 seconds when it detects motion in the area. There's also a feature that allows you to record over old footage if memory card is filled up. I use it and recommend enabling that feature so motion detection recordings aren't interrupted.
Overall, I'd rate it a 4 out of 5 stars. I like the wide area that it captures, resolution up to 1080p, includes speaker/mic with very good night vision and motion detection. Also, the ability to receive picture notifications via Gmail/Picasa + using a Micro SD card for recorded video is very cost-effective vs. paying for monthly/yearly cloud service. But the base and stand seems somewhat unbalanced since camera is top-heavy, could've put bigger grip padding underneath. Camera doesn't pan around like others I've considered, plus Motion Detector had a few false alarms (first night only). Finally, doesn't offer more color choices and had micro SD card errors (can't read SanDisk 64GB Ultra, but did read SanDisk 4GB Class 4). For these reasons, I'm unable to give this product a full 5-star rating. Yet despite all that, I'd still recommend purchasing this as a security camera or as a baby/kid monitor. I'd even consider buying one more, so I could have one set up by the window to view the driveway/front door while leaving the other camera recording the front door/family room area inside the house.
I hope potential buyers consider everything I've mentioned before making a decision. Thanks for reading my review.
Other brands/models considered: Dropcam Pro ($199 retail) and Foscam FI9821W V2 ($159.99 retail).
Video (setting up with PC): See "Comments" section.
Data Sheet (PDF): See "Comments" section.
UPDATE #1 (4/14/2014) - Now that I've had this for over two weeks, thought I'd give a status update.
1) SD card error continues on the SanDisk 64GB Ultra even after reformatting it several times. I've just about given up on that and am disappointed since the security camera advertises that it can handle up to 64GB. Like I said in my review, my PC and android phone were able to read the memory capacity of this micro SD card, but the security camera just won't read it. Maybe it only prefers Samsung brand high-capacity micro SD cards, but I'm not willing to fork out the $$$$ to test that theory. So, I took the 32GB micro SD card (SanDisk, Class 4) from my android smartphone, formatted it and it's now working in the security camera! I wonder if the HD Pro can't read Class 10 or certain 64GB micro SD cards. But at least I was able to use the 32GB in Samsung's camera and upgraded my smartphone's memory card to 64GB Ultra (which it could read, of course).
2) The Speaker and Microphone features works fairly well. I've used it on my android phone and there is an audio delay. When tested in the house, the audio delay is only about 1 second, maybe less. But when I'm at work (26 miles from home), the audio delay is about 5 seconds. You can even hear your response, sounds a little hollow and robotic which I found kinda funny. Although there's some static in the voice, at least it's clear enough for others to hear and understand what you're saying. To access this feature on the android app, choose the camera, touch screen to bring up Menu at the bottom, select Conversation icon (box with quotes), it'll turn blue and you'll see a microphone symbol on the right side, press that to speak.
3) I haven't had any more Motion Detector false alarms. I kept the sensitivity at the lowest setting and it still detects movement when I open the front door nearly 15 feet away. In my case, there's no need to turn it up any higher. Also, I turned off "Audio Detection" since I have a clock that rings every half hour and may cause many false alarms throughout the day. Speaking of false alarms, I don't recommend using the email feature for Motion Detection alerts. Correction, I only recommend using it if you know no one is home, then turn it on. Otherwise, you'll get flooded with false alarm alerts when there's people in the vicinity of the camera. I got over 100 emails in only about 3-4 hours and couldn't turn it off from my android phone, could only disable it through the desktop PC version.
If I think of anything else, I'll update this again. Thank you.
UPDATE #2 (4/17/2014) - Regarding "Update #1 / Item #1".
Soltech Security contacted me about the 64GB micro SD card "errors" I was having. They're an authorized seller and working closely with Samsung on this new product. I'll be sending the SmartCam HD Pro back along with the SanDisk 64GB micro SD card that was giving me the "error" message and getting a new replacement camera/memory card in exchange. Apparently, they pay attention to the reviews here on Amazon and am trying to fix any problems that arise. To me, I find that very reassuring that Samsung isn't just putting a product on the market and don't care about the problems that consumers are having. Also, I noticed Soltech Security is doing an excellent job addressing any questions from potential customers. It's customer service like this that makes me feel better about my purchase of this product and would definitely consider buying a second security camera from Soltech Security.
UPDATE #3 (5/11/2014) - Steps to get micro SD card issue working.
As I mentioned in "Update #2", I received a new HD Pro and 64GB memory card (Samsung brand) and sent back the original security camera I purchased along with the SanDisk 64GB. The replacement also duplicated the same problem; however, there is a work-around in making the memory card readable no matter what capacity. When adding or switching memory cards:
1) Unplug camera's power cord.
2) Log out SmartCam website.
3) Add/Switch micro SD cards.
4) Plug in camera's power cord.
5) Log in SmartCam website.
6) Go to Set Up > SD Card > Turn On.
It should read the new micro SD card. I experimented with different brands and different memory capacities: SanDisk 4GB, SanDisk 8GB, SanDisk 32GB, and Samsung 64GB. The HD Pro read every single memory card when I followed those steps.
And BTW, SanDisk 64GB has more "usable" memory space compared to Samsung 64GB. SanDisk = 62.5GB vs. Samsung = 58.53GB. I pointed this out to the Soltech Security representative and he noticed that, too.