WyzeCam hands-on: A $20 camera that's almost too good to be true


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I’ve tested a few different security cameras around my home, but have yet to fully commit to one. Outside, Ring has me well covered. Inside, is a bit different. For starters, indoor cameras from companies like Nest are expensive. And I don’t want just one camera; ideally, I’d like to have four or five.

Even if I took advantage of Nest’s three-pack of indoor cameras, I’m looking at roughly $1,000 worth of equipment, plus a monthly subscription fee.

So, when I received a pitch for a security camera priced at $20, with 14 days of free cloud recording, motion push alerts, and night vision, and it records in 1080p, I didn’t believe it.

In fact, the only reason I agreed to have demo units sent to me was that I fully expected for it to be a horrible. My response to the PR representative was, and I quote, “At $20, I have low expectations.”

I was wrong.

Design and setup

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(Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

Initial setup is a breeze and something you should do before attaching it to a wall. Install the WyzeCam app, then create an account, and plug the camera in. Follow the prompts in the app to connect it to your Wi-Fi network.

The camera is a small cube that almost looks like a robot with the built-in stand extended. On the backside is a microUSB charging port, with the microSD card slot and setup button on the bottom.

The stand swivels nearly 360 degrees and has a magnetic bottom for mounting with the included plate.

Admittedly, the build quality doesn’t scream durable. But it’s a camera that’s going to be tucked into a corner, and it shouldn’t face any sort of abuse.

Performance

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A photo captured in the WyzeCam app. (Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

The app is still being worked on and new features, such as the ability to create a time-lapse recording, have been added during my time with the device.

That said, the app has been reliable with push alerts for motion or loud sound working without issue. Whenever an alert is sent, WyzeCam records a short clip and uploads it to its servers. You then receive an alert on your phone and can view or listen to whatever was that triggered the alert. These clips are then stored, for free, for up to 14 days.

I recommend installing a microSD card from the start. Any recordings outside of the short clips created when alerts are sent to your mobile device will require a microSD card. Same goes for the playback and timelapse features.

You can pick up an inexpensive one or 2GB card on Amazon. Once the card starts to fill up, the camera will automatically write over the oldest recording.

For $20, what’s to lose?

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(Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

It’s still early in my time with the WyzeCam, and updates are still rolling out. But this far, I have zero issues with this product. The live view has yet to fail, even when on a cellular connection. I’ve used the two-way talk feature, and night vision without issue as well.

For $20, this is one of those products that feels too good to be true. But it’s not, at least, right now. The WyzeCam launched on Oct. 24 and has already sold out according to the ordering page on the site. More stock is expected in just a few days, on Oct. 30.

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