Two weeks ago I made a decision, when we take our next vacation, I’d really like to be able to watch the house. Sure, I can trigger one of the Echo’s and listen in, or have it alert me if a suspicious noise is detected, but I can’t see what’s happening. And yeah, we’ll have someone coming by every so often to look after things, but again, piece of mind. I often spend large chunks of my days listening to various TWiT Podcasts, and months ago on one, the company Wyze was brought up. An affordable, new US based company that produces Smart Home devices for the average user. I keep seeing their name come up in various places, so I looked on Amazon (Prime Shipping), and they were listed for $19.99 each. Sure, I’ll give one a try. On Friday I ordered it, and on Sunday I had it in my hands ready to go.
The setup was likely the most simple process I’ve ever had on any IoT device that I’ve tried to date, this really keeps true to them making a device that just about anyone can get, and have running in a matter of minutes. Simply Download the Wyze app, Plug in the camera, click the setup new device button on the app, press the setup button on the camera, and it’ll walk you through everything else… and by everything else, I mean scan a QR code that shows up on your phone with the camera, and you’re done! It’s that simple!
The device itself has the option of adding an SD card, and record constantly – based upon the two days I have stored, my guess is that you can have a little over a week stored on a 32gb card, however I could be wrong and it could be more or less, this is not a feature that I have played around with much. For cloud storage you can record “events” – this is an item that you can configure within your device settings. An event is an action that triggers the camera to start a 12 second recording, this can consist of motion taking place within a particular area, or noise occurring above a certain dB level. The sensitivity of these items are configurable within the initial setup of the feature itself. I would like to make sure to note that these devices are designed for indoor use, however with that being said, there are numerous outdoor “weatherproof” cases out there. I have two of my three in rather shielded outdoor areas in a case, this is as a test of the cases, the camera’s capabilities, as well as the cases effectiveness. With that being said, the company states that they do have an outdoor camera in the design phase for future release.
Problem (and solution!):
A few days after having ordered the first one, I decided that these are exactly what I was looking for, and worked very well, so I decided that I was going to order a couple more of these to put in different locations. When they came in I set them up, tested them out in a central location and got them all configured, and then began to install them – however I had a problem immediately after installing them… they wouldn’t power on. At first I thought, okay, it was the USB extender I was using. It must’ve caused a voltage drop, so I’ll connect it to it’s normal power source, and run an extension cord. This didn’t help. So, I took it inside, and ran through all of the troubleshooting steps that were readily available on the Wyze page, this didn’t do the trick. I tried a factory reset, this didn’t do the trick either. So, after about 20 mins with Tech Support, they deemed that the hardware was malfunctioning, and they were going to send me two replacements for the two that were having this issue, and I didn’t need to send the broken ones back. This left me some time to tinker with them, and see if I could get them fixed. On a 3rd party forum, I discovered someone mentioning Flashing an older version of the camera’s firmware on it could potentially force it to reset. This is a fairly simple process of loading a Boot file on to an SD card, and holding a button while powering on. This did the trick, and got them back up and running! This has been running for a solid week now with no additional issues, so I believe that this may have been a one time thing.
This is my first foray into the camera aspect of smart home, and this company really has something with these Cameras. It’s priced low enough where the everyday user can get their hands on it, and it’s quality is high enough that the power user can really get something out of it too. It supports both Alexa, and IFTTT platforms. This company is slowly expanding their devices including having just released a new smart bulb (priced a few dollars cheaper than Hue), has a rotatable camera, as well as room, and door sensors. I fully intend on keeping an eye on this company, and what future products they release. If they can maintain the quality of the product that they have, expanding into other devices, I think that they will emerge ahead of the pack in the coming days of the smart home age.