Wyze Cam Pan: Is that this $30 safety digicam value a purchase?

A security camera is something that you ideally don't want to worry about. You set it up and expect it to just work.

If you are in the camera market, you know that there are many options with a wide price range. The Wyze Cam Pan is a powerful surveillance camera at an incredibly affordable price. This camera has full pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) functions, a free mobile app for monitoring, automatic motion tracking and warnings, free cloud backup, bidirectional voice communication and an SD card slot for expanded recording space.

At only $ 30 ($ 37 if you buy it on Amazon), is it too good to be true? Should you spend a little more and opt for a more expensive camera? Let's take a closer look and find out how good the Wyze Cam Pan is for the price.

You don't get much in the package; Only the camera and a micro USB power cable with power plug. You can power it with any USB source as long as it can deliver 2A. Keep in mind that when upgrading from a previous generation (the original Wyze Cam is still for sale and is even cheaper at $ 20), you'll need to use the new power supply and cables, as the old models don't deliver enough power.

The camera is all white with a soft touch finish, except for a ball on top with the image sensor. This part has a glossy plastic cover and turns up and down to ensure the camera can tilt. In terms of field of view, the camera can see a full 360 degrees horizontally, 93 degrees vertically and has up to 8x digital zoom.

Since it is a PTZ camera that is designed for vertical mounting, no additional mounting parts are included. You can mount it upside down in the ceiling or sideways on a wall, but it should sit on a shelf or other flat surface with a view of a room.

On the back we find cutouts for the internal speaker and a USB port, which surprisingly cannot be used. The official explanation on the Wyze website is that you should not use it because the camera can move and the cable may get caught on the camera. You may be able to daisy chain a second camera or other USB device, but your mileage may vary. Maybe it has a purpose with future software upgrades, but at the moment I don't know why it exists.

Wyze hasn't released much technical data for the camera, but we know that it has a 1080p sensor and is likely to record at around 15 frames per second. The picture quality is good and I will take some photos later in the review. To the left and right of the lens are a total of six IR LEDs for the surprisingly powerful night vision mode. They are not visible during the day and are only switched on if you have activated night vision.

If you previously owned an original Wyze Cam or Wyze Cam 2, the pan is much larger, but still retains the same design aesthetic. The original Wyze Cam models were incredibly successful with more than 150,000 registered users. The pan builds on its success and contains all the functions that have made it great. Now you can get PTZ functions for a little more.

At the base of the device is the rubberized base on which the pan rotates. The micro USB power connector is also plugged into this circular base. Therefore, make sure that there is enough space behind it during assembly. If you want, you can also use the included 1/4 "mounting socket to attach the pan to a tripod. On the outside of the base there are the setup button, a microSD card slot and the microphone. The microSD card slot is supported up to up to 32 GB and depending on your quality settings, you should be able to save a few days of continuous footage, I would recommend either a 16 GB or a 32 GB card so you don’t have to worry about losing footage.

The Wyze Cam Pan has three main shooting modes: burst, warnings, and time-lapse.

Continuous continuously records on the SD card and replaces old material when the card is full. Alarm mode records short 12-second clips when motion or certain sounds are detected. These clips can then be automatically backed up to the AWS cloud over a continuous 14 day period. You can also set up phone notifications that match these clips. Finally, time-lapse mode can record at predefined intervals and be useful for keeping an eye on a pet or baby from time to time.

Setting up the Wyze Cam Pan is easy. Download the free Android or iOS app and press the setup button on the bottom of the camera to start the process. The app will then display a QR code on your phone screen. Create an account and place your phone in front of the camera to pair the two. The whole process took less than three minutes. If you get stuck, the camera will also give audio instructions to continue.

Once the camera is linked to your email account, you can view the live feed anywhere on your phone. This is ideal for monitoring your home while you work or looking for packages on vacation. Unfortunately, one of the biggest disadvantages comes into play here. You can only view the feed on your phone because there is no web or desktop app. Wyze should be able to do this in the future, but it's just not there yet. This may be a deal breaker for some, but as long as you have your phone with you, you can still view the footage.

If your home internet connection is lost, you can still view the footage from the camera as long as your Wi-Fi network remains active. However, your phone must also be connected to the network.

The mobile app is very easy to navigate. On the main screen, you can choose either a live view of the camera (right screenshot) or playback from the SD card (left screenshot). During playback, a calendar and timeline are displayed that you can use to search your footage to find the moment you want. The timeline turns green during the periods that the camera was shooting. You can pause playback, save screenshots, and save videos to your phone's photo album. You can also pinch to enlarge certain areas of the footage.

The quality of the footage is certainly not perfect, but more than adequate and much better than I expected for $ 30. The image is bright and crisp and you can zoom in while maintaining quality. Depending on the bandwidth and storage requirements, you can also reduce the quality from HD to SD if necessary.

The right screenshot shows what the live stream view looks like. Here you can see that I turned on night vision in an otherwise pitch-black room. The IR LEDs illuminate the entire room excellently and are almost invisible to the human eye. I was really impressed with how well this function worked.

At the bottom of the window there is a large area for remote control of pan and tilt of the camera like a joystick. The camera can move very quickly, but I sometimes found it a bit too fast. It turns almost immediately after you press a button, but the video stays behind for about 15 seconds. Due to the interruption, this made it difficult to align a picture of a certain area. Maybe Wyze can improve this 10 to 15 second delay in video playback in future software updates.

On the "More" tab you can activate the motion tracking mode, a "Pan Scan" mode, motion detection, display your saved clips, edit time-lapse settings or switch the camera off completely. Motion tracking mode worked much better than I expected for a $ 30 camera. The camera pans and leans to follow the subject as it moves around its field of view. Below is short footage that I took in action. With motion tagging, you can add a green box in which the camera detects motion. It's not the best, but it does the job here.

Pan Scan is a unique feature that allows you to track an entire room at once. In this mode you can set predefined waypoints around the camera that you want to track. The camera then moves through these waypoints every few seconds. The standard mode has four waypoints 90 degrees apart, with the camera taking about a minute to go through all four.

The Wyze Cam Pan has a built-in microphone and speaker for bidirectional audio. However, I would generally stay away from using it unless it is necessary. The speaker in the camera has very poor sound quality, so you can hear what's going on at the other end. You can usually talk to someone in front of the camera from your phone, but don't expect much clarity or range beyond that.

The app also offers some advanced settings. You can customize which alerts you want and when you want them. I think the most common choice here would be motion or noise detection, since it's pretty obvious when a smoke or CO alarm goes off. There are other settings such as adding a timestamp watermark, rotating the image for an upsidedown mount, and configuring night vision mode. Finally, you can reformat the SD card and set how sensitive the motor controls are.

That’s about all it takes.

The Wyze Cam Pan is a security camera for $ 37 (or less) that can compete with cameras that cost more than five times that. The top three competitors, Amazon Cloud Cam, Nest Cam and Ring Spotlight Cam, cost $ 120, $ 175 and $ 200, respectively. While they (in some cases) have a more sophisticated user interface, more eye-catching advertisements, and some additional features such as person recognition (for which you pay a subscription), the Wyze Cam Pan has almost all the functions. It works with Alexa or IFTTT, can send you mobile notifications and offers just like the other three cloud backups.

However, it is not perfect. I'd like to see web playback and a more responsive user interface. That said, if you're in the home security camera market, you'd be almost crazy if you don't consider one. My recommendation would be to buy one first and set it up for a few weeks. If it fits your needs, great. Problem solved for less than $ 30. If not, you can consider upgrading to a premium camera, but this is not likely.

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