Hands-on review: Swann Xtreem Security Camera
At the moment, I've got a mess of wires extending from a power plug in my garage, into the loft space and out from under the tiles. I'm halfway to installing a competitor of Swann's Xreem Security Camera. It's been like it for weeks. It's a nightmare job that I'm doing my best to put off.
We are fortunate to live in a world with wireless internet and network connectivity. The average household now has many wireless devices, from TVs to mobile phones, all connected to the internet and home networks via Wi-Fi. The days of running cables throughout your home are over. This is particularly great for home security; cameras can be positioned where needed. Well, sort of.
If I could only have a dollar for every home security camera PR shot that I've seen with a cute little camera resting discreetly on a bookshelf. The reality, of course, is that the camera, whilst blending in nicely with the décor, will have a power cable trailing from the back to the nearest power socket. This power socket's location is pretty much the deciding factor on where the camera is positioned. This is particularly pertinent with outdoor cameras, as positioning them in the optimal location often requires complex power cable routing to an internal power socket (or, if you're lucky, an outdoor power socket). Murphy's Law says that the power socket will be nowhere near the location that you want to install the camera.
Thank goodness for the Swann Xtreem Security Camera.
This 1080p HD security camera features a battery that Swann states will last up to six months without needing a recharge. The included mount can be positioned anywhere, allowing the camera to be aimed at the point of interest without the worry of locating a power supply. The only consideration required of the user is to ensure that the camera is accessible for recharging. The magnetic mount means that the camera can quickly be pulled from its location for charging.
The downside of an easy-to-remove camera is that it needs to be located fairly out-of-the-way so that nefarious types don't help themselves to it. Of course, the camera can be mounted via the threaded socket to an optional mounting stand (available separately) and powered directly via a USB cable (the short, included USB cable is only for charging) or the Swann Solar Panel accessory. A more permanent fixing and power solution allow the camera to be positioned once and forgotten about.
The package comes complete with the camera, a magnetic mount, and a set of screws and wall plugs for fixing. There's also an optional water-resistant grommet for a permanent USB cable connection, a USB charging cable, detailed instructions, and a rather large selection of Swann Security window stickers. Under the rubber cap on the top is a microSD slot complete with an included 32GB card.
The camera is a weighty unit, likely due to a beefy 13,200mAh Lithium battery configuration that makes up most of its innards. It feels nice and robust with a professional look. The camera is weatherproof up to IP56, protecting it against dust ingress and water jets, which means it's more than OK for A/NZ weather.
The camera has two-way communication and has infra-red night vision up to 8m. Rather than drain the battery watching nothing in particular, the camera uses Swann's motion detection technology to trigger recording. Video can be stored on the Swann cloud server, free of charge, and on the included microSD card. For long-term cloud storage of up to 60 days a Swann Security subscription.
As with all Swann's consumer security devices, the Xtreem Security Camera uses the Swann Security app for setup and viewing the video. The network setup is reasonably straightforward. Using the app, you scan the QR code on the camera and follow the instructions. The app allows you to choose which wireless network you wish to connect the camera to. The downside is that the camera can only be connected to a 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi network, a problem that I don't have with Swann's competitors.
The camera's recording quality is very good. Video accessed via the cloud storage and microSD card is very clear, and the sound is not too bad either.
I did, however, find the live camera view to be a bit lacking. Testing with two different installations and wireless networks resulted in the same jerking and delayed video. It works, but I'd expect better.
Overall, the Swann Xtreem Security Camera is a robust unit, unlike some of the more plasticky consumer video cameras out there. Setup is easy, and the recording quality is excellent. The live view could be better. But for a camera that you can install anywhere you like and leave for up to six months, it good option as part of a home security setup.