Canary seems like a better Dropcam, modulo some quality issues

I installed the Canary home monitoring cam this am.

It is positioned as “Smart Home Security for Everyone”. It is about an 8” tall sleek cylinder with a usb power connection. Key product details:

  • HD camera with wide-angle lens + mic. Purportedly also has night vision support.
  • wifi or ethernet backhaul. If you choose wifi, rather than doing the private wifi network dance that many of these devices do, you use a provided audio mic cable and the smartphone app. the smartphone app sends setup info over the audio cable using modem protocols. it seems simpler than the wifi dance.
  • smartphone app
  • temperature, humidity, airquality monitor. also accelerometer, i guess you can monitor whether it is moved?
  • 90 db alarm. this only activates if you ask it to from the smartphone app.

You have several plan options:

  • Free: last 12 hours recorded, 5 clips in the cloud permanently. so this seems better than dropcam free tier.
  • $10/month: last 7 days always available, 50 clips stored permanently. dropcam-ish — i.e. egregiously expensive app-specific storage
  • $20/month: last 30 days available, 100 video clips stored permanently. In case you wanted even more egregiously expensive storage
  • $40/month: last 90 days available, 250 clips stored permanently. And even more.
  • for an additional $10/month they will hook you up to call center monitoring. i imagine that video is not sent to call center, just events (i.e. akin to existing home security systems). This seems like competitive pricing.

Initial Reactions:

  • install was painless. i like the audio cable approach. tho if the device has a camera, why do you need an audio cable at all — why can’t you just display a sequence of QR-codes (or equivalent) on the smart phone app.
  • it really struggles to deliver HD video over wifi. lots of frame drops. the video is close to unusable as a result. There must be a compression choice that could address this.
  • it uses your smartphone location to auto switch from home to away mode. i.e. when i am in the house, it notes events, but doesn’t send me alerts. when i leave house, it will start sending me alerts. this is nice.
  • it has a “privacy” mode where camera and mic are disabled.

This is a much more focused and complete security solution than drop cam — alarm, remote monitoring service, etc. Setup was simple. I could see replacing my dropcam with this.

It is still tho terribly expensive. The frame dropping issue is a problem. There might be some robustness issues, I’ve had some problems reliably connecting to my streams. If the quality improves tho this might be a good step up.

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