Friday, July 21, 2017

Motorola Focus85 Security Camera review

We have the services of a very part-time security cat.  As you can see, some more training may be required.

In the meantime we have invested in some [more] Security Cameras.  A quite old 2015 product, but with a 720p resolution Motorola Focus85 was our spur of the moment choice [it was very very cheap!]

Packaging & Appearance

It is rather small and attractive!  There is no battery but power can be via any USB adapter.   On the bottom is a pair button that you press to initially configure, which must be to an Android or iOS Smartphone.

There is also a wall or ceiling mounting slot and then in the software you tell it ceiling mounting so the picture gets suitably rotated.

Features and Smarts
+ 720p resolution
+ Small Camera
+ Pan and Tilt, under Smartphone or Web control
+ Power from a micro USB
+ microphone to record sound and has sound alert monitoring
+ Speaker, so you can from your Smartphone talk and have this sent to the SecurityCam
-  Motion Detection and Sound Detection alerts,  but requires paid subscription in practise
+ Temperature sensor

No Integration
This is an entry level camera.  Accordingly it does not have any sort of Smart Home integration.

To explain, the latest security cameras can integrate with Google Home or Samsung SmartThings.   You can use popular applications like ifttt to provide an alert and then response pairing.

But not with these cameras, they are standalone only!

You Pay

An alert can be motion, sound or temperature, but how does it work?

Well if you install the Smartphone application and allow it to run in the background then a small daemon polls via the Internet (you better be on a good data plan!) and a photo can be sent on alert.  This will drain your smartphone battery and also is good say if you are out for the afternoon, not if you are away for weeks.

Instead what they would like you to do is pay for Cloud Storage in which case an alert will trigger that a video is sent to the Cloud and kept for a minimum of 24 hours.  I did not see that it could alert you though!

Overall the alerting is rather flawed.  This is a more modern solution to previous Security Cam.  But the old way was this

- configure a email connection
- when an alert (motion/sound) is detected then send a photo or video via email

To me the old way, was a bit technical, but automated.  If you get an email from the security camera you investigate further.  In this case you do the same with a Smartphone alert, but it takes data connection and battery drain. 

The target market for this camera is for a noob user who wants a simple non scalable solution and occasional security.

In the fullness of time we will have 3:
- 2 fallback Independent Solutions,  this will be one
- A smarthome, programmed solution, multiple cameras, controlled but a handwritten Linux solution or if SmartThings ever works reliably using that.

This Motorola Focus85 Camera is typical of the new generation of Security Cameras.  It is reasonably attractive and can be powered from a USB cable.  It has motion detection and a host of features, but to get the benefit you are forced to buy a subscription from Hubble and this will cost you from 36GBP per year.

If like us you get the cameras for "practically nothing" then I'd say go for it, else pass.