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Not long ago we introduced you to SwitchBot, a company that has a bunch of smart devices that work well and are very affordable. We looked at the Switchbot Bot, Curtain, Solar Panel, Hub Mini, Meter and Remote and this time around the company hooked us up with a bunch of new products, one of which being their new Indoor Cam.
SwitchBot Indoor Camera monitors your home 24/7 and alerts you when unexpected conditions take place. Lives stream to your wifi camera anytime and anywhere (support 2.4GHz). With night vision, clear 1080p HD and 130º Wide angle lens.
SwitchBot Indoor Camera is packed with features and you can find it for prices between 25 and 39€, which is literally a steal. For that price you get a small, compact camera, capable of recording videos at 1080p resolution, has smart motion detection built in(human detection and targeted detection area), infra-red night vision, built-in bi-directional microphone and it is fully compatible with Amazon Alexa.
SwitchBot Indoor Camera comes packed in the brand specific white and red packaging. On the front we have a graphical representation of the camera and we have the “Works with Alexa” text highlighted at the very top.
On the back, we have a small description of the camera and also some examples of the automations you can create within the SwitchBot ecosystem, by combining the camera with the SwitchBot Motion Sensor, the SwitchBot Hub Mini, the SwitchBot Motion Sensor or Switchbot Curtain.
Inside the box we find the camera, the camera support (for mounting on the wall), a charging cable (Micro-USB), an EU and UK plug, screws and double-sided 3M tape for wall mounting and the instalation manual.
The camera itself is relatively compact at 5.9 x 5.9 x 3.4 cm and it weighs 70 g. It has a square shape with rounded corners, which gives it a nice, compact look. The body of the camera is made out of a good quality plastic, which looks good.
On the front of the camera we have the objective surrounded by infra-red LEDs at 6850 nm and from the specifications we learn that the camera can detect movement up to 9 m. We also have a small LED indicator here which serves as a status indicator and also the microphone.
On the back we have a reset and on/off button, a micro-USB charging port, a speaker for two-way sound and a notch to insert the support.
On one side we have a microSD card slot and the camera supports cards with up to 128 GB storage space. On the bottom you have the serial number and MAC address and also a secondary notch to insert the support.
To install the camera you will need the Switchbot application, which is available on Android and IOS. If you don’t have an account you will need to create one. Once you have the application installed, you need to install the camera where you want it to stay. You can mount it on a wall or you can put it on a table. We opted to install it on the wall using the very strong 3M tape delivered in the package. To do this we had to first insert the support in the back notch on the camera, which was not very simple. Turns out you need to apply some pressure for the support to go in. Once it is in place the camera is secured and the support allows you to tilt it as you wish.
Since the camera is not battery operated you will have to connect the Micro-USB cable and I suggest you do this before putting it on the wall. We did not and again we struggled a bit to connect the cable. The cable itself has about 2 meters, so keep this in mind when installing it. Once the cable and support are plugged in you just have to place the camera in the desired spot.
Once everything is in place it is time to add the camera to the application. One thing to notice is that you DO NOT need a SwitchBot Hub to connect it, it works without one if needed as the camera connects directly via WiFi. From the application, hit the “+” button and select Indoor Cam from the list. The application will guide you through the installation process. The camera should be in pairing mode (front led indicator flashes red). The application will ask you to connect the camera to your WiFI network and after you enter the password a QR code will appear on your phone. You will have to put the QR code in front of the camera and it will automatically recognize the code and that’s it. Everything is configured. Now you will have to give the camera an unique name and you can start tweaking up settings.
When you open the camera from the App you will see a live stream of the camera and you can toggle video quality from the top left. You have 2 options SD and HD, you can mute or unmute it and you can opt to see the image full screen of half screen on your phone. On the bottom you have 5 buttons: Toggle Full-screen, take snapshots, call the camera and by clicking the downward arrows you can access the recordings, the gallery, turn on private mode, set up night mode and set up detection area.
If you go to settings you have even further options, like tweaking how the LED works, invert image, which is very useful if you turn the camera around or tweak motion detection settings (sensitivity, set up surveillance zone or activate human detection). You can also choose where you want to keep the recordings and you have two options: micro-SD card or cloud service. The cloud service is $7.90 per month or $79 per year. You can also select how you want to receive notifications. As far as third party integrations go, you can set up Scenes using the SwitchBot Hub or integrate the camera with Amazon Alexa. We also managed to add the camera to our Google Assistant, but using the Google Nest Hub Max, when told to display the camera it only displays a black screen.
Video and Audio Quality
The SwitchBot Indoor Camera has a decent video quality when previewing the live feed from within the app. You can also export the videos, but the files are compressed and you will notice a decrease in quality. Within the SwitchBot app, you can zoom in into the video and the quality is OK. The sensor isn’t great and it reflects from bright windows or mirrors. The video quality while previewed in Amazon Alexa is quite bad and while you have pretty much the same functions to the video preview as in the native app, you can’t toggle between quality settings, so you are better off with just using the dedicated app.
The microphone is not the greatest either. The captured audio is pretty quiet and it’s hard to hear clearly if the noise is not loud. The speaker on the other hand is surprisingly good and powerful, so if you want to talk to someone through the camera the person will hear you loud and clear.
The night mode is good as the IR sensor can illuminate an entire room and the footage has good resolution and quality. Of course, while using the IR the image captured will be black and white.
Smart Home Integration
As noted earlier, the camera is built to integrate with the SwitchBot Hub and Alexa, but we also added it to our Google Assistant (sort of). Within the SwitchBot ecosystem, you can take advantage of the included sensors and you can create scenes based on them. You have 3 options, based on which, you can add triggers that can activate other devices from your SwitchBot Ecosystem: privacy mode on or off and Motion Detection. For instance, when motion is detected you can ask a SwitchBot Bot to activate itself, you can control the Curtains or turn on a light. The sensor response is decent and the Scenes are triggered pretty fast.
Within the Alexa app, you only have the Motion sensor within the camera as a trigger and you have two options: when motion is detected to trigger an action or when motion is not detected for a period of time between 1 minute and 12 hours to trigger an action on your other Alexa connected devices. This is good because you can integrate IFTTT actions if you wish from the Amazon device. The camera is also available withing Alexa Guard features, so you can safely use it as a home protection device.
In Google Home you don’t have many options for the camera and when clicking on it you will be prompted with a message that informs you that the camera can only be viewed on a smart display or Chromecast. When asking the assistant to display the camera, we don’t have any image there, so basically it is not working. Truth be told it is not even advertised as working with Google, so we will not take this aspect into consideration when rating the camera, but we think it must be noted and maybe in a future update we will see this feature working as well.
Overall, the SwitchBot Indoor Cam is an attractive product mainly based on the price. While the camera does not have the best quality or the most features, you can’t get anything better than it for $30/25€. The camera has a decent 1080p resolution which is enough for your home interior, it comes with a good IR sensor so you can use it at night and it also have integrated motion sensors which can trigger other smart devices. We would have loved to see more integration options, but for now we will have to stick with the SwitchBot ecosystem and Amazon Alexa. The storage options are similar to what you get from an IP camera and while the SD card option in a classic, the cloud service is quite expensive. The bottom line here is that if you want an affordable smart camera, this is the product for you and if you want more options you will have to rich deeper in your wallet to get some premium products, but I don’t know if the price difference is worth the extra features.