Netatmo Welcome review: the security camera you didn’t know you needed

Netatmo Welcome

The Netatmo Welcome is a slick and functional connected security camera. Courtesy Netatmo.

I have a love-hate relationship with indoor connected security cameras. On one hand, I like feeling safe and knowing my house is being monitored when I’m not there. On the other hand, I don’t like the idea of a camera recording me while I’m walking around in my briefs, or worse, a hacker hijacking the camera and watching me walk around in my briefs!

My feelings for connected cameras changed after testing the Netatmo Welcome for a few weeks. Unlike the Netatmo Weather Station (which I found to be a cool, but unnecessary device) the Netatmo Welcome is slick and functional.

First thoughts

After unboxing the Netatmo Welcome (I was too excited to shoot a video of it), the cylinder shape and goldish colour instantly made it stand out from other security cameras I’ve tested (it comes across much more like a Bluetooth speaker than a camera). Along with a USB port to power the device, there’s an Ethernet port and a  MicroSD card slot located on the back.

RELATED: Netatmo Weather Station review: Cool device; far from perfect

Getting it connected

Because it requires a power source and I only wanted it to point at my front door to see when people come and go, it took some maneuvering and extension cords before I got it up and running. Once it was hooked up, getting it onto my home WiFi network and setting it up via the iOS app was a very simple process (there’s also an Android app available).

Features

The big feature of the Netatmo Welcome is its facial recognition capabilities. For the most part this worked well with my kids (both boys) and I. For some reason it seemed to recognize my wife or mother even after flagging multiple images of them during its training (the only explanation I have for this is their longer hair got in the way of a full face view).

Via the app you can set up and be alerted to any motion detected by the camera. It can also listen for alarms, such a smoke or security alarm, going off inside your home and notify you of them as well. Like the facial recognition it takes some tweaking in order to get this working smoothly.

Netatmo Welcome face recognition

Example of face recognition with the Netatmo Welcome. Courtesy Netatmo.

Other features of the Netatmo Welcome include the ability to get a live view in 1080p HD from within the app and have recorded clips uploaded directly to Dropbox or an FTP server.

Hands on

As I mentioned above, it took a few days to get the camera working to my liking. Faces from reflections of my TV in a window were picked up and kept alerting me of “unknown faces”. I re-positioned it and then trees moving outside kept alerting me of “motion detected”. When I finally found the “sweet spot” for it, it worked like a charm.

RELATED: 5 reasons to add Philips Hue bulbs to your smart home

Being able to get a clear live view when no one was home (even at night when all the lights were off inside) and being able to confirm that all my timers and smart bulbs were working as they were supposed to was a big selling point for me. I was also impressed with the integration of Netatmo Tags, which are additional sensors available to purchase that can be attached to windows and doors. These talk to the Welcome to alert you if a window or door is opened.

Cons

The only real con to the Netatmo Welcome I found was lack of compatibility with other “smart” devices. It would be nice to be able to use it with the Wink Relay or via the Apple Home app. This is the same issue I had with the Netatmo Weather Station and it’s a real problem if Netatmo wants to compete in the the “Internet of Things” market (you even need separate apps for the Weather Station and Welcome).

Final thoughts

Overall, I was impressed enough with the Netatmo Welcome to seriously consider adding one to my home. For $219 it’s cheaper than the similar Nest Cam ($249) and with no monthly fee for services or cloud storage it’s a solid contender.

The Netatmo Welcome is available in Canada at Home Depot, Best Buy and Amazon.ca. For more information, visit netatmo.com.

Do you use a Netatmo Welcome or similar connected security camera? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Around the House (Sept. 12, 2016)

Around the House is a weekly roundup of news items related to smart devices, tools, kitchen gadgets and anything else worth mentioning from the last week that affects our home life.

Nest Cam Outdoor arrives

The highly anticipated Nest Cam Outdoor is now available to purchase for a cool $249.99 CDN. The weatherproof camera allows users to monitor the outside of their homes live 24/7 and also includes two-way audio. Users with a Nest Aware subscription can receive person alerts and have 10 or 30-day video history saved in the cloud depending on the package they subscribe to. Nest also added three new thermostat colour options this week. For those unhappy with only being able to purchase the standard stainless steel model, you can now get it in white, black and copper.

Nest Cam Outdoor

The Nest Cam Outdoor is now available in Canada for $249.

Apple shows off ‘Home’ app

During its iPhone 7 event last week, Apple briefly showed off its new ‘Home’ app in iOS 10, which will give users total control of HomeKit integrated smart devices in one location. Compatible devices include the likes of Philips Hue bulbs, the ecobee3 thermostat and Schlage Connect locks (among others). Besides the announcement that Mario is coming to the iPhone and iPad this holiday season (about time!), the ‘Home’ demo was the most exciting thing about the event.

Apple Home App

Apple’s ‘Home’ app.

PlayStation 4 Pro announced

The PlayStation 4 Pro is coming November 10. Along with a faster processor and a 1TB hard drive, it opens up 4K gaming. Unfortunately it does not not support 4K UltraHD Blu-ray titles like the XBOX One S does. This is somewhat odd since Sony Home Entertainment has been pumping out 4K UltraHD Blu-ray movies all year, including the Angry Birds movie (which, if you’re going to watch, it might as well be in 4K UltraHD).

PS4 Pro

The Sony PlayStation Pro 4.

Milwaukee Tool has a light for everyone

Four new lighting options are coming this fall from Milwaukee Tool. These include the M18 Rocket LED Tower Light/Charger, M12 ROVER LED Compact Flood Light, M18 LED Search Light and M18 RADIUS LED Compact Site Light w/ONE-KEY, which can be programmed via the ONE-KEY app and remotely controlled from up to 50-feet away. As a fan of the Milwaukee Tool brand I’m excited for all of these. All four options will be available in October.

Milwaukee M18 RADIUS LED Compact Site Light w/ONE-KEY

The Milwaukee M18 RADIUS LED Compact Site Light w/ONE-KEY.

Samsung Canada officially recalls Note 7

After some serious issues surrounding the Note 7 battery (like the potential of it to explode and cause a fire), Samsung Canada has issued a recall notice for the device. If you purchased one between August 19 and September 1, 2016, you are urged to power it down and register for a new one. There’s been approximately 21,953 of these sold in Canada (according to Health Canada) so if you know someone with one let them know about the recall.

Have something to add to Around the House weekly? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Nest aims to make your home safer with new outdoor camera

Nest Cam Outdoor

The Nest Cam Outdoor is available to pre-order in Canada for $249. It ships in the fall.

Nest Labs, the makers of the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke + CO alarm, announced its newest “smart home” device Thursday – the Nest Cam Outdoor.

The Nest Cam Outdoor compliments the existing indoor Nest Cam to help make your home more secure. The weatherproof camera gives a 130° view and records and streams in 1080p HD. It also has eight infrared LEDs so that users have a clear picture around the clock.

RELATED: WeMo devices now work with the Nest thermostat

“Nest Cam provides customers with peace of mind and the ability to stay connected to the things they care most about. Now, Nest Cam Outdoor brings thoughtful security outside of customers’ homes, helping them secure their property and giving them more ways to watch over their families, even when they’re miles away,” Maxime Veron, director of hardware product marketing at Nest said in a press release.

For Nest Aware subscribers, the Nest Cam Outdoor records 24/7 to the cloud and includes a new features called Person Alerts, which can tell if the camera is detecting an actual person or an animal or movement from wind.

“The future is about intelligent alerts. Customers want to know when something is happening that genuinely deserves their attention. Person alerts are the first of many innovations that will make Nest Cam a more helpful partner in securing the home,” said Veron.

Other features of the Nest Cam Outdoor include easy setup (it has a magnetic base) and two-way audio so a user can talk and listen to someone through it (great for people who get a lot of packages delivered).

RELATED: 3 ‘smart’ home devices to get excited for in 2016

The only obvious downside to the Nest Cam Outdoor is that it requires a power source instead of running off of solar and battery power.

Nest also announced an updated version of its Nest app Thursday, which will include a new feature called Spaces. Spaces organizes Nest products by room, giving a user more control of their home.

The new app, which will be available to download later this month, also unlocks features for current Nest Cam owners. These include secure private camera sharing, auto-bandwidth and high resolution 1080p viewing for Dropcam Pro customers.

The Nest Cam Outdoor is available to pre-order in Canada now for $249. It ships in the fall. For more information on the Nest Cam Outdoor, visit nest.com.

Are you excited for the Nest Cam Outdoor? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.