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.

Netatmo Weather Station review: Cool device; far from perfect

Netatmo Weather Station

The Netatmo Weather Station is a cool “smart” device, but lacks a lot of features that would make it a must-have item.

The Netatmo Weather Station is the first personal home weather station I’ve used and from what I read beforehand, I expected a full featured connected home device. And while it has many great qualities, it lacks in a few critical areas. Here are my thoughts on the device after playing with it for a few weeks.

What is the Netatmo Weather Station?

The Netatmo Weather Station is a personal home weather station that connects via your Android or iOS device. The base kit consists of an indoor base station and an outdoor module that can detect heat, humidity, air pressure, air quality and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. The indoor base station can also monitor those things as well as noise levels. Accessories like a rain gauge and a wind gauge can be added to give a user more information.

BELOW: Watch as I unbox the Netatmo Weather Station and its accessories

Setting up the Netatmo Weather Station

The indoor base station plugs into a wall outlet to get power and needs to be somewhere close enough to the outside module. Once it’s booted, you use the app to connect it to your home Wi-Fi and set it up. The outdoor module requires AAA batteries and needs to be mounted in a location that it won’t get wet or be in direct sunlight. It needs to be positioned close enough to the indoor base station for the two to sync. Getting those working together was a fairly simple task.

Netatmo Weather Station

The Netatmo Weather Station outdoor module mounted to my house.

Where I had issues was when connecting the rain gauge and wind gauge accessories. Both use AAA batteries and both need to be near the indoor base station as well. After a few hiccups, the rain gauge synced and I found a good spot to mount it where it could collect rain and still be in range. I fought with the wind gauge for about an hour and never got it to connect. I packed it up and never bothered trying it again as it was too frustrating.

Using the Netatmo Weather Station

Once the Netatmo Weather Station is set-up it pretty much runs itself. The app will notify you when CO2 levels are over 1,000 ppm or when there is a large amount of rain collected. You can of course load the app to check conditions whenever you want. The main indoor base station also lights up with different colours if CO2 levels are high.

What I liked about the Netatmo Weather Station

For the most part, the Netatmo Weather Station is a slick-looking “smart home” device that has a lot of information to offer. From the packaging to the slim design of the base station and outdoor module, it feels very much like an Apple product. I liked the fact the outdoor module and accessories took batteries and didn’t rely on house power. The app (I tested both the Android and iOS version) is well designed and I discovered having a super local forecast in my backyard really does make a difference. There’s also a nice weather map feature that shows other Netatmo Weather Station readings from around the world.

What I didn’t like about the Netatmo Weather Station

Besides not being able to get the wind gauge to work, I was irked that it and the rain gauge didn’t include a mounting bracket and that Netatmo sells the bracket as a separate accessory. I only had one bracket in my review kit, meaning that even if I got the wind gauge to work I would have had to decide on what accessory to use as I could only use one. This is a bit sneaky on Netatmo’s part in my opinion. Also, no matter how tight I had the bracket, the rain gauge tipped over a few times during heavy downpours making it seem like there was no rain at all.

Netatmo Weather Station

The Netatmo Weather Station rain gauge accessory mounted on my fence.

I was also disappointed with the lack of integration with other “smart home” devices, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat and Wink Relay. Both of these would make the Netatmo Weather Station a much more valuable tool for the connected home.

How the Netatmo Weather Station could be better

It would be great if the Netatmo Weather Station included a wall-mounted display panel as having to always load an app is a bit tiresome, especially when there’s a whole family involved. This could easily be solved if it could integrate with other devices better, such as the Wink Relay. I would also like the ability to have the Netatmo data sync with other weather apps. I also think that the wind gauge and rain gauge could be merged into one unit for space and cost savings.

Final thoughts

The Netatmo Weather Station is a cool “smart” device, but with the lack of a wall display and no integration with my other devices, it’s not an essential tool for my connected home and I won’t be running out to buy one anytime soon. It did open my eyes to the potential of having a personal weather station though and I do now want one.

The Netatmo Weather Station base package retails for $179.99. The rain gauge is an extra $79.99 and the wind gauge runs for $99.99 (the mounting bracket is $24.99). An additional indoor module is also available for $79.99. For more information, visit netatmo.com.

Do you use a Netatmo or other connected weather station at home? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.