There are many home automation and security systems on the market and new ones are appearing virtually every week. There are those that are feature rich and many that are easy to set-up. Most wireless home security cameras can be controlled remotely via applications that you can download to your mobile devices.
For security and monitoring, video cameras that can be remotely accessed are the key to any automated home system. Resolution varies by model, but today most offer at least 720p HD resolution, with many boasting full 1080p HD. Security cameras with HD resolution offer consumers a quality image that can be used to easily identify what is being captured on video, even on the smaller screens of mobile devices.
EZVIZ has created a line of compact internet-controlled video cameras that are affordable, easy to install and versatile. The most innovative of these is the EZVIZ Mini, an HD camera with a 720p resolution. This camera is extremely compact, measuring a scant 2” wide by 3.5” tall and a mere 1” deep. You can place the camera virtually anywhere within a few feet of an electrical outlet.
The Mini comes with a built-in swivel and tilt stand, attached USB power cord, a mounting plate, power adapter plug, and a quick start guide. The camera can also be purchased with an optional micro-SD card that slides into a covered slot on the side of the unit.
The camera can record in three resolutions: basic, standard and Hi-Def. For use in well-lit conditions, the “standard” setting provides an adequate image. For best results, we recommend using the “Hi-Def” setting, which provides a very good image. The only downside will be larger files when storing images to an SD card.
The Mini is intended to be used solely as an indoor device and is not weatherproofed for outdoor use. The camera has infrared illumination lights, a built-in microphone, magnetic base, and an indicator light when on. The power cord is an ample five feet in length, allowing the camera some flexibility in placement relative to an available power source.
The cameras cover a wide angle of 115 degrees horizontally and provide a sharp, full color image in bright light conditions. The unit has a built-in infrared light that switches on automatically when light conditions are very low.
The frame rate is a decent 15 frames per second, quite adequate for a security monitoring camera. There is a slight delay in the feed, which should not create any problems in normal use. Sound accompanies the video image and is clear if not particularly loud.
You can also zoom into an image on your iPhone as you monitor a video feed as one usually does with a mobile device: spread your fingers to zoom in or pinch your fingers to zoom out. The zoom ranges up to 8x magnification which allows you to see details in the video, especially when recording using the “Hi-Def” mode.
Setting up the EZVIZ Mini is a straightforward process with only a few steps. First, you plug the camera into an outlet using the power adapter. Second, you download the EZVIZ App and register an account (you’ll need to provide a user name and create a password). You’ll be prompted to add a device, which you do by scanning the small QR code printed on the back of the camera body.
Once you identify what wifi network you wish to use for the camera(s), you can access the live feed from the camera on your mobile device.
The Mini is designed to be accessed primarily via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. You can install multiple cameras and manage them all using a single account.
All the controls needed to navigate the system are available on a few screens displayed on the EZVIZ App. When you start the App, it logs you in automatically based on the login user name and password you supplied during set-up and takes you to the EZVIZ “Home” screen.
The “Home” screen displays a grid showing all active cameras at the top of the screen. Right below this grid are several icons that control several features: a “play” icon that displays a live feed of the camera selected; a microphone mute button; a “full screen” button that expands the thumbnail image to full screen display; a button that flips the image vertically; and a zoom button to zoom into the selected video feed.
Below the grid icons are three large round buttons: a “Camera” button that allows you to take a still photo of the camera feed, a “Video” button that allows you to record the live feed, and a “Resolution” button that toggles between the three video resolutions available: “Basic” (low-res), “Standard,” and “Hi-Def” for full 720p resolution.
If you have multiple cameras online, the Home screen will display all the live feeds. Each camera has a unique name that can be customized. If you click on one camera feed you will go to a larger display of the feed(s), from which you can access the settings for that camera.
This menu allows you to change how a number of features perform on the camera, such as activating the built-in IR light. You can set an “Alarm Notification” so that you receive a notice that the camera has detected motion. This menu also allows you to select the Wi-Fi network you want to use, re-name the camera, or change the password. You can easily check the storage status for either the Cloud service or an internal micro-SD card (if installed).
There are two ways that you can store video using the EZVIZ Mini. First, you can install a micro-SD in the slot provided on the side of the camera. Each clip captured by the motion sensor is typically 30 seconds and is between one and two megabytes in size. Therefore, a 16GB card will store thousands of clips before reaching capacity, giving you an extensive library of clips in case you need to check on a recorded event after the fact.
The second method is to purchase the EZVIZ “CloudPlay” service to store video clips in a cloud server accessed via the internet. Because CloudPlay is not limited by the size of a physical storage device, its capacity is much greater that a single micro-SD card., although the videos are only stored for a fixed period of time.
You can also activate an alert system that will notify you on your mobile device if any motion has been detected by a camera. The notice will appear as an alert on your screen, and is saved as a message in the EZVIZ software so you can see each occurrence.
You activate the cloud storage option by checking the “Storage Status” found in the “Settings” menu. Videos are then automatically saved on the EZVIZ cloud server. The Mini comes with a free 7-day trial recording plan subscription so you can check out the features of the service. You can view any videos recorded over that seven day time period from your mobile device.
After the one week free trial expires, you have an opportunity to purchase one of two subscription plans that meet your storage needs. The standard Seven Day plan keeps recordings in the cloud for the past seven-day period before removing them from the cloud.
There will also be a 30 Day plan (not yet active at the time of this review) that provides an extended time period (a full 30 days) for the videos to remain on the cloud server.
You can purchase these services on a monthly or annual basis for fees that are reasonable when compared to other competitors. The Seven Day plan costs $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year. The 30 Day plan costs $10.99 per month and is $109.99 for an annual subscription.
Please note that if you cancel your subscription or your account, your video history will be deleted from the cloud.
A “Gallery” bar is located at the bottom of the home page when displaying the grid of active cameras. Selecting the gallery displays all of the recorded videos that have been captured by the camera and are stored on the internal microSD card. If you are storing videos using Cloud Play, the gallery will include all recordings available over the past seven days (or 30 days if you have that extended cloud plan). Videos are grouped by date and time, with the current day’s images displayed on the first screen. To access recordings made on previous days, just tap on the date at the top of the screen to access a graphic calendar.
Any day that has videos recorded is indicated by a small blue dot below the date. Touching that date brings up all the videos captured that day. You can play any individual video clip, rewind or even zoom in while it’s playing back.
Pricing and Availability
The EZVIZ Mini is sold at a number of retailers, including Sam’s Club and Staples. Of course, prices online are a bit lower, and the camera can be found on the web for less than $85. If you want a 16GB microSD included the price is about $90. Some retailers also bundle a 12-month subscription with the camera for less than $100. If you’d like to place cameras in multiple locations, ou can also purchase a 4-pack for about $300.
The EZVIZ Mini is a great value for those who are looking for a basic, no frills security/monitoring camera at a reasonable price. Set up is simple and quick, and the image quality is good for a low-priced video camera.
EZVIZ also allows you to access your account via their website on your laptop. However, access to your gallery and live video streams are only supported on PC running Windows software. Unfortunately, if you are a Macintosh user, you can only access the gallery and video feeds from your mobile devices.
While away from your home, the unit is easily monitored using mobile devices and using the cloud storage service allows you to replay video shot within the past week. For mobile access and low price, the EZVIZ Mini is a solid choice for your home.