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Brinno PHVMAC — Hidden Front Door Camera

Front door surveillance is a crucial part of home security. An estimated 34% of all burglars enter your home through the front door. However, a security camera at your front door can make your visitors feel uncomfortable. Is there a better way?

A Subtle Way of Front Door Surveillance

Brinno PHVMAC is a discreet way of monitoring your front door. This isn’t one of those "smart doorbells" equipped with a camera that sends video to your smartphone when someone is at your front door, it's a peephole viewer.

Brinno not only tells you who’s at the door but also who's been there and when. From the outside, it looks like a traditional peephole. But from inside your home, it looks more like a camera that records what's going on outside of your door.

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Brinno’s Features

Brinno is a standalone technology that doesn’t need Wi-Fi nor external sensors to do its job, but it has everything it needs to work.

Right below the camera lens is an ambient light sensor which Brinno uses to detect motion. How does it work? It uses the change in the surrounding light to know if there’s motion. Say, a visitor casts a shadow on to the sensor, the change in lighting would trigger an event.

The sensor's performance depends upon the lighting conditions at your front door. In part, it also depends upon your "guest". Does the person’s movement create a change in lighting? If the light condition is right, Brinno can detect motion up to 20 feet away. However, it may not detect anything at all if the change isn’t enough.

Brinno’s second feature is the auto-capture. It captures an image or records a video whenever someone stands at your front door. However, this feature is highly dependent on the sensor.

Videos and images are stored onto an SD card. You can view saved files either by plugging the SD card into your computer or by using Brinno’s fast playback feature. With a push of a button, Brinno plays back the images and videos using a 3” TFT screen. It is a convenient way of knowing who came to visit you after a long day of work.

Finally, Brinno uses 4 AA batteries that can last for up to 6 months or approximately 9,000 auto-captures. It’s lack of Wi-Fi and other battery hungry features is the key to its long battery life.

Brinno PHVMAC Installation

Brinno PHVMAC comes in 2 models, PHV MAC12 and PHV MAC14. Which one should you buy? That depends upon the size of your door. Besides sizing, these models are identical.

  • PHV MAC 12
  • Peephole barrel is 12 mm in diameter
  • Fits any door 35 to 57 mm thick.
  • PHV MAC 14
  • Peephole barrel is 14 mm in diameter
  • Fits any door 40 to 69 mm thick.

A Brinno package comes with the peephole viewer, a peephole, base flange, washer for the peephole, tightening tool, batteries, and user manual. Brinno can be installed to your front door in 3 easy steps, given that your door already has a hole for the peephole barrel.

The first step of installation would be to install the peephole barrel and the base flange. The next step is to insert Brinno and tighten it to the base flange. And, you're done.

The Verdict on Brinno

What do you think about Brinno? I think it's subtle and innovative. However, there are some missing features.

A product like Brinno PHVMAC would be more useful with real-time monitoring through a smartphone. Brinno is a good source of evidence if your home is broken into, but it can't prevent a burglary. Real-time monitoring would require connection to Wi-Fi which would decrease battery life but that's a trade off I would be willing to take.

In my opinion, Brinno also needs an upgraded camera. Many users on customer forums say that the Brinno camera isn’t very good. Good video quality is essential for its current purpose. The ability to tweak the camera's exposure, contrast, and brightness as needed would increase visibility in different lighting conditions. Currently, this isn't possible.