The name Guardzilla may remind you of a terrifying sea monster, but I assure you, Guardzilla isn't a monstrous villain. In fact, Guardzilla is a company that creates security cameras to protect you. Their latest product, Guardzilla 360, is a security camera that can be truly terrifying for intruders and burglars. And yes, it has real-life superpowers.
Most security cameras pride themselves on having wide-angle field-of-views, but they typically only offer 130° to 180° viewing angles. Guardzilla 360, as the name implies, offers a sweeping 360° panoramic view coupled with a 1712 HD resolution and night vision.
Having a 360° viewing angle can sometimes do more harm than good. In order to show you the entire view, some 360° cameras distort the image and create a fisheye effect. No good. Fortunately, Guardzilla 360 doesn't do that. While its camera can record the entire view, you can choose to watch one angle at a time. Good news: no distortion. Bad news: you might need to replay the video several times to watch it from all angles.
While viewing videos, you can swipe through your phone's screen to adjust the view or you can use your phone's accelerometer VR style. The viewing experience is similar to viewing 360 videos on Facebook. This intelligence means that the experience is vastly superior to pan-and-tilt cameras, even those that offer a 360° pan. Pan-and-tilt cameras can only capture what's in front of them and their field-of-view isn't always impressive. For example, the TENVIS JPT3815W HD, which I tested, once recorded my dog barking at something. In the video, I can see my dog barking, but I can't see what he's barking at because of the camera's angle. This would not have been a problem if I were using Guardzilla 360.
Guardzilla 360's super vision does come with a downside. It uses an upward facing 360° camera, which makes camera placement a little more difficult than normal. For starters, you need to place it in or near the center of a room to take full advantage of its 360° view. You also need to make sure that the view is unobstructed. You can't place it too high, either, because the camera won't be able to see the lower part of your room. Ideally, you would place the camera on a coffee table or dining table; however, as the camera is wired, this might lead to an aesthetically displeasing result.
Guardzilla 360's second super power is heat vision, but to be fair, it's not the only security camera with this ability. I'm talking about PIR motion detection.
Almost all security cameras can detect motion, but most of them use the cheaper and less effective method: digital motion detection. This method compares subsequent frames and looks for changes in the pixel level. Changes in pixel color and position, for example, can trigger a motion event. It is an unreliable method as it detects anything that moves, even curtains being blown by the wind or moving shadows caused by a change in lighting.
PIR motion detection is far superior because it only detects movement by detecting changes in heat. No matter how much a curtain moves, it won't trip the sensor because it's not radiating heat. However, if someone were to break in through your window and hide behind the curtain, the sensor will notice the change in heat signature. Guardzilla has several PIR motion sensors around its camera that enable it to detect motion coming from any direction.
If Guardzilla 360 detects motion, it will immediately send you a text, push notification, and email alert through the Guardzilla app. Simultaneously, it will also record an 8-second clip to the cloud, where it stays for two days. You can download the clip to your phone if you want to save it for a later purpose or subscribe to a cloud plan for more cloud storage space. Guardzilla 360 also comes equipped with a 100dB siren that you can configure to sound automatically if motion is detected. If you happen to catch the event live, you can also use two-way talk.
According to user reviews, Guardzilla's PIR motion sensors are excellent. The bad news is that the camera can only record 8-second motion clips. If there's an intrusion, it will record for the first eight seconds and then stop. You can slightly improve the length of motion event clips by subscribing to a cloud storage plan (more on this later), but there's no option to continuously record for as long as there's motion.
Another con is that videos recorded with the free cloud plan don't have audio… a fact well-hidden in the Guardzilla app description.
It sounds like a special feature, but unobstructed is just a fancy name for a common security camera feature: geofencing. Geofencing allows the camera to use your phone's location to determine whether to arm or disarm the motion sensor based on your location. If you're within your home's premises, the camera will disarm. If you're outside the geofenced area, your camera will automatically arm.
Geofencing is a great feature. Even if you forget to arm your camera on your way out, your home won't be left vulnerable. However, the feature works optimally if you're the only person in your home. What if you have a roommate or family members?
You can share access to the camera so they, too, can use geofencing. The process involves you sending them an email invitation via the Guardzilla app. From there, they will download the app and create their own account.
The good news is that you don't have to share your password (they can create their own) and you get to choose which cameras you want to share with them.
The bad news?
I'm not digging the family access feature. Yes, you can choose which cameras to share with other users, but you can't set limitations on their access. You can only grant them FULL access, which means they can arm/disarm your camera, watch live videos anytime, and access your video history.
If there's anything we could learn from the latest Justice League film, it's that one hero isn't enough to save the world. The same applies to home security. One camera, no matter how good, isn't enough to protect your home. Fortunately, Guardzilla 360 is a team player.
Works With Other Guardzilla Cameras
First and foremost, Guardzilla 360 works with two other Guardzilla cameras: an indoor camera and an outdoor camera. You can add multiple indoor and outdoor cameras to your account and monitor them all using your Guardzilla app.
Alexa, the voice assistant living within Amazon Echo devices, can also control Guardzilla via the Arm My Guardzilla Skill. You can say, "Alexa, tell Guardzilla I'm leaving" or "Tell Guardzilla I'm home" to arm or disarm your camera respectively. To activate the skill, you'll need to set a PIN. The only way you can arm or disarm the camera is by speaking you PIN out loud after giving your Alexa device the command.
Do note that out of six user reviews of the Guardzilla Alexa Skill, five gave it a 1 star and only one gave it 5 stars.
Alexa's Google counterpart, Google Assistant, also talks to Guardzilla. The Alexa Skill and the Google Assistant application for Guardzilla do the same things. It's just a matter of choosing between the two platforms.
Works With Nest
Nest, one of the most prominent home automation companies and creator of several high-end security cameras, also works with Guardzilla. One thing the integration can do is set your Nest devices to Home or Away mode based on Guardzilla's mode. To activate the integration, simply follow the steps here. Once done, you will be able to set your Nest devices to Away mode simply by setting Guardzilla to Away mode. The same applies to Home Mode.
Guardzilla also claims to work with IFTTT, but a search of Guardzilla or Guardzilla 360 on IFTTT turned up no results. After doing a Google search, I did find one Applet that can turn on a WeMo switch if Guardzilla sends you an email alert, but it's an indirect integration. It uses the Gmail channel and WeMo channel with the recipe, "If 'new email in inbox from [Guardzilla email address]', then 'Turn on WeMo Switch.'" Claiming to work with IFTTT and using a workaround to make it seem like it works with the service are two different things.
As with IFTTT, Guardzilla claims to work with SmartThings, but there's no documentation on how to make the integration work.
Guardzilla 360's Weakness: The Software
Unfortunately, like our favorite superheroes, Guardzilla has a weakness: it's software. The software, the Guardzilla app available to iOS and Android devices, plays a key role in the user experience. It's the component you will interact with the most. Sadly, it's also the component many Guardzilla users hate the most.
The app isn't exactly modern-looking. The home page has several large buttons, such as arm/disarm, live view, event history, and settings. If you want to customize your camera settings, you'll probably need to dig deep because some of the settings are well hidden. There are also existing bugs that cause the app to crash or fail to do what it's supposed to do. Overall, the iOS version holds no rating because there are not enough reviews, but the Android version holds a 3.6/5 stars rating.
Other Things You Need To Know About Guardzilla 360
Guardzilla has a speed-dial feature, which you can access by pressing one of the three buttons at the side of the camera. The buttons, marked with one, two, and three dots, can call users that have access to the camera. To get started, you must first associate each button with a user. The call is achieved via the two-way talk feature, so take note that it will only push through if the account you're trying to reach is connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data. If the account is offline, the call won't happen.
Optional Cloud Subscription
As mentioned earlier, Guardzilla 360 records to the cloud for free, but storage space is only good for two days. If you want your videos to stay in the cloud a little longer, you're going to need a cloud subscription. There are two-subscription plans: the 7-day subscription for $4.99/month/camera and the 30-day subscription for $8.99/month.
Paying for a cloud subscription also extends the length of motion event clips from 8 seconds to 30 seconds and activates video with audio recording.
Aside from cloud storage services, you can sign up for professional monitoring for $9.99/month. If you do, your home will have the backup protection of professional monitoring services. If Guardzilla detects an event and you don't respond to it within a considerable time period, the alert will forward to a central monitoring station. They will be able to review the footage and try to reach you via a phone call if needed. If all else fails, they will determine whether to dispatch the police to your place or not.
If you do respond to the initial alert and confirm that there's a real emergency, you will also have the added option to alert the monitoring center. If you alert them, they will call you and assist you in getting help.
Finally, you might be able to apply for discounts on your insurance premium if you opt for professional monitoring.
A Quick Summary
I feel like I've said a lot about the camera, but here's a quick summary.
Guardzilla is a 360° camera that offers a panoramic view of its surroundings. It has a 1712p resolution and night vision, but its best feature is its ability to record a full 360° view. While watching live or recorded videos, you can pan the view using your finger or using your phone's accelerometer.
For security, the camera uses PIR motion detection, which is a big plus. It can send email, text, or push alerts and it has a built-in 100dB siren. It also supports two-way talk. Guardzilla 360 can arm/disarm itself automatically thanks to geofencing. However, if you're planning on sharing access to the camera with your roommate, family, or friends, exercise caution as you can only give them full access.
The camera works with several other platforms including Nest, Amazon, and Google Assistant. Guardzilla claims that it works with IFTTT and SmartThings, but it doesn't.
If you want to enjoy Guardzilla's full 360° protection, you can buy it now from Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Staples, and select dealers. It retails for $229.99.