I've been following Homeboy for a while. In fact, as crazy as the International CES convention can be, they were top on my list of people to visit. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times...it would be impossible for us to test every single camera. It is our goal to test all of our top recommended cameras and when we can't physically test a product we try our best to have a hands-on opportunity through trade shows, test units, or through friends. At trade shows like CES, we can play with apps, see the hardware, and talk about future state vs. current state. While this is secondary to owning a Homeboy it does allow us to compare Homeboy to others so that we can write a review that adds more value than just a quick YouTube video with some fluff at the bottom. We did spend time with the Homeboy team at Eureka Park inside CES. We used this experience to create this review for you.
- Cordless - Battery Powered
- Works with IFTTT
- Low Resolution
- Lacks True Night Vision
Image and Video Quality with the Homeboy
Everything about Homeboy is focused around the cordless design and optimizing the battery life. To give the battery its best chance, they have cut corners here or there, but the trade-off is that you have a mobile security solution that can watch you from above or the side or below or really from anywhere.
So here is where you choose. Will you take the red pill or will you take the blue pill?
You can choose a powerful, HD camera that is tethered by cords or you can pick a less powerful battery operated guy like Homeboy (compare other battery-powered cameras here). Homeboy records in a lower resolution. Specifically 640x480 480p. So you may be wondering what that resolution looks like. The answer will depend on lighting, camera placement, distance to the object, and other factor like movement. Here is a sample, in motion, with indoor lights on. The guy looks a little blurry and kind of like he has an alien hand but there is enough footage here that you could get a couple clear images to hand to the authorities if needed.
The Homeboy cannot pan, tilt or zoom but it can be mounted and attached magnetically to a base to capture a larger area. Unfortunately, it has a limited range of view. The lens field of view is about 52 degrees on the horizontal, 41 degrees vertical.
Homeboy claims to have night vision, but I wouldn't call it that. It uses an actual light for low light situations. For example, let's say it is dark outside and some one is creeping up on Homeboy. Homeboy will flash a white light to improve the footage and perhaps even scare away the culprit. Homeboy instinctively knows when the light is needed and when it's not. It's all about the battery with Homeboy and swapping out real night vision for a light trick is a battery saving move. Battery power is their ticket to uniqueness and by golly they will make it work. The downside to this "night light" situation is that the light may lag behind the event. If an intruder is moving past the camera quickly, the light may not have enough time to light up the night.
Homeboy to Enhance Home Security
Homeboy is an indoor camera only. If you want an outdoor camera, you will need to buy another camera from another brand which means managing your surveillance system via two apps.
As an indoor surveillance camera, Homeboy is pretty good. We've already talked about the flexible placement of Homeboy aiding in security but what we haven't talked about is that the flexible place is somewhat limited by the motion detection field of view. The motion detection sensor can only read motion within 15 feet of the camera. This might work in some situations but it is important to consider this when placing the Homeboy as open floor plans are nothing unusual these days. You will want to place Homeboy near the areas you want to cover. I recommend pointing Homeboy toward entryways to detect motion at point of entry. If motion is detected, Homeboy has a built-in siren feature to try to startle any would-be intruders.
Homeboy is not backed by activity zones so it will send alerts for everything detected within the FOV. However, Homeboy does have the option to automate arm and disarm using built-in geofence technology. You can use the Homeboy app to draw a virtual fence around your home. When your smart phone exits the circle, the cameras will arm and then it will automatically disarm when you return home. While you are away, Homeboy will monitor for motion but to preserve battery life it is NOT an always on camera. That means that Homeboy lacks a live streaming feature. Instead, it turns on when an event is detected or when you ask it to check-in on things. When you send the request to check-in on things, Homeboy will take a video and store the video up to 30 seconds in length. You can also use the IFTTT app to set up automated and time based recording.
Right now, that on-demand clip is sent to Homeboy's free cloud storage (Homeboy currently includes 12 hours of free storage). But the question of free cloud longevity is up in the air. When asked if Homeboy intended to stay "free forever" they responded,
To start, we have a limited supply of Homeboy cameras available for a special launch price of $149, with no subscription fee. After our initial production run this fall, we’ll open Homeboy for general availability, which will feature a variety of pricing options depending on the level of services users subscribe to.
**UPDATED**And true to their word, they did decrease the amount of free storage from 30 days to 12 hours. They also added a cloud plan. For $4.99 per month, you can keep event videos in the cloud for 30 days. Keep in mind that they actually store video clips (up to 30 seconds), not continuous video.**
As an alternative, there's IFTTT. If the cordless design is Homeboy's gold, IFTTT is its silver. IFTTT is a free web-based service that also offers a free app. Using the service you can create cause and effect type creations called "recipes." Through IFTTT you connect devices like Homeboy to other home automation devices, home security devices, and also to other web services like Gmail, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. Through Google Drive or Dropbox you essentially have free cloud storage when you create an IFTTT recipe that connects Homeboy to your chosen storage platform.
Another way Homeboy provides home security is through a trusted circle type situation that they call social security. Through the trusted circle you can invite those that you trust to help keep an eye on things. Officially they call the members of your trusted circle a "Crew". There are different roles Crew members can play like Chief, Deputy, or Posse. Through the different roles you can somewhat control what the Crew can do. Some roles can arm/disarm Homeboy, others can adjust camera settings, and others are there to check-in if an event is detected. Homeboy does not limit the number of people you add to your Crew.
When using a camera, your personal privacy is part of the home security package. Cameras can be hacked, and you want to make sure you are buying a camera that makes that harder and also that you take measures to protect your privacy. From a privacy perspective, Homeboy is mysterious. They use TLS encryption but beyond that, I'm not sure.
Homeboy Software Behavior
Homeboy only supports iOS (which should be downloaded from iTunes) and Android (which should only be downloaded from Google Play or Amazon). So far, both apps have reviewed well.
Through the app, you can request a quick clip, setup motion detection alerts, arm and disarm, and setup your geofence.
A Quick Summary
Homeboy is not an amazing piece of FHD hardware. Rather it is a small cordless security device. While the cordless design and IFTTT integration set Homeboy apart, I would suggest investing elsewhere. The problem with Homeboy is that they are a startup guilty of already admitting they plan to change their pricing and perhaps add monthly fees. Everyone is adding or trying to add IFTTT so soon this will not be enough to set them apart, and there are plenty of other cordless cameras hot on the trail.
Compatible Devices and Pricing Comparison
Homeboy works with IFTTT, iOS, and Android.
Homeboy can be purchase direct from their site for $149.00