iSmartAlarm recently started shipping their third generation camera - Spot. Spot may not have the looks of so many other camera competitors, but he has spunk and an attractive price tag. It was the price tag that sucked me in. And after living with Spot for a couple weeks I feel confident declaring that he is better than iSmart's previous attempts, but he's far from perfect.
iSmartAlarm Spot Image and Video Quality
At $99, Spot packs a punch. The camera promises 720p resolution at 30 fps and is backed by automated night vision. The camera draws on an IR Cut filter to improve night vision quality. iSmart claims Spot can see up to 33 feet away in the dark, but at that distance things get pretty fuzzy.
Viewing during the day isn't too shabby and seems on-point with the 720p promise. While the camera cannot pan or tilt, it does offer a 130º Diagonal wide angle lens and a magnetic base so that you can swivel around (180 degree rotation) and capture video of what you want to see. Continuous live streaming is possible and the cameras uses H.264 compression format. If you don't like the way things look, you can use the custom settings to tweak brightness, contrast, or even resolution.
Video playback is spotty, pun intended. Performance will depend greatly upon the quality of your internet connection and I found that trying to playback video often caused the app to crash.
Spot As A Home Security Camera
A good home security camera isn't hard to find, but the process can be confusing. It's kind of like picking out the best cereal at the grocery store. In my grocery store there are two isles of cereal. Two isles of cereal!! And there are probably just as many camera options. Spot is a great option for those that own the iSmartAlarm system as it fits right into the plan. But at the same time, it does its job without the system.
Spot is an indoor only camera and iSmartAlarm does not make an outdoor option. In regards to protecting the inside of your home, Spot approaches this with two primary technologies.
First, it uses the built-in passive infrared motion detector to monitor for motion within 20 feet and push out alerts if it senses anything. Spot's motion detection didn't impress me. It's not automated, so you are responsible for manually arming and disarming and even though you can set sensitivity, it doesn't work well.
Second, it uses sound recognition. Recognition goes beyond detection. Right now Spot can recognize smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and it can send you a notice that will let you know if it hears one of these two recognized sounds. It's the sound recognition feature that sets Spot apart from other cameras and this feature somewhat makes up for the fact that the camera lacks other sensors like temperature and humidity.
Beyond sound and motion detection, Spot does have two-way voice. You also don't have to go at it alone. You can share Scout access with up to 4 devices or users at the same time and you can link up to 10 spots to a single CubeOne, if you are using an iSmartAlarm system.
Spot Video Storage and App
Spot uses the same app as the iCamera and Keep. In fact, you can use one app to control different cameras as well as an iSmartAlarm home security system. The app currently works with iOS and Androids phones and tablets.
From the camera section of the app, you can view footage from your connected cameras. If you click through to the individual camera screen, you can adjust the camera's resolution, view bandwidth speeds, use two-way audio, setup a time lapse recording, adjust motion/sound alert sensitivity, control night vision, and more.
Stored video is also accessed from within the app. In regards to storing video Spot users have the option of going local, cloud, or a combination of both. Spot supports up to a 64GB MicroSD card and comes with free cloud storage. Through the cloud you can store up to 30, 10 second clips. Though this is the only option for recording right now, iSmart says that long term video recording is TBD. Does TBD mean coming soon? I don't know. They literally said "TBD". It's up for interpretation.
A Quick Summary
Spot may be missing good looks and it isn't perfect, but it's only $99. By far my favorite feature was the option to record time lapse videos, but as a home security camera, this was a miss for me. I would suggest Blink over Spot for a sub-$100 security camera. While Blink cannot live stream, it's more reliable, battery powered, and has better performance. Both cameras have some app issues, but where iSmart has had years to work out their issues, Blink is brand new and improving all the time.
If you want to pre-order Spot, you can currently snag one from iSmart's website for $69.