The Smartcam HD Outdoor camera by Samsung is a wired outdoor home security camera. It's not their first outdoor camera, but so far it is their best attempt.
Fair warning, I've not had my hands on the Smartcam HD yet but I can tell you how it measures up compared to other cameras we've tried. I hope to save you time on research, considering I've already spent hours digging through information to understand exactly what makes the outdoor Smartcam sink or swim.
- Excellent Night Vision Quality
- Clear Footage
- Free Local Storage Held Separate from Camera
- Can Monitor Indoor and Outdoor Cams on Same App
- Requires Wires Run Outdoors
- Motion Detection Can Be Sensative
- Two-Way Audio Requires Additional Wires
- Poor Mobile App Performance
Smartcam HD Outdoor Image & Video Quality
The Smartcam promises 1080p full HD video that performs both day and night. In fact, the night vision is said to reach 50 feet backed by an IR cut filter using 24 infrared LEDs. The camera also performs well in low light condition via the Samsung Light Enhancer (SLE). SLE essentially enhances any existing light available to improve your ability to check things out when it's not yet bright and not yet dark. It's a technology specific to Samsung cameras and definitely something that sets Samsung cameras apart from others.
The only downside to all of this is that though it is capable of streaming in 1080p, it might not always work out that way. If the camera doesn't receive a solid network connection, the actual resolution will likely fall back to 720p. Also, if viewing footage from a mobile device, you can bet that the resolution will fall back to 720p. This is still an awesome video quality and will improve the speed and reduce latency between what's actually happening and what you are seeing.
The Smartcam HD Outdoor does not pan or tilt but does support a wide angle (128°) and 4X digital zoom.
All in all, the camera provides a clean image quality.
Smartcam HD Outdoor for Home Security
The Smartcam is rated for outdoor use. In fact, the camera has an IP66 weather-resistant rating. That means that it won't be bothered by heat, cold, dust, wind, or even rain. However, it's not completely weather resistant if you want to use certain features. For example, the camera is capable of supporting two-way audio but that requires that you buy your own speaker and mic and connect them to the jacks on the camera body. Granted, you can probably find a solution that will work outdoors but still something to think about. Plus adding a speaker and mic will add cords to a solution that already has a power cord. The camera body is held outdoors but the power/WiFi module is indoors and the two must remain connected via power cord. Nobody likes cords...especially cords run outside and this puts Smartcam at a disadvantage to cordless solutions like Arlo.
Smartcam also has built-in motion detection. If motion is detected, it will send a video to your smartphone via push notification. The camera can also send email notifications, though there is some debate about this feature. Some say that it doesn't work well and others say that it works but doesn't send a picture which is a deal killer for many that want visual confirmation with email notifications.
To enhance motion detection, Samsung offers activity zones. Activity zones are included at no additional cost, which is an advantage over the Dropcam solution. Within the field of view, you can draw a square around three areas that you want to monitor. For example, let's say that you want to receive alerts if someone is at your door but you really want to ignore any movement on your porch. You would draw a square around the door and Samsung technology will do the rest.
Samsung Smartcam Software Behavior
Samsung offers a free mobile app for both iOS and Android. In addition to using the mobile apps, they do offer a web based portal. Through the app, you can watch live streaming footage and also use the two-way audio feature (assuming you've set it up). The cameras support H.264 compression to make streaming as efficient as possible and in general reports are that the living streaming feature works well even when watching footage from a remote location.
Through the app, you can add cameras, playback recorded footage, view your event log, and also setup event notifications (push or email). Event alarm notification services only work when a user is logged in, so it's best to constantly stay logged into the app when using the service remotely. I've not heard of anyone complaining about access so this is probably a mild concern and not a deal killer.
On the downside, the app isn't well designed. It's clunky and users complain that it frequently drops connection.
Video Storage for Smartcam HD Outdoor
Smartcam does not offer cloud storage for this camera. Instead, it uses an internal SD card (not included) for video storage. The cloud vs internal storage debate is very real. Depending upon which side of the fence you're on, this might be a pro or a con. The bottom line is that using an internal SD card will eliminate monthly fees but also your SD card is susceptible to damage or theft vs footage stored safely in the cloud. Or is it? To eliminate the theft concern, the Smartcam SD card actually goes into the separate WiFi/Power module which stays indoors. This keeps the saved footage separate from the outdoor camera and enhances overall security. Criminals may break your camera but they will not get the footage. Another benefit to using the SD card for storage is that footage can continue to record locally even if your network is down.
The max capacity of the SD card is 32GB. I've heard of several people using a 64GB card but the official capacity is 32GB. You can record continuously to the SD card but to maximize space you can also setup the camera to record only when events are detected. There are multiple options for how continuous recording works as well. For example, you can ask for new footage to overwrite old footage or ask that old footage is kept until manually deleted.
As a footnote, multiple people have noted that the 32GB card holds about 3 days of footage.
A second storage option is to save footage direct to your phone's gallery. If you are viewing something that you find interesting, simply take a snapshot and it will save to your gallery.
Finally, though other Samsung cameras have added cloud storage, this feature will not work with the Smartcam HD per Samsung's tech support.
A Quick Summary
Samsung's Smartcam HD Outdoor is a wireless outdoor camera solution with wires. It uses an internal SD card for storage. It streams live footage and can send alerts to smart devices. The weather rated camera can stand up to the elements and stays connected via a wire to the indoor power/WiFi module, which was specifically designed to help improve the signal to your outdoor camera.
Compatible Devices and Pricing Comparison
The Smartcam HD Outdoor can work on the same app as your indoor Smartcam but cannot connect to any other devices.
Samsung Smartcam Outdoor on Amazon $179.99
Samsung Smartcam Outdoor on NewEgg $199
7/5/2016 updated to reflect no cloud storage.