By Ajay Joseph
The PC video camera scene has been a largely boring space — be it webcams or security cameras. While there have been some advancements worth mentioning such as Intel’s RealSense tech, they have been few and far apart. In this rather grey landscape arrives the Ezviz C2C Mini O Plus Wi-Fi camera. Let’s give it a quick whirl, and see how it fares.
Design and Ergonomics
The design is an inverted teardrop of sorts, with a total height measuring under five inches. The exterior is white, and the camera module is mounted on a base with a hinge that allows for multi-directional positioning.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the design, but I’m guessing it was the best way to merge the necessary optics hardware and functionality in the smallest possible enclosure. Device weight is 120 grams.
The camera is surrounded by a black space which houses infrared LEDs that allow for night vision. There is an LED status light on the front that blinks, as well as a microphone. On the rear is the mini USB hookup for power, a microSD card slot, and a speaker for 2-way voice communication.
Also included in the kit is a mounting disk, which attaches to the camera unit magnetically, and can be used for easy detaching. Note that the Quick Start Guide is important, as the software pairing has a QR code scan stage, and that code is printed on the guide. The charger is a Type B power socket versus Type A, which is used in the Philippines.
Specs and Performance
In terms of specs, the Mini O Plus has a 2 megapixel HD CMOS sensor that can record video and take images at 1080p. It has a wide-angle lens with a 135-degree field of view. The infrared night mode is pretty good in the dark and is rated to work at up to 7.5 meters. I tried it in near-complete darkness and it fared well.
The Wi-Fi connectivity is via the 2.4 GHz band and supports 802.11 b, g, and n standards. During operation, it consumes a meager 3 watts.
Video can be viewed in real-time from the phone device where the app has been installed, and it’s possible to zoom into areas as well. There is some degradation with zooming-in; per the marketing material, the zoom is up to 8x. On a speedy Wi-Fi connection viewing is almost real-time with very minimal lag, whereas on a slower 3G mobile data network, there is a 1-2 second lag. Given the purpose though, it isn’t a huge concern.
It allows local recording with a MicroSD card plugged in, or cloud recording via a cloud service. Note that neither the SD card nor the Cloud Service subscription is included. The normal operation though is to take images and record video using the phone app, which saves the content directly on the phone device. The content uses H.264 encoding and is stored in an encrypted format for security. Zoomed-in pictures and videos cannot be taken.
The 2-way audio allows for some minimal back and forth communication, similar to a baby monitor. This seemed to work as advertised. The functionality though is half-duplex, only allowing for communication in one direction at a time, and not a simultaneous two-way conversation.
The mic was good at picking up sound and picked up outdoor sounds and ambient sounds in the room. While not clear enough to decipher what music was playing, you could tell that there was music playing in the room where it was set up. I read online about scheduling and motion detection features, but could not find it easily on the app. Not sure if it’s region-specific, or if I just needed to dig deeper into the software to find it.
The Ezviz app can be found on the Android and iOS app stores, respectively. The app is required to set up and use the Wi-Fi camera. I tested it on the Huawei P20 Pro device and it was easy to set up and get running. As mentioned earlier, the QR code on the Quick Start Guide is needed to set up the device.
Once set up, launching the app takes you to the home screen. The first button is the turn on and off the camera feed: by default, it launches in the camera-on mode.
The second is to enable the camera speaker, while the third is to monitor multiple cameras simultaneous assuming you have different units set up in different rooms. The forth is a selector for Standard, Hi-Def, and Ultra HD; with the last button to the right being for full-screen mode.
On the second row of buttons, the 2-way communication is the first on the left, the second being to take still images, and the third to record videos.
The ‘More Options’ at the bottom left allows for viewing of your saved images and videos, and for some minimal sharing, account management, security configuration, and settings. Owing to the encryption, the contents are not visible in the phone image library, and can’t be easily shared.
For Windows PC users there is an Ezviz PC Studio app. The verification code printed on the sticker under the device is needed to complete the setup. There is supposedly also a Web portal, but I did not try it.
Smart home integration is available via Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT.
The camera was set up facing a living room, with a couch, a PC table, and a glass window. Also within the field of view is a dining table and chairs, with random items left of the table. Pictures were taken at various points during the day, with differing levels of natural and artificial light. Some included a subject for reference.
Taken at noon with natural light; with the curtains partially drawn, and fully open:
Taken in the evening with artificial indoor light; dim lighting and regular lighting:
Taken at night; with light coming in from the next room and complete darkness:
The model tested here, the Mini O Plus retails for P2,300. Also available is the Mini O variant that features 720p recording for a price of P1,600. Considering the pretty expansive feature set, the product seems to offer a good value proposition. There are other higher spec models from Netgear that are considerably pricier, while similarly priced inexpensive cameras don’t offer as many features and lack video quality.
To say that the Ezviz C2C Mini O Plus is feature packed is putting it lightly. Add to that the bargain price point, and the device makes for a great Wi-Fi security camera. Covering all the basics and then some, it serves as a quick way to easily set up home security in today’s mobile-first way of life.