Amazon has decided to get in on the home security business with their first smart indoor camera, the Cloud Cam. Released in November 2017, the Cloud Cam has proven to be a hit with many Amazon customers.
With an affordable price ($120), the ability to work with Alexa, and plenty of other handy features, this camera is getting a lot of looks.
It’s also received a lot of attention since the camera can work in conjunction with Amazon Key. But if you’re not a fan of a stranger being able to come in your home while you’re gone, you don’t have to use the Amazon Key service in order to benefit from the Cloud Cam.
How It Works
Cloud Cam has a few working parts including the camera, a power adapter, USB cable, and wall mounting plate, anchors, and screws. If you’re not a fan of putting holes in your wall, you’re in luck. The mounting kit is optional, and not really needed since the camera works great just on a shelf.
The camera itself is a little over 4″ tall and weighs less than one pound. It definitely looks like a camera, so don’t plan on it blending in like other cameras do (like Canary’s All-In-One, for example).
Setting up the camera and app is simple. The process took less than 10 minutes to unpack the camera, plug it in, and download and set up the app. Once the app pairs with your camera, it walks you through the setup.
You will be asked to choose a name for your camera based on a provided list. Once you name your camera, the app locates your network and then does an update, which took about 15 minutes for us. After that, you can go right to a live view on your phone.
You need a high-speed, Wi-Fi internet connection and a compatible device to run this camera. The Cloud Cam app works with Fire OS, iOS, and Android.
Cloud Cam also works with Alexa. Just ask Alexa to show your live feed on your Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, Echo Show, or Echo Spot.
The camera has a 120-degree viewing angle and 1080p video, which records clear and accurate color images. It switches to black and white when the night vision feature comes on. Night clips are clear thanks to the eight infrared LEDs that can be turned on and off in the app.
Recently, Amazon added sound and vibration notifications, along with other features including the ability to rotate the live view to support ceiling mounting. Make sure your app is upgraded to the latest version (this was an automatic process for me during the setup process).
Many cameras now come with two-way audio, which has proven to be a hit with pet lovers. Cloud Cam has a built-in mic and speaker that allow you to check in on any person (or pet) that happen to be home while you’re away. I may have used this feature a few times to wake my husband up when he was sleeping in the chair.
I downloaded the app on an iPhone 8. It was easy to register and set up an account. Once the app was downloaded, the Wi-Fi connection was enabled (it’s important to note that you do need a strong wireless connection), and the camera was turned on, I started to dig through the app.
The first screen users see shows the name of the camera. Under the live video image, there are short clips, listed in reverse chronological order, of when motion was detected. The clips include a time stamp and the length of time.
When you tap on a clip, it takes you away from the live feed and to a screen that just shows the recorded clip. The audio on these clips is impressive and easy to hear. Under the video clip are options to go back to the live view, download the video clip, share the clip, delete it, or send feedback to Amazon.
Since I get up and move every 30-45 minutes when I’m working, there are quite a few clips on my feed. Plus, my cat is all over the place, so it’s not uncommon for me to have “Motion Detected” clips every 10 minutes.
If you don’t want clips of every possible movement, you can change the frequency of notifications in your settings. This allows you to see clips every time an event occurs, every 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, hourly, every four hours, daily, or never.
You can also set the motion sensitivity in the settings. The Cloud Cam comes with three settings: high (identifying a person-sized object up to 20 ft. away), medium (up to 10 ft. away), and low (up to 5 ft. away). I used the high setting.
In addition to managing the motion sensitivity and frequency of notification, the app also gives you the option of turning on home/away mode.
When this mode is turned on, you can set your camera to automatically turn off when your phone is in the same location as your camera, and on again when it’s not. This helped eliminate the clips of my cat moving around the house, plus the many recordings of my kids dancing in front of the camera.
Like most home security cameras, Cloud Cam comes with basic service, which lets you watch the last 24 hours of clips for free.
If you want the premium features that make the camera more valuable, you have to shell out some money. However, Amazon does offer a free 30-day trial of any Cloud Cam subscription, so you can test it out before buying.
The camera comes with the following features:
- 24 hours of cloud storage
- Ability to have up to three cameras on the system
- Notifications/alerts when motion is detected
The Basic, Extended, and Pro plans offer the following advanced features:
- 7 days of cloud storage (Basic), 14 days (Extended), 30 days (Pro)
- Ability to have up to three cameras (Basic), five cameras (Extended), and up to 10 (Pro)
- You get notifications/alerts when motion is detected
- Unlimited sharing — download and share video clips
- Person detection — get noticed when an actual person is detected
- Zones — reduce unwanted alerts by setting zones
Expect to pay quite a bit for these extra services. The Basic plan will run you $7/mo. or $70/yr. The Extended plan will cost you $10/mo. or $100/yr. And the Pro plan is priced at $20/mo. or $200/yr.
Some people might have a hard time paying more for a subscription service than they did for the camera. But the two features that seem to make the subscription service worth paying for are the person detection and the ability to set zones.
Without paying for service, my video feed is full of 12-20 second clips of my cat walking all over the place, which is a bit annoying. Ideally, person detection would have eliminated my cat showing up on my phone because it can detect between human movement and other types of motion.
The camera and app are easy to use. It took me less than 20 minutes to figure out how to use the app. If you want to monitor more than one area in your house, you will need to buy more cameras.
You may notice a green LED light on the camera. This stays on all the time, so don’t bother looking in the app to turn it off.
When free standing, the camera can be pointed straight ahead, up, or down. All you have to do is twist the base of the device 180 degrees.
Who It Might Be Good For
- Users looking for different mounting/placement options
- Users who don’t mind paying for premium features
- Users looking for a wide-angle lens
- Users looking for a camera that can be pointed straight ahead, up, or down
- Users looking for two-way communication
- Users wanting the ability to set zones and person detection (with subscription)
Who It Might Not Be Good For
- Users looking for a camera that can work indoors or outdoors
- Users looking for advanced features that come free with the camera
If you’re looking for a good starter camera for a reasonable price, Amazon’s Cloud Cam is a top choice. However, if you’re not in the market to spend money on the premium subscription service, you may be disappointed in the limited features. In order to have the full experience with this camera, you need to pay for the service.