Compact. Affordable. Handy.
Those are words that come to mind when I think of the Tend Secure Lynx Indoor Camera.
For people who are not looking to drop dollars on a large security system, I think the Lynx could be a good fit for their home. It only costs $59.99 and yet it has some advanced technology which allows it to compete with more expensive devices. But because it’s so affordable, I questioned whether or not this camera can actually get the job done. We all want our security devices to be reliable. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Want to get advanced? Jump to the Lynx features analysis of the review.
In this review, I’ll go over everything the Lynx has to offer and show you exactly what it’s missing.
The Lynx’s price point is on the lower side, which might suggest that the product is “cheap” or low quality. Not quite. When I read the box, I was surprised by what I was getting:
- 1080-HD footage for clear live streaming.
- 120-degree field of view to cover as much of the room as possible.
- Night vision to catch intruders when it gets dark.
- Facial recognition to know when friends and family are in the house.
- Motion sensors to get notified any time there is any suspicious movement your home.
- Two-way audio to communicate with people in different rooms.
- Compatibility with any iPhone or Android device so you can access livestream footage nearly anywhere.
- Seven days worth of free cloud storage so you can rewind back though the week to see past events.
I excitedly pulled the camera out the package feeling like I got the best bargain in the store.
Everything about this camera whispers “small and compact.”
Right on the nose in this modern day and age, where the world’s tiniest computer is the size of a grain of rice.
But part of me was afraid of breaking the Lynx when I picked it up. It’s only 3 inches tall, 2 inches wide, and 2 inches in depth. The Lynx is also incredibly lightweight at about 4 ounces. While it’s light plastic-y feel makes it easily portable, it’s not the type material that makes me feel like I got something fancy. Even the power output is tiny. A micro USB cord that pops into the back.
As simplistic as the Lynx looks, I was a bit surprised to find that putting the all parts together was a bit confusing. The camera comes with a mount which can be used as a stand on flat surfaces or can be hung on the wall. The camera attaches to the mount via a handle which allows 360 degree rotation around the axis which seems cool.
The only problem is that there is no locking system in place. Even though there is a screw which can help tighten everything together, I found that the camera can still slip out quite easily if it’s not set up carefully. Godforbid you have kids and pets running around this thing. If anyone (or anything) bumped into it, the camera would fly right off.
I noticed at the front of the camera that the Lynx has a built in microphone and speaker, I’m guessing for the two-way audio feature. It has an IR LED light for 20-feet of night vision and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi circuitry. I also found find the lens, the LED status light and a reset button.
Tend Secure Lynx Setup
To get the camera up and running, all I had to do is download the Tend Secure mobile app and follow the instructions. It took me less than ten minutes to complete all of the steps, but things got a little frustrating when my Wi-Fi was acting up. Apparently, the app needs high-speed Wi-Fi to connect to the camera.
Once I finally got my camera to connect to my phone, I logged into the app and boom!: My screen went straight to live video footage of my office.
From the dashboard I found that I could play around with the settings. For example, I can schedule motion detection, so that I can get notifications only when I’m out of the office. I can also create up to 10 profiles of people I want the camera to recognize. After letting my camera run for a while, I also discovered I could view past recordings and download them to my phone.
When it comes to evaluating security cameras, we at SB have picked eight features that we think are necessary to have for any quality device.
The Lynx checks a lot of boxes when it comes to meeting our baseline standards, but in my opinion, it still could be re-engineered to include more.
When I watched the livestream from my iPhone, I noticed that the video was extremely detailed. The same goes for night mode. Every object in the room was identifiable and if I moved across the lens, there was zero to no blurriness.
This is all because the Lynx records in 1080 HD. In today’s Internet of Things, 1080 is the standard for a lot of these security cameras. Having that high quality of video is necessary so you can clearly identify who and what is happening in your footage. In emergency situations, you don’t want to mistake a family member for an intruder. Clarity is key when it comes to peace of mind.
Even so, there are expensive cameras out there that still shoot in 720 which can be rather blurry. This is all to say the Lynx is doing pretty well in this category.
I’m not going to lie: The two-way audio feature is fun with quality sound to boot. If you ever had to communicate with someone without schlepping over to another room, this feature is definitely useful. But beware: There’s a lag in the audio. When I tried speaking to my coworker in his office I felt like I was using an old-school CB-radio. So it was cool pretending like I was a truck driver from the 70s for a hot second, but I could imagine that this isn’t necessarily the most efficient tool for communication in the case of an emergency.
The moment I held the Lynx in my hand, it felt like I was a kid ready to play with my toy. It’s so light-weight and super approachable with its simple design. And for more good news: It’s relatively easy to set up.
This is important because you want to make sure your security system isn’t a pain to install. You don’t want to spend a lot of time plugging in wires to this output or that input or downloading hours of crazy software. You just want it to work so you can live your life, right?
The Lynx is great in this case, but it has its flaws. Try to stay very close to your router when you are setting it up, otherwise the app might not connect to the device. When I tried to set up the camera I noticed it went “offline” from time to time because my Wi-Fi was being lame. Luckily the camera continued to search for the internet and hopped right back online as soon as my Wi-Fi connection returned to normal.
So note to user: Make sure your Wi-Fi connection is strong if you’re going to use the Lynx.
The Lynx’s seven-day free cloud storage is a huge bonus. I was surprised when I learned that a $60 device could possibly have both facial recognition and free storage. That’s rare. Before I met the Lynx, I would have been ready to drop hundreds of dollars for a device like that.
In this regard, the camera is surely an awesome buy, but the Lynx is still missing some other memory capabilities. It does not have local storage for video recording. Local storage is useful if you would rather not upload video of your home to an outside server. For those who are cautious about having personal information on large, privately owned clouds, the Lynx might not be the best bargain after all.
Smart Platform Integration
I think the biggest drawback to the Lynx is that there is no smart-platform integration. So if you’re already a smart device connoisseur, don’t count on Alexa to get you a live stream of your home. She doesn’t know Lynx like that.
Extra Feature Breakdown
I could be in New York City, Shanghai or Timbuktu … It doesn’t matter: So long as I have Wi-Fi or data, I can access live footage of home from my mobile device.
I think the cool thing about the live stream is that you can actually pinch to zoom in on different areas of the video. This does not mean that you can actually tell the camera to zoom in closer to an object. (I tried that. Lil’ Lynx didn’t budge.) At least I could enlarge the frame to focus on whatever I want to put my attention on.
In playing around with the app, I also discovered I can record up to two-minutes clips from the live stream. Those short videos will only be downloaded to my phone — not the cloud storage. This could pose as a problem for someone who wants longer footage or wants to have the video on their laptop. In fact, you can’t watch any live footage from your computer. The option just isn’t there.
Still, you can share the live video and even recorded events with trusted friends and family. Just email a link and your loved ones can join you on the live stream so long as they have the app and a Tend account. Badgering your fam to download software and set up a login might be a bit of a pain, however. Rarely am I in the mood to show my mom how to use Instagram let alone a security cam app.
The sucky part is that shared video viewers will not be able to view motion activated events. What does that mean? These people will not be able to check on the house when you are not able to. When you’re on vacation in the middle of nowhere and don’t have access to data or Wi-Fi, it would be nice if a buddy could have your back and check your house here and there. But this limitation would make it difficult for them to do so.
The facial recognition feature is a major plus, but I found that sometimes the Lynx can be a bit off when it comes to identifying familiar faces. When you set things up, you may have to remind the camera again and again who a person is before the Lynx learn’s who’s who.
You can add up to 10 profiles via the app for facial recognition. Upload pictures of yourself and your family or take a photo right there on the spot. I chose to take a photo right from the app.
When I read the manual it suggested that I take a photo from chest height to get the best camera angle of my charming face. I did so no problem, but I did wonder about other people who had a different body type than me. I’m guessing that some people who are shorter or taller than me will have to experiment to get the right photo. If the photo is slightly off, it might be difficult for the Lynx to recognize you.
As the camera finds people it recognizes, it will notify you on the app which person has entered the room. However, I noticed that sometimes there’s a slight delay in that recognition. When that happened, I received a notification saying an unknown person had entered the premises. Little did Lynx know, that intruder was actually me … it took a moment for the camera to recognize my face.
It’s important to note that the Lynx cannot tell the difference between your dog and your Uncle John. This camera has no idea how to ID pets, unfortunately.
I found that this camera is extremely good at picking up even the most subtle movements. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the regular setting or night mode, it works great. It’s so effective it’s annoying. I don’t need a notification every time my cat finds a paperclip on the floor to play with — although, that is pretty cute. Scratch that. Regardless, the good news is the camera’s sensitivity is adjustable so you won’t get too many unnecessary pings to your phone.
The notification settings can also be adjusted. As I mentioned earlier, if you don’t set any parameters, the app will notify you anytime the camera senses movement. To change that you can put instant alerts on delay or create a schedule to reduce the amount notifications that pop up on your mobile device. As you schedule your alerts, you’ll notice that you can choose whatever start and stop times you want.
Overall, I think the app is super intuitive and really easy to use. I like how the app also comes with informational videos for the setup. It will be really helpful for my mom who I’m sure will need a little hand-holding to walk her through the process.
Even though the app as a 4.7 rating in the Apple Store (a near 4 star rating on Google Play), some users complained about how difficult it was to recover their password. I didn’t have this problem because I never logged out of my app ever since I set things up. I just click the app and automatically I’m on the dashboard. But if anything bad were to happen — say if my whole system crashes and kicks me out of the app — there’s actually no option for password recovery.
Be smart: Make sure you write down your password after setup just in case you have to login all over again.
Obviously, the Lynx doesn’t do everything. For its price point, you are looking to get the basics. But when you look at some of today’s popular cameras, the Lynx is lacking some of these common features:
The Lynx does not have:
- Geofencing: This is a GPS-like capability which would allow the camera to create a virtual geographic boundaries around any area you like. Cameras with geofencing have software that would trigger a response every time a mobile device enters or exits the area you choose to map out.
- Sound activated events. I think this would be a cool addition to the Lynx’s motion activated event recording. It already has two-way audio so it wouldn’t be a difficult feature to incorporate in future models.
- Alarms or sirens. This could be useful to notify neighbors — trusted acquaintances who don’t have access to your Tend account — when someone has broken into your house.
- Privacy feature. This would tell the camera to stop recording when it’s just you and your family in the house. The Lynx will just keep recording.
- Smart home integration. The Lynx is a one man band, which means it will not connect to Alexa or Google Assistant.
If you are looking for a more expensive camera, they will more than likely have these features.
So how does the Lynx stack up against cameras that are more in its price range?
Lynx vs. Everybody
YI 1080p Dome Camera
For $59.99, the YI Dome has certain perks over the Lynx.
Both have 1080 HD, two-way audio and an app for live streaming. However, the Dome certainly looks more high-tech with its 360 degree panoramic camera, which you can set to auto-cruise. The Dome also has baby cry detection and local SD memory storage worth 80 hours.
Here’s where the Lynx can win in my book: YI offers unlimited cloud storage for their customers if you pay for a subscription package. If you’re a person who doesn’t need much cloud storage but is looking to have more than 80 hours, Tend’s seven-day free deal would be more advantageous.
Neither camera has smart-platform integration capabilities, though, so they both lose in that arena.
Honeywell Lyric C1 Wi-Fi Security Camera
The Lyric is a bit pricier than both the Lynx and the Dome with not too many extra benefits.
The Lyric’s field of view is wider at 175 degrees, which means I can see more of my lovely office. And the storage deal isn’t terrible: Honeywell offers free cloud storage (up to 24 hours) as well as local SD memory (8GB). It also has geofencing capabilities and integrates with Alexa.
The downside? The video quality is trash compared to the other cameras. The Lyric settles records in 720 HD.
The Arlo is — in some ways — the most advanced of these cameras and includes smart-platform integration.
You can pair it up with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. It’s wireless, weather proof and comes with complimentary seven-day cloud storage.
It’s almost as if the Arlo is an upgrade to the Lynx, however the Arlo’s field of view is only 110 degrees and does not allow for two-way audio. So no truck driver make-believe for me….
Now that I think about it, the Arlo’s limited capacities may be why NETGEAR tends to sell multiple cameras in security system packages. That way customers can make sure to cover every area of their house. Those systems don’t come cheap however, so which camera you prefer (the Lynx or the Arlo) really depends on your needs and your budget. Single Arlo cameras can be purchased at Best Buy for $89.99.
The Customer Experience
After I gave my Lynx for a spin, I was curious to know what other users thought about the product. It seemed like the general theme in each of the reviews was to be realistic about your expectations. The camera costs less than a yearly Netflix subscription.
- Does it even do 1080, doe? There seems to be a great debate around whether or not the Lynx actually records in 1080p HD as the company claims. Yes, the video is very clear, but some users suggest that since the field of view is so wide, the Tend cannot say that it records in 1080.
- Poor Connectivity. Like me, many others have cited connection problems using their Wi-Fi and that the camera would sometimes go “offline” even after set-up.
- Affordable. Nobody seems to knock the price.
- High quality video. Whatever the camera records in, most customers seem to be happy with the quality.
- Reliable. Many consumers talked about how the Lynx is a great device to keep an eye on children or elders when they are away from home. They said facial recognition works pretty well despite some hiccups.
The Brains Behind the Cam
Regardless of the booboos, I found out that the makers of the Lynx are an extremely credible company.
Tend Insights, Inc. is a California based company that focuses on developing security cameras for the everyday home. The founders, Herman Yau and Song Yao, both had experience working for large tech companies prior to the launch of Tend.
Since it was established in 2008, Tend Insights has earned a bunch of honors for their affordable, indoor and outdoor cameras used to monitor children, pets and watch for intruders. The company is a three-time Consumer Electronics Show (CES) honoree (2015, 2016 and 2017).
The Lynx Indoor camera is one of Tend’s top products alongside the Tend Secure Lynx Pro, and the Lynx Solar.
Lynx Indoor 2: The Sequel
Since Tend Insights first released the Lynx Indoor, they’ve actually created a new model: The Lynx Indoor 2. This might be the product that I’ve been calling for. The camera promises improved Wi-Fi connection, hassle-free bluetooth setup, and Google Assistant pairing. All of this for the same price as the original Lynx. I’m looking forward test the specs once I get a hold of one.
In general, the original Tend Secure Lynx Indoor camera is a great camera but if you are looking for something more comprehensive — like a camera with smart-platform integration — this one might not be the best bet. If you’re just looking for a reasonably priced camera that will bring you peace of mind, the Lynx is for you. It won’t break your bank and it can help your family feel safe and secure.