Review: For home security, Samsung SmartCam PT has just the right angle
Everyone wants security cameras around their house.
We all have a fear of people messing with our stuff.
We might not be able to stop every bad guy who steals a package off the porch, but we can catch them on video.
I have a few cameras at my house, and judging from the amount of video clips I see on TV news and online, I'd say a fair number of you have cameras as well.
Home security cameras are a hot, evolving consumer product.
In years past, it took a crew to install security cameras as they ran wires from each camera position to a recording device inside the house or business.
The early camera systems were expensive, and the video they provided was not very good.
But in the last few years, technology has brought us high-definition cameras that finally were small enough to use for home security and the wireless networking that allows the cameras to be placed anywhere they can get power and a signal.
There are even cameras today that work on battery power, so they are truly wireless.
Samsung has a family of home security cameras, both wired and wireless, that aim to help you secure your home and family.
I've been testing the Samsung SmartCam PT. The PT in the name stands for "pan and tilt," which is what distinguishes this camera from their other offerings.
The PT ($199.99) is an indoor camera that needs an electrical source to operate, but it communicates with your home Wi-Fi network.
The PT records high-def 1080p video and has night vision.
The camera is about the size of a baseball. It sits on a flat base that rotates, and the lens is housed on a small cylinder that tilts up and down.
The camera can pan up to 350 degrees and tilt up to 155 degrees, and it has a 96-degree field of view.
Once the camera is placed, users can use the app to aim the lens.
There are presets, so if you want to watch a particular spot at home to see if your dog is sleeping on the sofa, it's easy to set the camera for particular points around the room.
To move the camera lens, you can drag your finger around the video image on your phone or press directional buttons on the screen.
The PT also has motion tracking, which will detect motion in its field of view and automatically keep the moving subject in the frame. The tracking worked surprisingly well.
The SmartCam PT records clips based on motion or sound events.
The PT saves its video to a microSD card, or you can record from the camera directly to your smartphone or tablet with the SmartCam app.
There is not a cloud recording option for the SmartCam PT, but that also means there is no ongoing subscription cost.
Setup was not too hard. You need to download the free SmartCam app to set up the camera to talk to your home's Wi-Fi network.
Once you're online, use the app to set up how you'd like the camera to work.
You set it to see what you'd like to observe, making sure there's a plug nearby for power.
In the app, you can set up if you'd like the camera to record based on motion or sound. You can have it record from motion in the entire frame or you can designate specific areas, such as a front porch or driveway, to be motion zones, and you'll get clips recorded only if motion takes place in those zones.
I have a camera set up in my kitchen window that faces the street but that also can see my front door. In order to not record every single car that goes by, I defined a motion zone on my front sidewalk and porch. That way, I only get video if someone approaches my house.
You can set up a notification that'll link to the clip or even jump to a live video view when the camera senses an event and records.
Because the PT stores its videos on a memory card in the camera, you have to use the app to access the recordings, which can be transferred to your phone or tablet.
The PT has a microphone and a speaker for two-way audio. You can hear sounds in the room and speak through the app so you can tell your dog to get off the sofa.
The camera can record nicely in complete darkness thanks to infrared LEDs and night vision.
If you're home and don't want to be observed, there's a privacy mode that turns the camera lens down to where it can't see and disables recording of video or audio.
I thought the SmartCam PT did a really good job of monitoring, recording and notifying me. The motion tracking was a feature I haven't seen on other cameras.
The app worked well but packs in a ton of features and options that can be overwhelming. I also had to reconnect the camera to the app more than once.
Setup for me was not too difficult, but someone like my mom might benefit from an easy mode.
Samsung has an entire line of SmartCams that can help you keep tabs on your house, and the PT adds some nice options to an already good family of products.
©2016 The Dallas Morning News
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