★★★★★ £59 • From www.lambda-tek.com
Creative’s Live! Cam IP SmartHD is a decent security camera, especially with cloud storage, but it’s a bit basic compared to its competitors
A cheap security camera, but the app is fiddly and you don’t get much control
MANY OF THE security cameras we’ve reviewed recently have been packed full of smart features, but they’ve had high prices to match. Creative’s Live! Cam IP SmartHD is a simpler camera that’s available for under £60, making it seem a more attractive choice if you just need basic monitoring.
The Live! Cam IP SmartHD has a 720p resolution, rather than Full HD, but that’s not necessarily a problem. At this resolution, there’s still enough detail to work out what’s going on and distinguish the people you recognise from those you don’t. It also has a choice of microSD card recording (up to 32GB cards are supported, which gives around 100 hours of recording time) and paid-for cloud storage, giving a good deal of flexibility.
Unboxing the camera, we were pleasantly surprised to find build quality better than the price would suggest. Creative has used a simple plastic body, but it feels tough enough. The camera is permanently attached to a stand via a ball mount, which gives a great deal of flexibility in positioning. A metal wall bracket that attaches magnetically is also supplied for easy wall mounting.
Powering on the camera fires up a synthetic voice that prompts you to configure it. It’s a unique touch, but the voice is rather annoying and pipes up at inopportune moments, such as when the Wi-Fi connection drops.
A bigger problem is how basic the Live! Cam IP Smart HD is. Rather than being able to set motion-detection zones, the camera can monitor the entire picture only. This makes it far more likely that you’ll end up with false positives, as you can’t concentrate the camera on areas of interest.
There’s only basic control over the motion detection sensitivity, too, with Low, Medium and High options. You can turn off motion detection completely, too, although the option is confusingly named Close.
Motion-detection notifications come to your smartphone, but selecting one doesn’t play the matching clip, it just takes you to the list of notifications in the app. Selecting any notification here starts playing the matching video clip. At least, it does if you’ve signed up for a cloud account. If you only have an SD card inserted, the camera just prompts you to sign up for a cloud account.
For SD card users, the only way around this is to go into the camera’s video feed, hit the history button and then select the SD card option at the top. You then get a timeline showing you motion detection events as red lines and any other recording as blue lines. Trying to scrub through the timeline to select the specific event you want is extremely fiddly, not helped by the fact that it’s easy to jump to a point in the future, whereby you’re met with a black screen.
Using the cloud account gives the added advantage that you get 10 days of 24/7 video storage. Packages cost $6.99 (£5) for 30 days of cloud access, $42 (£33) for 180 days and $82 (£64) for 360 days. Signing up doesn’t get you a subscription, so you need to remember to renew your package if you want to continue with the cloud service.
As the cloud storage allows for continuous recording, should your home be entered by a criminal, it means you’ve got all the footage before and after a motion detection event has been set. As a backup you can also set a schedule for the camera to record to SD card permanently, using the oddly named ‘SD card plan management’ option. Image quality is acceptable. Faces are easy enough to work out, but finer detail gets blurred. At night the IR LEDs turn on, letting the camera shoot in darkness. Image quality suffers as a result, and most details were blurred out of the picture. It’s a shame that there’s no geolocation to turn the camera on and off automatically. There’s also no IFTTT channel to let you implement your version of this or control other smart home devices when the Live! Cam IP SmartHD detects movement. At any point you can manually choose to take a snapshot or video, recording directly to your mobile device. You should also be able to download clips from cloud storage, although this feature didn’t work on our test phone and refused to connect.
Creative has built in sound detection, too, with the camera set to notify you if it hears any loud noises. At the default settings, we found that the constant stream of notifications was incredibly annoying, regardless of whether sensitivity was set to Low, Medium or High. You can disable sound detection by selecting the Close option.
With the camera’s built-in speaker and microphone, you can have a two-way chat with anyone in your house. This could be useful to reassure a pet, or to warn a would-be thief that the police are on the way.
If you just want a simple video feed, the Creative Live! Cam IP SmartHD is a cheap way to get one. However, the restrictive app, limited control over motion detection, and fiddly combination of microSD and cloud storage make this a frustrating camera to use for monitoring. We recommend spending more on the Nest Cam Indoor, which has a far better app and the best cloud storage service.
⬆ Image quality on the Live! Cam IP SmartHD is acceptable