(Pocket-lint) - On the face of it, the SimCam 1S - an affordable smart home camera that's packed full of features - sounds like one of those hidden gems. It offers person detection, remote control, two-way audio, local storage and no subscriptions fees.
But is the SimCam 1S too good to be true? We've been living with camera to find out whether or not it's a brilliant addition to your smart home setup.
Mounting and installation options
The SimCam 1S is a bit of a beast of a camera. It's not as small and subtle as others we've seen, but instead stands as a sleek and somewhat imposing upgrade to your home security.
You have the option to mount the SimCam 1S to the wall, screwing it into place with a simple mount. Alternatively, you can use a 3M sticker to attach it where you need, or instead just pop it down on a shelf, window sill, fireplace or any suitable location.
The design of this smart home camera means you could even ceiling-mount it upside down with no problems at all. The SimCam 1S has a 360-degree panning system, with a 22-degree manual tilt too. So it's easy to get in just the right place.
Intelligent design features
- 60-foot person detection with facial recognition
- 360-degree pan function, 22-degree tilt
- IP54 weather resistance
- Built-in siren system
- 8OM 1W Speaker
Before you even dive into actual recording quality, the SimCam 1S already starts impressing with the intelligent features packed under the hood. This camera boasts some nifty smart functionality that includes the ability to not only detect a person at up to 60-feet away, but also to automatically pan and track them around the room.
You can also dive into the settings and tweak all manner of things. The SimCam 1S can be taught to recognise family members, for example. Simply upload images of each person in the house to it and the system will alert you when they're spotted. Handy if you want to know when someone has returned home from school or work or alternatively to differentiate notifications between things you need to worry about and those you don't.
In the app, you have the ability to review snippets of recordings from when a person, animal or vehicle was spotted. These are recorded in durations of 15, 30 or 60 seconds, and can be downloaded to your phone with ease.
Go live on the camera view and you can do other clever things like manually panning the camera, taking photos, activating the built-in siren and turning on two-way audio. All these have various uses. You could theoretically give an unwelcome guest a surprise by talking to them using the mic or set the alarm blazing to disturb a burglar. Alternatively, you can easily remotely keep an eye on loved ones or pets and talk to them if you need.
The SimCam 1S is intelligent in other ways too: its artificial intelligence can not only be set to monitor for people, pets and more, but you can also set it to track specific areas in the camera's view. This includes things like doors and windows, so you can be alerted if someone comes through a door or breaks a window. Alternatively, you can set it to keep an eye on a precious household object that's likely to be the first thing stolen if someone breaks in.
Video and recording quality
- 120-degree field of view
- microSD card storage up to 128 GB
- H.264 recording format with 1080p30
- Starlight night vision 850nm infrared LEDs with IR cut filter
When it comes to recording, the SimCam 1S doesn't disappoint either. Along with the 360-degree panning, it also has a 120-degree field of view, meaning it can see wide-angle, even taking in the biggest of rooms.
It's able to record Full HD (1080p) video at 30 frames per second (30fps) and we have to say the video quality is impressive.
With a Starlight night vision-capable lens, it's not only able to record comfortably during the day but can keep an eye on your home in the dark hours as well.
We're impressed with this camera's ability to handle changes in lighting. It's not disrupted by sunlight and handles rooms where there are dark areas and well-lit ones well too.
All the recordings are stored on a microSD card rather than in the cloud, so there's no need to worry about subscription fees that usually come with these sorts of cameras. But if someone takes the camera then, well, there go your recordings!
You do, however, still have remote access to the camera when you're out of the house via the app, so there is some level of cloud-based access. If you're worried about prying eyes though, you can set the camera to "LAN mode" - which means that it can only be accessed by phones on the same Wi-Fi network.
The microSD storage means videos are overwritten once the card gets full. If you have the camera in a high-traffic area, that card soon fills up, which in our experience means you need a larger capacity memory card in order to get multiple days of footage. This isn't necessarily an issue though. If you're on holiday the camera won't be recording an empty home and you should have access to the recordings you need.
There's also the option to add the SimCam 1S to any NAS storage system (that's network-attached storage, if you're unfamiliar), so it can even recording for longer if you need.
There's a lot to like about this camera. Sure, it's not 100 per cent perfect. The motorised gimbal system that's used for the automatic panning, for example, is a touch on the noisy side and not particularly subtle. Not necessarily an issue as at least unwanted guests will soon know they're being watched, but that wouldn't be great if they then dashed across the room to unplug and disable the device.
The two-way audio is also not the clearest: you can hear people easily enough on the feed, but it's not as clear when you talk to them. These are small niggles in an otherwise very clever camera that does pretty much everything.
You get a lot of bang for your buck with this camera. It's crammed full of features and settings can be tweaked to your heart's content.
We especially liked automatic person tracking, AI-powered detection, and the recording capabilities day or night. For most, the fact you don't have to pay for a regular subscription is also going to be a massive pull.
That said, the microSD storage does mean the card can fill up fast, and there's no cloud storage like so many other competitors - which could be a problem if the camera is disabled.
There are certainly plenty of reasons to consider the SimCam 1S if you're looking for a smart home camera without ongoing costs.
Alternatives to consider
The Hive View is a snazzy looking alternative to the SimCam 1S. In fact, it's one of the best looking smart home cameras we've seen. This camera gives you 24-hours of free access to your footage, if you want more you'll need to pay a subscription, but that doesn't mean it should be overlooked.
Nest Cam IQ
The Nest Cam IQ is another one of the most intelligent smart home cameras we've seen. Powerful, intelligent and a brilliant addition to your home, but it does come at a price.