(Pocket-lint) - Hive is back with a second smart home camera. The original Hive Camera was a rebranded white label camera with a separate app, not integrated into the rest of the Hive system, which made it not worth buying.
The Hive View is an entirely different thing. It's one of the nicest looking cameras you'll find, it has standout design, and is integrated with one of the biggest smart home systems for the UK market.
In short: the Hive View is a better all-round option for home security than Hive's first attempt.
Detachable design by Yves Béhar
- Two colour options
- Detachable camera unit, 56mm cube
- Exquisite stand design
The Hive View has been designed by Yves Béhar - who also designed the Hive thermostat - for a modern industrial look. It's probably the best-looking indoor camera that we've seen, quite unlike the other ugly security camera devices also available.
That's thanks to the brushed metals used with a choice of two colour combinations: white and champagne gold, or black and brushed copper. It's very contemporary and has a premium build that stands out in among a sea of hard plastic home cameras.
A key feature about this design, however, is the detachable camera unit. The 56mm cube attaches magnetically to the stand, not only allowing you to change the angle of the head for the perfect view, but also meaning you can move the camera and place it somewhere else.
With a small battery inside, the camera will then give you an hour of coverage in another room, perhaps to keep an eye on something where you don't have a camera. It's not a huge amount of time, but if you wanted a camera in the nursery while you sort out something in the garage, then you have that flexibility. It doesn't quite stretch to the endurance of the Logi Circle, which offers similar portability, but it's a top feature to have.
The Hive View also comes with a 3m USB cable to power it, giving you a little more flexibility on how to locate this camera. It can either sit on a shelf on that stand, or you can mount it, with a magnetic plate in the box that you could attach to the wall for perfect positioning. It's designed as an indoor camera.
Hive View setup and control
- Uses existing Hive app
- Quick and easy to setup
- Standalone or integrated into Hive system
- 720p or 1080p capture supported
Because the Hive View uses the existing Hive app, if you're a Hive user already (say you have a Hive thermostat) then it's quick and easy to setup, with the camera then appearing in your Hive Dashboard like your other Hive devices - which is something the old Hive Camera doesn't do.
The Hive View connects to your home Wi-Fi network, so there's no need for the Hive Hub to make it work, with setup taking place via Bluetooth from the app on your phone (Android and iOS supported). A such, Hive View will work as a standalone device. However, while the Hive app is good and stable, we have found that camera sometimes just disconnects and then reconnects for no apparent reason - but it will send you a notification telling you this has happened.
There are plenty of options for setup, which defines the functionality of this camera. You can choose the resolution (with 720p HD or 1080p Full HD supported), but unlike some recent devices - the Nest Hello for example - there's no support for HDR (high dynamic range, which aids with more detail and balance between shadow and highlights). You get control over the sensitivity of sound detection, as well as the type of motion the camera will detect, with a choice of everything or just people - so you can effectively ignore your pets or the trees blowing out back.
Software updates have boosted Hive View's offering, with thumbnails of detected movement, the option to create zones (so you can exclude something that has movement you don't need to know about) and more recently, Siri Shortcuts. This can, for example, let you view what's happening on the Hive View quickly and easily. While the Hive system works with both Google Assistant and Alexa, there's no direct control over the camera itself.
You also get to control the lights on the device. There's an illuminating ring around the lens (which you'll be using when you setup the camera), plus an LED status light - both of which you might not want on if the camera is in a room where you're always looking at it. Deactivating them is easy, though.
It's also worth noting that anyone who is signed into your Hive account will get all the notifications from the Hive View, so if you have Hive Heating, for example that your partner also has control over, they'll also have access to the Hive View (and all other Hive devices within the app).
Hive View performance and features
- 1080p capture with digital zooming
- Live monitoring with notifications
- Sound detection
- Subscription-based archiving
Despite no HDR, we're impressed with the quality of video that the Hive View offers. This is something that the camera gets right, with a lovely 130 degree wide field of view, so if you put it in the corner of the room then you'll essentially be able to capture everything.
The View is equipped with infrared (IR) for night vision, too, which you can turn off if you prefer. Again, it works well, giving nice clear video in the dark where you can clearly see what's happening.
Sound detection lets you set the sensitivity, so things like passing cars can be ignored, but someone smashing open your door or talking will be detected. You can also capture sound along with video - and you can talk back via you phone through the small speaker on the camera.
The Hive View is designed to monitor, detect and alert. As we've said, it can recognise people, which is the setting we chose. We had a few false alarms, but on the whole, it will ignore pets moving around the room and save the notifications for when it actually sees a person.
Notifications will appear on your phone via the Hive app and these will include a thumbnail of the face of the person it has detected, which is handy. You can also get emails. Sadly, these emails don't contain any visuals, it just lets you know that something has happened. This means that you're solely dependent on the app - and if you're in an area with a bad connection, you might not get to see those images. Arlo, one of our favourite rival systems, puts images into its emails - so you can at least review the action without needing the app.
Video that is captured is available for 24 hours - as long as monitoring is enabled on the Hive View.
All the above comes as a free service, but if you want to expand things to be more useful, you'll have to pay a subscription of £3.99 a month. This then gives you 30 days of rolling footage from the camera stored online, so you can easily access it (so long as you have monitoring turned on for it to capture). If you have more cameras, you'll have to pay more, with two cameras being £5.99 a month.
However, Hive View is only accessible through the Hive app. It doesn't work in the browser Dashboard, which is a serious limitation. If you lose your phone, you cannot view or even enable your Hive View camera remotely.
Following launch. Hive made it possible to download video to your phone, meaning you can have storage of video files and you don't instantly lose them within 24 hours. This gives you a lot more flexibility, but at the same time, something like the Arlo Q gives you a week of capture stored online, without any fees.
You can also have your Hive View play sounds. There's the option for an alarm, dog barking, or lullaby, although given the small speaker on the Hive View, the former two aren't really loud enough to do any good. Playing a lullaby to calm a sleeping baby might work, but it's hardly a reason to buy a camera.
Can Hive Actions swing the View into favour?
- Custom cause and effect actions
- Lack of wider connectivity
Hive Actions is an emerging piece of the Hive platform. They existed to a minor degree previously, letting you turn on a light if a door was opened, for example, but they were limited in scope.
With Hive Actions added to support the View camera, there's a little more of interest here. For example, you can have a light or plug turn on if the camera sees movement when it's dark. That's a convenience thing as much as it might be a security measure, but you can also have the heating resume when motion is detected.
There are platform-wide Actions too. You can turn off everything on Hive and turn the camera on when you step out the door via a quick action, for example. But there's no geofencing here to do it automatically when you walk away from home, which is a shame.
Equally, although some of the Hive system is compatible with other smart home platforms (Google Home or Amazon Alexa), the camera isn't included. Currently you can ask to view devices like Ring or Arlo through your Echo Show, but Hive View doesn't support this, so it feels a little isolated. We'd really like to be able to ask Alexa to turn on monitoring, but alas, it has to be through the Hive app.
The Hive View is certainly the best-looking indoor camera you can buy. It's priced to compete with the likes of Netatmo Welcome, Arlo Q or Logi Circle, with that ability to temporarily move it to somewhere else and have it run off a battery. Integration with the Hive platform adds some additional appeal to existing Hive owners - because you're using one smart home app - and the detection and recording quality is good.
At launch the Hive View didn't support video downloads but that's now been corrected. You still only have 24 hours to download these videos, unless you pay the subscription to give you a month of storage online for your monitoring.
We can't help feeling that for a standalone camera, Arlo Q offers a better comparable service. It's a similar price, but offers a week of video storage online at no additional cost - while also offering wider compatibility with other smart home products.
First reviewed in April 2018.
Alternatives to consider...
Although Arlo is a bigger system, the Arlo Q can work as a standalone camera, connecting to your Wi-Fi. It offers Full HD video capture, two-way sound, sound detection and motion detection. It's a wired camera so always needs to be plugged in, but the real advantage is its week's worth of online video storage, giving you time to check out what's happening and save any video you might want to keep.
Netatmo Welcome is smart, giving you the ability to have it recognise faces, so it can tell you when a particular person is home - or if it's a stranger - but the disadvantage is that it only offers local storage. That means it's subscription-free, but at the same time if someone steals it or unplugs it, you can't view that footage.