(Pocket-lint) - The Logitech Circle camera (or Logi Circle if you're on board with the new branding) is a powerful little home security cam with plenty of strings to its bow.
This smart home camera is meant for more than simple security: it's a cloud-based Wi-Fi camera with a rechargeable battery that features two-way communication, a capable night vision mode, motion detection alerts and more. Add to that the ability to connect to the camera remotely using the app and you'll discover a world of possibilities.
Battery powered and wireless home security from a web-connected camera
- 1600mAh rechargeable lithium battery
- 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz / 5.0GHz Wi-Fi connectivity
- Charging ring with 10ft USB cable
The Logitech Circle stands out as offering superb home security video recording and monitoring in a compact, sleekly designed package.
The bonus of the Circle over and above its competition is that it comes with a 1600mAh rechargeable battery - meaning it's portable and multi-functional. During the day it could act as a security camera to monitor your home, while at night it could just as easily operate as a baby monitor in your child's bedroom.
In standard mode (with continuous streaming) we found we would get between two to three hours of life out of the camera before it needed to be docked on the charging ring again. You'll get less at night because night vision is slightly more taxing.
You can however, activate "battery saving mode" which does what it says on the tin. Then you're looking at getting more like half a day's worth of juice out of the camera. Battery saving mode does mean the camera is switched to "idle" during that time, which means that it's not recording unless it detects movement or you have the app open and are actively streaming.
The charging ring is another highlight of the design: thin and discrete, it's easy enough to tuck out of sight. The charging cable too is flat and easily concealed so there's no need to worry about unsightly wires making a mess of the place.
Or, for a more permanent fitting, you can opt to use the included screws and wall plugs or 3M stickers. It's also possible to mount the camera upside down on the ceiling to get a clear view of a room if you so choose. There's a supplied magnetic wall mount which makes placing and removing the camera a breeze.
The Logitech Circle camera connects to your home Wi-Fi with ease and sends recorded footage to Logi's secure cloud servers. You then use the Circle appon your phone to access recordings remotely – you don't need to be in the house to see what's going on or to review snippets, it's all accessible via the app or the web interface with the right username and password.
Quality-wise live-streaming is at Full HD (1920 x 1080) and 24-hour playback of the footage is available once it's recorded. There's no requirement for local storage space as all the footage is stored securely in the cloud, meaning you don't have to worry about backing up or deleting old recordings. Depending on what you're planning to do, this could be a good or bad thing, but in our view it makes it easy to manage and that's exactly what you need from any smart device.
Two-way communication; home when you're away from home
- Built-in speaker and mic
- AES 256-bit dual layer encryption
One of the stand-out features of the Circle is how easy it makes communication with home when out and about. Whether at work in the office or down the local shops the system allows seamless and straightforward communication with the home environment - whether you need to tell off the dog or keep an eye on the kids.
Two-way communication in this format isn't going to replace Facetime or other video conferencing - as the video is only one-way using the Circle - but it has its place and audio can be recorded.
The recording quality is surprisingly good too. In a busy home environment, we could easily hear the chatter of family members throughout the day. Turning the mic sensitivity up means you can even hear sounds and voices from other rooms in the house. From a home security point of view, it would be easy to monitor for unwanted activity and record what was being said or done.
Live 1080p HD video streaming with a wide-angle view
- 360, 720 and 1080p video capture
- 135° wide-angle lens
- Night-vision mode up to 15 feet
We were pleasantly surprised by the footage the Logitech Circle captured. Boasting a 135-degree wide-angle lens, this security camera is capable of seeing far more of the room than you'd expect.
The Circle also packs an 8x digital zoom - but you'll soon find the quality degrading if you zoom in too far. Realistically, in a reasonably sized room you'll be able to see most of the features from wall-to-wall, but you won't be zooming in to see a pin dropped on the floor or study the pores on a burglar's nose.
Footage can be streamed at 1080p. There's no mention of how much bandwidth this uses, but we imagine it will be a fair amount with constant video being captured all day long. You'll need to consider this before purchasing if you have any fair usage policy on your home broadband or if you live in a rural area that hasn't yet got access to superfast broadband speeds.
In the evening, the camera automatically engages night-vision mode when the light levels drop. It's capable of seeing up to 15-feet away in the pitch black of night. We were surprised and impressed by the quality of footage it recorded, even in the darkest of settings.
In standard mode, the Circle camera captures constant footage with regular alerts to the app. You'll be notified of detected movement and if you dive into the app you can scroll back through the events to filter between detected activity, high activity and days.
With a Logitech Circle Safe subscription you'll also be able to take advantage of person detection alerts. These offer more significant notifications than just the presence of change of light or the movement of a cat crossing the room. Since its launch, Logi has pushed out regular firmware updates, alongside frequent app improvements to include new features and improve user-experience.
Intelligent alerts, smart video editing and clip sharing
- Timelapse day brief
- Smart events and alerts
- New person detection
There are potentially several different reasons for owning a Circle camera. You might want one to keep track of what the family are up to when you're not there or to have a feeling of security for your worldly possessions while you're away.
Whatever your needs, the Circle camera is there to help. Constant live streaming means you can always access footage of your home - as long as you have a working internet connection and power to the camera (if there's a power cut, there's still the rechargeable battery to keep it going). But from a security stand-point you're hardly going to want to keep one eye on the camera footage all day long. That's where the intelligent alerts come in.
With alerts turned on, you'll be notified of movement and activity that's in view of the camera. We did find this could be overbearing at times. Car lights shining through a window or a change in sunlight would be enough to trigger a notification, meaning we often found ourselves bombarded with alerts that didn't really warrant any attention.
The addition of person detection alerts therefore is a welcome update to the camera, though whether it alone is enough to warrant the £7.99 per month (or £79.99 a year) subscription cost is up to you to decide. That's competitive to the likes of Nest.
To alleviate this somewhat, Logi has included a smart location system which means the camera recognises when you're home based on your phone's proximity the area based on GPS. You then won't get notified of movement detected during that period and notifications will only continue when you leave again.
When it comes to reviewing the timeline, the day is split into easily accessible events - with high and low activity bubbles being clickable to view in an instant. You can choose to download and share those snippets too – whether you need to share footage of an unwanted guest with the Police or hilarious footage of children getting up to mischief with your other half.
This is also coupled with scene intuition, which is capable of learning the patterns of home life so it can determine what should be of interest and what is not. We found this way of reviewing the activity of the day to be useful and logical.
Another great feature of the Circle is the day brief time-lapse functionality. Clicking this button at any point makes the app grab footage for that day and condense it into a 30 second time-lapse video. Good fun, especially on particularly busy days.
Subscription costs and camera extra features
- £0 for 24-hours' of viewable footage
- £2.99 per month for 14 days' footage
- £7.99 per month for 31 days' footage
Out of the box, the Logitech Circle offers 24-hours' worth of unlimited streaming and downloads, smart events, smart alerts and the superb time-lapse day briefs. This is more than enough for most people and with the ability to get alerts when you're away from home you can easily keep an eye on the security of your domicile and download recordings where necessary. Nest, conversely, only offers three hours.
If you wish, you can pay extra for Circle Safe. The basic subscription starts at £2.99 per month and includes the same features as the free version but with 14 days' worth of footage. Circle Safe Premium is slightly pricier at £7.99 per month but includes 31 days of footage, as well as the person detection alerts, motion zones and other advanced filters and alerts.
The subscription costs might be off-putting for some, but they're not entirely necessary for most people who will be at home at some point each day.
The Logitech Circle certainly has a lot to offer and some stand-out features that make it a worthwhile addition to your home. If you're looking for a smart home camera that doesn't require a subscription cost then this is it. If you want footage available for longer then the £2.99 or £7.99 per month fees are reasonable, depending on your needs.
The Circle's built-in battery and, therefore, ability to go wireless and be easily moved around the home for different uses - as a baby monitor, for example - make this an extremely flexible camera for your home, family and possessions.
Cloud video storage, day brief time lapses and two-way communication make Logi's smart camera one of the more interesting and useful out there. It's cheaper than Nest too.
Logitech Circle Camera: Alternatives to consider
The Netatmo Welcome is one of the best smart home cameras we've reviewed with facial recognition being a highlight that impressed us. It is however, let down by lack of cloud backup that the Logitech Circle and other competitors offer, but then it doesn't come with the subscription costs those cameras do.
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Canary is a strong contender for the smart home camera crown. It lacks facial recognition but we found it offered a strong experience, despite the subscription requirements. On the free plan you can get 12 hours of footage, half that of the Logitech Circle but it boasts some pretty clever features like the ability to track where household members are (i.e. away from home or not) and arm itself accordingly.
We found the Withings Home to be a lot more than just a smart camera, it's nearly an all-in-one smart home solution with a camera, video recorder, night light, speaker and more besides. A beautiful design, a wide range of features and functionality and all-round performance should put the Withings Home on your radar.
Nest Cam is a solid smart camera and has all the features and functionality you'd expect from a high-quality smart home product including great quality HD video capture, night vision mode and cloud back-up. With recent updates it also works with the rest of the Nest ecosystem including the Nest Thermostat. A worthy contender for the smart camera crown.