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EZVIZ Mini 360 Plus: Our first take

Mini 360 Plus puts a new spin on smart home cameras

There’s a strong case to be made for 360-degree video in home security. True 360 cameras make it possible to view an entire room at any given moment, but nobody has quite gotten the recipe right. For example, the Allie Home provides immersive coverage, but lacks many security features — and it costs $300.

The EZVIZ Mini 360 Plus takes a much more basic approach, putting a standard, fixed-frame camera in a pan-and-tilt housing. Like other cameras of this type, it can’t see all 360 degrees at the same moment, but at just $80 it makes a compelling case for anyone looking to monitor an entire room on the cheap.

Design

The Mini 360 Plus stands just 3.5 inches tall and is essentially a flat-bottomed sphere. It can be set upright on any surface or mounted upside down to the ceiling. The plastic case feels somewhat fragile, but given the price, we can’t complain. Also, as a camera designed to live a stationary life, this shouldn’t be a problem.

The back of the camera has the power port (it doesn’t have a battery and requires wall power), MicroSD card slot, and an Ethernet port if you’d rather use a wired connection than rely on the built-in 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. It supports MicroSD cards up to 128 gigabytes.

A vertical window in the top half of the Mini 360 reveals the camera lens inside. The window allows the lens to tilt up by about 90 degrees (or down, if it’s mounted on a ceiling). The entire top half of the sphere pans to cover a 360-degree radius, but it can’t rotate continuously. That is, it has set end points that it can’t rotate beyond, so there are times when you may have to pan, say, 300 degrees just to view something that was only a few degrees out of frame beyond the end point.

A Privacy Shield option forces the lens to tilt up beyond the window, effectively blinding the camera. This is a nice feature for anyone who has trouble trusting the always-on nature of smart home cameras. Being able to see that the lens is physically blocked should help quell any concerns among privacy-conscious consumers. (The camera also offers end-to-end encryption, in theory ensuring that only you can see the live feed and saved videos.)

Features

The Mini 360 Plus offers a respectable set of security-focused features for an $80 smart home camera. It comes with night vision, two-way audio, motion detection, and tracking, and even has IFTTT (If This Than That) support for integrating it with other smart home devices, like the Amazon Echo Dot and its Alexa assistant. You can also use IFTTT to program automatic triggers, such as telling the camera to enter sleep mode when you arrive home. EZVIZ maintains a collection of IFTTT instructions online.

Motion detection and tracking are perhaps the most important features of this camera. With a 92-degree field of view, the Mini 360’s lens doesn’t capture as wide a viewing angle as most security cameras. Therefore, it relies on its ability to pan and tilt to monitor a greater space. Motion tracking, in theory, makes sure the camera is always angled where it should be, whether that means following your pet around the house or catching someone breaking in.

Basic motion detection works quite well; turn alerts on and you’ll immediately receive a notification to your phone should the camera pick up something, while the Mini 360 saves a brief video clip for your review. There are a few issues that severely limit how motion tracking works, however. For one, an object needs to actually pass in front of the lens — this is a no brainer, yes, but it means that anything can go on outside of that 92-degree viewing angle and the camera will be none the wiser. Second, the pan speed of the camera is relatively slow — even walking at a medium speed, we easily outpaced it. Once out of its field of view, the Mini 360 stopped trying to track us. And finally, the inability of the camera to continuously pan means that it can’t track an object that moves beyond one of the rotational end points (at roughly 0 and 360 degrees).

The camera’s pan speed is slow — even walking at a medium speed, we easily outpaced it.

EZVIZ promises to keep the Mini 360 Plus updated with new features over time, and we hope future updates bring improvements to motion tracking. If the camera could continue to search for objects it’s seen recently that have passed beyond its field of view, or if it was smart enough to automatically reverse 360 degrees after tracking something past its end point, this would go a long way to erasing some of its limitations.

The camera’s Full HD 1080p image quality provides sufficient detail and allows for a decent amount of digital zoom. Like other small-sensor cameras, it suffers from limited dynamic range when you have, say, really bright windows contrasted by dark interiors. Regardless, the image quality is satisfactory for seeing what’s going on in your home, although we do wish still photos pushed beyond the Full HD limit (they don’t).

Ease of use and value

With the EZVIZ app (iOS and Android), checking in on your home remotely is easy. You can view a live feed, pan and tilt the camera, activate the Privacy Shield, and turn alerts on or off. Even with just a two-bar 4G connection, we never experienced more than a one-second delay in the live feed when remotely panning or tilting the camera. You can also snap pictures or take videos with the tap of a button, which can be downloaded to your phone and shared to social media. This should help keep the internet stocked with fresh cat-in-box videos.

In addition to manually panning and tilting the camera, you can use the Panoramic Touch Navigation feature to simply tap on a 360-degree panoramic of the room and the camera will automatically pan and tilt to center on that point.

…we have a few niggling issues…

Overall, we have no real complaints about using the Mini 360, though we have a few niggling issues. The memory card initialization procedure was inexplicably long (it took over a minute with a 64GB card), for example, and when setting up the camera via the app, you will need to make sure your phone is connected to a 2.4GHz network, which may mean switching over from the 5GHz band and reentering your wireless password. Both of these issues are minor, and most people will likely only need to deal with them once.

EZVIZ includes one free month of its CloudPlay backup service with purchase of a Mini360. After that period, users can elect to subscribe to CloudPlay starting at $5.99 for seven days of backup. CloudPlay members can also use the Daily Recap feature, which condenses all motion-triggered video clips of the past 24 hours into a short highlight real.

EZVIZ offers a one year limited warranty on the Mini 360 Plus.

Conclusion

In our limited time with the Mini 360 Plus, we can safely say this seems like a very fair purchase for the money. At $80, there’s little holding you back. We recommend comparing it to other smart home cameras, but the Mini 360 Plus is certainly worthy of your consideration. It is not the most full-featured security camera out there, but it packs quite a punch for its price, is easy to use, and has fair cloud pricing with plans that are completely optional thanks to support for a generous 128GB of onboard storage.

Highs

  • Inexpensive
  • 360-degree pan
  • Responsive, easy-to-use app
  • Full HD 1080p video
  • Privacy Sheild blocks lens

Lows

  • Motion tracking could be better
  • Stills also limited to 1080p