WyzeCam v2 review

For $20, WyzeCam sets a new standard for budget security cameras

The $20 WyzeCam v2 seems too good to be true, but performs where it counts.
MSRP $19.99
The $20 WyzeCam v2 seems too good to be true, but performs where it counts.
The $20 WyzeCam v2 seems too good to be true, but performs where it counts.

Highs

  • Incredible value for money
  • Pocket camera design is cute and versatile
  • Clear and sharp 1080p day/night imaging
  • Accurate motion detection
  • Local micro SD storage support

Lows

  • Image resolution drops when motion tracking
  • Push notifications fail to trigger
  • Patchy cloud recording performance

When a small parcel arrived containing our WyzeCam v2 review hardware, we could see that this $20 smart cam was both compact and low-cost.

You read that price tag correctly. In an age where smart home cameras can retail for well over $200, WyzeCam’s offering seems like witchcraft. With 1080p HD streaming, motion and sound detection, two-way audio, night vision and 14 days of free cloud storage, we could be reading the specifications of category heroes like Nest Cam IQ or Netgear Arlo. But for $20? We’ve got to be dreaming.

A quick pinch and a dig into that spec sheet reveals a couple of compromises, but nothing – on paper, at least – that rings an alarm. Sure, a 110 field of vision isn’t the widest you’ll find on the market, and 820.11n Wi-Fi (limited to the 2.4 GHz band) is a little slower than we’d like. But is that enough to break Wyze Labs’ promise of delivering high-quality products at a fraction of their competitor’s price?

Cute, compact and versatile

Founded by a group of ex-Amazon executives from Seattle, it’s no surprise that the company has been built on a platform of delivering eye-wateringly good value. At first glance, it’s clear they understand the need for quality as well as a low price point. Because while the dinky WyzeCam looks cute, it feels much better in the hand than we expected.

The cube-shaped camera is light, but molded around four sides, so it feels quite robust. Soft touch plastics and rounded corners ensure that no fingers will be sliced in-use. Lift the device from its base and WyzeCam reveals an integrated, posable stand that raises the camera’s height and supports angled views. Twist the camera body, and you’ll find it rotates almost 360 degrees on a desktop. Or, you can mount the camera on the wall with an included magnetic wall-plate. There’s no battery support, but the included 1.8m mini-USB power cable helps with high mounting – if you need longer, simply purchase a longer cable from your favorite electronics retailer and you’re good to go.

There are more stylish and robust cameras than WyzeCam around, for sure, but out of the box, WyzeCam is cute, compact and versatile. There’s a lot to love.

Quick setup, friendly app with limited features

Setup was another area where we were looking for compromises. But again, we were thwarted. Other than a couple of minor language issues, we couldn’t find fault, as it was a quick and simple installation experience. Download the Wyze app, power on, enter Wi-Fi details, scan a QR code, and you’re done.  There was even a succinct guided tour of the app, which is friendly and super simple to use – in part because there are few bells and whistles on offer.

WyzeCam’s 1080p imaging is incredibly impressive, given its price point. It suffers from the same daylight overexposure issues we’ve encountered on most smart cams this year, but static images are clearer and sharper than our current budget favorites, the $149 Swann Smart Security Camera and $129 Honeywell Lyric C2. Low light and night vision performance was equally strong, with the camera providing good infrared illumination and delivering sharp, well-balanced images.

Performance compromises

But there had to be a compromise somewhere in the WyzeCam, and it comes with motion. The camera does an excellent job of detecting and tracking motion in the room – you’ll see a green rectangle placed around any object, person (or in our case, a cat) moving within the camera’s view. But we found that the live stream’s image resolution simultaneously drops with the kind of blockiness you’d expect from watching Netflix over dial-up. The issue was also visible on recorded clips, suggesting a processing issue rather than a problem with WyzeCam’s network streaming capabilities.  That said, clips are still reasonably clear and watchable – they’re certainly of sufficient quality for security purposes – but it’s something you should be aware of before jumping in.

In an age where smart home cameras can retail for well over $200, WyzeCam’s offering smells like witchcraft.

More concerning, though, were WyzeCam’s usability and cloud service issues when motion or sounds alerts were triggered. First, the camera repeatedly failed to send promised push notifications to our phone throughout our tests. Digging into the app’s notifications panel, we could see that triggered events had been recorded to the cloud. But when we tried to view the recorded clip, we were told the file didn’t exist.

We were able to view clips a couple of hours later, so whether there was an issue with the cloud service or whether there’s a significant delay in uploading, processing, and then making clips available for review, who knows. It’s a moot point – any smart camera needs to provide instant alerts and make video available in a matter of seconds, and WyzeCam missed the mark. The device does support on-event and continuous recording to a local SD card, and we found this to be a much more reliable option for clip review.

While Wyze Labs also promote their camera’s ability to differentiate between smoke alarms, CO2 alarms and regular sounds, our tests saw the camera lump all detected sounds into a generic category. Rounding up remaining features, we find that two-way talk on most budget smart cams to be a functional and reasonably muffled affair. WyzeCam’s integrated microphone and speaker work fine, but do little to change our opinion.

Warranty information

Your $20 investment in WyzeCam is protected by a one-year limited warranty, covering you from defects in materials and workmanship.

Our Take

While there’s work to do on supporting cloud services, from a hardware standpoint, the WyzeCam v2 is a complete revelation, setting a new standard for budget smart cams on both price and performance. There are faster, better, smarter, more attractive Wi-Fi cameras in the market for sure, but none of them stack up to WyzeCam on value for money. It looks and performs far better than anyone should expect for $20.

With the issues we encountered with WyzeCam’s cloud service, we would recommend the use of a microSD card which, ironically, may well cost you more than the camera itself. The failure of WyzeCam’s push notification service and delays in cloud recording availability mean that the camera may not offer reliability users demand to protect their homes. If Wyze Labs can resolve those problems, then they really will have created a $20 smart cam sensation. Witchcraft, indeed.

Is there a better alternative?

At $20? Absolutely not.

How long will it last?

Wyze Labs is a start-up that’s done a fantastic job of launching (and revising) its debut model. We have absolutely no clue how they’ll make money selling a $20 smart cam with this kind of specification. Unless they have backers with deep pockets, our hunch is they’ll need to shift a lot of volume to keep the wheels spinning. But at such a low price point, you won’t lose too much if the company goes pop.

Should you buy it?

If you’ve yet to invest in a smart home camera, $20 won’t buy you state of the art, but it’ll get you a decent second best that puts some competitors to shame. The smart cam world just tipped over – jump in!

Cars

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Wearable chargers and A.I.-enhanced keyboards

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

The best outdoor security cameras to make burglars think twice

Worried about intruders entering your home? With wireless, weatherproof, 2-way talk, and night vision options, you can always be in the know about who or what is on your property. These are the best outdoor security cameras for 2019.
Smart Home

Keep a watch on your front porch with the best video doorbells for 2019

When it comes to knowing who's at your door before you actually open it, there's nothing better than a video doorbell. Plus, you can "answer" the door even if you're not home. Here are some of our favorites.
Deals

Keep a closer eye (or ear) on your little bean with these baby monitor deals

Whether you’re after a Wi-Fi-connected baby IP camera or a no-frills two-way audio monitor, we’ve picked out a few baby monitor deals along with some other kid-friendly gadgets to help you keep tabs on the littlest members of your…
Smart Home

Amazon drops post-Prime Day deals on Scout Alarm DIY smart home security kits

Prime Day 2019 may be behind us, but that doesn't mean the good deals are gone until Black Friday. Amazon picked up the pace today in smart home devices with a 24-hour sale on the highly respected Scout Alarm Home Security product line.
News

Vintage and modern spin together in new streaming turntable from Como

Como Audio plans to release a smart speaker with Google Assistant built-in. The company is also releasing a streaming turntable that allows you to play your favorite vinyl over Bluetooth speakers.
Cars

Amazon wants Alexa embedded in every vehicle to connect with smart homes

Amazon is following up on Alexa's penetration into smart homes with an incursion to embed the voice assistant in cars. There are third-party Alexa-compatible automotive aftermarket products, but the big score is in-vehicle software systems.
Deals

Wake up with the dimmable Lenovo Smart Clock with Google Assistant, now just $60

Start your morning routine with the Lenovo Smart Clock with Google Assistant. It does everything your smartphone does for you when you wake up – and more. Get it from Walmart and Best Buy for only $60 before school starts.
Deals

Amazon drops the price and adds $20 coupon for the Ninja Foodi multi-cooker

The Ninja Foodi combines the best features of pressure cookers and air fryers in one device. Amazon just dropped the price for the 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi by 20% and added a $20 discount coupon.
Smart Home

The best Nespresso machines to make coffee shop creations at home

Most people still trek down to their local coffee shop to get an espresso or a cappuccino, but you don't have to. A Nespresso machine can put coffee shop-quality espresso on your kitchen counter.
Deals

Amazon drops deals on Nest, Honeywell, and Emerson smart thermostats for summer

Amazon currently drops the price of Alexa-enabled smart thermostats by up to 33% so this may be the chance you’ve been waiting for. Check it out here as we've listed them all for you.
Smart Home

The best smart locks that provide secure keyless entry for your home

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.
Deals

Prefer iced over hot coffee? Amazon cuts 62% off of this Dash cold brew system

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping the grounds in water overnight, for a smoother taste. With the Dash Rapid Cold Brew System, you can make a whole pot in five minutes, now only $49 from Amazon.
Deals

Walmart cooks up a sweet air fryer deal, grab one now for only $39

Let someone going away for college know you care about their well-being by giving them an air fryer. The La Gourmet Six-Quart Digital Air Fryer and Convection Oven is on sale on Walmart. Get one today in white or charcoal for $39.