“Packed with innovation, Swann's stylish and sturdy 4K cameras take smart home security to the next level.”
- Fabulous 4K video
- Six sturdy and stylish cameras
- Integrated PIR, siren, and spotlights
- Dedicated network video recorder
- Color night vision with long range
- Wired installation
- Mobile app has some rough edges
- Frustrating Google Assistant experience
Over the last few years, the home security market has experienced a revolution. Clunky, monochrome closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems with fuzzy imaging have been abandoned in favor of sleek, sexy new cameras boasting super-sharp imaging, app control, motion detection, and night vision. Smart A.I. features like auto-tracking, auto-zoom and facial recognition became prevalent. We’ve also seen new smart home brands like Nest, Ring, and Arlo pop up with bold ambitions, big promises, and massive marketing budgets, as well as a $20 1080p HD smart camera that doesn’t suck.
A 30-year veteran of smart home security, Swann has likely viewed the recent explosion in competition with a wry smile. It’s dabbled in low-cost, high-performance devices — last year’s $150 Swann Smart Security Camera proved itself to be a capable and versatile alternative to Arlo. But the
The $899 Swann
The cameras are the real stars of the show. Alongside pin-sharp clarity, Swann’s swanky cameras are kitted-out with enhanced features that elevate them above their peers. All six are equipped with integrated PIR sensors that are triggered by motion or heat detected at a range of up to 32 feet (10 meters). Two of the cameras are further boosted with integrated security spotlights, supporting color night vision with a 115-foot range. A standard night vision setting on all cameras extends the range up to 150 feet.
The devices are noticeable enough to provide a deterrent for potential intruders
Where budget systems favor cheap, plastic casings, Swann’s compact cameras are clad in aluminium, with an IP66 weatherproof rating guaranteeing they’re fit for indoor or outdoor use. The contrasting white-and-black cylindrical devices are noticeable enough to provide a deterrent for potential intruders while retaining a sleek, contemporary style.
One possible drawback is that Swann’s cameras are wired, which means you’ll need to carefully plan installation points, run wires through walls, and experience all the joys of managing the six supplied 60-foot cables. Compared to older systems, which are equipped with separate power and data connectors, we’re pleased to see Swann offer the simplicity of a power over Ethernet option, but if you’re seeking a quick and easy installation, a wired system is not for you.
Swann’s wired setup is much tidier than the Defender
The Swann NVR boots reasonably quick and automatically detects
A handy startup wizard gets you up and running with time and date settings. From there, you can switch between on-screen camera layouts using the mouse, select a camera for full-screen monitoring with a click, and take advantage of overlaid menu options for manual recording, screen capture, video playback, and camera display settings.
Having reviewed a swath of 1080p smart cameras over the last few years, believe us when we tell you that upgrading to
One major feature enhancement over many smart home security systems is support for color night vision. Available exclusively on the two spotlight-equipped cameras, video is well-illuminated, with natural colors and good visibility, even at long range. As you’d expect, images are a little noisy due to the low ambient light, but the camera’s twin LEDs are bright enough to illuminate the immediate area and boost clarity. With the spotlights extinguished, night vision reverts to a standard monochrome image (as you’ll find on the four regular cameras). Again, clarity and range is decent, but visually, we found it to be a step down from the system’s fabulous night vision setting.
While you can toggle the camera’s spotlights manually, it’s best to take advantage of the integrated PIR (passive infrared) that supports both heat and motion detection. Alongside the security lights, the PIR can also trigger an integrated siren, which we wouldn’t describe as deafening, but in the dead of night, it should be more than sufficient to ward off potential intruders creeping around your premises.
If there’s one criticism we have about Swann’s otherwise first-class
Throughout our tests, we found the Swann
While competing prosumer security systems can be a struggle to work with, we were greatly impressed by Swann’s ease of use. When setting up the accompanying HomeSafe View mobile app, the NVR was automatically detected on the home network and connection was completed in a matter of seconds. It was a seamless experience compared to the clunky, repeated QR code scans and multiple password hurdles required by systems like Defender
Despite the strong start, life with Swann’s mobile app quickly became cumbersome. A little work is required to get the best video-streaming performance from Swann’s mobile app. The default MobileStream video setting — designed to balance streaming video quality and bandwidth — comes with the smeariness and artifacts we encounter on cheaper systems. We were relieved to find a MainStream video setting that bumped streaming resolution up to full quality. Images are also vertically-stretched — again, aspect ratio can be adjusted in the app’s settings, but we found we had to do so repeatedly, each time we used the app.
Elsewhere, HomeSafe View’s user interface is behind competing smart home security apps. Recorded video from all six cameras is available for mobile playback, but clip navigation is more cumbersome than we’d expect. Dig into the menus and you may encounter basic spelling errors (“Set Push Notifaction”) and confusing messages to ignore your phone’s battery optimization settings to enable the aforementioned “notifaction.”
Swann is quick to boast about the system’s support for the Google Assistant, which allows you to cast camera feeds on compatible TVs. Unfortunately, we found that Swann’s in-app vocal setup instructions failed to work, and despite working through alternative configuration steps in a long community forum post, we remained unable to use
From a hardware perspective, Swann’s fabulous
Sturdy, stylish and packed with features
Sadly, Swann’s mobile app fails to deliver the same standard of quality and usability. It’s functional but quite painful to use and lags well behind leading smart home security systems. While we’d certainly recommend the Swann
An 18 month warranty — boosted to 24 months with registration — is generous, so you should expect this home security system to last at least that long.
Yes. Despite our criticism of the mobile app, the Swann
- Arlo Essential XL 2nd Gen vs. Arlo Pro 4: Which is the better security camera?
- Best 4k security cameras of 2022
- ADT vs. Vivint: Which home security system is best?
- Arlo ditches the need for a hub with its new Pro 4 and Ultra 2 cameras
- Lorex Cyber Monday sale: Get $300 off the 4K Ultra HD 8-camera security system