When Korean smart camera manufacturer MCNEX announced it would enter the U.S. consumer smart camera market under the brand name Eyeclon, it didn’t make any waves. The business-to-business company had zero brand recognition among U.S. consumers, and the smart camera space was already saturated with players big and small. Nevertheless, Eyeclon pressed onward with the E1 Wi-Fi Netcam, a smart home camera that merely handles the basics, without so much as a shred of refinement.
The E1 feels like it was cobbled together from spare parts. In fact, it looks like it was hastily reverse-engineered from a Belkin NetCam HD+, a camera that came out several years ago. The shape resembles a fried egg, with a curved white exterior surrounding a large circular lens that protrudes from the body. The camera body sits atop a wide base that doubles as a wall mount, connected by a ball joint that can only be described as janky. Mounted to a wall, the ball joint lets you angle the camera with a high degree of freedom. Used on a desk or table, it just feels like it’s going to fall apart at any minute, and it’s nearly impossible to get a level image as the tilt changes any time you so much as breathe on it.
Honestly, our favorite thing about the design of the E1 is how Eyeclon describes it. Calling it “perfect for any areas,” the company says the E1 “transforms into a CCTV type camera on walls or ceilings and used like an interior object on tables.” In truth, we cannot argue that the E1 is, in the purest definition of the term, an interior object, nor can we argue that such objects are, at times, used on tables. We also respect the company’s blunt honesty in comparing a smart home camera to a CCTV camera, because, let’s face it, these things are kind of creepy.
Features and usability
One rather unique feature of the camera is that it offers both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, and the setup process through the mobile app (iOS or Android) is pretty simple either way. We have to give credit to Eyeclon for putting the Ethernet jack there as an option, but unless you’ve been dying to find a use for that old Ethernet cable that’s stashed in a drawer somewhere, we doubt few would take advantage of it.
We’re not sure that the E1 needs to exist.
It’s also nice that you don’t need to disconnect your phone from your home Wi-Fi to connect it to the E1 for setup. Instead, you program your account info, camera name, and Wi-Fi settings into the app, which then generates a QR code for the E1 to read. Sometimes it takes a while for the camera to recognize the code, but it’s a pretty neat way of setting it up. (Note: You will need to connect your phone to a 2.4GHz network before setting up the camera; the app will give you a general error message that is very unhelpful if you try to connect it to a 5GHz network.)
The camera’s feature set is otherwise a bit hit and miss. The lens offers a 128-degree angle of view, slightly wider than average, and the sensor records video in 1080p resolution. Files are saved to a MicroSD card, but there is no cloud storage option. Video can also be saved to your phone, but clips are only accessible within the Eyeclon app and cannot be saved to your camera roll or shared in any other way.
Night vision is there, but it can only be set to “auto” or turned off completely. Motion detection is also there, and it works decently, but there are literally zero options for controlling it. There’s no way to change the sensitivity or active area, and perhaps most importantly, there’s no way to turn it off. Fortunately, you can set the camera to “Privacy mode,” which disables video recording entirely, although it would have been nice to be able to leave the live stream active with motion detection disabled if you want to, say, check in on your kids or pets remotely without actually recording their every move.
The E1 feels like it was cobbled together from spare parts.
Thanks to two-way audio, the E1 lets you torment your pets when you’re away or creep out the FedEx guy at your front door. It also has an alarm, but even at the highest volume it would only be loud enough to scare away a cat. Which, now that we think about it, might be a good way of keeping your cat off the counter.
The camera also lacks any sort of automation or scheduling ability, but this is not uncommon for this particular subclass of smart cameras.
The Eyeclon app itself is not altogether terrible, but many of the controls and settings are strangely placed. There are also some delicious morsels of poorly translated text that live like Easter eggs within the UI – we hope they never get updated.
We’re not sure that the E1 needs to exist. There are many other options out there that do what it does, only better. But lest we be too harsh, perhaps we should include some context: The E1 costs less than $75 right now on Amazon. That’s a significant savings over many better designed, more feature-rich smart cameras on the market, although it’s not much less than the $80 EZViz Mini 360 Plus, a cheap camera that we actually liked (which also happens to have an Ethernet port for you old-schoolers, among many other features).
There is simply little reason anyone should consider the E1 at this time given the level of competition out there from better known brands with more refined products. The E1’s saving grace is its price, so if you’re on a tight budget and you must have a networked camera, then this one will at least work – but even then, it wouldn’t be our first choice.
We wouldn’t write off Eyeclon completely. While the E1 may be a lackluster intro, we saw a few products on display during the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show this past January that exhibit some potential.
- Two-way audio
- Simple setup
- Feels cheap
- Confusing app UI
- Limited camera settings