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BodyGuardz 360 review: Useful utility for on-the-go security

BodyGuardz 360 Camera in a hotel
BodyGuardz 360 review: Useful utility for on-the-go security
MSRP $199.00
“Not all security cameras can go everywhere you go. The Bodyguardz 360 is one of the few that can.”
Pros
  • Portability for on-the-go travel
  • Handy built-in nightlight
  • Stores video to USB for offline operation
  • Battery lasts five days on a single charge
Cons
  • Setup process was less than intuitive
  • Best features are locked behind a subscription plan

The BodyGuardz 360 camera looks a lot more like a thermos or a portable Bluetooth speaker than it does a security camera. This resemblance becomes even more pronounced when you first see the way you store the cord and charging brick. Though it has a rather non-traditional look, the BodyGuardz 360 boasts storage straight to USB, offline functionality, and a 360-degree field of view and punches well above its weight class at just $200.

Setup and operation: Some nagging issues

The setup process had me ready to pull my hair out. What should have been a simple procedure turned into 10 minutes of troubleshooting. You are asked to first download the BodyGuardz app to your phone, before pressing the physical power button on the camera three times to put it into “scanning mode.” At this point, you hold a QR code from the app in front of the camera. It’s hard to tell exactly when the camera is watching; although the on-screen instructions say there will be an audible chime, I heard no sound until the camera saw the QR code.

After that, setup proceeded smoothly. I was able to install the camera and place it where I wanted without further difficulty. The camera works well when it runs, but if I minimize the app and try to reopen it, more often than not I find I have to force-close the application before the camera will display again. It has happened multiple times since I initially set up the camera. It’s a minor annoyance that adds up when it happens almost every single time.

You can control the camera from within the app. It isn’t what I would call intuitive; you have to tap and hold the phone screen before the controls appear. It feels like the app is more focused on trying to look minimalist than it is with having easy controls. There’s no reason why the camera controls could not be placed below the rest of the buttons.

The BodyGuardz 360 offers limited smart control through Amazon Alexa and Google Home, but only for turning the nightlight on and off. There is no way to control the panning of the camera with a smart assistant, which limits the actual utility of the integration.

Subscription plan

There are three different tiers to the BodyGuardz Smart Life plan.

Free: You receive zero days of video history, and you can store footage locally. You have access to the features including two-way talk, the 90dB emergency siren, and push notifications, but you do not receive smart detection alerts, desktop streaming, activity zones, or the ability to review and share video.

Deluxe: The Deluxe plan runs $4 per month per camera and includes seven days of video history. Motion capture is recorded as a video clip, and you gain access to smart detection alerts, desktop streaming, customized activity zones, and the ability to share and save video.

Premium: The Premium Plan is $10 per month for three cameras. It includes 30 days of video history and all of the features of the Deluxe plan, with the additional benefit of an extended product warranty.

Unfortunately, you need the subscription to utilize many of the more powerful features. At just $4 per month, it’s affordable — but it would be a nice addition if activity zones and smart detection alerts were included by default.

Image quality: Clear video, any time of day

The BodyGuardz 360 camera doesn’t stream 4K content, but its 1080p resolution is sufficient for all in-home (or away from home) use. Image quality is decent enough to make out most details. The camera can pan around its entire base to provide you with a 360-degree field of view. You can always keep an eye on your home, at almost any angle. The 360 also has automatic night vision. When the sun goes down, the view switches to black and white without losing picture quality.

Color accuracy is another area where the camera isn’t exactly perfect. My walls are off-white, but the camera always tinted them a faint shade of blue. In one image, a black shirt hanging on the back of a chair looked purple. It could be something as simple as a color temperature calibration with the software, but the inaccuracies don’t help either.  You won’t want to use the BodyGuardz 360 to admire a Jackson Pollock, but it will be enough to keep an eye on activity in and around your home.

BodyGuardz 360 Night Light

It’s worth noting that the camera includes a nightlight. It’s not always active, and you have to manually activate it — but it lends itself somewhat well to placement in the middle of a dark room. To its credit, the nightlight doesn’t seem to interfere much with the night vision.

Features: A focus on privacy and alerts

When it comes to customizing your alerts, you can choose to monitor for sound as well as motion. The sound detection picks up any noises greater than 90dB. Motion detection is self-explanatory but can be broken down even further — just not on the free plan.

If you subscribe to BodyGuardz’s Smart Life subscription, you can choose to monitor for all types of motion or just people only. You can also set up activity zones to avoid false alarms.

One of the true standout features of the BodyGuardz 360 camera is its attention to privacy. You can easily turn the camera on and off from within the app. You can do the same to its microphone. If at any point you feel like the camera has picked up something it doesn’t need, you can choose to delete your video history.

If that isn’t enough, the camera even comes with a physical privacy shield that you can slide down in front of the lens. It serves two purposes: One, to protect the lens while you are transporting the camera. Two, it completely blocks video so you never have to worry that it’s watching when you don’t want it to.

Performance: Portability for on-the-go security

The BodyGuardz 360 camera is a completely portable security camera. You can’t live stream when you’re away from Wi-Fi, but you can plug a USB stick into the side of the camera and it will automatically record any activity that goes on around it. You can access these clips by plugging the USB drive into a laptop.

BodyGuardz 360 cord storage.

This makes the camera particularly useful if you spend a lot of time in hotels. Its battery will last up to five days on a single charge, depending on the amount of activity going on around it and the amount it is in use. Naturally, activating the night light will reduce the battery life. Just to note, the camera also fits neatly in a standard-sized cup holder in a car.

You can also plug the camera in through its brick for unlimited usage. The most surprising part of this camera, though, is the way the cord is stored. It’s wrapped around the inside of the camera. The bottom slips off like the bottom of a thermos, and then you pull the cord out from its compartment. The brick is stored at the very bottom of the camera and pops out after the cord is free. It’s an ingenious way to keep the cord out of the way, especially if you use the camera while you’re traveling.

Our Take

The BodyGuardz 360 is a good — but not yet great — security camera. It includes a host of powerful features for a relatively low price point, and its 360-degree view means you don’t need to invest in multiple cameras for a room. The numerous little annoyances in the setup and operation of the camera, as well as the opaque nature of actually panning the camera, could all be fixed through software patches. It has a lot of potential but is not quite there yet.

Is there a better alternative?

There aren’t many portable security cameras on the market. The BodyGuardz 360 definitely hits a certain niche, but it does have competition in the larger realm of home security cameras. The Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera is $200 and boasts high resolution and a respectable 160-degree field of view.

On the budget end of the scale, the Wyze Cam Outdoor is another versatile camera like the BodyGuardz 360 that includes 14-day cloud storage for free and 1080p resolution for just $60 — while also offering a handy offline mode to continue recording video when there’s no Wi-Fi connectivity around.

How long will it last?

The BodyGuardz 360 is made of plastic. It’s not the most durable camera in the world, but it has enough weight and heft that it feels sturdy. With proper care, it should last for at least five years of routine use, if not longer. If you experience problems, BodyGuardz does provide a one-year warranty from the date of purchase.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Despite its flaws, the BodyGuardz 360 is a powerful security camera with a lot of features rarely seen in other products. The ability to carry it with you to watch your hotel room or Airbnb is impressive, and the relatively low price point and massive field of view make it a steady contender.

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