With today’s smart camera market packed with choice, manufacturers are continually seeking new angles to differentiate their wares. In some cases, quite literally. The $180 Ezviz ez360 Pano is equipped with a dynamic fish-eye lens, supporting 360-degree views around a room. While it may sound like witchcraft, it’s trick we’ve seen before, in the innovative, but ultimately disappointing, Guardzilla 360.
Where that desk-mounted device was let down by smeary, low-resolution video, the ez360 supports wall or ceiling mounted positions, with a 3 MP (2048 x1536) sensor and a range of video monitoring modes promising somewhat better results. As you’d expect from a modern smart cam, motion detection alerts, two-way audio and light integration with Amazon Alexa & Google Home adds substance to an innovative headline proposition.
A giant eyeball
Resembling a giant eye ball from a robot, the ez360’s metal-clad body is both attractive and robust, although the flimsy, plastic screw mount that ships with the device is far less impressive. In operation, we did find that the metal chassis ran hot, though, so think about mounting locations carefully. There’s no desktop stand included, as the camera is really meant for wall or ceiling mounted positions. In fact, the camera’s panoramic features aren’t effective unless the device is ceiling mounted, which is more restrictive than Guardzilla 360.
Thankfully, Ezviz includes a long micro-USB power cable that should reach high-mounting points, but for the neatest installation, you’ll still need to spend time drilling and hiding cables. While devices like Netgear Arlo Pro 2 or the Swann Smart Camera may not offer ez360’s panoramic views, magnetic mounts and battery power make for a simpler and neater install.
With support for dual-band Wi-Fi networks, ez360 can stream live video to a smartphone, capture recordings to a microSD card (up to 128 GB) or to the cloud, should you opt for Ezviz’ inevitable subscription service (Seven-days of recordings from $6 per month).
Camera setup, via a free smartphone app for iOS and Android devices, was quick and easy, requiring a quick scan of a QR code and the novelty of an audio-powered device connection. Here you’re asked to place your phone near the camera, which plays a series of high-pitched audio signals to complete configuration. Sounds strange in theory, stranger in practice, but hey, it works!
Resembling a giant eye-ball from a googly robot, the ez360’s metal-clad body is both attractive and robust.
Once you’re up and running, you can start reviewing the variety of monitoring modes available. In fact, we’d suggest doing so before settling on a final mounting position. The Ezviz app is mostly simple to use – viewing live streams and reviewing captured clips is a quick and easy task. We noticed some text formatting issues dotted around, but no show-stopping issues.
You can use the app to select a wall-mount or ceiling-mount mode for the camera. The former uses the fish-eye lens to provide an extremely wide field of vision. Images are bright with good color-balance, but quality is less refined than some smart cams on the market today. That said, they’re certainly an improvement on Guardzilla 360’s gloomy, smeary output.
In terms of exposure, as we see with most smart cameras, bright window areas with strong daylight were completely blown out, but the camera did a better job elsewhere.
If you opt for a ceiling-mounted position, you can take advantage of a 360-degree panorama view encompassing the entire room, or a split-screen 180-degree panorama which uses a horizontal split-screen design to show front and rear views. As you’d expect, given the lens design, both options incur noticeable fish-eye distortion to maximize the field of view, but again, image quality is good enough for security purposes.
Those requiring more robust, multi-camera setups will be pleased to see a quad split-screen option that’s a cinch to configure. Tap one of the quadrants, select a (compatible) camera, and you’re good to go. Overall, we were impressed by the Ezviz app – while it’s not particularly sophisticated, from a security-monitoring standpoint, it’s a cut above many consumer smart cam apps.
Elsewhere, you’ll find ez360 offers the usual array of features encountered on most smart home cameras, but performance was mixed. The camera’s night-vision mode is mostly effective, supporting clear images and decent contrast at range. However, it took 6-7 seconds to detect a change in lighting and switch to night vision mode, which we felt was too long.
Can you hear me?
Two-way audio is also available, but the camera’s integrated speaker isn’t particularly refined. More of an issue was that we were unable to hear any audio detected by the camera when streaming live or reviewing recorded clips in the Ezviz smartphone app. We had more success with the company’s standalone Windows app, which isn’t mentioned the camera’s documentation, but can be used (with some effort) to view recorded clips and live video. We weren’t impressed by the results, however – audio was muffled and suffered from echoes.
We were able to link the camera to a Google Home, but it wasn’t clear what you could do once linked.
As a bonus, however, the camera is equipped with an internal siren which can be triggered by motion detection. As sirens go, ears are unlikely to be split when it sounds, but there’s more than enough volume to scare away intruders.
Rounding up the features, ez360 offers support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. We were certainly able to link the camera to a Google Home, but it wasn’t clear what you could do once linked. We tried various ways to coax Google Home to display a feed from the camera on a connected TV (which works well with Nest cameras, for example) but we couldn’t rouse a response.
Ezviz ez360 ships with a 1-year limited warranty.Our Take
With mixed performance, the Ezviz ez360 is a niche smart cam which should only be considered by home owners or small businesses that really need panoramic views. While we like Ezviz’ versatile array of monitoring modes and the camera’s wide field of view, competitor cameras offer an easier, more polished experience that’s a better fit for most smart homes.
Is there a better alternative?
While it doesn’t offer a single panoramic view, you may wish to consider a far cheaper pan/tilt/zoom camera like the $30 Wyze Cam Pan. Otherwise, you’ll need to look at small business/professional solutions which are likely to be more expensive than ez360 and may require more extensive configuration.
How long will it last?
While ez360 offers firmware upgrade features, there were none available at the time of writing. The company offers both telephone and email support in North America, while support in Europe is via a web form. We can’t tell you or guarantee how long it will last.
Should you buy it?
You should only consider ez360 if you really need a panoramic camera. Otherwise, competitor smart cams will offer better value and an easier experience.