A few years ago, there were some freaky instances of people spying on Mac users without their knowledge by disabling the activity light on their computers. As more and more DIY security cameras come on the market, so grows the fear of giving hackers a literal view inside our lives. With its security system, Myfox hopes to give users a little peace of mind by including a privacy shutter on its camera. However, this camera is only as smart as its owner.
Putting it all togetherThe Myfox Home Security System comes with four circles and a rectangle: a Wi-Fi hub that plugs into the wall, a 110-decibel siren, a key fob for arming and disarming the system, a 720p HD camera, and one “IntelliTag” sensor for your door or window — the rectangle.
The alarm was so loud, it was actually a bit painful.
To set up the system, I downloaded the app and followed the instructions, which were simple enough. The whole process took about 20 minutes, including coming up with a name for my camera (Cam Jansen, after my favorite detective with a photographic memory). Each step was thoroughly laid out in the app’s instructions, down to a picture showing me how to replace the panel on the siren after I’d activated it.
The app was fairly intuitive overall, once I found where everything was. I easily set up the calendar system to arm itself after I left for work, turn off in the evenings when I’m home, and go into night mode (which turns off the camera but leaves the IntelliTags active) when I’m headed to sleep.
I put the IntelliTag on my sliding glass door, because that’s the place I’m most concerned about someone breaking in. The only time it went off was when I forgot the system was armed and opened the door myself. I never made that mistake twice. The alarm was so loud, it was actually a bit painful. Unfortunately, there aren’t volume settings, and I felt like I was broadcasting my false alarms to the whole neighborhood.
It turns out, I was actually using the sensor wrong, anyway. I got an email a few days after I installed the system from Myfox’s program executive saying they noticed on the back end that I’d installed the tag on a sliding door. Though it was an option in the drop-down menu, right now the tags work only with regular doors. Apparently in France, where the company is from, sliding doors are few and far between. Here in America, we like them so much, we name Gwyneth Paltrow movies after them.
I switched the tag to my front door and tried to stage a break-in. It took some violent shaking, but it definitely set off the screeching alarm. Repeated knocking did nothing, thankfully. The system also gave me notifications and emails when there was an incident. Most often, these were when my cat walked by the camera, triggering the motion detector. This doesn’t set off the siren (lucky for my neighbors), but there also wasn’t a way to adjust how many alerts I was getting. Instead, the camera uploads the footage to the cloud, as long as you have a subscription. As this system is DIY, none of these events resulted in the authorities being contacted; it’s up to you what to do when you get an alert.
Cloud and clear
The rounded camera sits atop a little support plate, so you can change the up-and-down angle a bit. There’s an optional $30 wall mount if you’d rather have it out of the way. The front of the camera contains its night vision, motion, video, and light sensors, as well as the microphone. When you want privacy, the mechanical shutter slides closed over all of them, so it’s pretty obvious when it is and isn’t watching.
One problem with the camera is that you have to place it very precisely, especially because it has to be plugged into the wall (though it does come with a battery backup in case of power outages). Unlike the iSmartAlarm Keep, for example, which pans around 350 degrees, the round Myfox camera is stationary. Those with a bigger area to cover may prefer the ability to swivel between the front door and the bay windows. You can zoom, but I didn’t find this the easiest feature to master. That said, the 720p HD images were good, and the night vision was clear, too.
One-day storage of footage costs $5 a month, while seven days costs $10. That’s a little tough to swallow when Netgear’s Arlo gives you seven days of storage at no charge. If you go the free route, you can still watch a live stream of events but the camera won’t record them. Unfortunately, you don’t seem to have access to this footage. You can download it if you capture your dog doing something cute, but you can’t go in and delete it. And even when it’s supposedly off your phone, it doesn’t appear to be fully gone. Phantom videos that were supposed to be gone kept popping up on the app, several days after their seven-day expiration date. In fact, I still have access to these videos, several weeks later.
The camera’s best feature is the privacy shutter. I definitely felt more at ease around the camera, being able to see that its eye was physically blocked. That being said, the security afforded by that shutter only goes so far, when you can’t control the videos being uploaded to the cloud.
There are other aggravations with the system, like the fact that you can’t customize a lot of settings. Then there’s the sheer volume — both the loudness of the siren and the amount of tech that’s currently cluttering up my living room.
It all comes with a hefty price tag, and unfortunately, the functionality doesn’t quite match up.
- Easy to set up
- Intuitive app
- Attractive components
- Privacy shutter
- Lots of gear
- Can’t delete cloud footage
- Can’t customize all the features