From its early days as a budget networking specialist knocking out cheap, high-performing routers and access points, TP-Link has steadily built its brand and product offering. Having reached the number one position for global Wi-Fi and broadband device shipments, the company has turned its attention to the smart home market.
The TP-Link Kasa brand now boasts a healthy selection of reasonably-priced smart plugs, LED bulbs and switches. The $140 TP-Link Kasa Cam Outdoor (KC200) builds on the success of last year’s Kasa Cam, with a weatherproof, full HD security camera that’s priced well below premium competitors like Nest Cam IQ Outdoor and Ring Cam Spotlight Wired.
TP-Link’s special sauce: strong specs and a great price
Kasa Cam Outdoor may not have all the tricks of Nest’s latest security camera, but in true TP-Link style, it combines strong specifications with a great price. Packing a built-in, 80dB siren, 1080p streaming video, two-way audio, and support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant-supported displays, the deal is further sweetened with a generous two days of HD cloud recording at no additional cost. An IP65 rating ensures the camera is protected from both rain and dust, while a magnetic camera mount and wall plate promises easy installation. As a mains-powered wired camera, however, it doesn’t deliver quite the convenience of battery-operated performers like the Arlo Pro 2.
Cute and compact, but with compromises
Kasa Cam Outdoor is certainly dinky, though, allowing it to be tucked away, out of sight, if desired. The cute, eyeball-shaped device (2.9 x 2.9 x 3.4 inches) looks great and, with a metal body, feels substantial in the hand. The camera was tested during a significant amount of rainfall, so its construction certainly stood up to the elements. While packed with imaging goodies, including a 130-degree field of view, 20 feet night vision and that 1080p resolution, there’s sadly no room for an SD slot for local recording backup.
There are also concessions to be aware of when it comes to installation. Unlike some cameras, which include a locking mount to secure the device, TP-Link has opted to tether Kasa Cam to its power cable. The cable ships installed and cannot be removed, while the camera itself can be lifted easily off its mount at any time. You can, of course, run the power cable through a hole in an exterior wall to provide a degree of physical security, but it means that the drill hole will need to accommodate a USB-A connector, which isn’t ideal.
There’s sadly no room for an SD slot for local recording backup.
Curiously, TP-link’s website suggests a weatherproof socket should be used for outdoor installation, which makes for an easier, if far less secure, setup. TP-Link’s accompanying Kasa app does a fine job in making installation an otherwise simple task, connecting the device to your home network and providing friendly instructions for fixing the mount in position (wall anchors, screws and cable clips are provided for a neat job).
Bright, well-saturated HD imaging
With the camera connected and installed, we had our first chance to check out Kasa Cam’s image quality. To conserve bandwidth, image resolution is set to 720p by default, but we were able to switch to 1080p without connectivity issues. On each setting, we were impressed with the results. Even on a dank fall day in October, Kasa Cam’s video was bright and (very) well saturated. While sharpness and clarity is behind Nest Cam IQ Outdoor’s fantastic HDR imaging, we preferred Kasa Cam’s quality over the pricier Ring Spotlight Cam Wired. We found Nest and Ring offered a slightly wider field of view, which may be an important consideration for your premises, but overall, we were delighted with Kasa Cam’s output.
We were similarly impressed with the camera’s night vision capabilities. Again, while not quite hitting the sharpness and clarity of Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, the TP-Link camera’s image was clear, with good contrast and range. We found it easy to pick out objects (and people) even in the depths of night. Overall, we had no complaints on image quality.
In use, the TP-Link camera was able to quickly detect and notify us of activity, with push notifications hitting our smartphone within a second of detection. Detection was sensitive too – we found camera alerts were easily triggered by birds flying around our back yard. Handily, up to four activity zones can be created in the camera’s field of vision, reducing the potential for false alerts. Adding activity zones is a task made simple by the friendly Kasa app – enable a zone, drag the four anchor points to an appropriate size and shape in your camera field of view, then save.
The camera was tested during a significant period of rainfall, so its construction certainly stood up to the elements.
Once an event is captured, you’ll find it available for review directly in the Kasa app. Clips are neatly laid out in a calendar view, and a filter option allows you to quickly locate clips by device and time range. Again, smarter and pricier cameras like Nest Cam IQ Outdoor benefit from advanced, A.I.-powered features like facial recognition, which you won’t find here, but the Kasa app covers the basics well.
Clips can be downloaded easily from the cloud and are stored as mp4 files for playback on a wide range of devices. If you need a longer recording history than the two free days, stay tuned for an upcoming Kasa Care subscription plan that will extend the period to 30 days.
Weak siren and low volume speaker are a let down
Kasa Cam Outdoor’s audio capabilities are less successful, due to a weak, low volume speaker and siren. Speaking into the Kasa app on your phone relays audio to the camera speaker, but we found the results to be barely audible. Meanwhile, the camera’s integrated microphone mostly performed well, but, despite its recessed position, is heavily affected by wind noise.
We loved the concept of an integrated siren, and it’s certainly easy to fire up from the app, courtesy of a large button embedded in live video. The resulting 80dB output may be sufficient to scare off a potential intruder, but it’s too quiet to serve as the kind of burglar alarm that would warn your neighbors.
Elsewhere, the Kasa app allows easy scheduling of alerts, activity clips and camera privacy settings, but options are manual and reasonably basic. We’d much prefer to see integration and automated triggers via indoor Kasa Cams, a smartphone location or third-party devices like the Nest Learning Thermostat. TP-Link does offer an IFTTT channel for its devices, although at the time of writing we couldn’t find any specific recipes for their outdoor camera.
Support for smart assistant-enabled displays allow big screen security monitoring
If you own an Amazon Alexa display-device like an Echo Show or Fire TV, or a model from the Google Assistant stable like Chromecast or Nvidia Shield, you’ll love the ability to display live video on the big screen. Once connected to your assistant of choice, you can view the camera’s output with a simple voice command, and the results looks great.
We tested voice control with Google Home and a Nvidia Shield, and after a few tweaks to the camera’s nickname, instantly delivered silky-smooth streaming video to the TV. When you can’t find anything decent to watch, with Kasa Cam Outdoor, you’ll at least be able to keep an eye on home security.
TP-Link Kasa Cam Outdoor is protected by a two-year hardware warranty plus 24/7 technical support.Our Take
Nowadays, it’s rare to find a bad TP-Link product, and Kasa Cam Outdoor is no exception. While the company’s discounting days are long gone, this great-value, weatherproof camera delivers great images and a solid set of monitoring features that are easy to get along with. Hardware design decisions mean that there are cameras available with stronger physical security, but with a price point well below major competitors, it’s a compromise that value-loving smart home owners will happily accept.
Is there a better alternative?
Attractive hardware, strong specifications and solid pricing mean that Kasa Cam Outdoor is a great value package, but alternatives are available. If you’re happy to invest, the $349 Nest Cam IQ Outdoor camera delivers higher-quality, wider images and A.I.-powered features such as facial recognition and smart notifications. If you’re seeking a fully-wireless outdoor option that won’t break the bank, check out the Swann Smart Security Camera, priced at $150.
How long will it last?
TP-Link has slowly built a decent selection of smart home gear under the Kasa brand, and as a big player in consumer networking, we think Kasa Cam Outdoor will be around for some time to come. A two-year warranty offers decent hardware protection, and regular firmware updates from the brand will ensure the product should benefit from fixes and new features.
Should you buy it?
Double check your mounting positions and power outlet accessibility to ensure you can secure the device first. If so, the TP-Link Kasa Cam Outdoor is a great-value pick.