Ever considered a home security system? A complete security-monitored home can get costly (especially with monthly fees), but what if you could set up your home with minimal effort and give yourself similar peace of mind?
While the Netatmo Welcome system isn’t as sophisticated as a monthly-monitored home, it can help inform you of events that take place when you are at or away from it.
Netatmo was founded in 2011; since then, the company’s won over 14 CES awards for their products. They launched with weather stations and have moved into connected products for the home. Netatmo sent me the Welcome indoor security camera and Tags for test-driving.
Netatmo Welcome is an indoor security camera that sports a stylish minimalist look and is packed with great features including facial recognition.
The look and feel of the camera is unlike other indoor security cameras I’ve seen, designed in a cylindrical shape with a single lens on top. This lens can provide an amazing 130-degree field of view that’s also capable of seeing in the dark with its high-powered infrared LED.
The 4MP camera provides up to 1080p (1280×1024) resolution including audio via the built-in mic.
On its rear, the Netatmo Welcome has an Ethernet port, MicroSD card slot (installed with 8GB) and a microUSB port. If you don’t want to keep the Netatmo Welcome camera connected via microUSB and/or Ethernet, opt for the built in Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n 2.4) support.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
I like it when companies keep their packaging simple: the Netatmo Welcome is no exception. The camera ships with a MicroUSB cable, AC power adapter and 8GB microSD card.
There are three ways to interact with the Netatmo Welcome: Smartphone App (iOS and Android), Web App or Desktop App. The Desktop App is primarily used for setting it up. Once that’s complete, you can use either the Smartphone or Web apps.
The Smartphone App is compatible with iOS 8 and higher, Android 4.3 and higher; the Web App is available for the two latest versions of Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer.
When loading the app for the first time, you’ll need to turn the Netatmo Welcome upside down. Weird, but a neat way of getting the camera into configuration mode. After searching for the camera and setting up via Wi-Fi, you then flip the camera back over into operating mode.
You can specify a custom static address if needed, but most users will opt for the dynamic IP address as it requires less configuration.
Once the Netatmo Welcome registers with your Wi-Fi network it will then register with the Netatmo servers. This allows you to make use of their Web App or be notified via the Smartphone App when events are triggered, such as seeing an unrecognized face or alerting you to a noise in the vicinity of the camera.
A lot of home-connected devices usually require you to register the products through their servers. If your router’s firewall is too locked down to register the product correctly, you may need to open a couple of ports.
Over the course of about a week, the Netatmo Welcome recognized our family members fairly well. I received an alert whenever any of us were in the room. Facial recognition is quite good, keeping track of our three-year old son and eight-month old daughter.
At first everyone is an “Unrecognized Face” until you add a new profile (person), then confirm the various times the camera sees them. I haven’t needed to confirm myself nor my wife in the last couple of days. The Welcome appears to have enough data to recognize us both during the day and at night.
Netatmo Tags work in tandem with the Netatmo Welcome. These small devices (sold separately) can be installed on surfaces in which you want to be notified of movement, such as a door or a window.
Each box contains three Tags. I set them up on our front door, kitchen door and outside wooden gate.
Netatmo Tags are designed to be used indoors and outdoors, no matter the weather. Each Tag is constructed of a single piece of high-quality plastic that is resistant to UV, wind and rain and run on two AA batteries which are supposed to last up to one year.
Tags need to be within 80 meters (260 ft) of a Netatmo Welcome camera though I’ve had some issues with the Tag set up at my wooden front gate.
Even though it’s within the 260 ft limit, there’s a concrete foundation partially blocking the signal path, so I’ll focus this review on the Tags installed on the kitchen and front doors.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
Again, Netatmo has kept the packaging simple:
– Three Netatmo Tags
– Six extra adhesive pads (there are two already on each Tag)
– Three 2x AA batteries (you don’t often get batteries included inside the box!)
Installing a Tag is fairly straightforward: open the Netatmo Welcome App, sync the Tag with the Welcome camera, label it and attach it to the area of choice. Note that Tags are only compatible with a Welcome security camera.
Since I used two of the Tags on doors, it’s recommended to place the Tags away from the rotation axis of a door (e.g. further way from door hinges). Netatmo also recommends leaving enough room to be able to replace the batteries later on.
With the doors in the closed position, you can also use the Netatamo Welcome app to calibrate the Tags. This helps the Tag understand if a door’s been opened or closed at any given point in time.
Tags work off a radio frequency and may be prone to local interference. The Tags I’ve installed on the doors are no more than 50 feet from the Welcome camera yet they’ve lost signal a few times over the course of a week.
They seem to quickly recover but it’s nice that the App notifies you when it’s lost a signal.
You’ll receive a notification each time a door is opened or closed. The Welcome App will also notify you if the Tags experience any movement or vibration. On a few occasions, our front door was clearly open however the Welcome App reported it as being closed. Adjusting the sensitivity via the App corrects the behavior.
In conjunction with the Welcome camera, Tags can help set your family members (when seen via facial recognition) as Away or welcome them back home upon their return.
As well, Tags can tell you if the door or window you’ve installed them on have been in the open state for a user-specified amount of time.
Over the past couple weeks that I’ve been using the Netatmo Welcome security camera with the Netatmo Tags, I find that the camera is really good at recognizing our household.
It properly notifies me when they come in (default set to four hours of not being seen) and notifications work well when there’s movement and vibration to the Tags installed on various entry points in the house. Installation and monitoring via a smartphone app is fairly effortless.
The camera’s daytime viewing angle of 130 degrees is great for large spaces. Its night time mode makes the video look like a high-quality black and white movie.
The instructions include placing the camera in a spot where it can see the most movement, such as a front door. Luckily with the power cord’s generous length, this is easy to do. The camera’s small size and shape don’t take up too much space either.
The Netatmo Tags are great too, though it would probably be better if they were included with the Netatmo Welcome camera as the combination of both camera and Tags allows for a better overall experience.
One item I would like to see added is a signal repeater for Netatmo Tags, perhaps a wireless base station I can locate further away from the Welcome camera so that I can utilize the Tags at further distances or in areas where there could be signal problems (such as a concrete foundation).
If you’re looking for an easy to setup and use, peace-of-mind home security setup, the Netatmo Welcome and Tags is a welcome treat. Netatmo Welcome retails for US $199; a set of three Tags costs US $99; both are available online.