remo+ DoorCam: Over-The-Door Smart Camera Review
An easy-to-install, easy-to-use smart door camera for everyone.
At present, there are a lot of ‘smart’ and ‘connected’ products available and it is expected substantially more will hit the market in the future. Generally speaking, the market breaks down into two sections: the first offers homeowners solid solutions which require hardwiring to a home or setup, and the second is more about bringing ‘plug and play’ options to consumers, albeit usually at a lesser quality. The remo+ DoorCam falls into the second category (as it is a plug and play option) but looks to offer a quality more in line with the first category. For reference, the remo+ DoorCam is now available to buy and is priced at $199 per unit.
The remo+ DoorCam employs a 1/4-inch color CMOS sensor along with a 160-degree viewing angle. The camera supports HD (1280 x 720) and VGA (640 x 480) resolutions, as well as a maximum frame rate of 30 FPS. In addition to the camera, the remo+ DoorCam features a built-in mic and speaker for two-way audio, and supports Night Vision. This is an app-compatible device with support for iOS (7.1 and higher), as well as Android (4.1 and higher). The body measures 3.2-inches by 1.7-inches by 6.7-inches, while the camera portion measures in at 4.8-inches by 1.85-inches by 1.81-inches. The entire unit weighs in at 1.1 lbs and is understood to be weatherproof due to a listed temperature operating range of 0°F to 122°F.
Hardware & Design
The first thing to note about the design of the remo+ DoorCam is that it is much bigger than you’ll probably be expecting. One would expect a door camera to be quite small and more discrete although that is not quite the case with the DoorCam. To be fair, however, the part of the camera that is visible to the outside world is fairly small as most of the bulk comes in the form of the base – the part of the unit designed to remain inside. This is not to say that the unit is too big (as it is not), it is just probably bigger than you might expect it to be.
Of course, as this is a one-stop, all-in-one type of solution, which requires minimal interaction before usage, the size is representative of all the magic that is happening within the back, largely plastic, box. So its size is more a result of its ability. Where the real design comes into play, however, is the small metal bracket that connects the outside world aspect to the inside section. As it is this small piece of metal that transforms this door camera to the “world’s first over-the-door smart camera.”
While it is arguably a very simple and rudimentary design, it is also ingeniously put together in this respect. As that small metal bracket allows the DoorCam to be installed on any door (inside or out) with ease, and in seconds. With all the tech happening in the battery-powered back box, and the camera directly mounted to the box, there is nothing else to be concerned with – no wires, no plugs, no anything. Resulting in arguably one of the most simple-looking, yet, highly effective home security door cameras. Though that is not to say that all users will have the same experience. As in addition to different types of doors, other aspects (for example insulation) could prove crucial to how well the DoorCam fits. While it is somewhat adjustable and is able to accommodate a number of different door sizes and shapes, interested buyers would be wise to double-check door compatibility first.
Naturally, one criticism of the design is that it is an over-the-door solution. While that seems strange to say (considering this is also its specific selling point) it is one which has to be raised. As due to this type of design the camera will also inevitably be located in an elevated position. This does mean that it will always be looking down on people outside. While this may not be an issue for some people, for those looking for a solution that provides a direct face-on view of a subject (like for example a peephole camera), this is not going to be an ideal solution. Although in fairness, if you are considering buying an over-the-door camera, then this is presumably something you will have already taken into consideration as it is an inherent problem with this type of product, and not this product, specifically.
Setup & Installation
With this being a plug and play unit, the setup process really is a breeze. The entire process takes a matter of minutes and is easy enough that it is unlikely anyone will encounter any major issues. Once the unit is unpacked, it is just a case of inserting the batteries (provided), opening the Wi-Fi settings on a phone (or tablet), connecting to the Wi-Fi signal emitted by the DoorCam (the signal broadcasts automatically after the batteries are inserted), downloading the app, and using the app to connect the DoorCam to the home Wi-Fi network. Once the DoorCam is connected to the Wi-Fi it is good to use. Even this recap sounds more complicated than the process actually was. While these instructions do not differ too much from the instructions for other smart door cameras and products, the “installation” (if it can be called that) is just as simple. The DoorCam has been designed to be ultra-easy to use and it is. All the user has to do is choose which door to position the camera on, open the door, sit the metal part of the unit on the top of the doorframe, and then just close the door. It really is as simple as that.
As simple as it is, though, there are two things to note. Firstly, remo+ advises the camera should be positioned in the middle of the top of the doorframe. Secondly, remo+ advises the screws included in the package should be used to fully secure the unit to the door. While these are fine recommendations to adhere to, in reality, neither recommendation was followed during the review period and absolutely no issues were encountered. The DoorCam proved to be super stable, remained in place, and problem free – without having to fully secure the unit, or position it as recommended. Although, once again, your mileage might vary.
As this is a solution designed to assist in home security, regardless of how easy it might be to install and set up, its performance is going to be what makes or breaks it. To cut to the chase, the remo+ DoorCam is excellent in this respect. Yes, it is not the absolute best solution out there and you will certainly find better options which can provide higher-resolution image and video capturing, but for what it sets out to do, it does it extremely well. One of the reasons this particular solution works so well is it is very simple in its execution. The camera simply connects to the app and for the most part is a passive device. However, as and when motion near the door is detected, the camera does spring into action and turns on the capturing feature. If you happen to be near the camera (for example the one caught on camera) you can literally hear the camera clicking on. That is not to say it is loud (as it is not) and anyone unaware of the camera will not be drawn to the sound, but if you are listening out for the sound specifically, you will hear it, every time. In addition to no issues with the reliability of the motion detection, the sensitivity was also found to be good as it always managed to pick up when someone was at the door, or just simply walking by. Arguably, the sensitivity out of the box may be even a little too acute as the DoorCam did often activate when seemingly no-one was nearby. Although the sensitivity level can be adjusted if needed. In either case, once the camera has been activated it will immediately send a notification to the account-linked device advising of the detected motion.
Clicking the notification opens the live camera feed along with call answer/ignore icons. Clicking the call answer (green button) icon will activate the two-way audio feature allowing the device owner to audibly speak to the person on the other side of the door – this works whether you are at home and connected to the same Wi-Fi network or in another location and using cellular data. In truth, like the capture quality, the audio quality is not the best, but it did certainly prove sufficient for purpose with visitors confirming they did not have any issues hearing what was being said to them.
If a criticism was to be leveled at the performance it would not be about the camera per se but the rate of response between the camera and the app. Generally speaking, this did not ever prove itself to be an issue, but going through the motions (once the notification comes through and the user clicks on the notification to open the live feed) does take a couple of seconds. In an ideal situation, this would be slightly faster to allow users to see who is at the door as quickly as possible. As this never surfaced as an issue, though, it is more of a comment to just keep in mind… the response could be quicker.
The app is another aspect which looks to continue remo+’s efforts to provide an easy-to-use product and as a result, the app can be considered to be lightweight and fairly minimalist. Once the account is set up and automatically set to log in, launching the app immediately directs the user to the library page. Which is another point worth noting as remo+ does offer a cloud-based subscription package for accessing older videos and images. This is not a requirement to use the product as those who do not opt for a subscription are still able to make use of the live connection (including audio) and the app does provide a general activity log which the user can check at any time for an overview of activities. However, with the subscription, the user is able to scroll through all the recorded videos from the previous thirty days and play them back – as well as access them from anywhere, on any device, or share them with a third party.
Other than the activity library, the app includes a left-side menu which provides quick links to the user’s account, as well as details on who has access to the camera, and of course, dedicated app pages for each device. The app itself is able to connect to multiple cameras and so acts as a central dashboard for all of the cameras, with each camera page providing basic information such as the battery life (which is rated at up to twelve months), as well as various settings for each camera. So for example, you can adjust the video quality, the motion detection sensitivity, and enable/disable Night Mode on a per-camera basis. You can also choose which cameras you want to receive notifications from.
On the downside, one aspect some users will find fault with is the app does not provide an on-demand view of outside. Most smart cameras currently available (whether designed for inside or outside use) do offer the user the option to click on the feed just for the sake of it. The DoorCam, however, does not. This means the camera feed is completely reliant on the motion detection taking place. If, for example, you hear a noise outside and want to quickly launch the camera to see if there is anyone there, unless the motion sensor has picked up movement, you can’t.
Overall, while simple in its general approach this is still a fairly rich app solution and one which provides more than enough granular control over each camera, as well as the overall system.
It is clear that this particular smart door camera is aimed at those who are looking for a plug and play option. This is most likely going to mean those who are renting somewhere or those who are just less inclined to hardwire install a product like this. However, the build quality, recording quality, and performance overall, do mean this is an option which is suitable for everyone. Whether you own your home or not, whether you are adept at installing products or not, the remo+ DoorCam provides all of the features you would expect from a product like this, but without any of the hassle. While it is just a simple solution, it is a very good solution in spite of being simple. It does have some issues and ones you will want to take into consideration before purchasing (like its elevated position and the lack of an on-demand live feed), but if these are aspects you are OK with – then the DoorCam is a smart security camera which performs well and most importantly, is reliable.