Gadget news
Enabot Ebo SE pet robot review: the catsitter I didn’t know I needed but can’t live without
10:30 pm | April 15, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Home Security Smart Home | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Being a cat owner is a joy like no other, but I miss my cat so, so much when I’m away even just for a day. That's why the Enabot Ebo SE pet robot is a literal must-have in my cat-crazy household.  This small and sweet little robot doesn’t have an adorable little ‘face’ like the Enabot Ebo X, but operates similarly, offering features like mobile phone compatibility and the ability to take photos and videos. 

It’s also not as stuffed with features as the Enabot Ebo X, which has built-in Alexa smart home functions and a 4K UHD camera, however, if you’re looking for a simple and much cheaper robot, the Enabot Ebo SE robot reigns supreme. This little orb is simple to set up right out of the box and is completely managed through the app. 

It's not quite got the chops to be one of the best home security cameras, but certainly gives peace of mind if you quickly want to check in at home. My testing of the Enabot Ebo SE coincided with my holiday, which was a huge blessing; this would be my first time traveling away for more than a day since I got Miso, and having the Enabot Ebo SE keeping an eye on my baby eased a lot of my anxieties. 

I set everything up a few days before my six-day trip, and I was relieved to see that the Enabot Ebo SE returned to its charging station all on its own without any prompting after checking in on my sweet boy, Miso, (don’t worry, pictures soon to come!), which makes things a lot easier when you're remotely checking in on your furry friends. 

Enabot EBO SE what's in the box

(Image credit: Enabot )

It was a complete stroke of luck that I started reviewing this robot when I did because as soon as I landed, I lost contact with friends and family in the UK – I couldn’t get a Facetime, WhatsApp, or even an IMO call to hold for more than two seconds. 

Since the Ebo SE has a two-way audio capability, I was able to keep in touch with Miso through the robot. It was incredibly useful to be able to open the app, turn the microphone on, and check in not just on my cat but on the people at home. It helped me stay connected, and I honestly don’t think I could travel without having this little guy set up and ready to be on guard duty. 

In terms of the bot's mobility, it’s pretty decent, but not groundbreaking. Through the app, you can steer it to go left, right, backward, and forward, and there are designated spin and sprint buttons. These proved to be useful as I had the Ebo SE set up in my bedroom, where there's an obstacle course made of socks and other various flotsam and jetsam that Miso likes to hoard, which was how I discovered that the Ebo SE struggles to get over smaller objects like the corner of a shirt, and also with sharper turns.  

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Miso the cat

(Image credit: Muskaan Saxena via Future)

Close ups of Miso the cat! Night Mode Miso has a lot to say... 

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Night mode with Miso

(Image credit: Muskaan Saxena via Future)
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Miso on night mode

(Image credit: Muskaan Saxena via Future)

It would be nice if the Ebo SE had some kind of crash detection feature that would alert me before I smack the robot into a bedpost – or better yet if it could reverse away from the hazard on its own. However, I suppose that level of intelligence would drive the price out from the moderately affordable $247 / £199 / AU$382 to a little on the expensive side. 

In addition to its decent 1080p HD camera, the Enabot Ebo SE's Night Mode was pretty impressive as well, and it was nice to be able to see Miso at any hour of the day or night while he was creating chaos and growing his pile of stolen artifacts. Thankfully, Night Mode is automatically enabled, so whenever you want to drive around your home and check in on your loved ones (both furry and otherwise) in the dark you can open the app and get straight to spying. 

It's worth noting that you need a pretty solid internet connection, as you may end up accidentally driving your robot off a cliff (or, more likely, down the stairs) like I did when I stepped outside of my hotel and lost connection. 

Enabot Ebo SE with Miso the cat

(Image credit: Muskaan Saxena via Future)

Enabot Ebo SE pet robot review: price and availability

  • How much does it cost? $247 / £199 / AU$382
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can I buy it? Amazon and Enabot official site

The Enabot Ebo SE is relatively cheap and pretty budget-friendly for most people, available for $247 / £199 / AU$382. It's well worth the splurge if you've been saving up for a pet robot, but of course, it's still a luxury purchase. 

It is a lot cheaper than the Enabot Ebo X which starts at just under $1,000. It's currently available on Amazon as well as through the Enabot website. Of course, you lose out on a fair few advanced features; but I didn't find myself needing these.

Value: 4/5

Miso and Enabot

Two best friends taking in the sights (Image credit: Muskaan Saxena via Future )

Should I buy?

Buy it if... 

Don't buy it if...

Miso and Enabot Ebo SE

(Image credit: Muskaan Saxena via Future)

How I tested the Enabot Ebo SE

  • I used the Enabot Ebo SE while away from home and abroad for three weeks 
  • I set up all the controls 
  • I took photos and videos with the bot
  • I tested the microphone speaking both to my cat and to my housemate

I used the Enabot Ebo SE for about three weeks as my only pet and indoor camera. Once out of the box I paired it with my Ebo account and placed it in a secure room to operate in where stairs or other big obstacles wouldn't impact it. I spent a few days familiarizing myself with the controls before I traveled, practicing the steering and controls, and trialing the app and its features. 

I took several photos and videos of my cat at different parts of the day under different levels of internet connectivity, as well as using the microphone and speakers to see how reliable both components are. It is still currently my only pet camera and I use it often when I'm away from home or just want to check up on my cat. 

I've been researching and reviewing technology for two years, and while Miso hasn't necessarily developed the same writing skills I have, he's a pretty good judge of pet toys and products. 

Ring Battery Video Doorbell Pro review: Ring upgrades last year’s Battery Doorbell Plus
3:01 am | March 20, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Home Security Smart Home | Comments: Off

One-minute review

The Ring Battery Video Doorbell Pro (Ring Battery Pro) is a smart doorbell that gives you the ability to remotely monitor and talk to visitors outside your property via your phone or desktop using Wi-Fi. If it seems a bit familiar, that’s because it looks almost identical to many of the best video doorbells from Ring, but in particular it boasts many of the same features and functionality as the Ring Battery Video Doorbell Plus (Ring Battery Plus), which was released in April 2023. 

There are a lot of similarities with the Ring Battery Plus, given this is just a slightly improved iteration with a higher price tag. The Ring Battery Pro once again is a wireless device with head-to-toe visibility thanks to its 1536p camera, which also offers night vision with color. It’s got decent battery life, although Amazon doesn’t tend to commit to confirming just what that is; it’s all very dependent on how much motion occurs around your home and how it is configured. However, in my experience, it doesn’t need recharging more often than once every couple of months.

The Ring Battery Pro can detect motion within a user-defined zone to alert you to any movement or packages that have been delivered even if the doorbell button has not been pressed, as well as notify you when someone comes knocking so you can quickly speak with them - even if you’re away from home. 

Ring Dorrbell Pro app screenshots

(Image credit: Future)

I’ve been using the Ring Battery Plus for several months and was perfectly content with its performance and features, except for one thing this year’s Pro model addresses; notification fatigue. The detection zone that I set up for the Plus model included my parked car which is a much larger detection zone than just the path to my front door. Unfortunately, the camera-based motion detector initially detected everything that went past the house; cars, bicycles, deer, cats, and dogs, and after a while, I began to just filter out the notification sounds.

Although the Ring app provides a means of adjusting the detection sensitivity, it proved difficult to find a good compromise between detecting movement around my car that I might object to and detecting any other moving object. On the other hand, the radar-powered 3D motion detection of the Ring Battery Pro is a significant improvement in this respect, resulting in far fewer unnecessary alerts and notifications.

The feed from the camera also includes a moveable Bird’s eye view overlay window on which it plots markers to indicate where the motion was detected and what path was taken. A cool feature? Absolutely, but it feels a bit redundant when you can use the pre-roll feature instead to see what happened in the seconds before the motion was detected or the doorbell was pressed. It also remains to be seen if the feature is of any use at all once the free trial subscription period expires and there is no video to replay.

The only other differences between the Ring Battery Pro and its predecessor are that the Pro also features:

  • Audio+ (improved microphones and speakers for two-way communication - though I haven’t noticed much of a difference).  
  • Low-Light Sight, a feature presently exclusive to this model that offers low light compensation settings for color, glare and for situations where the camera is used through glass thanks to the enhanced imaging sensors. 

The Ring Battery Pro is a bit more expensive than the older Plus model, and while I do think it’s an improvement, in these cost-conscious times, it’s not enough to justify the price difference.  

Ring Battery Video Doorbell Pro fitted on a brick wall

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

  • List price: $229.99 / £199.99 

The Ring Battery Pro is available from Ring for $229.99 / £199.99 and is available directly from both Amazon and the Ring website. 

The best comparison is to the Ring Battery Plus, which was originally $179.99 / £159.99 but is now available for $149.99 / £129.99. Given that its hardware is only somewhat improved and I’m a little underwhelmed by the utility of some of the new features, that $70 / £70 price difference smarts a little.

There is a great range of accessories and parts for ring doorbells, too; the benefit of a product identity and design that has not changed in years is that there are ample options.

Ring Battery Video Doorbell Pro review: Specs

Ring Battery video Doorbell Pro on an outside wall

(Image credit: Future)

Ring Battery Video Doorbell Pro review: Design

  •  It’s a ring doorbell, and looks the part 
  •  Rechargable and removable battery 
  •  Easy installation 

There is nothing wrong with the design of the Ring doorbell. I like how the device is packaged, but I am ambivalent about how it looks, and I suppose that’s the point. Split into a black top section housing its 1536p camera and a matte silver bottom section with the doorbell button, it’s neither quasi-iconic nor Quasimodo; I wouldn’t say it’s ugly, but it doesn’t exactly set the pulse racing. Familiarity breeds contempt, and Ring’s design is a victim of its success.

As can be seen in the price and availability section above, there are benefits to keeping things consistent when it comes to accessories and spares. The problem here is that there is now a bewildering array of Ring doorbells available online that all look the same. 

It’s straightforward to install and I like the included angled mounting bracket and spare screws; these both make the Ring Battery Pro a far more configurable video doorbell to set up than older models. 

Like the Ring Battery Plus, the Pro features a removable battery. Do I often drop the little screw when I remove the battery to charge it? Yes, but is it annoying enough to warrant buying the power adapter and running the cable from inside my home to the doorbell? No. A small magnet on the case to stick the screw onto once you removed it would help. I do like that it comes with its own screwdriver and USB cable, though.

Ring Battery Video Doorbell Pro review: Performance

Ring Doorbell Pro different camera modes

(Image credit: Future)

Once the battery is charged and the doorbell has been attached to your home the next task is to download the Ring app, set up an account and add your new device to the app. This is as straightforward as all of the other steps so far, and Ring has sensibly put the pairing code on the box and the manual as well as on the back of the device itself.

From the app, you can easily check your Ring Battery Pro’s live feed, communicate using two-way audio and set up features like motion and privacy zones. These zones as a feature can be immensely useful, helping to maintain your and your neighbors’ privacy, but as I’ve found in my previous Ring testing experience, editing the motion zones is frustrating. Moving the markers to adjust the area is very hit-or-miss and would sometimes erroneously move the entire zone. I tested this on an iPad as well in the hope that a bigger screen would increase accuracy, but alas, it was just as frustrating. 

Much like the Ring Battery Plus, the Pro’s HD+ 1536p camera has HDR and night vision with color, which are switched off by default to increase battery life. It’s worth experimenting with these features to figure out if you need to use them in your home; the battery life could become a real issue if you have a lot of activity outside of your home and keep these features on. I, for one, didn’t find the color night vision particularly illuminating, which says more about where I live (grey and boring) than the usefulness of the color night vision feature.

The head-to-toe view, much like in the Ring Battery Plus, is an excellent evolution of the older Ring models’ aspect ratio, allowing you to see much more of your entryway and even spot any packages. As I suggested before, I really can’t tell much difference between the Ring Battery Plus and Pro in terms of audio, despite the newer model supposedly featuring enhanced microphones and speakers, meaning the audio can still be a little muffled when visitors aren’t facing the doorbell directly.

There is another similarity between the Ring Battery Plus and the Ring Battery Pro; reliability. I have many smart devices running on 2.5 GHz inside my house and some of them have random connection issues and buggy software. The Ring Battery Pro, however, is on the outside of my house and is relentless in its detection duties. 

All in all, the Ring Battery Pro offers excellent performance. As always, though, it’s worth highlighting its full potential is unlocked with an added Ring Protect subscription. As ever, it’s a shame to see some of the most useful features like smart home trigger responses, advanced motion detection, package detection, and recorded video events be so gated, but, unfortunately, that’s the nature of many video doorbells these days. 

Ring Battery Video Doorbell Pro fitted on a brick wall

(Image credit: Future)

Ring Battery Video Doorbell Pro review: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

We’ve got lots of tips on how to buy a video doorbell, but the best comparisons are below.  

Ring Battery Video Doorbell Pro review: How I tested

  • I have several other Ring devices and compared the settings within the app to find any new features and test them. 
  • I predominantly used the app on an iPhone for changing settings. I also investigated the app on an iPad as well as the Ring website. 
  • I connected the Ring Pro to Apple Homekit via Homebridge. 

I installed the Ring Pro next to my home’s front door on the angled bracket and adjusted the motion zone so that I could detect movement at the front of my house and around my car.

To compare what was going on outside with any notifications from the doorbell, I monitored the video output on an ongoing basis using Apple Homekit (via Homebridge) while working on the computer. It is possible to do that via the Ring website, but you won’t find the battery charge information.

I enabled all of the default disabled features to test if the impact on the battery life rendered the features impractical. The battery performed as expected; it drained faster with everything switched on but did not need to be re-charged incessantly.

I set off the default windchimes alert tone in the supermarket to test how many customers had Ring doorbells… I changed the Ring alert tone to something else shortly after. 

I’ve been using smart home devices for several years now, and have a whopping 30+ years (gulp) of tech enthusiasm and experience under my belt. 

Simplisafe Home Security System review: easy, secure
3:28 pm | February 12, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Home Security Smart Home | Comments: Off

Simplisafe Home Security System: One-minute review

Simplisafe home security systems are pretty well known to be some of the best home security systems. Since its foundation in 2006, the brand has taken a buffet-type approach to home security that makes getting just the right system for you about as easy as pie, though the price can add up as a result.

Of course, there are specific bundles – something I’ll get into below. But, even with the bundles, you can add any peripheral later if you find an area of your home is not fully protected. The reality of adding a device is intuitive, not to mention mostly non-destructive as well. Really, what Simplisafe has to offer is great for most people, especially in apartments, thanks to that ease of installation and use. 

Just be aware that you do need to invest in a subscription with Simplisafe’s system, but the cheapest tier is less than a month of Netflix.

Simplisafe Home Security System: Specs

Simplisafe Home Security System: Price and availability

  •  How much does it cost? Starting at $249.96 / £284.96 (AU$378) 
  •  When is it available? Available now 
  •  Where can you get it? Available in the US and UK 

Simplisafe Security Systems included items

(Image credit: Future)

While Aussies will have to sit this one out unless they can access Simplisafe through a third-party vendor or the cargo hold of an inbound flight, those in the US and UK have quite a smorgasbord of options available, starting with the Foundation bundle, which goes for $249.96 / £284.96 (AU$378). This bundle includes a base station, keypad, entry sensor, motion sensor, and an indoor camera.

The next step up is the Essentials with a price tag of $279.95 / £349.93 (about AU$424). This bundle includes a base station, keypad, three entry sensors, a motion sensor, and an indoor camera. This is the closest to the review unit I received, which also includes a smoke & carbon monoxide (CO) detector (an additional $59.99 / not available in the UK).

From there, the bundles get more expansive with names unique to each territory. For instance, the Beacon is the top bundle in the US at $799 while the Edinburgh is the most expensive one in the UK at £664.87.

Simplisafe Security System keypad

(Image credit: Future)

Just remember that this doesn’t include the subscription packages, of which there are two. A more expensive one at $0.99 / £0.83 a day (about $30 / £25 a month) includes live guard monitoring and emergency service response while the cheaper one at $0.33 / £0.53 a day (or about $10 / £16 a month) just alerts you to any disturbances, leaving you with the duty of calling emergency services. On the bright side, there is no contract.

While the price can add up with additions, it’s pretty reasonable generally. For example, we took a look at Vivint a few years ago, which admittedly adds some smart home automation, and their packages started at $599 with a $39.99/mo subscription.

A better comparison might be Abode with their more a la carte offerings. They also have bundles with the closest one to what’s reviewed here being the iota, which costs $279.99 and doesn’t come with a CO detector. There are various bundles and add-ons so the price tag is not really that big of a difference. However, overall their plans are cheaper, with the self-monitoring plan going for $6.99 a month and a $22.99 per month pro plan similar to Simplisafe’s highest tier. And, you can use Abode’s devices without any plan if you want.

Value: 4.5 / 5

Simplisafe Home Security motion sensor installed

(Image credit: Future)

Simplisafe Home Security System: Design

  •  Sleek and discreet 
  •  Mostly tool-less installation 
  •  Entry sensors can’t be used on door frames with molding 

Simplisafe Security Systems CO detetcor

(Image credit: Future)

Unless you have a very unusual interior color scheme for your home, all the Simplisafe peripherals in their sleek and inoffensive white colorways discreetly fade into the background. The most imposing item is the required base station, which is 21 cm or 8.21 inches tall and needs to be placed somewhat centrally in the home for WiFi access.

The keypad is the next conspicuous item only since it needs to be placed on the wall in an easy-to-reach location. Whenever an alarm is triggered, you have to make it to the keypad within sixty seconds to disarm.

The entry sensors and motion sensor are pretty innocuous as is the indoor wireless camera. The smoke and CO detector looks like most smoke detectors and will need to be placed as such.

Simplisafe Security System entry sensor installed

(Image credit: Future)

Installation, outside of the smoke detector, is tool-less as every peripheral comes with adhesive tape so you can just place them wherever, hold them for thirty seconds, and move on to the next peripheral. The smoke detector is a bit more traditional in that you’ll have to use the included screws to install. Of course, that’s not a big deal and only leaves you with a few holes if you decide to move it.

The entry sensors and the wireless camera also come with screws in case you need them, but I found that I could skip. The only real hindrance with installation is the fact that I couldn’t use the entry sensors on door or window frames with molding as the two ends of the sensors wouldn’t sit flush with each other. While this certainly creates a weak spot, you can overcome this by placing the motion sensor in a way to pick up activity around that particular door or window.

Design: 4.5 / 5

Simplisafe Security System base station setup

(Image credit: Future)

Simplisafe Home Security System: Performance

  •  Using the app to set up is easy 
  •  System is quick to trigger 
  •  Can be used with some smart home ecosystems 

Simplisafe home security system app on an iPhone

(Image credit: Future)

Beyond the physical installation, using the app to connect everything to the base station, not to mention set up the base station, is the height of simplicity. In fact, I was stunned by how easy it was considering the amount of included pieces. I’m embarrassed to say that I procrastinated on this review trying to figure out where to place everything and the amount of work it would take to set up, yet once I actually set everything up, I was basically done in about 20 minutes.

The app gives very specific instructions on how to install each item physically, where to place them (especially placement-sensitive peripherals like the cameras and motion sensor), and how to connect them to the base station, which speaks up every time a new device is connected.

Simplisafe home security system app on an iPhone

(Image credit: Future)

In fact, the base station talks quite a bit. Any time a sensor is triggered or the security system is turned on, you’ll hear an Alexa-like voice. I spent most of the time during testing (once everything was installed or set up) trying to trigger the security system and it was quick to pick up any strange activity whether it’s me opening the door, walking by the motion sensor in the dark, or by the camera when the light is on.

Once triggered, you have to enter a PIN on the keypad or app to disarm, meaning intruders can’t do anything if they don’t know your PIN and either you’ll be notified and/or the police will depending on the subscription plan.

Simplisafe home security system app on an iPhone

(Image credit: Future)

If you’re smart home-savvy, you can also arm the system through Alexa, Google Assistant, or one of the best smartwatches.

A few other interesting tidbits to consider – everything except the base station runs off batteries and only the wireless camera can be recharged. If the base station loses physical power, it does have battery power to continue to keep your home safe until the power has been restored.

Performance: 4.5 / 5

Simplisafe home security system app on an iPhone showing the camera setup

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Simplisafe Home Security System?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If our Simplisafe Security System review has you considering other options, here are two home security systems to consider...  

How I tested the Simplisafe Security System

  •  I used the Simplisafe Security System for a week 
  •  I installed the whole system unassisted  
  •  I tested each device individually 

Simplisafe Security System indoor camera

(Image credit: Future)

Not only did I install the Simplisafe security system without help, physically and through the app, but tested each individual device to see how sensitive it was and whether it worked as advertised.

I found that the Simplisafe is perfect for anyone who doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to home security and wants something that can scale with their place, whether it’s an apartment or house.

I’ve spent the last few years reviewing tech gear for the home, where I’ve gotten a feel for what to look for and how to put a piece of kit through its paces to see whether it’s worth the recommendation.

First reviewed January 2024

Ultion Nuki Plus smart lock review: the best UK smart lock just got better
1:20 pm | December 28, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Home Security Smart Home | Tags: | Comments: Off

One-minute review

The Ultion Nuki Plus is a premium, high-security device that easily sits among the best smart locks, packing some incredibly useful features and, crucially, fixing some of the woes we had with the more basic and slightly cheaper Ultion Nuki smart lock.

Like the previous model, the Ultion Nuki Plus is born of a collaboration between secure lockmaker Ultion and smart lock genius Nuki. By and large, the two products are pretty similar - but the benefits of the newer version far outweigh the admittedly significant price increase.

The less expensive version of this smart door lock does let you remotely check if your door is locked - as long as you also purchase a Nuki bridge. The bridge plugs into an available electrical socket and connects to the lock using Bluetooth. Aside from the irritation of having to spend more of your hard-earned cash, it can be troublesome if you don’t have an available socket within Bluetooth range of your front door (probably due to all the bridges required for other smart home devices).  Looking at the older model, I found myself asking, “Why don’t they just add Wi-Fi to the lock?” Well, for the Ultion Nuki Plus, they did.

Setting up the Wi-Fi connection and geofence for the Ultion Nuki Plus is as easy as it should be, thanks to the excellent Nuki app. The geofence is a 100-metre detection ring around your door lock, and the lock is prepared when your phone is detected within the geofence area. It will only unlock fully once you are within the 10-metre Bluetooth range, and will also lock the door behind you when you leave the geofence. 

The rechargeable battery pack is a welcome, sensible, and more sustainable addition that will pay for itself over time. It can be charged in situ (which is further evidence of good design), and I personally charge it from a power bank, but there’s no reason that it couldn’t be wired permanently, assuming you have a spare socket…

Ultion Nuki Plus fitted on a front door

(Image credit: Future)

Ultion Nuki Plus review: price and availability

  • List price: £379
  • Available on Amazon and Ultion website

The Ultion Nuki Plus is available for £379 in either black or white directly from Ultion, (not the Nuki website, as this product is UK-specific). Be aware that the Ultion Nuki Plus is not the same product as the Nuki Pro 3 available on Amazon.

This makes it £120 more than the basic Ultion Nuki smart lock, which, as mentioned, doesn’t include Wi-Fi connectivity or a rechargeable battery pack.

There are a number of packages and accessories also available from Ultion:

  • Value: 4.5/5

Ultion Nuki Plus review: specifications

Ultion Nuki Plus close-up

(Image credit: Future)

Ultion Nuki Plus review: design

  • Stylish, well-finished, and thoughtfully designed
  • Brushed steel dial for manual operation
  • Press button for semi-manual operation
  • In-situ rechargeable battery

With the Ultion Nuki Plus, the two-brand collaboration has dispensed with the “You can have any colour you want, so long as it’s white” mentality, adding black as an alternative option. 

Otherwise, it’s much the same as the previous Ultion Nuki collaboration; it’s a good, sturdy, purposeful-looking door lock. The design features a square base (now hosting the rechargeable battery pack rather than 4x AA batteries), a plain box-like main body, and a round lock turn with a button in the middle of it. The new brushed aluminium dial and barrel are also an improvement in my view, adding a stylish edge.

The base of the lock is square, and a small switch beneath the unit opens its battery compartment. The top of the lock features a round lock turn, which has a button in the middle. A ring of light surrounding the button indicates the lock’s status: a full ring for a locked door and a missing segment for an unlocked door. Should any issues arise, the lock will flash red. 

A lot of thought and design expertise has gone into the Ultion Nuki Plus. The box it comes in tells you something about the product you’ve just purchased; there are no brown papier mâché trays here. It looks like somebody cares.

Ultion Nuki Plus unboxing, showing the lock in its packaging with various instruction booklets

(Image credit: Future)

Given the limitations of current battery technology, Nuki has done well to try to blend this lock into the inside of your home. Yes, it’s bulky, but I feel that is in keeping with what it does; it is a lock, after all. Overall, the size of the unit is 300 x 60 x 60mm (not including lever handle).

Externally, it’s almost impossible to tell you’ve got a smart lock installed, however, the noise it makes when the door locks and unlocks is a bit agricultural, so it does advertise your security level to the person on the outside when you answer the door. I suppose this can be both a positive and a negative. Ideally, it would make the Star Trek “Ssschwika” door sound when the door unlocks, but hey, you can’t have everything.  

  • Design: 5/5

Ultion Nuki Plus fitted on a front door

(Image credit: Future)

Ultion Nuki Plus review: performance

  • Simple and well-designed app
  • Automatic locking works fantastically
  • Lock feels very secure and robust

It does not matter where you live once the front door is shut. But where you live does matter when it comes to securing your home. 

I was unaware of just how woefully inadequate the lock and handle on my front door were until I had the Ultion Nuki Plus lock fitted. The Ultion Three-star Plus lock cylinder included in the package is most likely much more secure than your existing one.

If you’re not ready to trust the door to lock using geofencing, the door can be set to auto-lock in as little as 30 seconds. Just remember that the handle must be pulled up in all cases. It’s also worth pointing out that it’s still possible to unlock the door “old school” style with the keys provided. I still take a key with me; I just can’t get out of the habit.

Overall, I had little-to-no issues when testing the Ultion Nuki Plus, barring one very small bug where it became unresponsive after I forgot to lift the handle - I wasn't able to reproduce this, however. 

It takes a few days to build confidence in the automatic locking but it is reassuring to see the notifications appear that the door has locked, particularly if you have your phone out for navigation in the car. Be warned, though; Apple Homekit requires you to confirm that you really want to lock your door, which is fine if you’re on foot, but less than ideal if you drive off in your car.

Ultion Nuki Plus in-app automation shown on iPhone printscreen

(Image credit: Future)

Apple, you are not only shooting yourself in the foot, you are emptying the whole magazine. 

You can work around this if you already have a Homebridge device as part of your home automation suite by adding a virtual switch triggered by the geofence. Apple doesn’t regard the switch as a security device, so doesn’t run around in circles with its hair on fire whenever you try to use it. When you leave, it turns the switch on, and the switch turning on causes the door to lock. Simple (...not). 

The previous non-Wi-Fi version was a bit hit or miss with automatic unlocking, tending to wait for you to fumble for your phone in your pocket and then unlocking just as you retrieve it, but I am happy to report that this version has worked flawlessly. Otherwise, in everything from its app to its features, the models perform almost identically.

A minor gripe is that the push button locking doesn’t work. It’s quite happy to unlock the door, but you need to rotate the dial to lock it. These things worked on the standard model so it should work on the Plus version.

Performance: 4.5/5

Should I buy the Ultion Nuki Plus?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Ultion Nuki review: Also consider

Ultion Nuki Plus not for you? Try out one of these alternatives...

How I tested the Ultion Nuki smart lock

  • I lived with the Ultion Nuki Plus as my main door lock for three months
  • I initially used the Ultion Nuki Plus exclusively through the iPhone app and Bluetooth. 
  • I connected the Ultion Nuki Plus to my home Wi-Fi and added it to my Apple Homekit home automation.

I installed the Ultion Nuki Plus on my home’s front door and used it as my primary door lock for the entirety of my testing, connecting to the device via my iPhone. I used the app to control the lock, but also added it to my Apple HomeKit to test its automation.

I tested all of the lock features as advertised, and also stress-tested the device to see how meticulous you need to be in use. This involved testing how quickly and successfully the door lock triggered upon exiting the geofence, as  well as real-world scenarios (e.g. “What happens when autolock is 30 seconds, I arrive home, leave the door open while I get my muddy shoes off on the door mat, etc.). I then tested how well the Ultion Nuki Plus recovered from these unexpected states and returned to normal service.

The device did fail to automatically lock once after I returned home. The indicator light was flashing, so I clearly neglected to lift the handle. However, the light continued to flash and the unit was unresponsive even after lifting the handle. Recalibrating the lock fixed it, and I have not been able to reproduce this issue.

All of the configuration options and features within the phone app were investigated and, where possible, added to my daily routine. The Ultion Nuki Plus was then added to Apple HomeKit to seek out configuration clashes between the Nuki app and home automation. Several automations were configured to assess if the Ultion Nuki Plus “played well” with other devices. The Ultion Nuki Plus was removed and added again to both my phone and home automation setup to test the consistency and reliability of the setup process.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed December 2023

Enabot Ebo X review: an adorable, albeit frustrating companion bot and security camera
8:49 pm | December 11, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Home Security Smart Home | Comments: Off

One-minute review

If you’re in the market for an amped-up indoor camera, this is just the gadget for you. The Enabot Ebo X is one of the most advanced home security devices on the market – if you’re willing to blow the budget.

It’s far more than just a security device though. This feature-packed robot companion will look out for your entire household, navigating from room to room to monitor your home, pets, and family members. Compared to a standard, fixed security camera, bots like the Enabot Ebo X offer unparalleled flexibility.

Of course, you could go down the route of just buying an armory of security cameras for whole-home monitoring – but this will still come at a cost, especially when you factor in that these products more commonly leverage subscription fees for storage and advanced features.

The Ebo X is larger than its Enabot Ebo SE and Air siblings, measuring 6.6 x 6.6 x 6.9 inches / 16.8 x 16.8 x 17.6cm, and designed to be less a plaything for pets and children, and more a companion and security device for the whole family. 

And I think it would be great at it, too, if only the application and user guidance weren’t so poor, and if Enabot had just spent a bit more time making the software work for the bot. Unfortunately, the Ebo X is plagued with poor user experiences: whether it’s the poorly optimized in-built Alexa feature, the lack of personality, the low-effort app, or the lack of sufficient user guidance, the Ebo X can feel like a bit more hassle than it’s worth at times.

However, there’s still hope here. I loved the design and hardware used for the Ebo X (barring the Harman AudioEDX speakers), and software is a whole lot easier to fix than hardware. If Enabot can revisit the Ebo X software instead of moving straight ahead to their next exciting home companion bot, it’s got a real fighting chance of taking on Amazon’s Astro. 

Enabot Ebo X unboxed, with the robot, plug, instruction manual and base all on display

(Image credit: Future)

Enabot Ebo X review: price and availability

  • List price: $999 / £999 GBP / AU$1,699 

The Enabot Ebo X is a pricey gadget that’ll set you back $999 / £999 / AU$1,699, but it does have a distinctly premium look and feel that go some way towards justifying the price. It’s currently available exclusively through the Enabot website, but given that some of Enabot’s other products are available from third-party retailers, it’s likely the Ebo X will make an appearance at more stores soon. 

Plus, when compared to its biggest competition, the yet-to-be-released Amazon Astro, which is set to cost $1,449.99 when it goes on sale to the general public (availability and pricing for the UK and Australia are still to be confirmed), the Ebo X is fairly reasonably priced, as eye-wateringly expensive home robot companions go. However, as I write this review, there are a fair few software issues and intelligence flaws that really bring down the value of the product in my opinion, so I’d say it’s missing the mark price-wise right now. 

The Enabot Ebo X comes in a neat foam crate, which opens to reveal the bot itself, the dock, the power supply, and an instruction manual. 

Value: 4/5

Enabot Ebo X in the floor, turned on and with its camera out

(Image credit: Future)

Enabot Ebo X review: design

  •  Gorgeous, futuristic spherical design 
  •  Cute LED expressions 
  •  Two impressive self-stabilizing wheels 

The adorably rotund, spherical Enabot Ebo X is beautifully designed and robust, with Enabot opting for a futuristic yet approachable look reminiscent of both Wall-E’s Eve and Big Hero 6’s Baymax.

It’s essentially a sphere 6.6 inches / 16.8cm in diameter, with two self-stabilizing wheels on the bottom and a camera on top. It’s fairly large compared to many of the home robot companions currently available, but still a little smaller than Amazon’s upcoming Astro. It’s pretty robust, too, and can comfortably take a knock or two if the V-Slam navigation is on the fritz for some reason.

The top half of the bot is black, and when it’s powered on it illuminates with an adorable pair of customizable LED eyes, the color of which can be changed in the app. There’s also an LED strip running around the seam dividing the top and bottom sections, which serves as an indicator for the status of your robot companion, and on its sides are the Harman AudioEFX speakers. On the rear, you’ll find another speaker and a microSD slot. 

On top of the bot is its 8MP, 4K UHD pop-out camera, which is stabilized and can be angled for optimal visibility. There are also volume controls on the camera compartment’s lid, which don’t illuminate and so are very easy to miss. The camera can be stowed by pressing it down into the bot, and there’s also a privacy button, which mutes the microphone and turns the display red when pressed.

The Ebo X is self-stabilizing, whizzing around on its two wheels, and it can even rotate (albeit slowly) on the spot, and turn tight corners when navigating. It can also adjust its viewing angle, tilting backward and forwards to afford itself better visibility, which is very useful given the robot’s height.  

The base is pretty simple and understated, and very compact, adding only a couple of inches/centimeters to the overall bulk of the robot when docked. On its underside is a sticky, anti-slip pad, which is a nice touch to keep the Ebo X secure. 

Design: 4.5/5

Enabot Ebo X camera view

(Image credit: Future)

Enabot Ebo X review: performance

  •  Great-quality footage, but odd perspective 
  •  Audio is nothing to write home about 
  •  Struggles to traverse rugs and some room thresholds 
  •  Commands and features are spotty at best 

Having the Enabot Ebo X whizzing around my home during testing was a real delight at first, but once the novelty had passed there were some software major flaws that I really hope are purely a result of the product still being fairly new. 

First off, the 4K UHD 8MP camera quality is pretty impressive, especially its infrared night mode. The ability to control the camera angle with such granularity is excellent, but the low vantage point does take a little getting used to – thankfully, it has great vertical adjustment. Still, if you want to check up on pets that can access higher spots around the home you’d be better off positioning a stationary camera to cover those areas.

The two-way audio is nice and clear too, but the Harman AudioEFX sound quality is distinctly ‘meh’, and I’d only really recommend using the Ebo X for audio if you’re in a pinch or really want a speaker that follows you, especially if you’re an audiophile. There’s very little richness to the sound, with next to no bass, and songs sound very muddy, especially if the Ebo X is on carpet. It’s fairly loud, but not pleasant at higher volumes. Vocals sound robotic (and yes, I’m allowing for the fact that this thing is actually a robot), and there’s very little definition in musical dynamics too – so given my love of ballads and rock music, the audio component here is a definite miss.

There are multiple privacy features allowing you full control over your Ebo X. As mentioned, you can press down the top compartment to fully stow the camera, but you can also angle the camera to face downwards, use the red button on top of the robot to mute the microphone, and toggle the robot’s sleep mode within the app. I really liked the variety here, which gives users a lot more freedom to customize how they and their homes are monitored. 

Given the Ebo X’s expressive LED face design, I was really excited to see what kind of personality the bot had been programmed with. However, I was a bit disappointed with what I found. 

It will randomly come out with some cute catchphrases, especially when it says things like “I must be [sic] very happy if I could live here.” If you pick it up, it’ll say “Woah, it feels like I’m flying”, and it’ll also occasionally verbally update you on its status. But other than that, the bot is pretty bland. 

Enabot's other robots didn’t come with Alexa built in, and thus had a much more distinct identity. There are remnants of this in the Ebo X – a completely different voice pipes up to exclaim “Ebo!” when it’s powering off, for example – and it makes some really cute sounds when you command it to move in certain directions. While Alexa’s on-board presence is much appreciated in terms of the intelligence it brings to the Ebo X, overall it just takes some of the fun out of the design and concept of the bot.

Also missing compared to the previous generations are the tricks and commands available in the Ebo SE and Air, which make this bot feel a bit too utilitarian. 

Enabot Ebo X bugging and spinning

At least it looks cute when it bugs out and spins in panicked circles. (Image credit: Future)

You’ll need to connect the Ebo X to Alexa to unlock much of its functionality (we’ll get into that shortly), and even then the list of abilities is fairly watered down. At the time of writing, you can command the robot to stand up, sit down, follow, recharge, freeze, and capture an image of a smiling face, but it can be fairly slow to register commands, sometimes taking 5-10 seconds to execute. It’ll respond to either “Ebo Ebo” or “Alexa” – I prefer the former to avoid confusion with my other Alexa home speakers. 

Most of these commands work fine, but there are some that just lead to frustration. For instance, when I used the ‘follow’ command the bot repeatedly lost me, ambling around my room aimlessly until I reigned it back in, and if I sat down while this mode was active it kept wheeling about, banging into my chair and sofa. This bot just has no chill, clearly. Asking the Ebo X to play music is also very much a case of trial and error, and only works with Amazon Music unless you connect to the device via Bluetooth or the Alexa app to play from other music streaming services.

Two features Enabot has been keen to highlight in its marketing are fall-down and crying detection, which are useful for monitoring more vulnerable members of a household. These work pretty impressively, though as you’ll discover below in the app section of this review, they’re a minefield to set up. Still, if you can muddle through the poor user experience, these features are well worth the hassle.

Navigation-wise, the bot is, generally speaking, fairly accomplished, but nowhere near what most homes will need. It managed (just) to mount my low-pile carpet when automatically navigating, but it just can’t handle my slightly rounded threshold, meaning it regularly got stuck in the hallway of my apartment until I came to its rescue and encouraged it to charge full speed over the boundary. When the bot has a low battery, it’ll navigate its way back to the charger, although if you’ve not mapped your home this can take an absolute age. It’s pretty good at not ramming into things, though (at least when you’re not using the ‘follow’ command), so at least you won’t need to worry about cleaning robo-skull fragments off your floor any time soon.

Performance: 3.5/5

Enabot Ebo X app printscreens

(Image credit: Future)

Enabot Ebo X review: app and features

  • User experience and setup aren’t great 
  • Customization features 
  • In-app Alexa controls are limited 

The app is, arguably, the worst thing about the Enabot Ebo X from start to finish, which is a real shame as I think it massively tainted my experience during my testing. 

My main criticism is the utter lack of guidance. The setup is pretty clunky, and the QR code in the included physical instructions didn’t even work. Once you’re in, you get a quick glimpse of the voice commands you can use through Alexa – make sure to screenshot these, because you won’t find them anywhere in the app otherwise.

On the app’s main hub page you can see a live feed from the Ebo X, from which you can toggle its sleep mode, or tap into the window to control the bot manually. There’s very low latency in these live controls, and the feed is clear and crisp. From here, you can take snapshots or videos of Ebo X’s surroundings, which will be saved to the onboard SD card, as well as to your phone if you’ve granted it permission to do so. You can also command the bot to return to its charging station, follow you, and patrol your home.

From the Security section on the main hub screen you can set up automations and map your home. Under the ‘My Task’ tab there are a number of suggested automations, or you can start from scratch by pressing the ‘+’ button in the upper-right hand corner. This is, at best, a tedious trial-and-error exercise in IFTTT-esque formatting, with highly limited and oddly organized triggers and results. There’s very little guidance on how to best use these tasks, and in fact I had to default to the reviewer’s guide sent to me by Enabot to set up the fall-detection automation. 

The mapping is similarly baffling, though more so because the bot just goes about it in a really bizarre way compared to other robot devices I’ve tested, like some of the best robot vacuums. I had to repeat the process several times to get a map somewhat resembling my home. Once completed, you can set up zones to keep Ebo X out of private spaces or isolate specific areas for observation.

Also accessible from the home screen is the Ebo Album, which stores videos and cameras captured by the bot and stored on its SD card, as well as a puzzlingly barren Alexa section, and a Joint Login section where you can add users to the app and set up facial recognition for you, your Enabot co-owners and other household members not registered on the app. 

In addition to the hub page there’s also a separate tab for the robot’s settings, where you can switch up the lights, brightness, volume and other Ebo X preferences. 

Under the final tab are the app settings, where you can find help and tips for controlling the Ebo X – if you can make head or tail of them. Once again, details are sparse, and you’ll likely end up going your own way to figure out whatever it is you need to know.

To connect the robot to Alexa you need the Alexa app, and you need to set up an Enabot account and then enable the Enabot skill in the Alexa app; this is a pretty clunky process, and I’m confused as to why there’s not more information on how to optimize Alexa’s presence in the bot on the app. 

App: 3/5

Should I buy?

Buy it if... 

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Enabot Ebo X

  •  I used the Enabot Ebo X as my main home security device for three weeks 
  •  I tested all of its voice commands and app controls 
  •  I set up automations and trained its mapping feature for my home 
  • I tested the speakers with a variety of songs (Fleetwood Mac, Radiohead, Muse, Dua Lipa) as well as the onboard microphone. 

For my three-week testing period, I used the Enabot Ebo X as my primary home security device, mapping my home and setting up various automations to see how well it performed. 

Using the app, I explored all of Ebo X’s settings, changing its colors and configurations as well as testing how easy it was to customize the bot. I used its live feed mode, and experimented with its two-way audio and live recording, assessing the quality of the camera and footage captured. To test the speakers I listened to a variety of music of different genres, and compared the sound quality to various speakers around my home. Lastly, I tested the object recognition and navigation of the bot to see how well its AI and camera worked in tandem.

I’ve been testing smart home devices for two years, and referenced my previous experience both with robotics and smart cameras to assess the quality and value of the Ebo X.

Psync Camera Genie S review: smarter than your average smart home security cam
9:00 pm | November 12, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Home Security Smart Home | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

One-minute review

The Psync Camera Genie S is a new indoor home security camera with an AI-infused twist, and it could remedy a host of pet peeves you have with your current home security devices.

While I don't consider myself paranoid, I do have, at any given time, at least three of the best home security cameras surveilling my home. I've gotten used to all the alerts that usually let me know one of the cams detected some movement. The details are scant and because I am too cheap to play for cloud-based storage and services, I can almost never see said "movement".

The extent of detail most webcam image analysis offers is usually "person detected,"  "movement detected," or "sound detected."

Psync, though has a different idea with something it calls "ViewSay", featured on its new Psync Camera Genie S indoor smart home camera.

ViewSay uses GPT algorithms (actually a visual language model or VLM) to analyze the movement or any activity within the security camera's field of view to offer detailed descriptions of what's happening in your home. It's a very new implementation of this technology and the messages I've received over the last week have been almost uniformly hilarious. Psync's AI rarely gets the description right but I love how hard it tries.

Some users may not be thrilled that the AI-based image analysis (which will cost $0.99 a month) is done in the cloud using one frame of the video, but the good news is that the data is encrypted when it's stored on Amazon Web Servers (AWS) for analysis.

Leaving aside this kitschy highlight, this is a rather adept home security cam. It's compact, easy to set up, and is the rare webcam with a motorized remote control that lets you change its point of view (left and right or up and down) via the Psync app and from anywhere in the world. It can even, thanks to that physical versatility, track moving objects.

There's support for smart home majors like Amazon Alexa and Google but not for Apple HomeKit and, more distressingly, Matter - though full Matter support rollout for cameras doesn't come until next year, so there's hope yet.  

Even so, $34.99 for a Webcam with 32GB of onboard storage, LED lights for night imagery, remote control, and auto-tracking capabilities adds up to a nice starter home security webcam.

Psync Camera Genie S

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Psync Camera Genie S review: price and availability

  • List price: $34.99 (32GB) $39.99 (64GB)
  • $0.99 for AI features
  • Available in the US only

At just $34.99, the Psync Camera Genie S is among the more affordable home security cameras, falling in line with the WYZE Cam Pan v3 but without the outdoor capabilities. Of course, the WYZE Cam doesn't include any form of GPT intelligence.

Psync launched the product on November 1, 2023, and it's available online at the Psync website.

The box ships with the security cam, a USB-3-to-USB-C cable, and a power adapter (there's no battery option). There's also 32GB of internal storage.

Value: 4/5

Psync Camera Genie S: specifications

Psync Camera Genie S

Psync Camera Genie S folded (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Psync Camera Genie S review: design

  • Compact
  • Local storage
  • Lightweight
  • Rubberized bottom with tripod mount

I wouldn't normally say this, but Psync Camera Genie S is cute. Yes, it's a bit lightweight and boxy, but its ability to turn and look at whatever it's tracking adds a bit of life and, yes, might lead you to anthropomorphize it.

Where most modern smart home security cams are all curves and smooth lines, this is like a set of white blocks. There's a white base that houses the speaker and activity light (blue for live), and the L-shaped head that unfolds from the body and can point its small face, featuring an HD+ camera (it captures up to 1944 x 2592) and four LED lights, wherever you choose, or it can auto-track moving objects.

There are microphones and a speaker for conducting two-way communication but the speaker is also used to deliver messages from the Psync device. It can tell you, for example, that you have an incoming call.

Open, the security cam is 2.09 in. x 2.09 in. x 4.41 in. Folded, it's 2.09 in. x 2.09 in. x 2.41

Despite its diminutive size, this lightweight security cam isn't prone to sliding or falling over; there's a nice grippy rubberized base to keep the Psync Camera Genie S in place. If you want to attach it to a tripod, the base also includes a tripod screw mount.

I also appreciated that the included power cable is long enough to stretch it from an outlet near the floor to a window more than halfway up the wall.

One of my favorite Psnyc Camera Genie S tricks, however, is what it does when you power it down (through the app). It says "shutting down" and then folds into a near-perfect cube.

Design: 4/5

Psync Camera Genie S

Psync Camera Genie S base (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Psync Camera Genie S review: performance

  • Can detect and track motion
  • AI does its best to ID scenes
  • 2K video is sharp

Psync Camera Genie S interface

(Image credit: Future)

The best smart home devices are not just easy to use, they make setup a breeze. Psync's Camera Genie S fulfills that mission with a no-brainer setup through the app which (after one firmware update that virtually every new smart home hardware needs) had me keeping an eye on my home in no time.

The app is fairly well organized and should be obvious to even the most novice users. Most of the screen is filled with video feedback. The first thing I noticed is the relatively narrow field of view, especially compared to the indoor camera competition; it's just 84.9 degrees. However, the remedy to this narrow viewport can be found on the app, which offers a thumb-pad-style control for the camera's remote control features. The camera can tilt vertically by 135 degrees. More crucially, the entire camera can rotate a full 350 degrees on its round base.

Initially, I used these controls to look around a room from wherever I was. I've often been frustrated that I left an indoor home security camera pointing in one direction when a sound was coming from another. With the Psync camera, I can pan or tilt the camera to look directly at the action. There are no voice controls, despite its compatibility with Alexa and Google compatibility, but that's not too uncommon in cameras.

The other option, though it's hidden under a sub-menu, is the ability to let the camera track action on its own. When I turned this on and I walked in front of the camera, it would look me up and down and turn to watch me.

The default 2K resolution camera provides video and images you can zoom in on to see additional detail. Of course, the higher-resolution imagery might eat up your local storage a bit more quickly.

Psync Camera Genie S

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Next to the 2K camera is a series of four LEDs that it calls the "Spotlight". Instead of night vision, you can turn on these LEDs to illuminate a dark room. You can also control the brightness level and even set a schedule for the Spotlight. I'd prefer actual infrared night vision and the ability to turn on when the camera detects motion, but then you shouldn't expect that technology in a $34 indoor smart camera.

The app lets you switch to event view and then swipe vertically through all previously captured events. You can also save any of the videos to your phone camera roll and then share them more broadly.

Of course, the marquee feature is the new AI-based image analysis that translates into a description of what Psync Camera Genie S is spotting through its camera. Psync will charge $0.99 a month for this privilege and, to be honest, I'm not sure yet if it's worth it.

I got a ton of alerts from the camera and the majority of descriptions were comical. It could usually identify a human but often said they were carrying something, such as a basket when they weren't. It said an entire family was sitting around my dining room table when it was empty, and it misidentified scenes as well as objects. My favorite might have been when it was looking at my backyard and shed and said, "A person is walking past a garage with a motorcycle parked inside, and a child is playing in the yard." The backyard was empty, my shed was closed, I don't own a motorcycle, and no one was in my backyard.

Generally, Psync's powers of observation were average at best. It did eventually properly identify my wife standing in our living room looking at her phone, but that was a rare hit.

To be fair, these are early days, and I suspect that this AI will get smarter and more effective in identifying people, places, and things.

Performance: 3.5/5

Should I buy the Psync Camera Genie S indoor camera?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Psync Camera Genie S review: Also consider

Decided against the Psync Camera Genie S? Why not check out these alternatives...

How I tested the WiZ Indoor camera

  • I tested the Psync Camera Genie S for two weeks in my home
  • I set it up in various rooms in my house and allowed the app to send me alerts based on what the camera detected.

I used the Psync Camera Genie S for two weeks in my home, monitoring my kitchen, living room, den, and backyard (through a window). 

I had the benefit of using a system whitelisted for access to the $0.99-a-month AI features. this meant all of the object and motion detection descriptions I received were quite descriptive, if not always accurate. 

I compared the camera to the other indoor and outdoor cameras I have throughout my home.

Read more about how we test.

First reviewed November 2023

Swann AllSecure650 2K Wireless Security Kit review
3:03 pm | October 26, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Home Security Smart Home | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

One-minute review

With the AllSecure 650 2K Wireless Security Kit, Swann is aiming to straddle the markets for hardwired security systems that record and save footage to a cloud service and standalone kits that store it locally. 

It offers the convenience of near-constant recording without the expense of a subscription service and is intended as a solid and reliable self-installation product, keeping setup and running costs relatively low. Furthermore, it comes in a variety of bundle sizes, with the smallest including two cameras and the largest, four. These cameras are wireless HD units that offer the convenience of being able to place surveillance cameras anywhere you choose.  

The kit is based around a hub that either needs to be physically attached to your home router via Ethernet or connected wirelessly. You’ll also need a smart TV or, better yet, a spare monitor, to set up the system. This hub contains a 1TB hard drive and also has a very useful slot for an additional rechargeable battery pack. 

The satellite cameras are wireless and can be placed wherever you wish within range. The instructions state that these need to be charged in advance for two or three hours, but a lengthier charge is needed if the cameras are to operate reliably for more than the first few hours. A USB charging cable for this purpose is supplied, but you’ll need to use the plug from a tablet or smartphone. European and UK adapters for the hub power cable were supplied in the two-camera kit, along with an abundance of brightly colored leaflets in multiple languages to aid hardware software and app setup. 

Once charged, the battery packs click into the base of each camera, with the spare stashed snugly inside the hub, ready to be called into use when one of the wireless camera battery packs runs low. This is one of the most intuitive and useful aspects of the kit. Swann indicates a battery life between charges of up to four months, while the 1TB hard drive in the hub should be able to record standard or high-definition footage for two years before filling up. 

The terabyte of included storage is probably best set to record motion events rather than record continuously, to save you trawling through saved footage in search of an event. Should you need it, there’s also an SD card slot on the hub so you can save footage that you might need to share, plus a USB port where you can add an external drive of up to 4TB capacity. In addition, you can save videos to your Dropbox account from the app. 

With a few setup niggles such as the need to use an HD monitor, mouse, and on-screen keyboard to get the security system underway, the Swann AllSecure 650 offers a strong combination of wireless surveillance features with the convenience of recording to a built-in hard drive. 

Having an extra battery pack inside the hub available for immediate swap-out with one of the camera packs ensures no downtime, and is a real benefit. You do need to watch out for properly charged batteries, however. 

The video cameras provide clear footage with plenty of detail, and the Swann Security app offers most of the controls and playback options you’d hope for from a home security system, with only a few seconds delay to playing back event footage once you receive a phone or smartwatch alert. With no need to fork out for a subscription service, unless you need the extra person/car/animal alert distinctions, the Swann AllSecure 650 is also a good value choice. 

Swann AllSecure650 2K: price & availability

  • List price (4-camera bundle): $699.99 / £499.95 / AU$999.95
  • List price (2-camera bundle, UK / AU): £399.95 / AU$699.95
  • Available in UK, US and Australia

The Swann AllSecure650 2K is sold directly from the brand's website or via resellers including Amazon, and arrives with a pre-installed local 32GB microSD card, a USB charging cable and installation equipment. 

There are a host of bundles, which are compiled slightly differently globally - for this review, I was sent the 2-camera bundle, which is available in the UK and Australia for £399.95 / AU$699.95. The more globally available 4-camera bundle is $699.99 / £499.95 / AU$999.95. 

To get the best from the camera, you'll need to sign up to a storage subscription service, meaning you'll benefit from the warranty, the best detection smart alerts, and cloud storage. Subscription services start at $2.99 / £2.99 / $AU5.55 per month; plus you get a free three-month trial when you buy the camera. This stores video footage for up to 60 days in the cloud and offers extras such as package, pet, and vehicle detection in addition to human heat and motion detection.   

If the physical storage still doesn't quite cut it or you want some more options, there's also the Swann Unlimited subscription of £8.99 per month (after a three-month trial) for cloud storage, and continuous recording will work better for your needs: the Swann Security app makes it easy to add a cloud service at any point just by clicking the yellow-ish storage chest icon and adding your card details. 

Swann AllSecure650 2K: specifications

Swann AllSecure650 2K: Design and set-up

Swann 650 hub port

(Image credit: Future)

Setting up the Swann AllSecure 650 involves plugging in the supplied mouse to the hub. With the screen attached to the hub via HDMI, it should automatically display the setup screen. Add your network details and Wi-Fi password or plug in the Ethernet cable, if you prefer. You can connect to either a 2.4GHz or 5GHz wireless network. 

Next, create a Swann email account, enter your password as the admin, and add any extra users you may want on the system. You’ll know the hub is successfully connected when all three of the subtle colored LEDs are lit up on its front fascia. 

You'll want to install the Swann Security iOS or Android app to use the AllSecure 650 system remotely using your phone. Once you’ve added your email details, you’ll be prompted to scan the QR code on the top of the hub. Oddly, Swann’s printed quick-start guide for the app only references iOS, not Android; but both are offered. 

Although the app expects you to pair with a security camera at this stage, the pairing happens on the HD monitor screen. Two (or four, if you’ve bought the more expensive AllSecure 650 kit) of the on-screen panes will display a Play icon, while the rest will – rather off-puttingly – suggest “video loss” rather than that they’re not in use. 

To pair, you must bring the camera into proximity to the hub and click one of the active on-screen panes. You then need to unlock the security system by manually entering your admin password credentials and clicking Unlock. Now click on the pane or the white video camera icon that appears just beneath it, and press and hold down the white hardware button on top of the camera for several seconds. There ought to be a red LED on the camera that turns on at this point – it never did for me, although pairing still took place. I also needed several attempts at pairing. 

Swann 650 porch camera mount being screwed in place

(Image credit: Future)

Once connected, you can position the cameras as you see fit. The brief hardware setup instructions prompt you to try to experiment with what will be a suitable position, checking what appears in the camera view before committing to the location. Bear in mind that you need to have the hard plastic antenna on top of each camera sticking upwards in order to pick up the Wi-Fi signal and connect to the Swann 650’s hub. There’s a theoretical range of up to 30 meters.

I found that placing my indoor camera discreetly in a side window near the front door was ideal until the window glare and automatic porch light obscured the view at night – or I dislodged the camera with my bulky curtains. 

Mounting it inside the porch worked well, but also announced the camera to the street. Although this could prove a good visual deterrent, along with the inevitable brace of secured property stickers I've placed on the windows, I ended up fretting that it would be all too easy for a chancer to simply shelter in my porch, unscrew the wireless camera from its mount and make off with it, caught on camera or not. 

To prevent such instances, Swann suggests mounting the cameras roughly four meters above the intended surveillance area. In practice, this probably means outside a room on the floor above. Swann doesn’t guarantee that the cameras can withstand all weather, specifically warning about siting them where they’ll be rained on; however, it also makes claims of IP66-rated water and dust resistance, plus a good level of temperature tolerance; so a sheltered eave or nook outside above an upper-floor window are ideal spots. 

If you’re restricted to mounting the fixings from inside the property, the options may be few. If you choose to go down this route and fit the cameras yourself, and if you lack a sufficiently long ladder and a head for heights, you may find yourself scrabbling to screw the cameras into place and then not necessarily in the ideal spot. 

The two halves of the camera mount unscrew, with the part that attaches to the wall or ceiling having holes for two supplied screws. Once secured to the mounting base, you'll need to angle the camera as needed and use the wing nut to hold it in position. One of the review cameras was missing a sticky sponge pad inside the mount, which meant it wouldn’t stay in place; but I was able to work around this by adjusting camera placement.

Swann 650 upper camera mounted on the underside of a roof

(Image credit: Future)

Swann AllSecure650 2K: Performance

The video quality from the cameras was more than adequate; I was easily able to discern what was happening on the street below, both during the day and at night time, and whether in the default SD mode or when I selected HD (high-definition video). There was little visual distortion, although things looked a bit out of kilter when I seated the upper camera at an odd angle.  

The playback option lets you view a two-second clip of whatever triggered recording, and if you spot something interesting happening while in Live View mode then you can simply tap the video camera icon on the app to instantly record. 

The lag when in Live View mode and interacting with a visitor on the doorstep was minimal and the conversation was clear through the two-way sound system. To chat with someone who’s near one of the cameras, you just click the microphone icon beneath the screen of the relevant camera on the app. I was able to hold a two-way chat that made perfect sense and was more than loud enough at the camera end to be heard clearly, despite the tinny delivery.  

In Night mode, the footage was also plenty clear enough to distinguish objects. Should the sun end up glowering into your Swann security camera’s lens, contrast levels are sufficient to combat the resulting washed-out images and critical details are easy to discern. When light levels drop, you can click the light bulb icon on the app to turn on the light and change the intensity of the night vision light. It’s possible to leave this light on if you want to use it as a deterrent or helpful guide light, too. With the night light on, you also get a color view. 

Swann 650 in-app detection types, showing printscreens of the filter set-up, a car being detected and a parcel being detected

(Image credit: Future)

Swann AllSecure650 2K: App

The app is the main way of interacting with the events your AllSecure 650 cameras will pick up (unless, of course, you intend to monitor comings and goings yourself via the HD monitor, if it’s commercial premises you’re securing). The cameras can be viewed individually, or you can tap the Live View option to see an overview of all the active cameras. 

Unless you’ve deactivated it, you’ll receive notifications about any and all motion events triggered by people and vehicles passing by, and approaching your home. If you receive too many, it’s a fair sign you ought to adjust the camera angle so fewer pedestrians and casually passing cars are detected. 

Thankfully, the app is smart enough to realize it’s being ignored and, after a few unacknowledged alerts, will offer you the option to pause notifications. More usefully, you may wish to set the Schedule in the app to show when you’re almost certainly at home and awake anyway, and when you’re at work or similar. This way, Swann knows not to interrupt you because you’ll probably notice someone arriving in any case. 

Refined options such as rich notifications (where you get a photo showing what’s happening alongside an event alert) and detection based on person, vehicle or animal, are delivered only as part of the Swann Secure+ subscription service. However, when I updated the app, I started receiving notifications that mentioned a person; in fact, they were usually just a car driving past. 

There are no custom zone settings, so it’s down to the user to accurately place the camera for minimal false alerts - and for a camera this price, that's a little disappointing. The cameras aren’t powered, of course, so there is no pan/tilt option to track visitors. Number-plate recognition and other AI features are absent, too: the cameras use PIR to recognize animals, people, and vehicles by their outline. 

Another quibble was that in Do Not Disturb mode, I found the cameras went offline and no clips were recorded, rather than me just not being notified about movements around my property for a while. Luckily, toggling off the DND mode brought them back into use after a couple of seconds. 

Should you need it, there’s a guide to the app that you can view or share by clicking on the top-left menu bar and then tapping “User Manual”.

Should you buy the Swann AllSecure650 2K home security camera?

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Swann AllSecure 650 2K review: also consider

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How I tested the Swann AllSecure 650 2K home security camera

  • I installed and used the Swan AllSecure 650 2K in my home for a month
  • I monitored my home both day and night
  • I used all of its features and explored its settings

After installing and setting up my Swann AllSecure 650 2K, I used it to monitor my home for a month. I attached the cameras in various spots (my porch and underneath the eave of my roof) to detect comings and goings of visitors, deliveries and vehicles.

I paired the cameras with my phone and used the app, testing all of its features and settings to see how well they worked and if any further features could have been added. I noted the notification speed, the recording quality and accuracy of the cameras when I was home and away. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed September 2023