Advertisement
Advertisement

Neos Smartcam review: Save 20% in Amazon's Spring Sale

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
20
inc VAT

The Neos Smartcam isn’t the best security camera around, but at a fraction of the price it can’t be ignored

Pros 
The price
Clever and easy-to-use stand
Free cloud storage
Cons 
Cloud storage has limitations
Indoor use only
App demands an unnecessary amount of personal data
Advertisement

Update: The Neos Smartcam has now risen to £30, which still makes it impressive, but maybe not quite as impressive as before. Nonetheless, the original review continues below.


Smart security cameras are expensive. Or that’s what we’ve been led to believe, anyway. With top-of-the-range systems costing £250 plus per camera, we’ve been buying into the idea that you genuinely can’t put a price on security. 

But what if that’s wrong? The £60 BT Smart Home Cam showed that you can cut corners without disastrous results, and now the Neos Smartcam is offering to smooth the edges on those corners at a third of the price.

Save £6 on a Neos SmartCam

As part of its Spring Sales, Amazon has cut 20% from the price of the Neos SmartCam, bringing the cost down to £24.
Amazon
Was £30
Now £24

Neos Smartcam review: Price and competition

As I wrote above, the Neos Smartcam costs only £20. The means you could buy 14 Neos Smartcams for the price of just one £290 Arlo Pro 2. Obviously the latter is considerably more sophisticated, but it’s a serious point: the Arlo Pro 2 is better, but it’s not 14 times better.
 
It’s not just the top-end that Neos is chasing here. You could also get nine Neos for the price of one mid-range Ring Stick Up Cam (£180), six for the price of one Blink (£130), or three for the price of one BT Smart Home Cam (£60). Make no mistake: the Neos Smartcam is one aggressively-priced product, especially when you factor in free cloud storage – something only the Blink and Arlo cameras offer without a paid subscription.

Neos Smartcam review: A word of warning

Smart cameras have offered free cloud storage before, only to withdraw the perk at a later date when it proves to be unsustainable. There’s no reason the same couldn’t happen to Neos, so beware that the free lunch may be withdrawn at some point in the future.

Neos Smartcam review: What you need to know

So how does the Neos Smartcam manage to pack in so much for so little money? It’s partly because it doesn’t require its own hub. The package is remarkably small, with just the cuboid camera, a plug and a wire in the box. Secondly, this is a camera that is strictly for indoor use. It isn’t weatherproofed, and is completely wired with no battery-powered option.
 

Otherwise, everything is present and correct. The Neos Smartcam records at 1080p, has night vision to capture motion after dark, and a microphone and speaker so you can chat to any intruders that cross its path. It responds automatically to motion and sounds, and automatically uploads to the cloud without any need for subscriptions.
 
You can pick holes in any one of these points if you like. The cloud storage is the most obvious one, because it does come with some strings attached. The camera only captures clips of 12 seconds in length, and then will not take further video for another five minutes. This obviously has limitations, and while you can record live from the app if you need some more substantial footage, it’s not ideal. It theoretically means you could capture 12 seconds of a burglar pilfering through your stuff, but then see the footage cut off before they turn and face the camera – and they may be gone before the five-minute cool-down time ends.
 
Cloud footage is stored for 14 days, which feels generous enough. If you haven’t downloaded the key clips after 14 days, you probably don’t care that much about the video. But it’s a shame that Neos doesn’t offer more customisation here, even if it sets you back a little money each month to do so.

 
There is another option, though for now it lacks flexibility. There’s a microSD card slot in the base of a device, and when a card is inserted the Neos Smartcam will enable continuous recording to the storage in one-minute bursts. When the card is full, it records over the earliest footage.
 
There are a couple of reasons why this isn’t particularly flexible. Firstly, footage captured on the card can’t be viewed within the app at the time of writing. Instead you have to physically remove the microSD to see what’s on it. That, in turn, means that if a burglar steals the camera, then they also steal the saved video with it. That said, it’s not a binary choice between cloud and microSD, so some should still be backed up.

As for the 1080p video, the quality is pretty reasonable during the day as the video below shows – although footage is captured at 15fps which leads to a somewhat choppy experience:
 

 
It’s a similar story with night-vision mode, only it drops to an even choppier 10fps:
 

 
Still, that hardly matters, does it? These are videos for security purposes, not for capturing life’s magical moments, so a low framerate is hardly the end of the world.
 
You’ll note a green box in those videos. You can switch this off if you like, but I think it’s actually quite a useful feature, highlighting the part of the scene that triggered the motion sensor. Given I’ve seen completely empty scenes picked up on other cameras before, it’s nice confirmation that there definitely is nothing in shot.    
 
There are another couple of positive features I should mention. The first of these is the design of the camera itself. Not only is it compact and nondescript, but it also sits on a pull-out hinge/stand which allows a great deal of flexibility in terms of where it’s aiming. The legs are magnetic, meaning it can stick to nearby surfaces, and Neos even includes a metal stand and perfectly-cut sticky tape so you can make your own compatible surface.
 
Finally, the app’s set up process demands an awful lot of intrusive-sounding information (name and email address is one thing, but phone number and postal address too?). There is a reason for this, though: the device has an option where the camera can automatically arm when you leave the house, and disarm when you come back based on your phone’s GPS. You don’t have to use it, and it’s off by default, but it’s a surprisingly sophisticated feature in a camera so cheap.

Neos Smartcam review: Verdict

Is the Neos Smartcam the best-connected security camera out there? No, of course not. The recording quality is so-so, and the limitations on cloud storage are very clear weak spots.
 
But it’s more fully featured than BT’s Smart Cam, which is three times the price, and that’s remarkable given we thought the BT camera was impulse-buy territory. If you want a little peace of mind without paying the earth, then at this price the Neos Smartcam is pretty damned close to flawless.
 

Read more

Reviews