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Hive View review: Now with downloadable footage

Christopher Minasians
15 Dec 2020
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
189
inc VAT

Beautifully designed, but the Hive View is inexplicably flawed and it’s rather expensive, too

Pros 
Sumptuous design
Detachable and portable
Comparatively cheaper subscription model
Cons 
Hit and miss motion detection
Not suitable for the outdoors
Cannot view recordings through an internet browser
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UPDATE: Since my original review in May 2018, Hive has updated its app and enabled downloads. Finally, you'll be able to store recordings on your phone, though, they're saved at 720p (and not Full HD) and they cannot be individually saved – as there's no batch save option.

Thanks to this new feature, I've bumped up its score to three stars.

My full review continues below.

Hive’s range of smart home products has been growing steadily in the past few years. It started with a smart thermostat to rival Nest and Tado and subsequently added smart plugs and smart light bulbs. The latest addition is the Hive View – a stylish smart home security camera with a twist.

But, there are plenty of smart home security cameras on the market ripe for the choosing, from the likes of Netgear, Nest and Y-Cam, not forgetting that Hive has already launched an indoor camera, so why would you buy a Hive View?

Hive View review: What you need to know

Available in either black and brushed copper or white and champagne gold, the Hive View is a bit different to your bog-standard security camera. In short, it’s a lightweight cube-like camera that can disconnect from its skinny vertical stand and be placed in all sorts of areas in your home.

This “grab and go” feature means you can use the camera for up to an hour away from the wall socket the being to use it to watch over your kids, or pets temporarily. It’s a handy feature, even if you are at the mercy of that not-so-long battery life.

Otherwise, it’s pretty standard smart security camera fare. It records at up 1080p, has a night vision mode and can alert you on your phone when it detects people and motion in your home.

READ NEXT: The best security cameras you can buy in 2018

Hive View review: Price and subscription model

The Hive View can be purchased for £189 and comes with 24-hour cloud recording included for free.

There’s also a two-camera bundle for £319, which saves you £59 over buying two cameras separately. If that’s too much to pay upfront, you can to pay over 12 months in instalments of £28.99 (a grand total of £347.88), and if you pay this way, you get the full 30-day camera history thrown in.

On top of that, the company offers two subscription packages: Hive Live for £2.99 a month and Hive Video Playback for £4.99 a month. The cheaper subscription gives you access to an ongoing warranty, discounts on other Hive products and grants you SMS notifications – so you won’t miss an alert, even if you’ve got limited connectivity. The video playback option gives you 30-day camera history for up to two cameras.

This might seem like a lot of additional cost, especially when Netgear’s Arlo camera system offers a week of free access to recordings. It is at least cheaper than Nest Aware, though, which will set you back at least £23 per month.

If you’re looking for something a lot more basic, but offers video recordings and incredibly impressive motion detection, it’s also worth considering the YI 1080p security camera.

Hive View review: Features and setup

The physical design of the Hive View is fabulous. It’s beautifully built and finished and looks much more modern and attractive than most home security cameras. The camera unit attaches to the stand magnetically and allows the camera to be adjusted up and down, and the base is magnetic, too, so the camera can be attached to metal surfaces as well as placed on shelves.

Power is supplied via a long USB cable that can be plugged into either the base or the camera, and once set up and connected to your home Wi-Fi, the View records 1080p footage through its 130-degree wide-angle lens.

Remember, the camera has no IP rating, so it's designed for indoor use-only. By comparison, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is specifically designed to withstand rain.

This can be live-streamed your phone or tablet (running Android 4.4, iOS 9 or higher) or you can have motion-triggered clips saved to a cloud-based storage account, where the company says it uses AES-128 encryption to secure the footage.

The camera connects via dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi and there’s also Bluetooth, which is used to help set up the camera. 

When I got the camera for the first time, I found the setup process a little frustrating. Since my original review, Hive has addressed my concerns and made the setup process all that bit easier. Everything can be done through the app.

Still, there's no option to control or view your camera through the Hive web portal on a computer. So, you'll want to ensure your smartphone always has charge, or else you'll miss a key event.

Hive View review: Hive app

Once you’re up and running, the camera appears in the app alongside all your other Hive products. Here, you can view a live video stream, manage your camera’s settings (from adjusting motion sensitivity to the resolution at which video clips are streamed and recorded) and view video clips, which have been triggered by motion and audio events. The Hive View can be set to record and stream at 720p (down from 1080p), which is handy if you find accessing your clips via the app too slow.

Beyond video clip recording and live streaming, however, there aren’t many extra features. A feature called Hive Actions enables you to link different Hive devices. For example, when the camera detects motion, it can trigger your Hive light bulb to switch on for a set amount of time and you can combine these actions to create much more complex actions.

That’s about it, though. The app can’t be disabled and enabled based on the GPS position of your phone unlike Nest Home/Away Assist, which can tell when you’ve left the house and when you come home again by tapping into your phone’s sensors. Instead, you have can only use a schedule.

Previously, the app wouldn't allow you to download any of the recordings, but this has since been addressed in the app's May 2018 update. Now, when you go to your timeline, you'll be able to download individual motions. There's no batch-download button, and the files download at 720p-only, even if you're recording at 1080p.

Remember, if you’re on Hive’s free storage plan, it only saves 24 hours worth of clips. If you have a break-in and you’re abroad you’ll have to show your phone to the police or save the clip within a day of it happening.  This completely defeats the purpose of having a security camera; it’s only useful for monitoring unless you pay the £4.99 monthly fee for 30-day recordings.

READ NEXT: Nest Cam IQ (indoor and outdoor) review: The security camera with facial recognition

Hive View review: Performance

As with most security cameras, the Hive View has motion detection, which notifies you whenever the camera detects movement, automatically records a clip and saves it to online storage. An advanced version is coming later in 2018, which can detect faces and send you a notification with an included picture of the culprit’s mug, similar to how the Nest Cam IQ works. For now though, it can detect people and general motion.

I tested the camera in different scenarios with mixed results. First, the positives: I liked having a live feed from the camera that includes audio (only when enabled through the settings), and the app’s vertical timeline makes it simple to identify and playback motion-triggered clips.

At 1080p, recordings have plenty of detail and are sharp enough although the sensor sometimes struggled to cope in backlit scenes, making people in videos look very dark. There are other drawbacks, too. Once you’ve tapped a newly created clip, it can take several minutes before being able to access it.

And motion detection was downright poor. With the camera positioned in my room, looking at my bedroom door and capturing the hallway in the background, I walked several times past my room in broad daylight and the Hive View failed to recognise anything had happened at all. In comparison, the Nest Cam IQ and YI 1080p security cameras were both able to pick up motion flawlessly and notified me immediately of movement.

In the dark, however, the Hive View is much like its competitors. It’s able to pick up plenty of detail, as night mode kicks in as soon as the lights turn off – I have no complaints here.

As for notifications, they’re great when they work, but half the time I found myself waiting in vain for a notification to pop up on my device. This, according to Hive, is a feature.

The company don't want to overcrowd your notification area, so you'll only receive a notification every 30 minutes, though, the app will log down everything. On one hand, I understand Hive's logic, whereas, on the other, I find it rather pointless.

For example, if you were to have the camera setup to capture your front door, and you were to leave the house, you'll get a notification of yourself leaving. But, say, if in the next 30 minutes someone were to break in, you'd not be notified of the action. Of course, unless you have the app open at all times, you'll see a new motion pop up, but the likelihood of you having your phone unlocked, running the app at the foreground at all times is unrealistic.

READ NEXT: Netgear Arlo review: The best home-monitoring system

Hive View review: Verdict

The View may not be the first security camera Hive as produced but it’s definitely a step-up in terms of style and features.

However, it has serious shortcomings. The motion detection is patchy and the company's choice of when to display a notification is illogical.

If you want a more rounded security camera setup, you can buy a set of Netgear Arlo cameras for around £180. They might not offer 1080p resolution recordings but, with seven days free access to motion-triggered clips and longer mains-free battery life, they’re much better value.

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