The floodlight security camera has become a relatively common solution in the home security market, but Apple HomeKit users have been left out. The Eve Outdoor Cam seeks to redress that balance with a device which can easily be installed like (or in place of) an existing outdoor light, but work using Apple’s cloud service.
HomeKit’s appeal – assuming you use Apple equipment – is that cloud storage and smart services are backed by Apple’s iCloud service. iCloud is a general file storage space for iPhone & Mac users; the first paid tier is 50GB and includes support for a single HomeKit camera, the recordings from which aren’t counted against that storage space. It costs only $0.99 / £0.79 a month, and indeed the 200GB + 5 camera tier is about the same as most security cloud service’s single camera fees. The other theoretical advantage is that HomeKit isn’t tied to one brand; it allows integration of multiple devices (see our guide to the best Homekit cameras (opens in new tab)).
In short, if you want cloud-backed security cameras, Apple’s route could have lower running costs and offer more control.
Eve Outdoor Cam: Specifications
Video resolution: 1080p @ 24fps
Video format: H.264
Connection: WiFi 2.4GHz b/g/n
Night Vision: Mono or Color (lit by floodlight)
Field of view: 157˚
Motion sensor: 100˚ up to 9m / 30ft
Temperature limits: -20 to 45˚C (-4 to 113˚ F)
Dimensions: 170 x 65 x 76 mm (main body)
The Eve Outdoor Cam builds a camera into the floodlight housing and looks good enough to replace an existing outdoor light, which is what many will do. As a security light, it also offers a short boost of brighter light than, presumably, the LEDs can sustain for long periods. It has a 1080P camera (currently the highest resolution which HomeKit will record) and detects motion using not only the camera but an infra-red sensor; the latter is not always included in security cameras but typically makes the light quicker to respond. Connection to your home is via 2.4GHz WiFi and the device is set up (and can be controlled) from a phone using Eve’s own app, while core functions are also available to HomeKit.
Build and handling
The Outdoor Cam is solid in the hand and finished to a high standard; it’s as good as it looks in the publicity photos. Installation was a bit painful process, however; generally there were clear steps to follow which worked, but there were two pain points. When it is necessary to tighten a screw between light and mount using an a torx-key (included), the rotation you get before hitting the sides was tiny so progress was drawn out. Secondly fitting the cables in the wall cup wasn’t easy at all. Mains cables don’t like to be pushed and pulled in small gaps and – because we were replacing a switched light – we also had to source our own 3-lever WAGO connectors rather than the 2-lever ones included.
On the plus side, the design makes tweaking the angle reasonably straightforward (if you keep that Torx key). Moreover, after fitting the Eve app found and set up the light quickly and from there it was a matter of deciding whether to use that app, or Apple’s Home app, to set up features like alerts (animal, person, vehicle or package detection) and zones.
As a floodlight or garden light, the Outdoor Cam definitely does the job; at night the light casts about 8m (over 26ft) up the garden we tested in with no problem. When the ‘Boost’ was activated, it was possible to see the back fence over twice that distance away. The motion activation was also amongst the fastest we’ve seen – no doubt thanks to the infra red detector. If you don’t want to be bothered by alerts about animals, it’s easy to select only people or vehicles.
Despite the 1080P limit, the camera’s video is at the better end of what we’ve seen; the smooth frame rate is a key factor here, so identifying people is possible, not that iCloud seems to manage every time (in theory it can recognize people from your iCloud photo database).
Basic operation, like reviewing clips, is painless using Apple’s Home tools, but there are some functions better achieved in Eve’s app. If you use the two-way-talk via the Eve app, for example, it has the good sense to mute your speaker as you talk; Apple Home generates a bit of feedback. The app also lets you see a chart of activations and other useful adjustments – it is, however, surprisingly hard to find your camera because the software recognizes other HomeKit devices too, even lightbulbs!
Eve Outdoor Cam: Verdict
Once installed, the Eve Outdoor Cam successfully combines a stylish and modern outdoor light, security activated floodlight and camera. Video quality is good and it was always quick to establish a live feed.
On balance we felt the installation could be made easier with a little thought, but the outcome is a good-looking device on your home and that matters more in the long run. Usability ultimately depends on Apple as much as Eve and that’s where things are more divisive. HomeKit gets points for ease of use (for core functions like reviewing video), but both can be a little harder to follow when it comes to what HomeKit ought to do best – cross brand automations. Nonetheless it’s possible to set up scenes so, for example, when you Outdoor cam is activated, a multi-colored bulb indoors changes to red for a minute, which is damn cool. What's more, day-to-day operation is painless, it works across Apple devices, and the relative economy of iCloud subscription charges only adds to the appeal.
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