Alongside routers, powerline adaptors, and home phones, BT also makes a security camera. Here’s our BT Home Cam 100 review.
The camera connects via Wi-Fi to your router and lets you keep an eye on what’s happening when you’re not there. You can watch the live feed from your phone, and get alerts when the camera detects motion.
You can buy the Home Cam 100 from BT’s online shop for £99/$149, but it’s cheaper if you look elsewhere. Currently it costs £64.99/$97 from Amazon.
That’s by no means the cheapest IP camera, but it’s cheaper than Nest (£159/$239), Y-Cam Homemonitor Indoor HDS (£129/$194) and others.
FEATURES AND DESIGN
At this price, it’s no surprise that it’s a 720p camera: 1280×720 pixels. There are four infrared LEDs for night vision.
The glossy black finish looks good, but it doesn’t exactly help the camera blend in. White cameras are less conspicuous, but you may not mind the camera being seen.
The plastic stand really needs to be mounted to a horizontal or vertical surface – plugs and screws are included – but it will sit on a shelf without tipping over. The balljoint lets you point it in a variety of directions, but once fixed in place you can’t alter it remotely. It’s an indoor camera, so you can’t install it outside.
It’s very easy to set up the camera using only your phone. You don’t need to hook up a network cable as with many cameras, as there’s no Ethernet port. Instead you flip a switch on the back to ‘Setup’ and then search on your phone for the camera’s own Wi-Fi network.
Then it’s just a case of choosing your router’s Wi-Fi network, entering the password and then re-connecting your phone to that same network. You’ll need to create an account via the app, just an email address and password, and name the camera.
With that done, you return the switch to the ‘Camera’ position and the app will show the live feed so you can adjust the angle to your liking.
The app appears to have been designed for iOS 5 as it lacks the look and feel of the latest versions. The Android app isn’t much better but does at least let you schedule when to receive notifications.
Design, however, isn’t reallly a problem compared to the lack of options and features available in both Android and iOS apps.
Motion detection is supported as you’d expect. You can set the sensitivity but not the area(s) in which to watch for movement. That means you can’t exclude any areas as you can with most cameras.
At least you can set the sensitivity. And instead of a slider which runs from ‘more sensitive’ to ‘less sensitive’ you choose from a list of sizes such as ‘dog’, ‘person’ or ‘car’. This works well and it prevents needless alerts when your cat walks across the room.
There’s a microphone so you get sound along with the video but there’s no option for alerts when there’s a loud sound. And unlike cameras such as the Nest Cam, there’s no speaker and therefore no two-way audio.
Another similarity to the Nest is the lack of options if you don’t subscribe to the cloud storage service. This costs £6.99/$10 per month and automatically records video clips when motion is detected. They’re stored for 14 days and deleted after that, but you can download and save any you like for safekeeping via the web portal (not your phone).
There’s a free 14-day trial before you have to start paying. It’s frustrating that BT broadband customers don’t get discounted or free cloud storage. And there’s no way to record to local storage. It’s cloud or nothing.
The minimum clip length is 8 seconds and begins when motion is detected. Unlike the Nest, your subscription does not include continuous recording. It’s more like Y-cam’s system where only the motion is recorded. But this means the clip may end before you would have liked, and some motion may be missed entirely. With continuous recording, like CCTV, you can go back to any point in time (limited only by your subscription – usually a maximum of 30 days) and watch events in real-time.
There is one other option: you can hit the record button when watching the live stream and take ‘photos’ within the app. These are saved to your phone’s camera roll. Unfortunately quality defaults to standard definition, which offers far less detail than the 720p HD mode. Even if you toggle to HD mode, it switches back to SD when you hit record.
You can watch clips recorded to the cloud in the Events tab in the app or online. In the app it’s hard to jump to a particular day or time, but much easier online.
Image quality is on a par with other 720p cameras, which means it’s pretty good during the day. You should be able to identify anyone walking within 10m of the camera, but we found that there wasn’t enough detail to read car registrations at that distance.
At night, quality is naturally worse and it’s not a patch on the Nest Cam.
- Network surveillance camera Audio Support: built-in microphone Digital Video Format: H.264 Video Modes: 720p (1280×720, 9fps) Infrared LEDs : 4 Sensor: 3Mp CMOS 1/3″ Lens Focal Length: 3mm Lens Iris: F/2.0 Horizontal Field of View: 78 degrees Vertical Field of View: 45 degrees Wi-Fi: 802.11b,g,n Requirements: Android 2.3 or later, Apple iOS 5.1 or later 1 year warranty
The Home Cam 100 is relatively cheap, but without the subscription it’s little more than a webcam. And even with it, you don’t get continuous recording and you can’t set an area for motion detection. The app is dated and needs a redesign, and ideally more features. BT also needs to rethink its subscription and offer alternative recording options so owners can take advantage of existing cloud storage they already pay for.