Have you ever wondered how you can improve your home security or just been overwhelmed with the amount of gadgets and gizmos on the market to help? There are lots of ways to improve home security with better locks, house alarms and security cameras but all these options are expensive, aren’t they? Not necessarily.
A good way of keeping an eye on your home (especially when you are not there) is with a smart security camera. Smart security video cameras are becoming more and more popular, especially with systems like Ring and Blink. I have been trying out the budget-friendly TP-Link Tapo C200 Pan/Tilt Home Security Wi-Fi Camera and it is a relatively inexpensive way of adding indoor smart video surveillance to your home.
The TP-Link Tapo C200 Pan/Tilt Home Security Wi-Fi Camera is a smart indoor video camera with some excellent features:
- 1080p High Definition Video Streaming at 15fps
- Night Vision up to 30ft
- Pan and Tilt (360° horizontal and 114° vertical range)
- Sound and Light alarm
- Two-way Audio
“The Tapo C200 Pan/Tilt Home Security Wi-Fi Camera is designed for users to protect their homes and keep track of their loved ones. Equipped with 1080p resolution, 360° horizontal and 114° vertical range, and up to 30ft of night vision, Tapo C200 delivers a high-quality live viewing experience day and night. With a built-in microphone and speaker, users can take advantage of Two-way Audio via the Tapo app to keep in touch with their family anytime, from anywhere. Its Motion Detection and Activity Zone features will send a notification to a user’s smartphone once suspected motion is detected.”
The Tapo C200 indoor security camera is a budget camera and in the box you get:
- Tapo Pan/Tilt Home Security Wi-Fi Camera
- Power Adapter
- Quick Start Guide
- Mounting Screws
- Mounting Plate
- Camera Base
When hearing the words “security camera” and “DIY” a lot of people will automatically think that it will be difficult to install and have cables running everywhere. This is a misconception and the Tapo C200 is very easy to install and setup, literally taking a few minutes. It can be free standing on a shelf or mounted to the ceiling with the only cabling required being the power cable, so it just needs to be in close proximity to a power socket.
Before finding the best position to site it, it is best to set it up first and this is very easy. Download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play (the app supports Android and iOS). Plug in the camera and wait for the LED on the front of the camera to start blinking, alternating between red and green. Press the + button in the app to add your camera and select the Smart Camera C200. Follow the very simple instructions to complete the setup – it won’t take long and doesn’t require a great deal of technical know-how.
Once setup and paired with your phone or tablet you can find the best room and position to site for maximum effect.
It has a weighted base so it can be free standing on a shelf without the need to wall or ceiling mount, but to get full room coverage you are probably best to mount it to the ceiling using the included mounting plate. This has been made extremely easy as a transparent sticker has been included that has where you need to drill holes – just stick the sticker to the ceiling where you want to mount the camera and drill two holes through the circles on the sticker. You can then place the supplied anchors into the freshly drilled holes and screw on the mounting plate. Attach the camera to the mounting plate by placing the camera on the plate and rotating it to attach firmly into place. Just a note, if you are mounting it on the ceiling remember it is a mains powered device with no battery backup so it does need to be sited near a power socket (power cable is 2 metres in length).
Once installed, the app connected, and the camera placed into the best position in your home you will need to add a MicroSD card if you want to record and keep video footage. In can support up to a 128GB memory card. A memory card is not supplied with the package so you will need to purchase one separately. The card slot is easily accessible below the lens, tilt the lens up until you can see the slot and the reset button. Insert your new card and use the app to initialize the card (do not format it on a PC).
Now all you need to do is adjust your settings within the app – notifications, marked positions etc.
Now I have it set up and placed where wanted with settings adjusted for my needs, what do I think of it? To be truthful, I thought that because it is a budget camera it would have budget quality, but it is excellent. I am very impressed.
The nondescript look doesn’t look anything special (and it is only available in white) but it is packed with features.
It is very easy to set up and operate using the very simple, but well-designed app. The quality of the recordings in the day are very good quality (in full colour) and the night vision recordings are equally as good, just with a black and white image. It only records at 15fps, so isn’t as smooth as it could be but is more than acceptable. It supports a 802.11n 2.4Ghz wi-fi connection with a speed of up to 150Mbps and so far has been very stable (this will depend on the quality of your wi-fi signal, ISP provider, bandwidth and of course where you site it). Just make sure that it is not sited on something that will give a reflection at night as it will ruin the night vision and not give a clear image.
It is also equipped with a motion detector sensor. When motion is detected, door opening or someone entering the room, a notification is pinged across to your phone or tablet. You can then use the Live View function to see exactly what is going on (it has a second or two delay). If that wasn’t enough you have other options with this function. When motion is detected the camera can sound a siren and flash the lights on the camera to make the intruder aware that there is an alarm and that someone will be aware. There are two small issues I found with the motion detector function. Firstly, I felt the siren could be louder, it is quite low and I couldn’t hear it from upstairs. Secondly, the camera doesn’t automatically follow the motion – this has to be done manually by the app user.
The camera is also equipped with a speaker and a microphone and allows two-way communication. Once you see there is an intruder in the house you can easily inform them that you are monitoring and recording them and that the police have been called, hopefully this will scare them off as they won’t want to spend any more time there to increase their risk of getting caught (and hopefully hearing a voice will make them look up at the camera giving a clear image of their face).
It also has a “Call Home” feature. You just press the button in the app and can talk to your family at home whilst you are out. It doesn’t ring, just allows you to start having a conservation straight away.
It also features a Privacy Mode so that when you are home you are not recording everything that is happening.
The Pan/Tilt function is excellent, allowing you to pan around the pan around the room 360° on the horizontal and 114° vertically. You can even saved marked positions so that you can easily go back to the correct angles for viewing the best positions like doors and windows. Just mark your positions, name them and when you select that position the camera will automatically go to that position.
There is no cloud storage with this camera and all recordings all stored locally on the MicroSD card. This has its advantages and disadvantages. You don’t have to pay out a monthly subscription to make sure that your recordings are stored away from the camera, but on the other hand, if the camera or SD card were removed you would have no footage at all.
And for those social media junkies, there is an option within the app to share your recordings to your favourite social media sites.
Overall, despite being a budget camera the Tapo C200 packs a punch and it is an extremely good camera. It is very easy to install (there are no instructions but the app talks you through it) and easy to monitor with the app interface being very robust (it can even be integrated with Amazon Alexa Echo Spot, Echo Show, Fire TV and Google Assistant). The two-way audio along makes it great for speaking to other family members when away from home but the siren could be louder. Recalling saved recordings is simple and they are all date and timed stamped. And the Pan and Tilt function is excellent, easy and virtually noiseless when in operation.
A budget camera that is a lot better than its price suggests. It would make a perfect addition to your home security measures, won’t break the bank but will give the clear images needed.
If the siren could be made louder and the option of cloud storage as well as local MicroSD card storage were added then I think it would be perfect.