worthing's profile
Advocate

Advocate

 • 

417 Messages

Mon, Sep 27, 2021 8:01 PM

The Outdoor Camera Is Not A Very Good Product (And Here's Why)

I've had the Outdoor Camera for a few weeks now and I want to provide my feedback on it. I'd love to hear some feedback from SimpliSafe on this, especially around the pricing for the accessories.

First, the good:

- Packaging

Whoever designed the packaging for the outdoor camera did a bang up job. There's not much wasted space, everything fits in nicely and it is, in a word, "slick". Seriously, kudos on this.

- Hardware Design

The hardware itself feels solid and the plastic feels nice. The design is pretty modern as well. This feels like a huge step up from the SimpliCams.

- Set Up

Set up is a breeze. Easier than my Video Doorbell Pro or my 3x SimpliCams for sure. Very streamlined. This was a welcome surprise after the struggle many of us went through to set up previous cameras on a router where we can't differentiate the SSID for 2.4/5GHz bands.

- Image Quality (Day)

The video quality during the day is pretty solid. It's objectively better than my Video Doorbell Pro and my Wyze Cam v3. Colors are good. Motion is smooth.

Now, for the not so good (or downright bad):

- No AC Adapter

To be fair, most of us don't need yet another USB to AC Adapter but some of us have moved on to USB-C entirely and might not have an adapter compatible with your cable. More importantly, you're charging $170 for a camera and there's no AC adapter? My Wyze Cam vs3 cost $35 each and they come with a much longer cable than you all provide and an AC adapter.

- Battery Life

I've had my camera since September 11. I went through a full charge in about a week and I'm at about 70% now after another week. I've had motion detection set to high and spotlight off as well as the detection grid enabled. For a good chunk of this time my camera hasn't even been properly installed - it's just been sitting on my fireplace mantle staring at the ceiling. I (and more than a few others) are not seeing anywhere near the estimated battery life. I understand that I'm using settings that aren't "default" but as I've mentioned elsewhere I don't believe the "default" really represents how many people will actually use your product.

- Motion Detection (Day and Night)

Abysmal. There's no other word for it. I installed the Outdoor Camera at the same height and about 6 inches to the side of my Video Doorbell Pro with detection/sensitivity set to high on both and the Outdoor Camera set to detect everything for testing. I performed a few tests but the most telling is when I walked from the street into my driveway, opened my car door, paused for a moment, closed the door and then walked into my garage ... none of which was picked up by my Outdoor Camera. (I back into my driveway and my car door is 25 feet or less from the camera, FYI.) My video doorbell pro detected me on the street (Edit: Which I measured at 61 feet from the camera!) before I even walked into my driveway and the clip it recorded showed me walk from the street to the car door. For reference, I am 6'5" so there's plenty of me to pick up on. Oh and did I mention it was 2PM and light outside? Night vision detection is even worse. It either doesn't pick up or it does but by the time it kicks in, I've moved past it, turned around, etc.

Edit: I want to make it clear that of all of the issues listed here, this is the absolute deal breaker. I can work around battery charges that don't last long but there's nothing I can do to make the camera detect motion better and that is literally the one thing the camera has to do well. Without proper motion detection there are no alerts and no recordings and at that point, what good is the camera for most of us?

- Image Quality (Night)

Abysmal. There's no other word for it. With the camera installed on my porch and pointing out to my front yard and my porch light off you can't see 10 feet in front of the camera. With the porch light on you can kind of see maybe 15-ish feet? (Please note, these results are very similar to my video doorbell pro.) By comparison my $35 Wyze Cam v3 in the same spot without the porch light on gives me color night vision and I can make out people walking on the far side of my street and generally determine what they're wearing, if they're walking a dog, etc.. (From my front door to the street is ~43 feet. It's 60+ feet to the far side of my street.)

- Connectivity

Frequent (but not always) long pauses to open and wake up and connect to the camera. Constantly dropping connection. Sometimes reconnects when I hit retry. Sometimes it takes minutes to reconnect. Sometimes I have to kill the app and start over entirely. This is with the camera installed on my front porch and my router less than 10 feet from it with sheetrock/wood/glass between it. As others have noted, it's a inconsistent experience.

- Software

While this isn't about the camera it does pertain to the camera experience. The interface is lacking some key features, imo. The ability to snapshot an image from the camera feed would be lovely. There's no wifi connectivity check in the camera settings. The status bar is difficult to read and I have no idea what it 'means'. Is it at 50% or 60%? Does that mean I have an estimated two weeks left or 2 months based on how fast the battery has drained so far? There's real room for improvement here.

- Value

The camera is too expensive for what it gives us. There are other cameras available with the same feature set for less and a few cameras with more features (including 2K resolution) for $20 more (or less than $170 if bought as a pack.) The big draw in theory is that the camera is directly tied to the rest of the SimpliSafe system but that only matters if the product works well. (See above) There's also no mount for us to or stand for us to use inside sitting on a bookcase or ledge or something which I find irritating.

Not only is the camera too expensive but the accessory pricing (with one exception) is outrageously expensive:

- $35 for a metal mount for the Outdoor Camera. This is literally the same price as an entire Wyze Cam v3! It's $15 more than the Outdoor Kit for the Simplicams which includes a mount, a cable and a rubber skin!
- $50 for the outdoor charging cable and AC Adapter. Fifty. Dollars. You're in Apple territory here for peripherals and to be blunt, it takes some balls to charge Apple money for something that is not an Apple product.
- $80 for the Solar Panel and charging cable. The pricing on this isn't too bad and is in line with some other manufacturers products but also more than a few as well. The pricing for this does highlight just how awful the pricing for the outdoor charging cable and adapter is.
- $30 for a spare battery. This is the only pricing that makes sense, honestly. The pricing for this also further highlights how outrageous the pricing of your other peripherals are. I can buy a lithium ion rechargeable battery for less than a metal mount? For almost half the price of an outdoor cable and AC adapter?

- Conclusion / Final Thoughts

I think some of these issues can be fixed via firmware / software but I suspect some of these issues are hardware related and here to stay. Honestly, I feel like I'm beta testing a product still that wasn't quite ready to go to market and I shouldn't have to pay for that 'privilege'. Barring significant improvements in the next few weeks I plan to return the camera and use the $170 to buy a few more Wyze Cam v3s with solar panels and still save a few bucks. I'll be irritated not having them tied into my security system but I can get more cameras for the same money, that work better overall, and offer features your products are lacking that I've now realized I want/need.

Captain

 • 

4.7K Messages

Il y a 1 a

@Worthing your post is very comprehensive and one's experience is a strong motivator. My experience is quite different than yours, but to start, I got the AC adapter out of the gate and have used it with the camera since day 1 (as I posted elsewhere anything with a battery never gets the life the mfg claims it gets).  Also, my camera is mounted approx 9-10 feet high on left front of my two car garage with the mount that came with it. Why do you need anything else to mount it? And as far as motion sensing, set to people only, no spotlight and it does what it was designed for....picks up people walking on the sidewalk, on my driveway (kids and their moms) or on my lawn (UPS or mail person taking a short cut to my front porch to be picked up by my doorbell pro.  (Possibly because mine is mounted higher and in the corner of the house? Angle?

Yes, I agree with you, the AC adapter is costly, but I am keeping my system in the Simplisafe ecosystem as much as possible. I stand by my original review.

Also, I don't need the extra battery, extra mount or the solar panel, so the overall cost comes down a lot.

Advocate

 • 

417 Messages

Il y a 1 a

@captain11,

I got the AC adapter out of the gate and have used it with the camera since day 1 (as I posted elsewhere anything with a battery never gets the life the mfg claims it gets)


Yes, you've mentioned this in almost every single post that anyone has made being critical of the camera or its battery life. :)

Also, my camera is mounted approx 9-10 feet high on left front of my two car garage with the mount that came with it.


For testing purposes my camera was mounted at a height of around 7 feet and pointed slightly down, maybe 10 degrees?

Why do you need anything else to mount it?


For outside use, a more secure mount would deter crimes of opportunity. For inside use, sometimes you just want to want to set a camera on a surface like a bookcase or shelf like you can with the SimpliCam. You can't do that without buying another mount which is a) $35 for some stupid reason and b) still requires you to screw it into something.

And as far as motion sensing, set to people only, no spotlight and it does what it was designed for....picks up people walking on the sidewalk, on my driveway (kids and their moms) or on my lawn


First, I'm genuinely glad that it works for you but that's not been my experience or the experience of several other people who have posted reviews of the product.

Second, how far from the sidewalk is your camera?

UPS or mail person taking a short cut to my front porch to be picked up by my doorbell pro.


As I noted above, my Video Doorbell Pro picked up movement at ~60 feet and started recording. It was only the Outdoor Camera that failed to detect all 6'5" of me when I was between 25 and 15 feet from the camera. I assume the doorbell has an edge here since it's always on and doesn't have to "wake up" since it's plugged into power.

(Possibly because mine is mounted higher and in the corner of the house? Angle?


Perhaps. Per https://support.simplisafe.com/hc/en-us/articles/4407853925133-Installation-for-the-Wireless-Outdoor-Security-Camera#h_01FDZG1P9Y78A43AXK49K4DWN3 the optimal height is between 6 and 8 feet and a 30 degree down angle. I was well within the 6 to 8 foot range but not within the 30 degree down angle.

I stand by my original review.


I didn't question your review or its accuracy (I didn't even comment in your review) so I'm not sure why you're sharing this bit. Your experience with the product can be different from mine and others experience with the product for a variety of reasons. Nothing in my review says that your review was wrong or inaccurate.

Captain

 • 

4.7K Messages

@Worthing  I referenced my review and acknowledged personal experience as reality to make sure you knew I wasn't questioning the accuracy of your post, just different results for whatever reason.  And yes, you and others have posted issues with the cameras, while others have had better results with it.  After reading the troubleshooting article closely last night, I went out and actually measured the height of the camera and it is approximately 9 feet. With it mounted on the furthermost corner in the front of the house, it covers the driveway, front walk and lawn at about a 45-degree angle. It picks up movement of people at the sidewalk which is about 25 feet out, but please note the property goes out further but my trees on the front lawn block anything out (at least while the leaves are still on) about 2/3 of the way in front of my property. From what I read, the angle may be a key factor here.
Other considerations: There is a street light directly in front of my house on the cul-de-sac. That may help, but it is my experience it is a negative for my doorbell pro.  BTW, if the doorbell pro is any indication of SS product history, its performance was not that buttoned up when I first installed it but works smoothly now.  I trust that SS through future firmware and phone app updates will do the same.
Thanks for expanding on the reason for wanting the permanent mount as it never occurred to me positioning the outdoor camera that way.

Finally, I do apologize if any part of my post offended.  Have a good one.

41 Messages

Il y a 1 a

In my experience, the sensitivity for both outside cameras has been good. I can now see that battery life for the front camera will not even come close to three months, so I am going to get the solar panel. For mounting inside on a shelf, just attach the mount to a piece of wood with enough weight to support the camera.

Great review and I look forward to SS making improvements to address the issues you brought up.

Community Admin

 • 

2.9K Messages

Il y a 10 m

Hi Worthing,

Thanks for putting all your thoughts together about the Outdoor Camera. Feedback like this is very helpful for guiding our engineers on what to improve. When we shared this post with our Product team, they even came back with some notes to help with my response.

I've mentioned this before, but we've got some updates on the way soon (already in testing!) that will address a lot of what you've mentioned, and significantly help the experience overall. Like a faster wake from sleep, as well as some tweaks that might aid in WiFi stability. Further updates will target easier WiFi troubleshooting  - including the connection check function that's already available for our other camera models.

We agree that improving performance of the motion sensor is a top priority. While we continue to work on those improvements, we have noticed that various environmental factors can play a role. A possible solution that could help for now is to try a different position for your Outdoor Cam, angled sideways. That might help the sensor more easily scan for intruders in the scene.

And the other big concern is battery life. Of course, you already know, a lot of it has to do with usage. That's why we suggest keeping the sensor set to People Only detection, and using Activity Zones - so that there are fewer false triggers, and the camera uses power only when it actually needs to. Our lab is also actively investigating rare cases of some cameras getting less than our estimate of 3 months of charge. For now, I'd suggest letting your battery run down to zero, and charging back to full - and let me know if you see an improvement!

Regarding overall value, the Outdoor Camera's charging cable is actually a good example of our approach to product development. It's not just an off-the-shelf part; it's specially designed to withstand a full range of weather conditions, plugs into your cam with a tight seal, and has a special AC adapter for the cam's higher power draw. It may seem simple, but it's a well thought-out bit of kit!

You mention that you were looking to return your Outdoor Camera, so you might have already. Sincerely, we thank you for giving it a try, and we hope that you'll be willing to try it again in the future.

- Johnny M.
SimpliSafe Home Security

5 Messages

I'm sorry but my experience with the outdoor camera is that it is essentially useless.  I originally had mine mounted where an intruder would come directly at it if he accessed my side yard.  If it would catch motion, it was only for about a second as the person passed directly in front of it.  So I moved it to where it would sit at a 90¬∞ angle to any intruder.  On the few occasions, when it activated, the image was so tiny as to be unusable in identifying anyone.  I could see someone had been there but I couldn't tell you whether it was me or someone else.  This is from a distance of about 20 feet to the side.

The bigger issue is one of connectivity.  99% of the time there is none.  Since I have two of these cameras, I lack connectivity with both of them.  The one in the side yard is about 25-30 feet from my Netgear X10 router (and through one exterior wooden wall).  What a waste of money.

I love the way the rest of my system works but this is one product that just isn't ready for prime time.

Captain

 • 

4.7K Messages

Il y a 10 m

@Johnny M as far as the AC power adapter, yes, it is "built like a brick.....house".  Given Chicagoland winters, I am not going to complain paying top dollar for a power source that's specially built for the camara, keep it weather resistant and perform as it should. I am solidly in the camp that this or any other outdoor cam must be AC or solar powered.  A battery just don't cut it in harsh climates.

6 Messages

Il y a 10 m

I purchased the outdoor camera and working great. Installed at the proper angel so people will cross in front of the camera not straight on and and motion detection is working perfectly.  Added the solar panel also to keep it charged.  Also added a TP Link RE220 Wifi Extender near a window close to the camera since the camera is mounted on a solid concrete block wall and far from my home router.  Only using the 2.4 GHz network on the extender, turned off the 5GHz.  Works great excellent reception now and also significantly reduced the time to start a live stream of the camera.  All in all very happy with the camera.  The two-way audio and notifications took awhile to start working after install, but working fine now.

3 Messages

Il y a 9 m

Yeah, these new cameras are a bit disappointing to say the least.



My Breakdown


  • The lead time to open the camera:

    It is extremely slow. I've clocked upwards of 20+ seconds to open and "wake up the cameras" before getting a live feed. If you put this against the other Simplisafe Camera's, this is very slow. You would literally miss the event by the time you get to a live feed.

  • The recordings are not optimal on any of the Simplisafe Cameras. The length and lead time of those recordings is an issue.

    The outdoor unfortunately carries the same. What I mean by this: Recordings are triggered on events as an example, like motion. When motion is detected the camera starts to record. What I have witnessed, most recordings start after the motion trigger. What this leads to is a recording picking up mid activity. Most competitors well have a lead time. Example: if the trigger starts, the camera will back port the previous 10 seconds prior to the trigger event. This allows the camera to record what happened *before* the event, so you can see the person running up stealing your package vs seeing their back as they run away. As an example.

  • What was an eye opener for me was putting Simplisafe's Outdoor Camera and Doorbell against two competitors (Yi and Kuna).

    Both competitors captured more recordings, they were both longer in length, and both showed what happened prior to the trigger. Whereas the Simplisafe missed a lot of events, the recordings were much shorter, after the recording triggered and there was quality issues with the recordings (some pixelation).

    Closing:


    To me these are deal breakers! I want a camera that shows you what happened as much in advance as possible, not after the fact. I also want one that captures events and not misses them. For that I'm on the hunt to replace the entirely of the system.