EverCam Anker ReviewBy - 04/27/2018
There’s been a lot of coverage of EverCam, the camera that’s already raised over $1.5 million on Kickstarter, and most of it reads the same. It’s the same information found on the company’s website and the same information found on Kickstarter, and it all lacks one critical quality: skepticism. On paper, the camera reads beautifully, and that’s proven by its success. But is there more to the story? What’s the catch? To find out I worked with Anker-owned Eufy, the company behind EverCam, who assigned someone to graciously answer some tough questions.
What is EverCam?
Before diving in, let’s summarize.
EverCam is a FHD 1080p, indoor/outdoor, wire-free camera. Like other wire-free cameras, it requires a base station to work. Like Blink, EverCam promises an extraordinarily long battery life though it makes some sacrifices to achieve this feat. Namely, EverCam doesn’t alert for all motion events. Instead, it filters for important events. Also, it can’t live stream continuously. However, in sacrificing such features, they’ve added other compelling features like facial recognition, door sensors, and a backup power supply.
EverCam vs. Arlo Pro 2 vs. Blink XT
|EverCam||Arlo Pro 2||Blink XT|
|Price for 2 Camera Kit||$499.00||$449.99||$229.99|
|Live Streaming||Max 120 Seconds|
|Field of View||140°||130°||110°|
|Person Detection||Yes, Plus Facial Recognition||Via Arlo Smart|
|EverCam||Arlo Pro 2||Blink XT|
|Motion Zones||Yes. Plugged-in Free, Unplugged With Arlo Smart|
|Other Alerts||Entry Sensor, Anti-theft Alerts||More Coming Soon via Arlo Smart (Animal and Car Detection)||Temperature Alerts|
|Alert Speed||Sent Post Event||Sent Post Event||Sent Post Recording|
|Geofencing||Coming Soon||Via IFTTT|
|Free Cloud Strorage||7 Days||7,200 Seconds|
|Paid Cloud Storage||Coming Soon|
|Local Storage||16GB microSD Card||USB Drive Local Backup||Coming Soon|
|Wire-Free||Requires HomeBase||Requires Base Station||Requires Sync Module|
|Battery Life||Cameras 1 Year, HomeBase 2 Days||Cameras 3-6 Months, Base Station 0 Days||Cameras 2 Years (Tested Much Shorter), Sync 0 Days|
|Battery Type||Rechargeable, Non-Replaceable||Rechargeable, Replaceable||Non-rechargeable AA|
|App||iOS, Android, Web App||iOS, Android, Web App||iOS and Android|
|Works With||Coming Soon: Alexa Devices With a Screen, Fire TV, Google Assistant, and IFTTT||Alexa, Alexa Devices With a Screen, Fire TV, Google Assistant, IFTTT, SmartThings, and More||Amazon Alexa, IFTTT|
Questions About Hardware, Battery Life, the HomeBase, and Door Sensors
Rose: In testing, I’ve found that the presence of HDR/WDR is as important as resolution, especially outdoors. Is that something you’ve added?
Anker: The camera doesn’t use HDR or WDR. We have added a Sony Exmor image sensor with noise-reducing technology for a clearer image.
Anker: Normal use is defined as 10 motion alerts per day, each accompanied by a 30-second video clip.
Rose: So 10 times 365 times 30 is 109,500 seconds. To compare, Blink defines normal use as 40,000 seconds of recorded motion clips and Live View sessions. Sounds like you might be able to make a year but some backers are concerned that part of your success in this area is attributed to lack of detection. For example, if a user wants all alerts (car, animals, trees, bugs) and not just person alerts, can they choose to do that?
Anker: Yes, users can adjust Motion Detection Sensitivity to filter out motion from non-human objects. However, we use a PIR sensor which detects heat so it might not pick up everything.
Rose: Can you record clips longer than 30 seconds?
Anker: Yes, you can record up to 120 seconds.
Rose: Have you tested your wake up time? (Time it takes the camera to wake up and capture motion.) What is it?
Anker: Moving objects with body-heat will wake up the camera immediately, and the camera starts recording within 0.6 seconds.
Rose: I read somewhere that the cameras connect to the HomeBase, not WiFi, can you tell me how that works?
Anker: The base station requires Ethernet so it must be connected to your router. The cameras use a proprietary, power-saving Wi-Fi protocol to communicate to the base station. The cameras can be placed up to 300 feet away from the base station, but distance is affected by a number of obstacles.
Rose: So the HomeBase has an Ethernet and power port. What else does it have?
Anker: There are four ports and two buttons on the HomeBase including a MicroSD card slot, Ethernet Port, Power IQ USB Charging Port, Power Supply Port, Restart Button, and a Dismiss Alarm Button.
Rose: “Power IQ USB Charging Port.” That’s a mouthful. So can I assume that this port is for charging and not for storage?
Anker: Right. The MicroSD card slot is for local storage. We ship the system with a 16GB card, but it can hold up to a 128GB card. The USB Charging Port is used to recharge the camera’s battery.
Rose: How many cameras can you connect to one HomeBase?
Anker: The system supports 16 cameras and 34 sensors simultaneously.
Rose: So the sensors connect to the HomeBase too. Can they trigger the camera to record?
Anker: Yes. They can also send an alert to your phone.
Questions About Video Clips, Storage, and the Mobile App
Rose: Let’s talk about sorting through video footage. How do you make this process easier for users?
Anker: By default, we sort footage by date. Users can view important events for the day or a selected day from all cameras. A calendar view helps the user identify which days have events for viewing. Secondly, users can select a specific camera to filter out events from only that camera. Also, users can tap a Trusted Person on the Facial Recognition portion to filter out events that contain that specific person.
Rose: So footage is stored locally but viewable from the mobile app. Can you pull the SD card from the camera to view footage from your computer?
Anker: No, but we will offer web-based viewing. If you subscribe to the $2.99 per month service plan, you can download clips from the web client. Also, you can use the app to download videos to your phone and then share them from there.
Rose: So it’s local storage that’s cloud dependent?
Anker: Right. The videos are encrypted and reading the encryption requires Eufy (Anker’s smart home brand) servers.
Rose: On your FAQ sheet, you mention that if your internet is down, HomeBase will save video clips locally and upload them to the cloud when internet returns, but only if you have a cloud subscription. Wouldn’t you still be able to view the footage using the app since it’s on the SD card?
Anker: Yes. When the system is offline, the app can still live-stream and access and download events as long as the smartphone is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the system.
Rose: Can you delete recorded footage from the app?
Anker: Yes, users can delete footage from the app.
Rose: Can multiple users have their own app login and password to view the camera or do you have to share a password?
Anker: We have designed a “Grant Access” feature for family members so that you can invite family members to view specific cameras and their event history. Family members will have their own account.
Questions Regarding Privacy of Data and the Future of EverCam
Rose: How are you able to offer advanced features like facial recognition without a monthly fee?
Anker: Our vision is to bring advanced technology to the consumer at an affordable cost. We put a lot of hard work into building the AI engine into the HomeBase so that the facial recognition can be processed locally, which not only improves response time, but also saves us cloud resource and expense, and eliminates the user’s monthly fee. The AI engine will get better with periodic cloud updates. This expense is covered by us.
Rose: So facial data is stored on the HomeBase?
Anker: There’s a dedicated AI engine with a database built into the hardware. Facial recognition is processed locally, and the facial data is stored in the local AI engine. But this function will keep getting better via cloud updates.
Rose: Will your customer service team be located stateside?
Anker: For the Kickstarter campaign, we will answer comments and questions on the Kickstarter page. When the product is shipped and officially released for public purchase, we have a customer service team located in Seattle, Washington.
Rose: Is the signal between the cameras and the HomeBase encrypted?
Anker: Yes, communication between HomeBase and the camera is encrypted. It’s based on a proprietary wireless protocol; laptops and smartphones cannot detect the network or be connected to it.
Rose: What stretch goals have you met thus far?
Anker: So far we have met two stretch goals: 1. We added an Alexa Integration so you can live stream and see recordings on your Amazon Echo Show device by giving commands such as, “Alexa, show me who’s at the front door.” 2. We now have sufficient funding to expand to Australia and Singapore. This option wasn’t open to backers originally due to the limited number of server services we could afford and development resources.
Rose: Will you support alternative storage options like RTSP, ONVIF, or NAS devices?
Anker: Yes, as long as the stretch goal of [$2 million] is reached. By then we will be able to support RTSP to NAS Implementation and Offline Downloading Implementation, this will allow our users to have more access and control over their video footage, without hindering security. However, ONVIF standard support is not on the roadmap.
Rose: If you could wave your magic wand and add a new feature to EverCam, what would you add?
Anker: We think a solar panel would be a great accessory for the EverCam system.
Rose: Who is providing your servers for cloud storage?
Anker: Our cloud service and storage is hosted on AWS in different regions.
Rose: What do you think your next step will be after shipping EverCam?
Anker: Our whole team will be dedicated to ensuring a good user experience for all of our backers. So the first thing is always to back the product with great customer service. This might sound very basic, but for a smart home product like this, we will need to invest lots of effort and resources to make it great.
Meanwhile, the Eufy Security team has a mission of providing consumers with a truly easy-to-use and secure product system, so more and more families can enjoy the benefits of home security. With that in mind, we will be exploring more products that work within the same system. The overwhelming support from [the] Kickstarter community has given us so much more confidence. We’ve received so many great ideas and suggestions from our backers. With a better understanding of what the consumer wants, we are confident in bringing more products into the family. You should hear from us soon on what’s coming down the line.
Rose: What do you think has contributed to the success of your campaign?
Anker: In a community like Kickstarter, I think every successful campaign finds its root in the products or idea. I think we are the same. We benefited from listening to people regarding needs and what their headaches are when it comes to home security. One thing we did that might sound crazy is we literally read through more than 10,000 reviews on Amazon, BestBuy.com, Walmart.com, and more websites, manually summarizing what people found most concerning or frustrating with their home security products. This process helped us tremendously. We know what matters and what matters most.
After talking with Anker, I feel more confident in the product and their plans for delivery. I think the most important takeaway is that EverCam isn’t a replacement for cloud-dependent camera systems. Yes, it uses an SD card. No, you can’t view your footage stored on the SD card without accessing EverCam’s cloud. If you can live with that, EverCam has a lot to offer.
EverCam is still funding on Kickstarter where a $219 pledge includes a reward of 1 camera, 1 HomeBase, 1 Entry Sensor, 1 16GB MicroSD Card, and everything you need to install the camera. To learn more about the project and other pledge rewards, head to Kickstarter.com.
Photo Credit: Kickstarter