Tend Secure Lynx Indoor Camera Hands-On ReviewBy - 06/16/2017
The Secure Lynx Indoor camera from Tend is a sleek, feature-packed indoor security system that offers an irresistible benefit: it’s cheap. At just $59, this home security camera enters into a packed marketplace, but it comes in swinging with an impressive set of features. Considering the price of the new Nest Cam IQ, a sub $100 camera like Lynx that includes facial recognition, motion detection, and push notifications is rather inviting.
Tend Secure Lynx Indoor: Full Features and Comparisons
Of course, Nest Cam IQ isn’t the only face recognizing camera around. Lynx indoor will also have to contend with camera’s like Netatmo Welcome. Here’s how it stacks up against the competition:
|Tend Lynx Indoor||Netatmo Welcome||Nest Cam IQ|
|Resolution||1080p||1080p||1080p with a 4K Image Sensor|
|Two Way Audio|
|Field of View||125°||130°||130°|
|Usage||Indoor Only||Indoor Only||Indoor Only|
|Free Mobile App|
|Free Storage||7 Days||Via Dropbox||3 Days Snapshots|
|Works With||IFTTT||IFTTT, Stringify, Works With Nest|
|Facial Recognition||$10+/Month, Facial Detection Included For Free|
|Automatically Reconnections Post Power Outage||Sometimes|
|Buy Now||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site|
It’s hard to fathom how Tend is offering their device at only $59 when it shares so many similarities to both Netatmo and Nest. In speaking with my colleagues they shared that in their experience the difference is usually in the software. Tend’s pricing strategy begs the question: is the Lynx Indoor just a cheap camera or are other indoor camera makers up selling on the price?
After testing, I’m more inclined to think it’s closer to the latter. Nest does offer multiple advanced features with a Nest Aware subscription including intelligent sound alerts, motion zones, and continuous cloud recording, but Secure Lynx Indoor covers all the basics. The camera is well built, and despite a few issues with the way it’s designed to sit on its base, it measures up nicely.
Of the above features, Tend advertises the following most heavily:
- 1080p High Definition
- Facial Recognition
- Night Vision
- Two-Way Audio
- Motion Detection
- Instant Alerts
- Free Lifetime 7-Day Cloud Storage
- WiFi Connection
- Easy Setup
The Lynx Indoor also offers the following features:
- Recorded event video downloading through the app
- Bulk video deletion
- Recorded video sharing
- Live video stream sharing
- Notification scheduling
Lynx Indoor Features Review
Getting into the details, here’s how Lynx (model TS0020) holds up on its more prominent product claims and features.
1080p High Definition Live Streaming and Video
I found that the FHD video looked a bit grainy at times and clear other times. I found the night vision video quality to be particularly clear. While the video quality may not be as clear as more expensive cameras like Nest, I’ll go ahead and say that both live streaming and recorded video quality lived up to expectations.
You can do some interesting things with the live stream. Pinch to zoom was perhaps my favorite, allowing me to zoom in on different areas within the live stream frame. The zooming feature does not mean the camera itself can zoom, mind you. It just allows you to zoom in on parts of the live stream. You can also record video on-demand. Side note, it appears that Tend maxes out the video clip length at two minutes, regardless of whether motion is on-going, or you’re recording intentionally.
The Lynx Indoor recognized my face often, but at other times missed the mark when it seemingly should have recognized me. There were moments when it sent motion detection notifications stating I “checked in,” and other times recorded events indicated that the camera sensed movement from an unknown person, despite the fact that my face was clearly visible (at least to me, anyway). How your face is angled also seems to be pretty important, as does proximity.
Tend recommends the camera be angled at what is essentially chest-height to capture faces correctly. However, people aren’t all sized the same, so this is only marginally effective. Nevertheless, the camera was pretty good at correctly identifying faces from half a dozen feet away, even at night, though the feature isn’t flawless.
On occasion, facial recognition was a bit delayed from the time the notification and event record were received, which seems to indicate that the software running facial recognition is likely cloud based. Basically, I would receive a notification that there was an unknown person and later, the app would acknowledge that the unknown person was indeed me.
Another issue with Tend’s facial recognition feature is that it isn’t smart enough to differentiate a person from a pet. Yes, it marked my cat as an unknown guest.
If you want to improve the process, Tend allows you to take snapshots or upload pictures of yourself and others to help the camera learn who is who. Everyone in your family can conceivably be added, and you can add and delete faces as necessary. All you need to do is attach a name to each face, and that person’s name appears when motion detection notifications are sent, as well as appearing next to the video recording playbacks. In cases where the camera senses a human body but not a face, the recorded event will just show a human-shaped icon next to it.
The facial recognition settings are somewhat limited in comparison to Netatmo Wecome. Tend Secure Lynx lacks the ability to send notifications if someone is NOT seen. It also does not allow you to set the camera to privacy mode, even if it sees familiar faces. In fact, the only way to turn the camera off is to unplug it or to use the power button located on the device. You cannot turn the camera off from the app. You can turn off event recording, but the camera will still continue streaming a live feed.
The two-way audio feature worked well, but there were some wonky issues with it. For starters, it took me a few minutes to figure out how to make the two-way communication work. In retrospect, it’s pretty obvious, but I had to tap a few extra buttons in the app to get the audio going from my phone. To get started, tap the mic button, and you can speak into the device. Your audio will come booming out of the camera’s tiny speaker. You can scream to a burglar “Hey mister! I have you on camera!” or “Don’t forget to put the milk back in the fridge” to your teenaged son and be heard fairly well by anyone in the room or even from an adjacent room.
The Lynx Indoor is designed to always pick up and record audio, so you can hear what people in the room are saying to you without them having to push a button. However, you can turn off the audio on your live stream.
In my experience, there were two issues with two-way audio. First, the sound quality is not great. Second, there is a very noticeable sound delay. After you speak into your phone or into the camera, there’s at least a one to two second lag time. This is not a huge problem, and certainly not a deal breaker as the audio does need to transmit over the internet, but I’ve experienced more instantaneous communication over the web from much further distances than one room to the next.
Simply put, motion detection worked very, very well. There was never any motion that the camera did not pick up. I even set it up to stare out the window and it detected and recorded events from birds landing on my bird feeder. Motion detection works at night as well, even for outdoor activity. If you want the camera to look out of the window at night, you’ll need to turn the night vision off to prevent the glare from the small red LED light from reflecting on the glass.
You can adjust the motion detector’s sensitivity level so as to avoid having too much motion get picked up, and you can also turn on “Basic Motion.” I’m still unsure what “Basic Motion” does, however. Regardless, the settings make it easy to avoid getting too many notifications for small things, like the cat running around the house.
When motion is detected, you’ll get instant alerts. You can set the alerts on a delay or on a schedule to further reduce the amount of notifications you receive. When creating schedules, you can choose a start and stop time for any day or days.
Free Lifetime 7 Days of Cloud Storage
Free cloud storage is a good addition to an already feature-rich camera. I can’t say whether or not the “lifetime” aspect to this is real, but it did keep seven days of footage and the footage was easy to access and view.
Tend’s cloud storage policy feels a bit limiting, however. If you take snapshots or purposefully record from the live video, those files are saved directly to your device. Only the motion-activated event videos are saved to the cloud. There is no option to adjust the settings and change where videos are saved, although you can easily download your motion-activated events if you choose to.
The setup process was the only thing about the Secure Lynx Indoor that raised significant red flags. For the most part, the Lynx Indoor was an “easy setup,” such that there are only four pieces to the camera: the camera, the wall plug adapter, the USB cord, and the base. However, setup took me about 20 minutes.
The initial setup was slow for a few reasons. First, Tend requires you to connect to a separate WiFi access point projected by the camera, and then run the setup through the app while connected. This connection was the first problem. At times, my phone wouldn’t connect to it at all. Other times, it would connect but then the WiFi connection would drop and the setup would fail.
The other issue with setup was the base. It’s just…odd. As you can see from the product pictures, the camera has a plastic loop at the bottom that slides into the base. There is no latching mechanism, so physics takes over here. However, you can adjust the base with a small screw to fix it in place. This is not intuitive, but you’ll find this in the instruction manual. I imagine this is less of a problem if you mount it to the wall, but since you can only wall mount the camera with screws, I chose not to. You don’t need the base as you can place the camera on a flat surface, but the design was a bit strange, even with the ability to tighten it in place.
In general, I don’t think “easy setup” is a complete story here. It was “easy” in that there aren’t too many steps, but difficult in that many aspects of the setup are faulty. Perhaps “easy yet slightly frustrating setup” would be a better way to put it. Once you do get it set up, everything is golden. Just don’t unplug your Lynx Indoor, unless you’re ready to deal with the struggle of trying to reconnect the camera to the app. Sometimes it would load the stream back up, sometimes it would sit there at the load screen for the live stream, then fail and never connect at all, and then only work again after I deleted the camera from the account and readded it. From a home security perspective, this is a potential issue.
The App and Settings
The Tend app is solidly rated with a 4.0 on Google Play. I must say that it deserves every bit of that high score. I enjoyed my experience with the app, perhaps because of the several bad app experiences I’ve had recently. It’s easy, mostly intuitive, and works well. The settings are simple to manipulate and everything in the app, including the motion-detected push notifications, worked exactly as intended. Of the products I’ve tested, this one came with the most functional app and the first to mostly live up to its expectations.
My only issue with the app is the fact that there is no option for password recovery. At one point, I had to log out of my account to renew the camera setup. In my infinite wisdom, I forgot to write down the password. There was no password recovery option to be found. The account verification email you receive from Tend after first creating your account does not include your account information. This is a small issue, but one that is likely easily rectified.
Interestingly, there appears to be a section in the app for “Profiles.” They aren’t active, but it looks as if Tend may at some point allow you to set profiles for different types of event recording. The “Smart Filters” that currently don’t do anything include categories for people, objects, pets, cars, favorites, and a “highlight reel.”
Video sharing is fairly easy with the Lynx Indoor app. You can share recorded events, or you can share the live video. However, the live video sharing leaves something to be desired. You cannot share live video or even watch your live video on a computer. Tablet or smartphone devices (Apple or Android) are the only ones compatible. Also, you can email a share link to anyone who wants to view your live video, but they must also create an account and download the app. I would much prefer to be able to share the video without also forcing family and friends to download the app.
Shared video viewers do not have access to the motion activated events. As a default, this is good, although there may be times when you want them to have such access, like when you’re away on vacation and out of data range.
Here’s What Lynx Won’t Do For You
Among the many feats that the Lynx Indoor camera can pull off, there are a number of features that are now standard with higher-end cameras that are absent here. These include:
- Smart home integration
- Sound-activated events
- Event profiles (not yet, anyway)
- A privacy feature to stop the camera from streaming.
All told, some of these options were probably possible for Tend to include without impacting the low price tag. For example, it’s reasonable to believe that adding sound-activated events would have been achievable without a price bump, considering the camera already picks up and records sounds anyway.
At $59, the tech-heavy Lynx Indoor Camera feels like straight up theft. My biggest gripe with the Lynx was the odd base, the painful setup process, and the fact that the camera doesn’t always automatically reconnect if it loses power. Those annoyances aside, the only other notable issues I had, such as inconsistent facial recognition and slightly scratchy audio playback, are minor enough and common enough with other cameras as to be chalked up to regular technology limitations. Considering everything Tend puts in the camera, from two-way talk to night vision to motion sensing with push notifications and event recording, the $59 price tag is more than generous.
If you have the spare change, it looks like the Lynx Indoor is a very strong contender in the DIY home security market. I would almost certainly trust a fleet of these to protect my home. The lack of a siren won’t scare off any would-be intruders, but the fact that you can let them know you’ve caught them on camera with the two-way audio sure might.
The motion-activated push notifications are so effective on this device, alongside all of the other features, that it’s conceivable you may be able to pack your house with these and receive excellent security camera coverage for your home for a rather small investment.