Netgear VueZone VZSX2800 review

£246
Price when reviewed

Network video cameras are prevalent in the world of businesses, but for home owners they remain a rarity. The problem? Setup can be fiddly, and although many IP cameras are wireless, they still require mains power. Netgear’s VueZone system aims to rectify this situation.

Netgear VueZone VZSX2800 review

By using the low-powered ZigBee wireless standard, its cameras are able to operate using only a pair of CR123 batteries, so there’s no need to drill holes in walls or run cables to install them. In conjunction with the system’s magnetic half-dome camera mounts, which adhere to the wall with sticky pads, it’s possible to get the system up and running in a matter of minutes.

Before sticking the cameras to the wall, all you need to do is hook up the ZigBee bridge unit to a spare port on your router, pair the cameras with it and set up an account on the VueZone website. At this point, you’ll be able to view a live feed from the cameras from either a laptop, tablet or smartphone (apps for both iOS and Android devices are available) and change settings.

And because VueZone is designed to be a remote monitoring system, you can view your feeds from anywhere you like, inside or outside your local network, with no fiddly setup or port forwarding required.

The VueZone home monitoring kit we tested costs £247, which sounds pricey, but there’s plenty in the box. For your money you get two cameras – one day and one night camera – plus the bridge and a mains-powered LED lamp, which is powerful enough to illuminate a medium-sized room for night-time monitoring. Each camera has a motion sensor, which allows you to automatically record stills and video based on motion in the frame.

Netgear VueZone

What isn’t such good news is that to make the most out of the system, you have to pay a subscription. The basic service is free, but this will only allow you to view the cameras live, and record and still snapshots. To have the system record video clips, or add more cameras to the system, you need to pay £4 per month (or £35 per year) for a Premier account.

That’s pretty restrictive, but what makes it worse is there’s no option bypass this and record the cameras’ output to a local NAS drive, and the VueZone portal is slow and clunky. With no option to drill down even by specific date, browsing through hundreds, and possibly thousands of clips becomes a horrendously slow job.

The biggest problem, though, is with image quality. Because the VueZone cameras are battery powered and can’t be asked to carry out processor intensive tasks, both resolution and frame rate are limited. The cameras are able to record at a maximum of 640 x 480 at 3fps, or 320 x 240 at a mere 6fps. The resulting snapshots and clips are, as you might expect, severely lacking in detail, and don’t convey enough information to identify faces in clips. There’s also no audio.

Ultimately, the VueZone system simply doesn’t do enough to justify the price. It’s the simplest home camera system we’ve come across to set up and deploy, and it appears to be good value at first glance. However, the free subscription service level locks you out of too many features, the image quality is poor and the management portal is far too basic and clunky.

Warranty

Warranty RTB years2

Specifications

Sensor typeCMOS
Video frame rate3fps
Wired adapter speedN/A
WiFi standardZigBee
Power over Ethernetno
Motion detectionyes

Software

Web interface?yes
Software suppliedN/A

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