Y-cam Evo review: Smaller, cheaper, better than Nest Cam
Google’s Nest Cam has reinvigorated the market for simple, easy-to-use home security cameras in recent times, to the point at which they’ve become mainstream products. I’ve never come across one as small as the dinky Y-cam Evo, however.
It measures 12.8mm thick, is 52mm wide and tall, and weighs a tiddling 49g; it’s so small you could hide it barely noticed on top of a bookcase, or even in a hollowed-out hardback. Although it would have to be something fairly hefty: War and Peace, perhaps, or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Despite its tiny size, it does most of what you’d want a home monitoring camera to do. It can capture stills and video at resolutions of up to 1,280 x 720, has an infrared LED so it can see in the dark, a microphone to capture audio and a 100-degree field of view so if you pop in the corner of a room, it will be able to capture most of what goes on.[gallery:5]
Y-cam Evo: Setting it up
It’s very easy to set up, thanks in the main to its Bluetooth connectivity. My Android phone (there’s also an iOS app) detected the camera right away, took me through the steps for setting up a Y-cam account then connecting the camera to the local Wi-Fi network, and the whole process took less than five minutes.
At this point, you’ll have to find somewhere to mount the camera. You either can pop the Y-cam Evo on a shelf somewhere, or mount it on the supplied adjustable, magnetic foot. Since it has a standard threaded tripod mount, though, it’s pretty flexible.
It takes power via micro-USB, so you’ll have to site it near a mains supply, but the cable supplied is of a decent length so you should be able to get it mounted in a sensible place.[gallery:3]
Using the Y-cam Evo
Once you’ve got the camera going, there’s very little wrong with the way it operates. Image quality is decent, with clean, clear videos in good light, although it can’t match the 1080p capture of the Nest Cam. And although the single LED is powerful enough to illuminate a medium-sized room at night, the footage captured is a little on the grainy side.
You can set a single motion zone to trigger automatic video-clip capture, though, or watch live footage, and because there’s audio capture you could even use the camera as a part-time baby monitor.
There’s no way to trigger clip capture via audio, alas, but it is possible to set up the motion triggers so that they’re only enabled when you leave the house. You can only set this up on one smartphone, though, so the camera will continue to trigger alerts when anyone but you arrives home.[gallery:6]
The only other fly in the ointment is that, sometimes, the connection to the camera can take a while to kick in, with the live feed in particular often taking over a minute to appear.
The best thing about the Y-cam, however, is that it comes with free unlimited storage of your captured video clips for a rolling seven-day period. You can upgrade this to 30-day unlimited storage for £3.99 per month, but for most people, the free allocation should be perfectly adequate. And if you want to save clips, it’s easy to download them to your phone’s storage or directly from the web browser interface on the Y-cam website.
It’s certainly much better value that the Nest Cam. Google’s rival is not only more expensive to start with at £159, but it costs £80 per year to store your video for ten days, and there’s nothing free included. Admittedly, that gets you continuous video storage, not storage of motion-generated clips, but it’s still not as good value as the Y-cam.[gallery:2]
Overall, I like the compact Evo. It’s unobtrusive, really easy to set up and use, and at £129 it’s exceptionally good value, especially considering the seven-day video hosting that’s thrown in.
My favourite home-surveillance system is still Netgear’s multitalented, battery-powered Arlo system, but Y-cam’s baby is a great alternative for fuss-free home monitoring.