Wireless surveillance cameras are handy but expensive. Ezviz shows that the C3A is cheaper too – and we tested that cheap can be good as well.
The number of burglaries is indeed in 2018 for the first time in over 10 years sunk againHowever, the fear of such an incident is great in many people. For a culprit not only steals property and may even spoil the furniture, but penetrates into the privacy of the residents – with sometimes long-lasting psychological consequences.
A remedy is promised by security cameras. They should deter burglars, because they can be identified later in the optimal case. In addition, IP cameras allow direct communication with the perpetrators and / or the triggering of alarms. Not always it is possible to supply such recording devices in the desired places with electricity, here wireless WLAN cameras come into play. Such a camera is the Ezviz C3A of the Chinese manufacturer Hikvision, which is one of the largest providers of video surveillance products. Our test model is in direct competition with Arlo cameras (review) – and looks like this.
Overall, the Ezviz C3A is as big as a flat tennis ball: narrower, but a bit higher. The case made of white plastic looks sufficiently high-quality, because of its curved shapes, the camera on the bookshelf does not catch the eye as a cold, technical object. The structure corresponds roughly to that of the Arlo cameras: The rear area can be opened with a push button, underneath is a cube-shaped battery, as well as a slot for microSD cards. In addition, there is a receptacle on the back for a included wall mount and a micro-USB port. In the front part of the housing is the actual camera unit with lens, microphone, PIR sensor, Photodiode, LED power indicator and speaker. At the top of the housing is the only control button of the device, labeled "SYNC".
At one point, there is criticism of the processing: The lens of our test camera was unfortunately not properly glued. This is not very high quality, but did not restrict the function of the camera. According to the manufacturer, the camera is protected against water and dust according to IP68 and can therefore also be used outdoors. But that seems risky: The cameras are light and small and are likely to disappear depending on the site quickly.
Unlike Arlo cameras, which need to be connected to a base station, users of the Ezviz camera have the choice: Either they buy a set consisting of Cameras and base station or they get one alternatively single camera – both work. We tried a single camera for the test, which we connected to an existing Wi-Fi network. This works just as easy as the name of the product (EZ Viz – Easy Videos) promises: Simply the app on iPhone or Android smartphone (Play Store), create an account and follow the instructions in the app and the English language output of the camera. After barely two minutes, the recorder is ready for use.
We tried the wireless surveillance camera Ezviz C3A with an Android smartphone. The app is divided into three main areas: the start page with available cameras, messages with camera records and general settings to areas such as Account and Cloud.
In the camera settings you get by a tap on the name of the camera. Here it is possible to determine whether the camera should also record audio, if an indicator LED should illuminate during activity, if the camera switches to infrared in poor lighting conditions and much more. In the area of the messages chronologically listed screenshots of motion-triggered recordings can be seen.
The general settings allow to invite additional users who are allowed to access the camera. You can also change account settings such as username and password, turn off push messages when the camera is activated, adjust cloud settings such as payment methods, and more. Something disturbing is the fact that the back button of Android does not lead back to previous menu levels, but the app ends.
In contrast to the past, Web access via a browser is no longer available. Instead, the manufacturer offers the Ezviz Studio software, which enables access to the cameras from the computer.
Like the Arlo models, the Ezviz camera magnetically attaches to the wall mount included in the scope of delivery and can be positioned very freely due to the spherical joint. Alternatively, the C3A is also safe on even surfaces. The functionality is simple: If the motion sensor detects the Ezviz C3A movement, it activates the camera recording and sends a push message to the smartphone app. The recording will normally take 15 seconds, after which the camera will turn off to save energy. Longer-lasting activities will never be seen later. Activation of the camera by acoustic monitoring does not take place. A definition of certain image areas in which no recognition occurs is also missing.
The picture quality is quite appealing. 1080p is the manufacturer as a resolution, the sharpness is correspondingly good. The typical distortions of the 120-degree wide-angle shots are not calculated out. Problems also make strong brightness differences in the recording area, due to the poor image dynamics drink details in darker areas. At the same time, bright image areas burn out. This can limit the installation possibilities quite well: Who wants to guard a patio door, recognizes the photos behind probably hardly anything, because the camera must either adjust to the daylight behind the door or the dim light inside the apartment.
The situation is different when the light decreases so much that the camera switches to infrared light. It only takes up in black and white and details are reduced. However, brightness and image clarity remain high up to a range of around 5 meters. With a greater distance the illumination decreases. The detection rate of the motion detector is adjustable in three stages. At low setting the detection range is up to 3 meters, in medium and high settings the range increases to 5 and 7 meters. The detection of motion is indicated by a blue LED, the camera recording by orange LED light.
The camera allows 2-way communication. Accordingly, an agreement via app with persons is possible, which can be seen in the viewfinder. The sound from the small camera speaker is pretty quiet, while the sound recording via the microphone is sufficiently loud and clear. Sound and picture quality strongly depend on the strength of the WLAN.
The battery of the Ezviz camera has a capacity of 5500 mAh. Hikvision promises that a single charge of 10 alerts a day will last about 3 months. In theory, this corresponds to a continuous recording of just about 75 minutes, but this does not take into account the energy that the camera needs in standby. During the test period, when much of the camera was being played around at the beginning and tried a lot in the app, the battery sometimes lost almost one percentage point per hour. In everyday life, however, a real term of about 2 months should be possible.
The problem with this is that the more triggers, the more video recordings, the shorter the battery life. As the user can neither set up trigger areas nor disable the camera automatically via geofencing, probably countless shots per day are expected, which show the user himself. Not only is it bad for battery life, but most users may not like it because they feel spied on in their own homes. Incidentally, a base station extends the connection area via WLAN and can thus ensure better battery life.
One way to automate certain things is through the service IFTTT, Numerous recipes then help, for example, to put the camera on its own when entering the home in sleep mode or turn on the motion detection light. On word hears the Ezviz camera via Amazon Alexa skill and also using the Google Assistant. There is no support for Apple Homekit. To fully exploit the possibilities, the user not only needs smart speakers, but smart displays like Lenovo's. By voice, the user can then disable cameras or view live images on his smart display.
Alarm videos or manually recorded screenshots land on up to 128 GB microSD cards. The slot for the cards is located inside the camera body. In the case of a break-in, where the offender finds the camera and immediately takes along, then the images are lost. Therefore, the manufacturer also offers a cloud service, in which the camera sends records directly to the server of the company via the Internet. If the burglar then steals the camera, at least the shots are still available.
But that has its price. Hikvision charges at least € 5 per month per camera after the first free trial month – or € 50 per year. But the manufacturer keeps recordings a week ago and overwrites them again afterwards. For monthly 10 euros or in the discounted annual subscription for 100 euros, records are safe for 30 days in the cloud. That's pretty expensive with four or five cameras – especially since the devices themselves cost about 100 euros each. Over time, cloud storage spend will quickly exceed the hardware price of the camera many times over.
Data is sent encrypted to Hikvision's servers. Incidentally, they are in Ireland and should at least in the theory of European data protection and the DSGVO subject. If you want to use a language assistant, you must disable the data encryption.
Two C3A cameras cost together with the base station W2D at the time of testing from 291 euros – there are only a camera and the base station of competitor Arlo. A single camera is currently available for about 127 euros, the price was already around 100 euros.
The Ezviz C3A surveillance camera is strongly reminiscent of the Arlo Pro 2 (review). It looks similar, comes without cables and provides an almost as good picture. It even offers an advantage: apart from the lower price, it does not require a base station. The installation is simple. There are disadvantages in direct comparison but also. Features such as geofencing are missing from the Ezviz app, the alarm siren function of the Arlo-Cams (comes from the base station) as well. In addition, the Hikvision cloud service is quite expensive, at least for several models. So really cheap is the Arlo competitor so not an interesting alternative, however, already.