Netatmo Presence review

The Netatmo Presence is the first security camera we’ve tested that doubles as a floodlight. It’s easy to install and it works well, too. It will detect people, animals and cars up to 65 feet away, sending alerts to your phone – and even your Apple Watch. See also: Best security cameras

Netatmo Presence review: Price

You can buy a Netatmo Presence for £249.99 from Amazon, Argos and Currys PC World.

It’s relatively expensive compared to some outdoor security cameras, but bear in mind that dimmable LED floodlights aren’t cheap. Also, and more importantly, there’s no monthly subscription charge: an SD card is built-into the camera and stores the footage. You can also set the Presence up to save video to Dropbox, or your own FTP server.

If this is out of your price range, consider the Y-Cam HomeMonitor HD Pro.

Netatmo Presence review: Design and installation

The best thing about the Presence is that it doesn’t look like a CCTV camera. The lens is at the bottom, but at first glance you notice only the light. If anything, the camera is easily mistaken for a motion sensor, so few people will realise they’re being recorded. (Note that the Protection of Freedoms Act sets out guidelines for using outdoor cameras in “a responsible way to protect the privacy of others”. )

Unlike other outdoor cameras, the Presence doesn’t have an inconvenient mains adaptor – few people have an outdoor socket, let alone right where they would want to install a camera. Instead, the Presence is designed to replace an existing outdoor light.

This makes installation a breeze – as long as you can drill the two necessary holes in your wall. Then it’s just a case of connecting the three wires which powered your old light to the chocolate block on the Presence.

Doing it this way means there are no visible wires a burglar can quickly cut, an no adaptor that can be unplugged.

Netatmo Presence review

Before mounting it, though, do check you have a strong Wi-Fi signal in that position.

The only issue is if you have multiple lights operated by the same switch, as those which aren’t replaced by the camera will be on all the time (or your camera will be switched off if you turn the other lights off). Netatmo says it has no plans to release a matching LED light without the camera.

You’ll need to install the Netatmo Security app and sign up for a free account to complete the installation. And as with any Bluetooth-equipped camera, this process is quick and simple and can be done entirely from your phone.

Netatmo Presence review: Features and performance

On the main screen of the app you’ll see each of your Netatmo cameras (including Welcome cameras) and an up-to-date thumbnail. You tap the play button to see the video feed (rotating the phone to portrait for full-screen) but below the thumbnail is a timeline of events.

Netatmo Presence review

These crop in on the subject detected, and you can tap one to bring up the full frame from the video. It’s a great feature, but if you play back the video it will start at the beginning rather than going straight to the action.

However, it’s a minor quibble. In general, the Presence reliably records the motion you want and doesn’t give false alarms. Plus, you can download any clip and save it to your phone’s camera roll. It’s best to do this when you’re at home on the same Wi-Fi network for the fastest speed, but you can do it remotely. However, there’s no progress indicator and you can’t leave it downloading in the background while you review other clips or change settings.

Videos are stored on the built-in 16GB microSD card (but you can replace this with a 32GB card if you want more storage space). When the card fills up, the oldest videos are deleted automatically. If you want to keep everything, you can link your Dropbox account, but the best option is to get the camera to send video to an FTP server, such as one running on a NAS drive. This way you can easily access the full-HD clips and the video will be safe even if someone steals the camera.

As part of the setup, you can name your camera and set up one or more zones for motion detection. You can create multiple zones, but they can only be rectangles and there’s a minimum size. This restriction is there because Netatmo uses an intelligent algorithm to detect what’s creating the motion in a bid to avoid false alarms. It can detect people, animals and cars.

Not everyone can choose the perfect mounting location and when mounted on a shed in a back garden we found we couldn’t avoid including a small tree in one zone and had a fair few alerts telling us a person had been seen, along with thumbnails of said tree. In the end, we deleted that motion zone and relied on another one.

Netatmo Presence review

The floodlight is nice and bright and there’s a slider so you can choose the brightness you want. The light can be set to on, off or auto mode. In the latter, you can set it to turn on whenever people, cars or animals are detected. You just enable the categories you want. There’s also ‘other motions’ as a catch-all for anything else.

If you prefer, you can set it to turn on whenever it’s dark. What’s missing is a timed option so you can have it on from, say, dusk until 10pm, so you don’t annoy your neighbours should it keep turning on through the night.

Also, we’d prefer the floodlight power control to be on the main screen rather than buried in the settings, or in an iOS widget so you can turn it on or off quickly. As it is, the Security app offers no iOS widget at all. There’s an Apple Watch app, and this has just been updated so you can add it as a complication for quicker access.

Netatmo Presence review

There’s no sensitivity slider for motion detection (there’s no need because of the intelligent detection) but it’s a shame there’s no way to specify which type of motion you want to watch out for in each zone. These are set globally.

You can turn the camera on or off by bringing up the settings, but there’s no scheduling to record at certain times or by using geofencing, so it disables recording while you’re home. For most people this makes sense.

It’s also good that you can choose when to receive notifications. Two sliders let you set ‘from’ and ‘to’ times. There’s also an option to get notifications only when nobody is home (which works only if you have a Netatmo Welcome camera too), and only for certain types of motion.

We found that alerts arrived on our phone (and Apple Watch) within a couple of seconds of motion being detected, and we were impressed at the accuracy of the algorithm. It could correctly identify a person moving in the garden roughly 60 feet away, and picked up a surprising number of animals roaming during the night when using its infrared LEDs.

Netatmo Presence: Specs

  • Outdoor Wi-Fi security camera
  • 4Mp sensor, video resolution up to 1920x1080
  • Field of view: 100 degrees
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz
  • Storage: 16GB microSD card included, optional Dropbox integration or FTP server
  • Floodlight: 12W, dimmable
  • IR night vision: detection up to 15m (50ft)
  • Dimensions: 50x200x110 mm
  • Outdoor Wi-Fi security camera
  • 4Mp sensor, video resolution up to 1920x1080
  • Field of view: 100 degrees
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz
  • Storage: 16GB microSD card included, optional Dropbox integration or FTP server
  • Floodlight: 12W, dimmable
  • IR night vision: detection up to 15m (50ft)
  • Dimensions: 50x200x110 mm

SHOULD I BUY NETATMO PRESENCE?

It isn’t perfect, it isn’t cheap and it lacks a few features we’d like to see added to the app, but overall we really like the Netatmo Presence. It doesn’t look like a security camera and the LEDs do a good job of replacing an existing outdoor light. Plus, it’s not difficult to install and there’s no subscription to pay.