Xiaomi’s entry into the broader ecosystem of products has been long awaited. With their tremendous success in the smartphone business, savvy Indian buyers have had an eye one the robust portfolio of Xiaomi products available in China. As it turns out, the company too is very interested in getting these to India one step at a time. Last week, Xiaomi took some time out to launch a broad spectrum of appliances and non-smartphone products. The Mi Home Security 360 camera is one such product that follows Xiaomi’s standard process of undercutting the competition in terms of price while offering an experience that is almost as good. Let’s take a closer look.
The Mi Security Camera 360 is a coke can sized device that looks quite a bit like the cutesy sci-fi robot, EVA from ‘WALL-E’. The design is inoffensive enough to simply hide away in the corner and isn’t an eye-sore in case your set up requires it to be visible. We’ve seen a spate of flat profile security cameras lately and before you ask, the Mi Security Camera isn’t one because it is capable of moving along the horizontal and vertical axis. You might find it hard to find the microSD card slot at first. For whatever reason, the slot is hidden away under the camera module and you’ll need to push the camera up just a bit to gain access to it. It is highly recommended placing a card here before you get the Mi Security Camera all set up.
Setting up the camera is a pretty straightforward affair. You’ll need to download and set up the Mi Home app on your phone. Plug in the camera and after a brief calibration, the camera will suggest a voice prompt stating that it is waiting to connect. At the time of publishing, we had to change servers in the Mi Home app to the Asia Server to get the camera running but this will likely change in the coming days. The Mi Home app quickly detects the camera and you’ll then need to point a QR code at the camera so that it can finish the set up process. It’s all very straight forward and even a non-tech savvy person shouldn’t have much trouble getting the camera running.
Once set up, the camera displays a live feed within the app interface. Pinching out reveals the full frame of view. Overlaid on top are shortcuts for turning the speaker on, taking a screengrab, recording video, video resolution and to stretch the video to full screen. The software does a good job at gauging available bandwidth to switch between low and high resolution streams but you can toggle these manually too. The prominent voice call button brings up ability to hold a 2-way conversation using the built in microphone and speaker. The speaker is loud and fairly clear so you should be able to use the camera while monitoring children or similar use cases. The camera can do full zone or selective motion detection.
Tapping the monitoring button reveals a list of all the cloud notifications. For longer duration saves, you are required to place a memory card in the camera. The app also makes mention of a NAS storage feature allowing you to backup footage to a NAS drive, but we were unable to make this work with our Synology NAS drive. In terms of cloud storage, you can adjust the frequency of messages down to a 3-minute cycle which is too far apart to be a reliable security option. Sure, Xiaomi lets you store 10 second clips of notifications in the cloud but the lack of a longer duration or even full time cloud backup solution is disappointing. For a company consistently doubling down on their services business, the lack of even a paid cloud storage option is disheartening.
A virtual D Pad lets you easily move the camera around to point at whatever you want. Unfortunately there is no roving mode built into the camera which puts a dampener on the entire motion capabilities. What this means is that there is no way to set the camera on a sweeping motion to capture more of the space it is set in. Additionally, since motion detection takes place only within the camera’s frame of view, the camera will already be pointing at the subject. We’d have liked a wider frame of view for IR based motion detection with the camera automatically moving to point at the subject. Xiaomi claims that the camera has 360 degree vision and 96 degrees of vertical vision. While that’s technically correct, you can realistically get that only if you go around swinging the camera using the app. In practice, the camera still has a very wide frame of view and the app does fish eye correction to compensate for it.
The camera can of course be mounted upside down and a software toggle is available to flip orientation. The mounting bracket too is included in the box.
Picture quality, both with video clips and images snapped from within video clips is rather good. During the day, the camera broadcasts crisp Full HD footage and the in-video snapshots continue to have enough resolution and accuracy to identify any miscreants.
Night time shots are just as good, both in low light and absolutely no light as well. The shot above was taken with a single table lamp in the room. Not only is there sufficient detail but the camera is able to pickup pretty accurate color detailing.
In zero light conditions with no lamp or light, infrared based video/image capture is once again, surprisingly good. There’s more than sufficient detail here to identify whatever you might be looking for in your footage!
The thing about security equipment is that people are willing to spend a bit more for a product that gives them peace of mind. Xiaomi isn’t really known for their home security hardware which means their work is cut out for them in a market that isn’t necessarily as competitive on price points.
Of course, the product speaks for itself and the Mi Home Security Camera 360 nails the hardware aspect of things. The image quality is excellent and you can move the camera around to capture a full 360 degree image. Straight up thought, you might want to look at options from more established players like Hikvision for outdoor use where the possibility of a bad-actor destroying/stealing your camera is much higher.
Features like on detection FTP, Email uploads as well as cloud backups are essential for such use cases. Software on the Mi Security Camera 360 definitely requires a bit more polish and the need for a fully fleshed cloud backup solution is certainly felt. The Mi Home Security Camera 360 is a great option if you want to keep an eye on your cubicle / pet / child / house while you’re away. The price point of Rs. 2,699 makes it an even better deal.
It will go on sale from 10th October, Midnight on Amazon.in, Flipkart and Mi.com and will be available soon from Mi Home stores.