2019_01_20_22_25_23

Anker EufyCam E Review

This morning we are going to do something a little bit different from the normal fare.  If you have read this blog for any length of time you know I have specific opinions of brand partnerships.  However at the start of the year I was contacted by Anker Innovations to see if I was interested in reviewing any of the products in their Eufy product line.  Now I have specific requirements when I consider reviewing a product.  First and most important, I expect to have full control over the process and want to make sure that I am not getting into a situation where the vendor is expecting a fluff piece out of me.  Secondly it should be something that I am actually interested in, and that I think my readers would actually be interested in.

The Need

To the first point Anker was extremely open to however I wanted to review the product, and to the second point I’ve had a want for years that one of their products solves.  Our house offers some odd problems, and one of them is the fact that there is a door length window beside the front door.  As such there is no angle of approach that the person on the other side of the door cannot see you.  This is an issue if you want to stealthily see if you actually want to open that door, and to complicate this there are often times I am upstairs in my office when the doorbell rings.  Additionally there are times when my wife is home alone and as such we have been looking for a solution that allowed us to check who is out there before making an effort to answer.

The challenge in our case however is that we don’t have a great source of power on the front porch.  There are a number of doorbell replacement options that would normally work in this situation, however in our house the doorbell is not in a forward facing position but instead is on the sidewall of the porch.  This means that even with a crazy fisheye lens set up that most of those have… I would be capturing a picture of the persons backside and not be able to see face or anything to actually identify who was there.  So as a result this has largely just sat as an unfilled want…  that is until Anker contacted me about the EufyCam E.

The Product

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The claim of the EufyCam E is that you can effectively charge it once a year, and from that point forward it only needs connectivity to your wireless network to dial back in to the home base unit.  This seemed to fit my need perfectly, so I agreed to participate in the review process.  A few days later the package arrived on my doorstep drop shipped from Amazon.  I unpacked everything in the box so you could have a visual reference for what all comes with the unit.  Here is a breakout list of everything you see above.

  • Eufy Security Base Unit
  • EufyCam E Security Camera
  • Indoor Magnetic Mount
  • Outdoor Swivel Mount
  • Mounting Hardware with Anchors
  • Slimline Ethernet Cord (approximately 4 foot)
  • Power Adapter for Base Unit
  • Home Security Sticker
  • Quick Start Guide
  • 16 Gigabyte SD Card (pre-installed in base unit)

The magnetic mount works extremely well, and quite honestly I am not sure why it is not considered to be outdoor compatible.  However I personally chose to use the outdoor mount since I would be placing the camera attached to the ceiling of my front porch and hanging down looking at the front door.  There is effectively a third usage mode that is not necessarily covered in the very limited quick start guide, but the device itself has a thick grippy rubber pad on the solid flat underside so you could in theory place it on a bookshelf or other similar surface.  There are some challenges with this that I will get into later.

The Setup

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The Setup of the device is largely straight forward and while there is a quick start guide, the bulk of the instruction resides within the Eufy Security App that is available through both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.  You need to connect the base unit to your wired network, and for most folks this will mean placing it beside your wireless router.  There are some challenges surrounding this, but again I am collecting those into their own section of this review.  Once powered on the device will find your network and the light on the front will turn white signifying that it is ready to be configured.  This is where the mobile app comes into play, and the above screenshot shows off some of the screens that it walks you through in the process of getting configured.

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Once the home base has been configured you can then add a device, and since this kit comes with a single EufyCam E, I configured that but it appears to support a wide range of other devices that may not yet be on the market.  Once again you are given a sequence of screens to walk through as you go through the mounting process including one that gives you a live preview to assist in placement.  I did not screenshot this sequence as I was a little busy trying to attach the mounting hardware in the position that I actually wanted it.  The above picture shows the placement of my unit and because of the angle of the overhang and the relatively small size of the EufyCam E unit it also makes it largely undetectable from the street. The connection is nice and sturdy and fairly easy to preposition, while at the same time not being too easy that it is susceptible to the pull of gravity.

The Functionality

The EufyCam E comes with motion detection functionality, and the app does a good job of alerting you any time it senses motion.  After using it for a bit it does a fairly good job at not being triggered by things like leaves blowing across the field of view.  It also has let me know that the outdoor cats that I have talked about more than a few times on the blog are coming to visit way more often than I realized.  The above video is an example of the short clips that are stored each time it detects motion.  These are stored to the SD Card on the base unit and can be exported to a directory on your phone.

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It also seems to do a really good job of handling low light situations and switches into a black and white image like the above picture that I exported last night.  Of note… there is no light at all on my front porch and I had turned off the inside light just to see how well it handled little to no ambient light.  All in all I am pretty happy with the device and its functionality.  It is currently in a pre-release state and as such I have not been able to find any real world pricing on it.  Anker lists the device as $259.99 as its Manufacturer Suggested Retail price, but ultimately the market will determine how much of a discount is applied to that in retail.  For my needs it does what I wanted it to… provided a camera that I can use to check the front door without needing wired connectivity back to either network or power.

The Challenges

The biggest problem I had with the EufyCam E and its Home Base unit is the fact that there is very limited documentation.  I covered the golden scenario as far as set up goes, but when I went through all of those steps and encountered problems…  there was nothing in the very slim manual to actually help me through troubleshooting the process.  The first challenge is as I said before… the home base device requires an Ethernet connection and since most of us do not have RJ45 or fiber run through our walls that means you are going to snuggle this up beside your wireless router.  This meant the Home Base was located fairly centrally in my house, but not necessarily close to where I would be using the camera.

Upon the initial set up I kept encountering a problem where the EufyCam E stated that it had limited to no connectivity back to the home base.  This made no sense to me as standing on my front porch I had full bars of wifi on my phone and pretty much any other device that I drug out there.  So when it said it had limited connectivity, it must not have mean’t wifi.  I theorized that I needed to move the Home Base closer to where I would be using the camera and as such needed to figure out how to get a wired connection elsewhere.

Now if you have read this blog for awhile you will be familiar with my Wireless Ethernet post, where I took an AC1200 wireless repeater and used it as a very heavy duty wireless dongle.  I happened to have a spare one of these and opted to install it near the entertainment center which is about 8 foot away from the front door.  After some fiddling and rearranging, I got the Home Base installed there and sure enough this immediately resolved any connectivity I had between the EufyCam E and the Home Base.  So not only does this mean that you need a wired connection for the Home Base…  but that wired connection needs to be pretty close to where you intend to actually use the EufyCam E.

This was something that I could personally mitigate because I happened to have spare hardware on hand that I could utilize, but this might prove to be more of a challenge for other users given its very “quick startup” approach on the documentation that expects everything to follow the ideal path.  If I could change anything about the device I would beef up that documentation and make it clear to the consumers that you have to have that base station within a very short distance from the EufyCam E.  That also presents the challenge of how this would function in a multi-cam set up.

The Conclusion

I traveled down this path in part because I trusted the Anker name.  I went through my Amazon purchases before sitting down to write this post and over the years I have picked up a dozen or so products by this company.  They range from spare batteries to replacement chargers and even a usb-c dock, all of which have worked just as well as I expected them to.  They were also willing to let me review the product however I chose and gave me the freedom to say whatever I wanted about it.  I had a need to fill, which was to provide some sort of a security camera cable of watching the front porch without the need for running dedicated network or power.  In all of those the EufyCam E has lived up to my needs and I find it downright useful to be able to check the front door from bed when the motion sensor trips.

The downsides however are the fact that it is designed for an ideal scenario where you have conduit in the walls with network connectivity run to every room.  Most of us have our wireless router in a back office somewhere and not necessarily close to the area where you would want a security camera.  So that means that most users are probably going to need to do some fiddling to make it work.  Essentially you are trading the hassle of getting dedicated power and network run to the location of the camera…  to doing some internally rerouting to make the device fit the need.  All of that said though… I like it quite a bit and will probably be looking to add a second camera or two for the back of the house when The EufyCam E starts being sold retail.

If the $259.99 price point is within your budget, this product does a good job of what it is supposed to do.  I of course will provide updates as I live with it over the coming months.  I can probably wrangle some discount codes in the future if any of my readers are interested in that sort of thing.  Now I need to stop writing and go put out some food on the front porch…  since during this entire process my ticwatch has been buzzing and one of the outdoor cats keeps checking to see if I have fed yet.

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