Withings Home review: Missing features hurt the Withings Home security camera

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Withings' Home has responsive push alerts and its air-quality sensor gives you ongoing access to carbon-based toxin readings.

The Bad This DIY camera doesn't currently have an Android app, a Web interface or the ability to save recorded video clips. The motion sensor is much too sensitive and its 1080p claims are questionable.

The Bottom Line Extra features make Withings Home an attractive webcam or baby monitor, but its inability to store footage and a trigger-happy motion sensor maker it much less useful as a security camera.

7.0 Overall
  • Features 7.0
  • Usability 7.0
  • Design 8.0
  • Performance 6.0

At $200 -- £170 in the UK -- the Withings Home is priced to compete with the Dropcam Pro, the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro, the Icontrol Piper and other highly rated DIY cameras. (Availabilty and price in Australia is yet to be determined.)

But, there's a problem: the core features that make these competing cameras so clever are partly missing from Withings Home. Yes, it has live streaming, two-way talk, night vision, motion, sound and even air quality alerts, but it can't record and save clips -- instead you get pieced-together time-lapse photographs -- its overactive motion sensor sends alerts when no apparent activity has taken place, and there's currently no Android app or Web interface. I also question its 1080p video claims; its resolution was good, not great.

That said, the Withings Home could work well as a webcam or a baby monitor (it offers nightlight and lullaby settings); I just wouldn't recommend it as a security device.

Environmental sensors help distinguish cameras like Icontrol's Piper and Piper NV from other standalone options. If you're interested in information like ambient light, sound, temperature and humidity, Icontrol's cameras are excellent. But, that's only because their basic features -- live streaming, free cloud storage, alerts and more -- form a solid security camera foundation.

Strip away any of those elements and you end up with something much less recommendable, something that focuses on the bonus add-ons and neglects the basics.

That's precisely where the Withings Home runs into trouble. It's a very nice-looking camera, complete with fancy extras like a magnetic base that lets you angle the camera without a complicated hardware-heavy install, an air quality sensor that picks up on carbon-based volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and nightlight and lullaby settings, but it doesn't do particularly well when it comes to core security camera features.

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A look inside the Withings Home iOS app. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Take the motion sensor. It is extremely sensitive and there's no way to customize it within the iOS app. So, while it worked well when I deliberately triggered the sensor, it also sent me dozens of "phantom" notifications. I first noticed this when I received an alert around 2 a.m. The office was closed at that time, so I checked the saved time-lapse photo sequence, concerned, only to find that no security event had taken place.

After that, I received dozens of similar alerts at times when the office was vacant and no apparent activity had been captured. This was pretty disconcerting, since you're supposed to be able to rely on the camera to zero in on the important stuff, like someone walking in front of the 135-degree diagonal field of view, and ignore the rest -- or at least give you the option to customize the settings so you can ignore the rest.

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