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Smart Home

7 tips and tricks for the $20 Wyze Cam

Get the most out of your cheap new security cam with these tips and tricks.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

A $20 home security camera that live streams video to your phone seems too good to be true, I know. But that's exactly what the Wyze Cam V2 is and does. 

This tiny camera and its phone app allow you to talk through the camera's microphone, keep tabs on your pets or watch as your children tear apart the playroom. After you buy one of these handy cameras, sit down and read through these tips to get the most out of it. 

Magnetic base

Pssst. Want to know a secret? The Wyze Cam has a magnetic base strong enough to hold the camera in place -- even upside down. You may already figured this out, thanks to the metal mounting plate included in the box.

SD card

wyze-cam-sd-card
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

A $20 camera naturally has some concessions. For Wyze, it's storage. You'll need to buy a microSD card. Actually, that's not entirely true. The Wyze Cam does offer cloud storage for 15-second clips when motion or sound alerts are triggered. But 15 seconds is barely enough to see what caused the alert, and not much else.

The Wyze camera supports a microSD card with up to 32GB of storage. In the Wyze app on your phone, select the camera you've installed the microSD card in, then tap on the settings cog in the top-right corner. Next select Advanced Settings, where you can format the card to ensure it works properly with the camera, and set the camera to continuously record, or only record motion or sound alerts. If you opt to record continuously, when the card fills up, the oldest footage will be erased to make room for new recordings. You will never lose the most recent footage.

Pinch to zoom

When viewing a replay of a video or livestream, you can zoom in or out using the familiar pinch-to-zoom gesture on your phone's display.

Timelapse

timelapse-wyze-cam
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

An underrated feature is the ability to create a time-lapse video using the Wyze Cam. Open the Wyze app, select the camera you want to use, then tap the three-line button labeled More > Time Lapse.

Set the start and stop times, and select how often you want the camera to capture a photo and tap Start. Once the time-lapse is finished, open the camera's Album (under More > Album) to watch or share.

Do not disturb

When a camera is placed in a high traffic area, receiving motion or sound alerts on your phone all day long is sure to get annoying.

Thankfully, you can dictate when you want the camera to send alerts to your phone. Open the Wyze app, select the camera you want to use, then tap the settings cog in the top-right corner, then Alert Settings > Alert Schedule.

Limit motion detection

wyze-motion-detection-box
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Motion detection isn't all or nothing on the Wyze Cam. In fact, you can tell the camera the specific area you want it to monitor for movement that will send you an alert.

To do this, open the Wyze app, select the camera you want to use, then tap the settings cog in the top-right corner, then Alert Settings > Motion Detection Zone. Toggle Full Screen to the off position, and then select Set detection zone.

Use each corner of the box to adjust and move around the area you want to be monitored.

Enable smoke and CO alarm alerts

Even if you'd rather not receive alerts for every sound and movement in your home or office, it's a darn good idea to at least enable alerts for when a smoke and CO alarm is triggered.

Open the Wyze app, select the camera you want to use, then tap the settings cog in the top-right corner, then Alert Settings and turn both alerts on.