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Smart Home

The new Wyze Cam v2 is still only $20

The best cheap Wi-Fi camera just got even better -- without a price increase. Plus: See "Black Panther" (or any other movie) for just $5.

CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!


wyze-cam-v2

New model, same price: $20. What!

Wyze Labs

There are good deals, and then there are stupid-good deals. No-brainer deals. How-can-that-possibly-be-so-cheap? deals. Today's deal is all of the above.

Remember the WyzeCam? I named it one of my favorite tech deals of 2017, though with the lurking suspicion that it must be too good to be true. Sure, they'll get us hooked on this cheap model, then hike up the price on the next one. Or start charging for cloud storage. Or secretly sell footage to "America's Funniest Home Security Videos."

Nope, nope and (as far as I know) nope. The Wyze Cam v2 is here -- or at least available for preorder, with delivery expected by the end of this month -- and although it has a few notable improvements and a new space in its name, the price hasn't changed. It's still, impossibly, $19.99. Shipping adds $6, but gets a little cheaper if you buy more than one unit.

Same form-factor, better innards

Like the original, the Wyze Cam v2 is a cute little white cube (now with a glare-reducing matte finish) with a built-in adjustable stand. Wyze supplies adhesive metal and magnetic plates so you can mount it just about anywhere, no screws required.

You also get a 6-foot Micro-USB power cord and AC adapter. (Particularly cool: You can daisy-chain up to three cameras off the same power supply, allowing for close to 360-degree monitoring if you arrange them in a circle.)

The v2's 110-degree wide-angle lens can capture 1080p (HD) video, though you can also toggle into SD mode if need be. That lens is powered by a "powerful new CMOS sensor," one that promises better image quality in both daytime and nighttime video.

Also new: motion-tagging, which "detects and highlights motion" in both live-streaming and playback modes. In other words, now you can zero in much more quickly on any movement in your videos -- helpful for viewing on small screens.

Speaking of which, your phone or tablet can snap a photo or record video, but if you want continuous or time-lapse recording, you'll need to pop a microSD card into the camera's slot. And the camera still requires an app for viewing, recording, setup and the like -- you can't yet access your video feed via a browser.

Because it supports night vision (thanks to four infrared LEDs), you could set one up in, say, a front or back window for 24-hour home-security purposes. The app can alert you when the camera detects motion or sound, and it will automatically cloud-save 14 days' worth of detection-alert videos -- at no extra charge. Update: Several readers have indicated that the infrared LEDs won't work through a window, so night-vision security may not be viable for this kind of setup.

Finally, the Wyze Cam v2 incorporates both a speaker and a microphone, meaning you can use it as an intercom. A new audio chip promises to "significantly [reduce] TDD interference and EMI," whatever those are.

OK, so what doesn't $20 buy you?

I haven't had the chance to test-drive a v2 yet, but I do have some experience with the first-gen. It's an amazing little camera, one that works more or less as advertised -- though, like the v2, it's limited to 10 frames per second (fps), which means you don't get silky-smooth video even under optimal circumstances. It's good enough, just not stellar.

What's more, the camera can't pan or tilt, and its zoom capabilities are strictly digital (up to 8x). It's not waterproof, either, so I wouldn't recommend rigging one up on your porch.

The truly remarkable thing is that Wyze Labs managed to make small but useful improvements to the camera without raising the price a single penny. Needless to say, it's already on the short list for Best Tech Deals of 2018.

Your thoughts?

Bonus deal: Have you seen "Black Panther" yet? Neither have I, but it's at the top of my list. Assuming you're not already seeing it for "free" via MoviePass or Sinemia, here's your chance to get a ticket on the cheap.

For a limited time, you can get any movie ticket for $5 when you install the Atom Tickets app and use code FEBMOVIES at checkout. This is for new users only, and it's good for just one ticket per user. (There may be other limitations and restrictions as well. And as with any such app, be sure to check the company's privacy and data-use policies.)