Homeboy review:

Homeboy isn't just another Dropcam Pro clone

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MSRP: $149.00
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CNET Editors' Rating

1 user review

The Good Homeboy is a reasonably-priced rechargeable DIY security camera designed to last for months on a single charge.

The Bad It doesn't have live-streaming capabilities or HD video quality.

The Bottom Line Homeboy's simple, untethered approach to DIY home security handles the basics beautifully and frees you from any would-be bandwidth or storage concerns.

Available at Homeboy $149

7.6 Overall
  • Features 7.5
  • Usability 8.0
  • Design 7.0
  • Performance 8.0

Homeboy is a bit of a security camera rebel. Rather than copying other DIY models, this nonconformist security camera company decided to do its own thing.

Its $150 camera (international availability is slated for 2015, but there's no pricing information just yet; direct conversions would be about £95 or AU$170) doesn't have live streaming or HD video, so don't even think about Homeboy if you want a webcam or prioritize top-quality resolutions. Instead, Homeboy focuses on mobility via a long-lasting, rechargeable battery. This makes it possible for you to mount your camera pretty much anywhere -- anywhere indoors, that is -- and still enjoy the benefits of motion-related push and email alerts, night vision and free 30-day rolling cloud storage.

Despite its more minimalist take on DIY security, Homeboy also has a built-in siren, arm and disarm modes tied to your phone's GPS location as well as its own IFTTT channel. These factors combine to create an elegantly-executed security camera that gives you just enough functionality without taking up a ton of bandwidth.

Homeboy is a white plastic camera about the size of a billiard ball. It comes with a detachable magnetic base so you can easily set it up on a flat surface or use the included adhesive to mount it to a wall. The camera itself has a large magnetic section so you can rotate and re-position it as needed for just the right angle.

For a paired-down DIY security camera, Homeboy has a lot of features. Still, it won't look particularly impressive in a side-by-side comparison with cameras like the Dropcam Pro . That's because Homeboy purposely took a different approach -- focusing instead on freedom of movement and simplicity rather than continuous cloud storage and comparatively-high bandwidth requirements.

Homeboy's lithium polymer battery is designed to last for up to three months before needing a charge. The company points to its low-power Wi-Fi tech as the reason for Homeboy's impressive battery life. It also claims that only 500 milliseconds pass from the time the camera detects motion to when it starts to record video. I didn't really have a way of testing that particular claim, but it definitely captured events as they were happening, rather than missing the action.

Homeboy's camera captures video at 640x480, which, unlike DoorBot , wasn't particularly bad. Of course, it wasn't as sharp as cameras with 720p or higher, but I was able to easily make out what was happening in the saved clips in both day- and night-vision modes.

homeboy2.jpg
Viewing saved clips and scrolling through the camera's timestamped activity log. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

I like that Homeboy has arm and disarm modes that can tie into your phone's GPS locator. Enabling the "arm with GPS" feature automatically armed the camera when I left and disarmed it when I returned. Similar to setting a home and away schedule, I received motion-related push and email alerts while I was out and I didn't have to worry about receiving them when I returned. You can disable or override this feature, as needed, but I found it to work extremely well -- especially since I didn't want hundreds of clips of myself walking back and forth.

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