Logi Circle review:

Logi's Circle cam proves that simple isn't always better

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Setting up the Logi Circle Home Connection Camera takes less than 5 minutes and the app is easy to navigate.

The Bad There's little to no customization of features and settings within the app and no third-party partnerships. The full battery lasts less than 2 hours and takes even longer to recharge.

The Bottom Line The Logi Circle is a decent webcam, but models like Nest Cam do a significantly better job for the same price.

6.0 Overall
  • Features 5.0
  • Usability 7.0
  • Design 7.0
  • Performance 5.0

Editors' note (August 31, 2016): Logitech introduced the Circle Safe subscription service today, designed to provide customers with optional extended video storage.

Logi, Logitech's new brand for connected devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, says that its $200/£159 Wi-Fi-enabled Circle Home Connection Camera isn't a security camera in the traditional sense.

For that reason, it wouldn't be fair to compare Circle to Icontrol's Piper NV , Homeboy or even free security camera apps like the Android-specific Salient Eye -- all options with clear security features, like built-in sirens and arm/disarm modes. But, Circle is supposed to compete openly with webcam-based HD models with light security features, such as the Nest Cam , Netgear Arlo , Flir FX , ArcSoft Simplicam and possibly, even Kodak's upcoming Video Monitor CFH-V20 , announced last week.

With 720p HD live streaming, two-way talk, night vision, a rechargeable battery, a scrolling activity log, 24-hour free cloud storage and a 30-second video recap of your day, the Circle cam appears to have potential at first, but you'll find flaws soon enough when you look at the related Android and iOS apps. Logi totally hijacks the user experience on the software side, keeping settings and features almost entirely under its control so there's no room for customization.

What you're left with is a watered-down webcam that can track what your pet does throughout the day, but little else. I'd skip Circle in favor of either Nest Cam or Netgear Arlo , two impressive HD cameras with a lineup of features that you can actually program to suit your needs.

At a glance

In terms of design, Logi Circle reminds me of Homeboy. It's an endearingly pint-size Wi-Fi- and battery-powered 720p HD cam, available in either white or black, that you can stick anywhere you want (indoors) for 24-7 access to a live video stream. The related Android and iOS apps act as your main point of access to the camera both during the initial setup and any time you want to watch current and past footage or enable/disable select features, like push notifications, night vision and power-save mode.

The app is very straightforward and the configuration process keeps things simple with a step-by-step tutorial that walks you through the entire installation. It includes charging the cam on its "charging ring" -- rather than a plug-in power adapter, Logi's Circle comes with a circular charger that sits flat on any surface -- entering your local Wi-Fi network details and waiting for it to connect.

It took all of two minutes. Then, the app will prompt you to create an account with your email and a password and that's it as far as setup goes.

Configuring the Logi Circle. Screenshots by CNET

A closer look

Now you're ready to explore the app in-depth and it boasts a couple of unique features. First, rather than giving you control over customizing any motion-related alerts, the Circle cam relies on something Logi calls "Scene Intuition."

More specifically, this camera is supposed to pick up on activity that happens in the house and automatically decide what is important and what isn't. That way, you shouldn't have to sift through a ton of footage to find something worth viewing. Instead, you should be able to scroll through Logi's curated activity log and watch only the events that matter.

Because there's so little functionality within the app -- and because Logi takes charge with its vague "Scene Intuition" feature -- there's no way to know exactly what's going on at home even with push alerts enabled. Logi treats Scene Intuition like a proprietary feature, but it's clear that it records video clips based on motion happening in front of the camera's 135-degree field of view. Even so, the push alerts only say that "Activity (was) detected on My Camera" rather than what specific kind.

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