D-Link Omna review: D-Link's HomeKit camera is nothing to write home about
If you're sold on the HomeKit platform, the $200 D-Link Omna camera might be for you. Everyone else should steer clear.
Megan Wollerton has covered technology for CNET since 2013. Before that, she wrote for NBC's Dvice.com (now SyFy). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.
D-Link's $200 Omna security camera captures 180 degrees of zoned motion activity and promptly sends related push alerts. View locally saved videos in the app and download unlimited clips with a microSD card reader. Ask Siri the status of your security camera to pull up the live feed.
The Omna doesn't offer sound alerts or work with Android devices. Its HomeKit integrations are limited to a relatively small number of compatible devices, especially when you compare it to Amazon Alexa.
The Bottom Line
Don't buy D-Link's Omna camera unless you're completely dedicated to HomeKit and are willing to wait for a broader range of products to work with the smart home platform.
The $200 (£160 and AU$260 converted) 1080p HD D-Link Omna is a fine security camera, delivering prompt motion alerts and storing activity locally on a microSD card. It's also the first camera to work with Apple's smart home platform, HomeKit.
Yes, this integration is a milestone for the iOS 10 software, but HomeKit still has far fewer integrations than competitors like Amazon Alexa. You can still set up automations within Apple's Home app that link the motion sensor inside the Omna to select HomeKit devices, but there just isn't much feature depth here (yet). Because of that limitation, the ability to view your Omna camera's live feed from Apple's Home app isn't hugely appealing today.
The Omna is very much a niche product, one that only makes sense for early HomeKit adopters who don't mind waiting for broader, better integrations.
The Omna has a light silver-gray finish and a tall cylindrical design, with access to a microSD card slot on the bottom (it supports up to a 128GB microSD card, which isn't included). It's a fine looking camera, but D-Link's hardware choices don't necessarily make it easier to use.
Conversely, the Nest Cam Indoor has an extremely thoughtful layout. Its durable but flexible magnetic base twists and rotates with ease, and you can separate the camera from its base for a more permanent wall-mount installation. In other words, the Nest Cam's design enhances its usability.
The Omna's design is much less modular than the Nest Cam's. It doesn't have a flexible base, and you don't have the option of mounting this camera to a wall. You have to put your Omna on a flat surface, or nothing at all.
Curious how the Omna's specs compare to other DIY cams? Take a peek at the chart below:
Comparing security cameras
Nest Cam Indoor
Netgear Arlo Pro
Rechargeable battery, power adapter
Yes, with Nest Aware
Field of view
Free 3-hour event-based snapshots (Optional 10-day or 30-day continuous recording and storage with Nest Aware subscription for $10 or $30 per month)
Free 7-day event-based video clip storage (Optional 30- or 60-day event-based video clip storage with Arlo subscription for $10 or $15 per month)
Yes, via microSD card slot
Yes, iPhone only
Yes, Android and iPhone
Yes, Android and iPhone
Motion and sound (Person Alerts added with Nest Aware)
Motion and sound
Yes, with Nest Aware
Works with Nest, IFTTT
IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings
Aside from its 1080p high-definition video streaming resolution and HomeKit compatibility, the Omna camera's main selling point is its 180-degree field of view. This wide-angle lens sees more than the Nest Cam Indoor, the Netgear Arlo Pro and many other DIY cams on the market. The video gets somewhat distorted at the far corners of the feed, but that's a common issue with 180-degree lenses. That problem was even more exaggerated with the Piper Classic and NV security systems we tested.
The Omna also offers local storage, which is a significant deviation from many of the mainstream models' optional cloud subscription services. Here's an overview of local versus cloud storage, but the gist is that local storage doesn't pass through a remote server. Instead, your video footage stays in your house. One major complaint about local storage relates to theft -- it's a lot easier to steal a microSD card than it is to access a remote server's video cache. On the other hand, you don't have to worry about the reliability or security limitations of a distant server.
Finally, D-Link's Omna doesn't currently have an Android app. Since it's a HomeKit device, that isn't incredibly surprising. But plenty of HomeKit-enabled products are versatile enough to work with both Android and iOS -- you'd just ignore the HomeKit component if you're an Android customer. August's second-generation Smart Lock immediately comes to mind as an example.
But this just isn't the case with the Omna. Even the Omna's native app -- also called Omna -- is heavily tied to HomeKit in terms of design and configuration. If you aren't invested in HomeKit, the Omna camera really isn't for you.
The Omna iPhone app doesn't have a login or a registration process. You don't have to enter your email address and wait for a confirmation message to appear in your inbox. Nada.
Instead, you simply open the app and select "Add Accessory." Make sure your Omna cam is powered on and that the mobile device you're using for configuration is on the local network you plan to connect to your camera. Then, you wait for the app to recognize the Omna camera. This didn't work for me right away, so I moved closer to the camera, and presto! (See screenshot below.)
Continue to follow the instructions in the app, including scanning the HomeKit code located on the camera and adding the camera and its built-in motion detector to specific rooms in your house. I tested my Omna in the CNET Smart Home living room and labeled it accordingly.
Now, you're ready to use your camera in the Omna app or in the Home app. The camera and its motion sensor should populate in the Home app automatically as two separate "accessories." The Omna app allows you to adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensor and set motion zones. The Home app doesn't have this functionality, but you can view the camera's live feed from the Home app and incorporate the camera into select automations.
I created automations based on the Omna motion sensor detecting activity, such as, "If the Omna detects motion, then turn on all the lights." I was also able to ask Siri for the status of my security camera or for the status of my motion detector, which would either pull up the Omna's live feed in the Home app or simply reply that the motion sensor either was or wasn't currently detecting activity.
The motion detector and the related push alerts were responsive. The recorded video clips were easy to view in the app -- or view and download using a microSD card reader. The motion detection zones also helped me turn off detection in the area where our large Haiku ceiling fan is located in the living room. But the overall video quality wasn't quite as crisp as the Nest Cam's 1080p. Check out the two screenshots below to compare the Omna's live feed to the Nest Cam's. The Omna can clearly see more of the room, but the Nest Cam's picture quality is slightly better (even though they both claim 1080p HD).
D-Link's $200 Omna is a decent security camera. Its live feed and related alerts were reliable. Its motion detection zones made it simple to focus only on certain areas. Its 180-degree field of view lets you see more of a room, although you'll deal with some picture distortion as a trade-off. And the Omna's local microSD card storage gives you more control over your video clips.
The Omna is the first camera available for retail that works with Apple's HomeKit platform. While that opens up the Omna to integrations with other HomeKit devices and some Siri voice commands, Apple's smart home software is still behind the curve in terms of product partners. For that reason, the Home app doesn't offer the breadth of integrations I hoped to see at this stage in the smart home game. If you're already invested in HomeKit, the Omna makes a fine choice. Everyone else should hold off and see what's on the horizon.