Flir FX review: Flir FX can go anywhere you go

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The Good Flir FX has free cloud storage as well as a microSD card slot. It comes with a power adapter, but has a 4-hour backup battery, too. And, you can convert it into an outdoor or action cam, thanks to optional accessories (available for an extra cost).

The Bad Phantom alerts, activity log lag times and app glitches hold Flir FX back. It's also missing third-party integrations.

The Bottom Line Flir FX has cornered the market on adaptability, but it has some major limitations that make it tough to recommend in its current state.

6.7 Overall
  • Features 9
  • Usability 5
  • Design 7
  • Performance 5

At $200 (£163 on Amazon UK), Flir FX is a direct Nest Cam , Netatmo Welcome , Samsung SmartCam HD Pro and Piper competitor. Since DIY security cameras in the $200-plus price range are considered high-end -- and since this category as a whole is rapidly growing -- these brands are under increasing pressure to deliver both in terms of HD video quality and advanced features. (Availability in Australia has yet to be announced.)

Although Flir FX lacks third-party smart-home integrations like IFTTT and SmartThings , it has lots of options. It offers HD video streaming and recording, free two-day cloud storage, a microSD card slot for local storage, four-hour battery backup, a time-lapse video of the day's events, detection zones and optional accessories that convert the indoor Flir FX into either an outdoor security camera or an action camera.

Even so, this pricey camera suffered from frequent phantom alerts, in-app glitches that returned erroneous error messages and significant lag times between receiving motion or sound alerts and actually being able to view the saved clips in the app. Flir FX is versatile to be sure, but its well-roundedness doesn't translate to top performance. Consider Flir FX if security camera portability is your main concern. If not, I'd pass.

Versatility comes at a price

High-end security cameras tend to go above and beyond to distinguish themselves from less-expensive DIY models . Flir FX is no exception.

It brings 720p video streaming (that's a resolution of 1,280x720) and 1080p video recording (1,920x1080) to the table, along with free recording to a microSD card (not included, it supports sizes ranging from 8 to 64GB) and optional cloud services. Flir's basic cloud subscription gives you "unlimited" storage for up to two days and access to the video time-lapse and detection zone features. Seven-day storage costs $10 per month or $100 per year, and 30-day storage costs $20 per month or $200 per year.

If you tire of having a power-adapter-tethered Flir FX, you can pull the plug and enjoy the camera cord-free for up to four hours (when it's attached to the camera stand; two hours if you detach the camera from its stand) before it needs to be recharged. If that wasn't enough mobility for you, the Flir brand sells optional accessories designed to transform the indoor-only FX model into a weatherproof outdoor security camera, a waterproof sport/action camera or a dashboard-mounted car camera.

Flir FX Nest Cam Dropcam Pro Piper Samsung SmartCam HD Pro
Price $200 $200 $200 $200 $190
Color Black Black Black White White
Field of view (diagonal) 160 degrees 130 degrees 130 degrees 180 degrees 128 degrees
Streaming video quality 1,280x720 1,920x1,080 1,280x720 1,920x1,080 1,920x1,080
Cloud storage Yes, starts with two days of free storage Yes, starts at $10/month or $99/year for 10 days Yes, starts at $10/month or $99/year for 7 days Yes, saves up to 1,000 clips at no extra cost No
Local storage Yes, microSD card No No No Yes, microSD card
Night vision Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Mobile app Yes, Android and iOS Yes, Android and iOS Yes, Android and iOS Yes, Android and iOS Yes, Android and iOS
Web app No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Two-way audio Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Motion and sound alerts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Protocol integration No No No Yes, Z-Wave No

Looking at the side-by-side comparison above, you can see that no other camera in its price range offers both local and cloud storage options. And while battery-powered security cameras like the indoor-only Homeboy and the indoor/outdoor Netgear Arlo have some advanced flexibility over many of their peers, none of the models I've reviewed come close to matching Flir FX's versatility.

In addition to its basic motion and sound alerts, this camera also has temperature and humidity sensors so you can set customizable environmental notifications. But my favorite advanced feature by far is Flir FX's "Rapid Recap." Rapid Recap is a little tricky to explain, but it gives you a condensed time-stamped time-lapse video of all of the activity that's taken place within a specified amount of time.

Folks using the free two-day cloud option only get to create three Rapid Recaps per cycle, while subscribers at the $10 and $30 level have access to unlimited recaps. Check out the video below for a better idea of what Rapid Recap can do. As you can imagine, this feature would definitely come in handy if you want a quick look at everything that happened at home during a 6-to-12 hour period (free cloud service users can recap up to 6 hours, while paid users can recap up to 8 hours for the $10, seven-day subscription and up to 12 hours for the $20, 30-day subscription).

Rapid Recap in action. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The nitty-gritty

Before I could start testing out all of these features, I had to download the Flir FX app (it's available for Android and iOS devices) and follow the instructions to set up my camera. This process went smoothly, although the app doesn't mask Wi-Fi or account passwords, putting them on full display inside the app. I found that odd, since most other DIY security cam configurations take care to hide those details.

Flir FX in day- and night-vision modes. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

While I didn't have any other concerns or setbacks during setup, I did find the configuration process a little more involved than that of models like Nest Cam, which took all of 5 minutes. The Flir app even instructs you to charge your FX for at least 20 minutes before continuing to the next step. That isn't complicated, but it is a little inconvenient if you're hoping for "plug-and-play."

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