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Guardzilla review: This budget security camera isn't the best guardian

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The Good At just $100, Guardzilla is significantly less expensive than many standalone DIY security cameras. You can use a microSD card to store video footage locally.

The Bad Guardzilla's motion alerts are sporadic at best, making it an unreliable security device. It snaps photos when it detects motion rather than video (unless you buy a microSD card and even if you do, you'll have to remove the card to view recordings since there's no built-in video-clip-viewing feature on the app).

The Bottom Line Guardzilla makes a fine budget webcam, but there are free app solutions like Manything, Presence and Salient Eye that do even more for less.

5.5 Overall
  • Features 5
  • Usability 7
  • Design 6
  • Performance 4

I first saw the Guardzilla home security camera at CES earlier this year and was intrigued. It definitely didn't dazzle in terms of specs -- it captures video at a comparatively low 640x480 VGA resolution, and has only a 89-degree horizontal field of view and other basics -- but at just 100 bucks it's much less expensive than the $200 Dropcam Pro and its other pricey peers.

During a time when companies (and many consumers) seem singularly focused on crisp, bandwidth-breaking 1080p video quality, Guardzilla is doing something different. And, at roughly half the price of its high-res competition, this quirky triangle-shaped security camera has clear appeal for budget-minded security seekers.

Sadly, Guardzilla doesn't quite live up to its name, as inconsistent-motion notifications hurt its security potential. Skip it if you're looking for reliable alerts, but it does make a fine webcam if you just want to spy on a mischievous pet while you're at work.

Guardzilla has some explaining to do

Given that there are quite a few look-a-like security cameras on the market today, I really appreciate Guardzilla's unique design. It's triangular and available in either a white or a black finish.

On the other hand, it's triangular, which means that it isn't the most discreet camera we've ever seen. That could be an issue if you're going for discretion (and let's face it, you probably are). It also doesn't look or feel particularly premium, although that's no surprise since it's only $100.

Getting my Guardzilla unit up and running was a little challenging at first, although the process had relatively few steps. You simply plug it in to an outlet, download the Android or iOS app and follow the instructions.

Once you've plugging in your camera and you're inside the app, it will direct you to connect to the Guardzilla Wi-Fi network. Then you just have to enter in a device name like "Living Room" or "Office," hit next and let it connect. This is where I ran into trouble.

Instead of connecting seamlessly and advancing to the app, the status wheel stubbornly continued to spin. I checked the Wi-Fi connection, reset the camera, made sure that I wasn't missing any firmware updates and so on to no avail. Ultimately, I took the camera home and it connected immediately. I still can't quite pinpoint what went wrong at the office originally, but I have successfully set it up there since.

Generally, as long as you're within range of a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network, you shouldn't experience any major issues. Still, it was surprisingly glitchy for such a straightforward pairing process.

Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Thankfully, accessing various settings and features inside the app is easy. The main home screen shows large Arm/Disarm, Monitor, Activity Log, Settings and Panic buttons -- the main options you'll be messing with on a day-to-day basis.

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