Hive, a home automation company based in the UK and backed by British energy giant Centrica, built its business around smart home products sold in packs, with subscriptions for services like video storage. The Hive View camera is the company's latest product and first departure from the pack-based sales structure. Priced at $200 or £189 and available for purchase as a standalone product, the Hive View camera looks great and has more than a few interesting features, but not quite enough capability to recommend it over better cameras like those from Nest and Amazon.
Selling a product individually like this is a first for Hive. Could this indicate a shift in their sales strategy? I doubt it, but it's nice to see Hive giving consumers the option. The Hive View is currently only available in the USA, Canada, the UK and Italy, though for the curious in Australia, the $200 price converts to roughly AU$247.
Hive collaborated with Swiss designer Yves Béhar on the Hive View design, and it looks fantastic. The camera is available in two color schemes: black and brushed copper or white and champagne gold. A slim stand supports the camera's cube design with a magnet connecting the side of the camera to the base.
What makes the Hive View unique is the ability to detach the camera cube from the stand and take it anywhere in your home. Once detached, the camera gets its power from a lithium ion battery that's rechargeable, but not removable. That battery is charged by the camera stand (powered by a Micro-USB cable) when the two parts are connected, and it lasts a little over 1 hour on its own.
Like most indoor cameras, the Hive View captures video clips when it detects sound or motion. The camera records video in 1080p HD with a 130-degree field of view. A live color feed is available on the Hive app and includes one-way audio. Any video captured is available to view in the app for 24 hours or in a $6-per-month, 30-day video history service called Hive Video Playback.
The Hive View also includes person detection, which you can turn on or off. That means pets, ceiling fans or other moving objects won't trigger notifications you don't care about. There's also an option for a scheduled privacy mode you can activate within the app, so video is only being captured during the days and times you select. That feature aims to calm the nerves of consumers who don't like the idea of an "always watching" camera.
Specs like these are increasingly common across indoor camera manufacturers these days, though there are a few front-runners that do a bit better on paper. Here's a look at what Nest, Amazon and Netgear bring to the table with the Nest Indoor Cam and Amazon Cloud Cam and Netgear Arlo Pro:
|Amazon Cloud Cam||Nest Cam Indoor||Hive View||Netgear Arlo Pro|
|Color finish||White||Black||Black or White||White|
|Power||Wired||Wired||Wired with battery option||Rechargeable battery, power adapter|
|Resolution||1080p HD||1080p HD||1080p HD||720p HD|
|Field of view||120 degrees||130 degrees||130 degrees||130 degrees|
|Cloud storage||Free 24-hour video clip storage; optional Cloud Cam subscription service starting at $7 per month||Free three-hour image history; option Nest Aware subscription service starting at $10 per month||Free 24-hour video clip storage; Optional Hive Video Playback subscription for $6 per month||Free 7-day event-based video history (Optional 30- or 60-day event-based video history for $10 or $15 per month)|
|Type of cloud storage||Clip-based only||Continuous with Nest Aware subscription||Clip-based only||Clip-based only|
|Mobile app||Android and iPhone||Android and iPhone||Android and iPhone||Android and iPhone|
|Alerts||Motion (person alerts available with Cloud Cam subscription)||Motion and sound (person alerts available with Nest Aware)||Motion and sound (person detection included)||Motion and sound|
|Activity zones||With Cloud Cam subscription||With Nest Aware subscription||No||No|
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||4.1 by 1.7 by 2.4 inches||4.5 by 2.9 by 2.9 inches||5.7 by 3.5 by 3.5 inches||3.1 by 1.9 by 2.8 inches|
|Third-party integrations||Amazon Alexa||Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Works with Nest||None||IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings|
Setting up the Hive View camera was simple enough. You need a solid 2.4GHz internet connection in order for the camera to live stream. We had a few live feed dropouts when our internet connection was poor, but it performed well with a stronger signal, so be sure your Wi-Fi is up to speed. The camera initially connects to your network through the Hive app and Bluetooth pairing. From there, you'll name the camera, set your preferences for things like schedules, person detection and night vision and you're ready to go. You can mount the camera on a wall, and anchors and screws are included in the box, though it looks so nice, I opted to put it on a shelf.
Person detection worked well for me, with a notification on my phone popping up almost immediately after I walked by. Shortly after that, a 21-second clip was available to view in the Hive app. One way audio in the camera's live feed also transmitted well, with just a small delay between the sound and its playback on my phone. You can view the live feed in full screen if you rotate your phone, but rotating the camera cube 180 degrees showed an upside-down live feed image. To solve this, you'll need to go into the app settings and select a "Rotate image" option. I'm so used to everything auto-rotating that this annoyed me.
Rotating issues aside, the Hive View misses the mark with smart home platform integration. Hive does have Amazon Alexa skills and Google Home integration for its light bulbs and plugs. I was hoping the Hive View might also work with those voice assistants. Being able to view the camera's live feed on your TV via a streaming media player app or on your Amazon Echo Show would've made this camera a lot more impressive in my book. We saw Logitech's Circle 2 camera do just that already this year, and the folks at Canary say their camera, also named "View," will soon stream to devices like the Spot and Show. If Hive wants to sell products individually, playing nice with others would go a long way.
Though the Hive View is available for purchase on its own, Hive doesn't appear to have plans to do away with the pack-based system any time soon. In fact, the Hive View camera is the centerpiece of a new pack called the Hive Close to Home Pack.
The Hive Close to Home Pack includes the Hive View camera, two light bulbs, two sensors, a plug, a Hive hub and the Hive Video Playback service. It costs $350 up front or $14.58 per month for 24 months, at which point the devices will be paid off and yours to keep. If you already own a Hive pack, and want to add the Hive View camera, that will cost $8.33 per month (for 24 months) or the individual price of $200 up front.
We'll see how many other Hive products begin to sell outside of the predetermined packs, but for now the Hive View is the only one. With brands like Nest, Amazon and even Netgear bringing strong indoor cameras to the table, Hive might not be able to get by on just looks.
Overall, the Hive View is a beautiful, reliable camera with more than enough flexibility to meet your basic camera needs. It scores points for design, person detection and the ability to schedule surveillance. Without IFTTT, Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa integrations, though, it's hard to recommend this camera over the Nest Indoor Cam, Amazon Cloud Cam or Netgear's portable Arlo Pro. But, if you love the design like I do, or already have Hive products in your home, the Hive View camera is a display-worthy choice that won't disappoint.