Kodak Video Monitor CFH-V20 review: Kodak's people-detecting V20 is smarter than your average security camera

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The Good Kodak's $150 Video Monitor CFH-V20 has a wide-angle 180-degree lens, free 24-hour activity-based cloud storage, an IFTTT channel, a USB connector for adding a battery pack accessory and optional people detection capabilities for a monthly fee.

The Bad The V20's two-way talk feature has poor audio quality, it doesn't offer sound alerts or local storage and the fee-based people-detection feature can't identify specific people, only that someone (rather than something) has passed in front of the camera's field of view.

The Bottom Line You can definitely find basic HD live-streaming security cameras for less, but the $150 Kodak V20's 180-degree view, free storage, IFTTT channel and optional add-ons give it an edge over some of its $200+ competition.

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7.2 Overall
  • Features 8
  • Usability 7
  • Design 6.5
  • Performance 7

Review Sections

Kodak isn't new to the world of live-streaming cameras, but its $150 Video Monitor CFH-V20, available in the United States now through Amazon, boasts the most impressive specs in the brand's expanding lineup and is worthy of your consideration for several key reasons.

With live video streaming up to 720p quality, a 180-degree field of view, night vision, motion detection and two-way talk via a built-in speaker and microphone, the V20 presents an intriguing alternative to the $150 ArcSoft Simplicam as well as to pricier HD models, like the $200 Flir FX.

Kodak also upgraded its image sensor tech for the V20 (specifically, it has a 3.15-megapixel 1/3-inch sensor -- that's similar to the sensor in Google's impressive Nest Cam) and made it USB-compatible, so you can attach it to a USB battery pack for a security camera that's designed to travel (wherever there's an obliging Wi-Fi network). While the plastic-bodied camera doesn't feel especially sturdy, it does boast a small footprint and a sleek profile for a pretty discreet addition to any room.

The iSecurity+ app is supposed to act as your main point of interaction with the camera and its many features, including free 24-hour cloud storage so you can view recorded video clips on the go. It's a very easy app to use, both during the initial setup and afterward when you want to view the live stream, access settings and more. (There's also an iSecurity+ Web app for those more http-inclined.)

And if one day of saved footage isn't enough, you can pay an optional monthly fee -- either $3, $10 or $20 -- for Smart Detection, a premium option that claims to "eliminate up to 98 percent of false alarms with ART human presence detection" by being able to tell the difference between people and things. The $30 option just gives you people detection, while the $10 and $20 options also add on longer cloud storage periods of 14 and 30 days.

Given that ArcSoft's Simplicam charges $5 for any sort of cloud services and can't be disconnected from its power adapter, Kodak's portable V20 with free, 24-hour clip storage is especially appealing. The V20 also has its own IFTTT channel (iSecurity+) that makes it possible to add an extra dose of features to its standard offerings. (Read about how the CNET Smart Home uses the IFTTT automation service here.) I created a recipe that sent me a text every time the camera detected activity, and it worked consistently.

That was also true of the camera's broader performance capabilities, with the exception of two-way talk, which was nearly impossible to use due to its poor audio quality. Generally though, the Kodak V20 performed well, sending quick push notifications whenever it detected activity. And, even though free cloud storage is included with the purchase, you can also sign up for a free monthlong Smart Detection trial period (after that you have to pay the requisite $3 per month minimum). With this feature enabled, the camera can suddenly tell you whether or not the activity it detected was a human moving within its wide-angle field of view, or something else, like your cat or a tennis ball.

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