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Kuna Light Fixture review: This snazzy porch light doubles as a DIY security camera

I opted to receive a push notification every time someone triggered the motion detector and I scheduled the porch light to automatically turn on at dusk and off again at dawn. You can also program it to turn on any time the motion sensor detects activity.

The Kuna system didn't disappoint, dishing out prompt push alerts whenever someone crossed within the roughly 10-foot motion threshold (occasionally it detected motion beyond this range, closer to 15-30 feet away), pulling up a clear HD video stream (minus some occasional dips in performance due to bandwidth limitations -- something to consider if your Wi-Fi is regularly hit-or-miss), recording clips that captured an entire motion event and returning clear audio when using the two-way talk intercom function.

This smart security device is also outfitted with a 100-decibel siren that you can activate from the app to scare people away. 100 decibels isn't loud loud, especially with the addition of ambient outside noise, but the blaring tone of this siren is especially off-putting and will easily startle someone that's lurking around your house. You can also play one of the prerecorded messages loaded in the app. They include, "I'm busy right now," "Can I help you?" and "Sorry, not interested" -- all easy to execute from the app while you're watching the live feed.

Note: If you have multiple porch lights, but don't want or need multiple camera-connected Kunas, the team also sells camera-free versions for $129 with the same advanced light control capabilities via the app.

Where Kuna falls short

Like Nest Cam and other subscription-based cloud cameras, Kuna extends temporary free access to its premium storage service so you can check out the features. After that 14-day period, you'll have to sign up to receive the full benefits. These begin at $60 a year for 7 days of saved clips for one Kuna, up to $240 a year for up to 30 days of saved clips for as many as eight Kunas.

Kuna does give a free 2-hour grace period of sorts for reviewing saved clips. I suppose that technically qualifies as free cloud storage, but it's much more limited than the Icontrol Piper's 1,000 free clips or Homeboy's free 30-day rolling cloud storage. Still, it does offer something if you like Kuna's product but don't want to pay the cloud storage fee.

Also, while I was impressed with the Kuna system's performance and overall ease of use, this discreet, design-centric device doesn't have night vision. Instead, you're supposed to rely on the light bulb in the fixture to provide enough lumens when it's dark out, but that isn't nearly as good as night-vision-specific infrared LEDs. Of course, some of that will depend on the light bulb you buy. Kuna's online FAQ says its Light Fixture will work with incandescents, CFLs or LEDs, but noted that its "tests show the best results from a standard A-15 LED or CFL light bulb, 450 lumen."

It also doesn't offer an IFTTT channel, compatibility with Amazon's voice control assistant Alexa or broader integration with any products from other manufacturers. That's a significant disadvantage if you're looking for stuff that fits into your existing smart-home setup.

Watching the live feed from the Kuna iPhone app.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

Even so, I really like the Kuna and there's nothing else quite like it on the market today -- the closest probably being motion-sensor-equipped smart doorbells like the Ring or August. One obvious advantage of a Kuna is that it's less noticeable. It's also less prone to theft since the majority of porch lights are installed above doorways rather than at or below eye level.

Overall, the Kuna is a clever connected product that's worth consideration, particularly if you're in the market for an outdoor camera that's similar to a smart doorbell but significantly more discreet.

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