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Kuna Toucan review: The Toucan fits the bill as a subtle outdoor camera

The Toucan artfully blends home security and lighting control in one clever smart-home device that hides in plain sight despite its colorful name.

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Megan Wollerton
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Megan Wollerton

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Megan Wollerton has covered technology for CNET since 2013. Before that, she wrote for NBC's Dvice.com (now SyFy). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

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The $199 Toucan has a bunch of the basic outdoor camera stuff: HD video resolution, a motion sensor, alerts, a related app, two-way talk and cloud storage. But the best bit is that it also retrofits to existing outdoor wall lights via a USB cable, which means no batteries, no wires and no fuss. And since your purchase includes a Smart Socket adapter to make a dumb bulb smart, you can create rules in the Kuna app that link your camera to your light fixture.

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8.3

Kuna Toucan

The Good

The $199 Toucan outdoor camera connects to the included Smart Socket light bulb adapter via USB so you don't have to bother with batteries or a power cord. It has a very discreet design and a built-in 100-decibel siren for an extra dose of deterrence.

The Bad

Its Smart Socket adapter made the light bulb extend past the bottom of my wall light. The Toucan relies on the light fixture for illumination rather than infrared LEDs, it doesn't work with smart home products from other manufacturers and its motion sensor was too sensitive.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking to add a low-maintenance outdoor camera to your home security setup, Toucan could easily fit the bill.

I do wish its motion sensor were less sensitive and that the Toucan integrated with products from other smart-home companies. The Toucan doesn't have infrared LEDs for night vision, either. You have to rely on the illumination from the light fixture above instead. Even so, the Toucan is easy to recommend for its fast installation, unobtrusive USB cable, clear HD feed and the added bonus of a built-in 100-decibel siren to startle trespassers.

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Getting to know Toucan

Housed in a circular, matte-black panel, the Toucan looks more utilitarian and discreet than the design-forward models out today like Nest Cam Outdoor. When you're talking about outdoor security devices, though, I'd likely opt for a Toucan's subtlety over a Nest's shiny white finish.

Beyond its unobtrusive aesthetic, the Toucan was also built to integrate with standard outdoor wall lights. And the team came up with a clever way to harness power from your light fixture so you don't have to install batteries in the camera or deal with wiring: a Smart Socket light bulb adapter and a small USB cable. That makes it much more low-maintenance than the battery-dependent Netgear Arlo outdoor cameras or the power-adapter-dependent Nest Cam Outdoor.

The complete installation took roughly 10 to 15 minutes. Here are the steps:

  • Turn off power to your wall light
  • Detach the wall light's housing with a screwdriver
  • Unscrew your existing bulb
  • Screw in the Smart Socket adapter
  • Reattach the same light bulb*
  • Plug the USB cable into the USB port on the Smart Socket Adapter
  • Reinstall the wall light housing **
  • Install the Toucan camera below your wall light ***
  • Plug the other end of the USB cable into the Micro-USB port on the camera's base plate
  • Turn on power to your wall light

*The Smart Socket is 3 inches long and might be too big too work with your current light bulb and light fixture. In my case, the light bulb hung below the fixture.

**When you reinstall the wall light housing, make sure you feed the USB cable through the housing so it dangles down behind the wall light. A section of the USB cable is wrapped with a protective plastic cover to act as a cushion at the spot when the cable and the housing meet.

***When installing the Toucan camera, you can either use the included hardware or the strong adhesive backing; I used the sticker since my installation was temporary. Toucan also provides a conduit cover to hide any excess USB cable that might be dangling between the wall light and the camera's install spot. I stuck the camera directly under the light fixture, so I simply tucked the extra cable between the camera's base and face plate during installation.

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The Smart Socket adapter and USB cable.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

App stuff and more

Once you've installed the camera and flipped on power to the light, you should download the Kuna app for your Android or iOS device. Follow these steps to configure your Toucan using the app:

  • Click on the camera icon on the top right of the home screen
  • Select Toucan from the list of options
  • The app will search for Toucan cameras (it took a few seconds for the app to find mine)
  • Click on the camera it finds (the app called mine "New Device 1")
  • You'll be prompted to enter a custom name for your camera, your time zone and Wi-Fi network details

The app will then follow similar steps to connect the Smart Socket adapter.

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Looking inside the Kuna iOS app

Screenshots by CNET

Once you're inside the app, you can view your live feed in 720p HD as long as your Wi-Fi connection is solid. You can also control your wall light on demand or set rules that turn it on at dusk and off at dawn -- or at any time of day you choose. And, you can program the light to turn on temporarily whenever the camera detects motion. It even has a 100-decibel siren and prerecorded messages you can play to scare away potential intruders. All of this worked very well.

Motion-related video clips are accessible in the Recordings section of the app. If you don't pay for one of the subscription services, you still get a 2-hour grace period for viewing past history and downloading up to three clips per month.

You can also opt into motion-related push alerts and adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensor as needed. This part didn't work all that well for me, though. Even after making adjustments in the app, I still had loads of video clips of tree branches swaying and my dog walking around. But it will capture everything, so at least you can be sure that the clip you need is there -- you might just have to search for it.

Toucan sheds light on discreet home security

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What Toucan still needs

The Toucan doesn't work with any products from other smart-home manufacturers. It doesn't have an IFTTT channel, Amazon Alexa voice commands or integration with Apple's HomeKit and Siri, Samsung's SmartThings, Wink or Nest's Works with Nest platform. That makes it less appealing for anyone hoping to connect the smart products in their homes through a single platform.

It doesn't have infrared-LED-enabled night vision, either. Instead, it uses light from the fixture above to capture events in low-light conditions. Since you can use up to a 75W bulb (or a roughly 1,100-lumen LED equivalent), that will probably be enough light to view the live feed and saved clips (it was for me). Still, it isn't ideal.

The verdict

Even with the Toucan's limitations, this $199 camera is the DIY outdoor security product I've been waiting for in many ways. You don't have to mess with batteries or wires, it doesn't stand out, it isn't easy to steal if you mount it with the included hardware and it has simple app controls that pair smartly with lighting. Buy a Toucan if you want a simple way to watch over the exterior of your home. Just keep in mind that the motion alerts aren't always reliable.

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8.3

Kuna Toucan

Score Breakdown

Features 7Usability 9Design 10Performance 7