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Link-U review: Link-U's indoor 4G LTE Smartcam needs some serious work

The Link-U 4G LTE Smartcam is a clever concept that's ultimately tough to recommend.

Megan Wollerton Former Senior Writer/Editor
4 min read

I was so excited about the Link-U 4G LTE Smartcam back in 2014 when I covered its Indiegogo campaign. DIY cameras are still largely Wi-Fi-dependent today, so one that also works with a cellular network is unique. In fact, the Smartcam automatically switches between LTE and Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections as it sees fit. It simply uses whichever one is performing the strongest at any given time. That's an elegant solution -- particularly in places where no single option is ever consistently the best. 



The Good

Link-U's $249 4G LTE Smartcam gives you three connection options: LTE, Wi-Fi or Ethernet.

The Bad

The app is difficult to use; the camera doesn't work with any major smart-home partners.

The Bottom Line

The Link-U 4G LTE Smartcam is a clever concept poorly executed. Don't buy it.

Even so, no one should buy the $249 Link-U 4G LTE Smartcam (roughly £175/AU$325 converted). The app is difficult to use, the design of the camera itself is confusing, it doesn't work with Alexa, Google Assistant or any other major smart home platforms -- and the camera isn't weatherproof like other LTE cams.. 

Sigh. I wanted to love this camera, but I can't think of any reason why someone should buy it -- even if you want an LTE backup for your indoor security cam. The Link-U just has too many issues. 

Link-U's indoor 4G LTE security camera can't go very far

See all photos

Up close with Link-U

So how does the Smartcam stack up against its closest competition? Take a look:

Comparing LTE security cameras

Link-U 4G LTE SmartcamNetgear Arlo Go
Price $249$400
Color finish Black and whiteWhite
Weatherproof Indoor onlyIndoor/outdoor
Connection type Cellular; Wi-Fi; EthernetCellular
Power source Rechargeable battery, Power over Ethernet (PoE)Rechargeable battery
Resolution 1080p HD720p HD
Live streaming YesYes
Continuous recording NoNo
Cloud storage NoYes
Local storage Yes (up to 32GB microSD card, not included)Yes (up to 32GB microSD card, not included)
Mobile app YesYes
Web app NoYes
Night vision YesYes
Alerts Motion and soundMotion and sound
Activity zones NoNo
Third-party integrations Works with Sigma Casa devicesAmazon Alexa; Google Assistant; IFTTT

The Link-U has some definite appeal over Netgear 's Arlo Go at a glance. It's less expensive, has more connection types and power sources -- and it has higher video resolution. 

Its number of connection types is especially appealing, since the Arlo Go works only over cellular network. For Netgear's LTE cam, then, cellular isn't a backup -- it's your only connection type. That makes the Arlo Go a camera you'll likely use outside (although you can keep it inside), in places where you don't want/can't get a reliable Wi-Fi network. 

The Link-U offers different use cases. You could take it outside for short periods, but it's an indoor cam designed to connect to Wi-Fi or Ethernet and switch to LTE as needed for backup support.

But the Link-U has limitations. It doesn't offer cloud storage, a web app or integrations with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or any other major smart home platform. It instead works with up to eight Sigma Casa accessories. I paired my Link-U with a Sigma Casa motion sensor, door/window sensor and temperature sensor. With them added to the app, I was able to view the temperature sensor's ambient temperature, air pressure and humidity at a glance -- and also see when the motion sensor and the door/window sensor detected activity. 

Enlarge Image

Inside the Link-U app.

Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

That brings me to one of my biggest complaints about this camera. The app is not user-friendly. At all. It makes no effort to explain the camera setup process or how to pair the Sigma Casa sensors, so forget about clear step-by-step tutorials. There's no activity log either. You instead have to click on a calendar icon and search the specific period of activity you want. And any time the camera is offline or otherwise not working, the software stops you from opening the settings menu to troubleshoot -- or any other app screens. 

Most of the information you need is actually there in the app, but it's usually either hidden or complicated to figure out, or both. 


Camera guts are exposed every time you try to get to the camera's off/reset button.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The camera's design is confusing, too. You access its off/reset button by removing a front panel, which got dangerously close to hitting the camera's circuit board guts every single time I opened it. 

As far as performance goes, I occasionally got alerts from the Link-U, but not always, and its battery drained much faster than the expected 8-hour battery life. Its live feed looked good, though, and I really like that you can set the resolution to adjust automatically, as well as to default to "high," "mid" and "low" settings. 

You'll need to sign up for a data plan through AT&T or T-Mobile if you want your Link-U camera to connect to an LTE network. Link-U says you'll need anywhere from 1 to 3GB per month, depending on how much use you expect the camera to get. 


The live feed with the resolution set to "auto" mode.

Screenshot by Megan Wollerton/CNET

The verdict

Link-U's 4G LTE Smartcam was a promising concept, but the camera and its app need some major updates to be useful. Giving the app a makeover, moving the off/reset button to a spot that's less likely to mess with the camera's internal components and making it possible to access the camera's settings in the app -- even when the camera itself is offline -- would help make the Link-U better. Making it weatherproof would add some versatility, too. Unfortunately, this camera is much too limited to be worthwhile today. Consider the Netgear Arlo Go instead for a mostly functional LTE camera.  



Score Breakdown

Features 6Usability 4Design 5Performance 6