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Logi Circle review: Logi's people-detecting camera isn't sure I'm human

The Logi Circle camera alerts you when it thinks it sees a person, but it ultimately isn't sure.

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Megan Wollerton
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Megan Wollerton

Senior Writer/Editor

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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Logi's $200/£159 Wi-Fi-enabled Circle Home Connection Camera shares similarities with DIY HD cameras like the Nest Cam Indoor, the Netgear Arlo Pro and the Canary Flex.

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6.0

Logi Circle

The Good

Setting up the Logi Circle Home Connection Camera takes less than 5 minutes and the app is easy to navigate.

The Bad

Its people detection feature was somewhat inconsistent. The rechargeable battery lasts only a few hours and takes even longer to recharge. The Logi Circle doesn't work with any other Logitech products or products from other smart home manufacturers.

The Bottom Line

The Logi Circle is a decent live-streaming camera, but rechargeable models like Canary Flex and Netgear Arlo Pro do a better job.

While the Circle offers 1080p HD live streaming, a rechargeable battery and custom alerts when a person walks by (only available with the fee-based Circle Safe Premium service), the Circle cam doesn't actually stand out in any significant way.

Its person detection function got it wrong on more than one occasion, it has limited battery life and it doesn't support any smart home integrations. I'd skip Circle and take a look at its competitors instead.

Editors' note, January 20, 2017: This review has been updated to include details on the Logi Circle's person detection feature and additional software updates.

Logi puts its Circle cam into sharp focus

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Joining Logi's Circle

Logi Circle is an endearingly pint-size Wi-Fi- and battery-powered 1080p HD cam, available in either white or black, that you can stick anywhere you want (indoors) for 24-7 access to a live video stream.

Its default battery power mode is supposed to last for up to 3 hours. In power-save mode, its battery is supposed to last for up to 12 hours -- but that's with diminished features and resolution. My experience was a little different. I tested a fully-charged Circle's battery life three times using its default power mode.

The first time, the camera lasted for roughly 2 hours streaming at 1080p during a busy time at the office with a lot of motion and motion-related push alerts. The second time, the camera lasted for about 4 hours (also streaming at 1080p) during a time with less foot traffic and fewer motion alerts. The third time, the Circle lasted about six hours streaming at 720p -- three of those hours were busy and the rest were relatively quiet.

Yes, the camera will last longer if you stream at a lower resolution and if there's less activity. Ultimately, though, it doesn't last very long. Logitech tells me this is all by design, but I still question the value of a battery with such a limited charge capacity.

Comparing rechargeable security cameras:

Logi CircleCanary FlexNetgear Arlo Pro
Price $200/£159$199/£159$250/£300
Color finish Black, whiteBlack, whiteWhite
Type Indoor onlyIndoor/outdoorIndoor/outdoor
Power source Rechargeable battery, power adapterRechargeable battery, power adapterRechargeable battery, power adapter
Resolution 1080p HD720p HD720p HD
Expected battery life 3 hours (12 hours in power save mode)Two monthsSix months
Field of view 135-degree viewing angle116-degree viewing angle130-degree viewing angle
Live streaming YesYesYes
Continuous recording NoNoNo
Cloud storage Free 24-hour event-based video history (Optional 14- or 31-day event-based video history for $4 or $10 per month)Free 24-hour event-based video history (Optional 30-day event-based video history for $10 per month)Free 7-day event-based video history (Optional 30- or 60-day event-based video history for $10 or $15 per month)
Local storage NoNoNo
Mobile app Yes, Android and iPhoneYes, Android and iPhoneYes, Android and iPhone
Web app YesNoYes
Night vision YesYesYes
Alerts Motion (Person alerts with Circle Safe Premium subscription)MotionMotion and audio
Activity zones YesNoNo
Two-way audio YesYes, but Canary hasn't activated the feature yetYes
Operating temperature range 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 40 degrees Celsius)-4 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 40 degrees Celsius)-4 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 40 degrees Celsius)
Third-party integrations NoWinkIFTTT, Samsung SmartThings

The related Android and iOS apps act as your main point of access to the camera both during the initial setup and any time you want to watch current and past footage or enable/disable features like push notifications, night-vision and power-save mode.

The app is very straightforward and the configuration process keeps things simple with a step-by-step tutorial that walks you through the entire installation. Installation includes charging the cam on its "charging ring," which sits flat on any surface. You'll also be asked to enter your local Wi-Fi network details. Then, the app will prompt you to create an account with your email and a password -- the entire process took two minutes.

If you need to switch Wi-Fi networks, you'll have to delete and reset your entire camera. That's pretty inconvenient, but it isn't something you'll have to do very often, if at all.

You can also head over to the Logi Circle web app for access to advanced features, such as setting motion activity zones.

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Configuring the Logi Circle. Screenshots by CNET

Performance

Using the mobile and web app to opt-in to push alerts, set motion zones and adjust the resolution was extremely simple. The Circle's audio feature also worked quite well. Its 1080p HD live stream delivers crisp-enough day optics on par with Netgear's lower-res 720p Arlo Pro, but its night vision performance wasn't nearly as clear as Arlo's. You can only use the app in horizontal view, too.

Logi's people detection feature was inconsistent, too. People detection is supposed to alert you when a person, as opposed to a pet, or a passing car, enters the Circle's field of view. But there were at least a dozen times when the camera detected activity, but didn't accurately identify it as a person. Similar functionality worked better with the Nest Cam and Netatmo Presence cameras.

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The Circle cam streaming live in 1080p.

Screenshot by CNET


Arlo Pro and Canary Flex cams are rechargeable and rated for both indoor and outdoor use. After several days of testing both alongside the Circle, they still had plenty of charge left according to their battery level indicators. The Circle, on the other hand, only lasts for hours -- not days.

Additionally, Arlo Pro cameras currently work with IFTTT and Samsung's SmartThings. Canary is working on upcoming integrations with IFTTT, Wink and Apple HomeKit. You can use IFTTT to create rules like, "If Arlo Pro detects motion, then flash my Philips Hue LEDs," or "When I get home, tell Arlo Pro to stop recording."

The Logi Circle offers no integrations right now, either with third party devices or Logitech's own Harmony platform, although the team did say it was open to both. The Logi Circle's "Day Briefs" worked well -- Day Briefs are 30-second recaps of the most important recorded events of the day -- but models like the Flir FX and Nest Cam offer similar features.

All of the indoor home security cameras we've tested

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Conclusion

The $200/£159 Logi Circle is priced to compete with many of today's top connected cameras, but it doesn't currently work with any other Logitech products or with devices from other manufacturers.

And while its 1080p video resolution is good, its battery life was disappointing and its people detection feature was inconsistent. I'm glad Logi has addressed the importance of customizable settings with this recent update, but there's still a significant disconnect between its design and its function as a live-streaming HD camera. It's truly odd that Logi decided on a battery-powered camera only to give it such a short life.

Why not reduce the HD resolution to 720p to preserve the battery, give it a weatherproofed coating and make it a more versatile indoor-outdoor camera? Right now, I'm having trouble seeing the value this camera offers over the Canary Flex or the Netgear Arlo Pro. Ultimately, that makes it difficult to recommend.

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6.0

Logi Circle

Score Breakdown

Features 5Usability 7Design 7Performance 5