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 ($199 at HP) 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.
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 Circle||Canary Flex||Netgear Arlo Pro|
|Color finish||Black, white||Black, white||White|
|Power source||Rechargeable battery, power adapter||Rechargeable battery, power adapter||Rechargeable battery, power adapter|
|Resolution||1080p HD||720p HD||720p HD|
|Expected battery life||3 hours (12 hours in power save mode)||Two months||Six months|
|Field of view||135-degree viewing angle||116-degree viewing angle||130-degree viewing angle|
|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)|
|Mobile app||Yes, Android and iPhone||Yes, Android and iPhone||Yes, Android and iPhone|
|Alerts||Motion (Person alerts with Circle Safe Premium subscription)||Motion||Motion and audio|
|Two-way audio||Yes||Yes, but Canary hasn't activated the feature yet||Yes|
|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||No||Wink||IFTTT, 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.