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Netatmo Presence review: Sit back and let your security camera tell you what's outside

Netatmo's Presence may look kinda weird, but this quirky $300 outdoor security camera and floodlight hybrid is also seriously smart.

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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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I have conflicting feelings about Netatmo's $300 Presence outdoor security camera and LED light fixture.

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7.0

Netatmo Presence

The Good

Netatmo's $300 Presence outdoor security camera and floodlight successfully distinguishes among motion from cars, people and animals (most of the time). Its push alerts are prompt, the built-in microSD card records locally for free and you can automatically save video clips to your Dropbox account or FTP server.

The Bad

The Presence costs 100 bucks more than competing products. Its bold, modern design won't appeal to everyone. I wish it worked with more smart home platforms. It wasn't particularly easy to install, either.

The Bottom Line

The Netatmo Presence shows a lot of promise when it comes to advanced motion detection, but it's too expensive and its design is too distinctive for it to have broad appeal.
  • The good stuff: It's a highly capable 1080p live video streamer with advanced analytics that correctly labeled motion activity as a car, a person or an animal most of the time. Its internal 16GB microSD card makes event-based video recording a breeze.
  • The not-so-good stuff: The Presence is really expensive and Netatmo went bold with its design -- if you don't fancy the modern aesthetic, you won't like the way it looks. It's also light on smart home partners, only featuring support for online connection service IFTTT at launch.

While I'm nearly sold on the Presence's motion capabilities, I'm just not ready to drop 300 bucks on a single outdoor security camera -- especially if it doesn't have much overlap with the broader smart home market. Its design wouldn't work with my more traditional-looking home, either.

If the price and strong design don't scare you off, Netatmo's Presence could work for you. I'd take a look at some other options before you buy, though.

Netatmo's outdoor security cam has a commanding Presence

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Presence 101

Like the $200 Kuna Light Fixture, Netatmo's Presence pulls double duty as both a security camera and a floodlight. Weatherproofed and rated for outdoor use, this heavy, rectangular hybrid device has to be hardwired to work properly. As always, be sure to reach out to a professional electrician if you have any questions.

The easiest install method is to ditch one of your existing outdoor wall lights and replace it with a Presence. For the 100-degree field of view Presence camera to work optimally, I'd only install it where you'd typically put a porch light and leave any security lights far above eye level alone.

If you're familiar with this type of install, it should be fairly simple, but it works best with two people; you need someone to hold the camera and someone else to connect the wires. Netatmo provides a wire terminal so you can more easily connect everything, but the ports were much too small to fit the larger wires we had at the CNET Smart Home. So, I had to remove the wire terminal and use wire nuts to connect everything instead.

I ran into an issue with the length of the wires here -- they're extremely short and it was difficult to connect the wire nuts and tuck them into the terminal box without everything disconnecting. Eventually, I called for reinforcements and our technical editor, Steve Conaway, got everything connected in about 30 minutes. If you include my initial effort, the total time spent on the Presence install was close to an hour and a half.

What's next?

Once the Presence is installed, download the related Netatmo Security Android or iPhone app. Create an account and follow the step-by-step tutorial to pair the camera. Assuming everything is installed correctly, the app will scan for the camera, ask you to connect to the local Wi-Fi network and name your camera -- then you're ready to start live streaming.

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This part only took about a minute.

Screenshots by CNET

Here's an overview of the Netatmo Presence's main specs and features:

  • 1080p live streaming video resolution
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    See that yellow paw print in the activity feed? Netatmo's motion algorithm thinks it detected an animal.

    Screenshot by CNET
  • 100-degree field-of-view camera
  • Infrared night vision
  • Motion detection that distinguishes cars, people and animals
  • Free event-based video clips
  • Optional backup to Dropbox or FTP server
  • Internal 16GB microSD card
  • Activity zones that let you customize the camera's motion-detection area
  • 12W, dimmable LED floodlight

Throughout testing I received prompt notifications alerting me to the specific type of motion the camera detected. Almost every time, Presence accurately identified motion as a person or a car (or a person and a car). Once, however, when producer Chris Monroe and I were standing within the camera's field of view, it told me it had detected a person...and an animal. Oops.

Generally, though, this feature worked quite well.

And, you can customize when and how you use the floodlight portion of the Presence. Not only can you turn it on or off and dim it on-demand, you can also program it to turn on when it's dark -- or when it's dark and it detects a specific motion, or any motion.

As far as third-party integrations go, Netatmo is supposed to have IFTTT support at launch. (As of today, November 2, you can buy the Presence at Home Depot, Apple and on Amazon.) I did try unsuccessfully to connect the camera to IFTTT a day early, but will give it another go soon to confirm that it's working.

IFTTT is a good start, but I'd like to see even more connected home partnerships with Presence. Apple HomeKit, a software platform that lets you control devices with Siri, announced support for security cameras back in June. Presence competitors Kuna and Toucan have been similarly slow to adopt smart home partners, though.

32 outdoor security cameras that take home security seriously

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The verdict

Netatmo's $300 Presence outdoor security camera and floodlight is a curious product. It offers advanced motion detection and a simple local storage solution -- all for free. (Whereas Nest makes you pay a monthly fee for its "Person Alerts.") The ability to distinguish between a car pulling up and a person wandering around could prove very useful when you're looking out for potential burglars.

At the same time, the upfront cost is high and I wish Netatmo had more smart home integrations and offered additional designs to coordinate with more homes. Netatmo's Presence does work well, but the $200 Kuna Light Fixture is available in different styles and it does something similar (minus the advanced motion algorithm) for less. I'd suggest taking a look at both before you make a final decision.

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7.0

Netatmo Presence

Score Breakdown

Features 7Usability 8Design 6Performance 7