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Oplink Connected Video C2 review: New Oplink security system, same high fees

Not so good. Yes, you're getting two cameras for $300, but they have 640x480-pixel resolutions, no sound alerts, no two-way audio, and 66-degree fields of view. The local storage flash drive will be a definite plus for some, but, when you realize that you have to shell out $20 per month (a whopping $240 per year) to see your video clips on your phone, Oplink's Connected Video kit quickly loses appeal.

Features aside, I'm also curious about the true value of this kit. Amazon is currently selling Oplink's Wi-Fi cameras for $80 each, so that covers roughly $160 of the $300 kit -- does that mean that the compulsory OPU hub and 16GB flash drive cover the remaining $140?

That sure seems strange, especially when you consider that the $370 Oplink TripleShield security system comes with the same hub, the same two Wi-Fi cameras, and a bunch of those optional accessories that aren't included in this $300 kit. Hm.

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These accessories are compatible with the Oplink Connected Video system. Megan Wollerton/CNET

If you don't want to view clips on the app, you can still stream live footage and access snapshots (rather than video) when a security event is triggered, but anyone interested in accessing clips remotely won't enjoy any added convenience from Oplink's local storage solution.

Samsung's $190 SmartCam HD Pro might cost more up front, but it offers better video quality, a larger field of view (nearly double the Oplink cameras), and added features like two-way talk. And, it relies on microSD cards (up to 64GB) rather than flash drives.

A closer look

Despite Oplink's disappointing specs, the cameras and added accessories performed well. I was able to view live video in the app's video section, turn the Oplink smart plug-connected lamp on and off in the app's automation section; set the system to arm, disarm, or away in the app's mode section; and review saved clips in the app's VideoGram section.

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The Oplink Connected app (for iOS). Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Whenever the motion sensor-equipped cameras or separate motion and door/window sensors accessories detected activity, the cameras recorded 30-second clips and stored them for later review. You can also opt in or out of push notifications and email alerts, and you can adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensors as needed. I set the cameras to the highest possible sensitivity and received alerts around the clock.

In addition to being able to watch clips on your phone, the $20 monthly fee lets you extend app access to other people and let emergency contacts receive alerts whenever a potential security breach takes place.

While the video quality was lower than some of the other cameras I've tested, its 480p resolution wasn't particularly bad. I didn't experience any major lag times or notice any significant blotchiness or other video streaming unpleasantness. I did find the auto-night vision feature odd, though.

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Oplink's Wi-Fi camera in day and night mode. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Most systems let you set your mode preference to automatic or manual. This one doesn't have a manual setting and defaulted to night vision at irregular times, even when all of the lights were on in the office. Still, the picture was decent in both day and night mode, and the wonky night vision didn't significantly impact overall performance.

Given that the Oplink Connected Video system doesn't have competitive camera specs, costs $20 per month for a mobile access to video clips, and presents a worse value than the brand's own $370 TripleShield system, it's pretty hard to recommend this kit. If you don't plan to review clips on your phone and want a budget, multi-camera system, it will get the job done. Still, I'd spring for Samsung's $190 SmartCam HD Pro if you can. Its video quality, features, and SD card storage trump Oplink's Connected Video kit at every turn.

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