Panasonic Cameramanager, a division of Panasonic that focuses on security and cloud storage, has just announced a $249 camera called Nubo that's slated for release in the UK in November and in the US in early 2016 (UK pricing is not yet fixed, but it's expected to fall somewhere in the £159-165 range).
The Nubo seems promising based on its long list of features, but it's also a definite departure from highly rated DIY staples like the Dropcam Pro . That's because Panasonic Cameramanager ignored the established template and decided to make something entirely different.
Nubo isn't limited to a Wi-Fi network like, well, every other security camera I've reviewed. Yes, you have the option to connect over a Wi-Fi network, but this model is also 2G/3G/4G-enabled.
For convenience, a SIM card is included with your purchase and the first three months of mobile data and cloud storage are free. From there, it's up to you to opt into the mobile and cloud service subscriptions of your choosing. Mobile data is available on a by-alarm basis and you can sign up for 250; 500; 1,000 or 2,500 alarms per month; cloud storage comes in 7, 14, 30 or 90-day increments. Specific monthly fee information is not yet available.
This camera is also rated for indoor as well as outdoor use and has an operating temperature range of -4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 50 degrees Celsius). And, you can use the included power adapter or buy a third party external USB battery for on-the-go surveillance (Panasonic Cameramanager expects to introduce its own external battery in 2016 that's supposed to last for about 2 to 3 hours if it's in constant use and about 8 hours if it's in standby mode). I do wish the external battery was part of the purchase or that it relied on something simple like AA's, but this still seems way more versatile than most of the DIY models available today.
Link-Union's pre-orderable Link-U camera is really the only model that comes close to matching Nubo in terms of mobility and backup options in case Wi-Fi, power or both go kaput, but it isn't scheduled to ship until April. The Netgear Arlo is somewhat similar as well, but that's mainly because it can be used indoors and outdoors and also has a magnetic backing for quick installation and removal.
Nubo is supposed to have a 1080p video resolution when it's connected to Wi-Fi and a 720p resolution when it's using cellular data. It also has a live feed, night vision, two-way talk, motion alerts, an SD card slot for local storage, and ZigBee and Bluetooth protocols, although it's still working to secure specific third-party partnerships and an IFTTT channel.
I would have liked to see sound alerts among this list of features, but Panasonic Cameramanager's CTO, Tijmen Vos, told me that this was deliberately excluded as ambient outdoor noise wouldn't make this option very useful. That makes sense, but I'd still like the option to switch it on during indoor use.
While I haven't had the chance to check this camera out in person, the team did demo Nubo via video conference so I could get a sense of its relative size and of the app's design and functionality (Android and iOS versions will be available). Nubo is smaller than an iPhone 6, and the app was full of custom options so you can get the most out of your experience. For instance, you can adjust the video clip length from 5 to 60 seconds, set it to privacy mode and more.
Panasonic Cameramanager's $249 Nubo will be available for pre-order in April on Nubocam.com, with shipping scheduled for November in the UK (Vodafone is the first European mobile partner) and early 2016 in the US. This camera is on display here at Mobile World Congress 2015 and we're in hot pursuit of photos and video footage, so check back soon for hands-on updates.