Panasonic Outdoor Home Surveillance Camera Kit review: Flash back to the '90s with this dated outdoor camera kit

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The Good Panasonic's $300 Outdoor Home Surveillance Camera Kit is easy to set up, its motion and sound notifications are consistent and you can customize things like sensor sensitivity and alert zones.

The Bad The app is tough to navigate and the cameras stream and record in standard definition.

The Bottom Line This camera kit is a reasonable option for outdoor home security, but its app needs an update and I wish the cameras had high-definition settings.

7.0 Overall
  • Features 7
  • Usability 7
  • Design 7
  • Performance 7

The $300/AU$549 Panasonic Outdoor Home Surveillance Camera Kit includes a Wi-Fi hub and two cameras rated for outdoor use. Additional hub-compatible Panasonic devices are available a la carte -- everything from extra cameras (you can have up to four per hub) to motion, door/window and water sensors, as well as smart plugs (you can have up to 50 sensors and smart plugs per hub). That's almost enough to make you forget that there's no Panasonic IFTTT channel or other third-party integrations, but not quite.

You're also stuck with a 480x640-pixel VGA resolution (standard definition) and an app that looks outdated. On the other hand, you can arm and disarm your cameras on demand, the motion- and sound-related alerts are prompt and you have a lot of control over the settings (you can adjust motion sensitivity and create custom activity zones).

This kit isn't perfect, but it manages to offer just enough in terms of features and performance to make it a reasonable DIY outdoor security camera contender.

The basics

Panasonic's hub-and-dual-camera kit look pretty standard as far as DIY security devices go. The glossy black and white plastic hub isn't exactly small, but it won't take up a ton of space, either -- it also won't distract from your overall decor. The hub comes with a power adapter as well as a cable to connect to your router.

Not only does the hub act as "command central" for the cameras (and any other Panasonic-brand accessories you may decide to add), bridging communications between the cameras and your phone, it also has some of its own built-in features. Specifically, it has a speaker and an LED status indicator, which work in tandem with the Android and iOS Panasonic Home Network apps.

Basically, the status indicator will display either solid or flashing green, yellow or red LEDs so you know what's happening at a glance without having to look at your phone. Solid green means the cameras are disarmed and that the system is ready; flashing green, flashing (alternating) green and yellow, solid yellow and flashing yellow all mean the system is in various stages of initial configuration; solid red means that the system is armed and flashing red means that the armed system was triggered by either motion or sound.

Audio alerts -- via the hub's built-in speaker -- will let you know when the system is arming or that a camera has detected motion or sound. The hub also comes with a microSD card slot for local video clip storage and a 4GB card is included with the purchase.

Like the hub, the cameras share a similar black and white plastic design aesthetic. They come with optional stands and hardware for mounting to a wall, fence or other outdoor structure and they are rated for 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (that's 0 to 40 degrees Celsius) and encased in a weatherproof finish to keep them safe from inclement weather.

Both cameras come with a long cable for an easy install -- I set mine up on a front and a back porch and was able to comfortably run the power cords from indoor outlets to the outside porches -- and both are equipped with microphones and speakers, two-way talk, a 640x480 VGA resolution (standard definition), motion detectors and night vision.

A closer look at this camera kit

Setup is mostly straightforward, but I didn't enjoy working inside the Panasonic Home Network app (available for Android and iOS users). I used the app on my iPhone 6 Plus and found it to be lacking in terms of ease of use and general design flow. It looks like it came straight out of the 1990s, which is quite a feat given that mobile apps didn't exist back then.

The app looks a bit dated. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

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