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Withings Home review: Missing features hurt the Withings Home security camera

Withings' Home has potential but emphasizes add-ons at the expense of core functionality.

Megan Wollerton Former Senior Writer/Editor
4 min read

At $200 -- £170 in the UK -- the Withings Home is priced to compete with the Dropcam Pro , the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro , the Icontrol Piper and other highly rated DIY cameras. (Availabilty and price in Australia is yet to be determined.)


Withings Home

The Good

Withings' Home has responsive push alerts and its air-quality sensor gives you ongoing access to carbon-based toxin readings.

The Bad

This DIY camera doesn't currently have an Android app, a Web interface or the ability to save recorded video clips. The motion sensor is much too sensitive and its 1080p claims are questionable.

The Bottom Line

Extra features make Withings Home an attractive webcam or baby monitor, but its inability to store footage and a trigger-happy motion sensor maker it much less useful as a security camera.

But, there's a problem: the core features that make these competing cameras so clever are partly missing from Withings Home. Yes, it has live streaming, two-way talk, night vision, motion, sound and even air quality alerts, but it can't record and save clips -- instead you get pieced-together time-lapse photographs -- its overactive motion sensor sends alerts when no apparent activity has taken place, and there's currently no Android app or Web interface. I also question its 1080p video claims; its resolution was good, not great.

That said, the Withings Home could work well as a webcam or a baby monitor (it offers nightlight and lullaby settings); I just wouldn't recommend it as a security device.

Withings knows what's going on at Home (pictures)

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Environmental sensors help distinguish cameras like Icontrol's Piper and Piper NV from other standalone options. If you're interested in information like ambient light, sound, temperature and humidity, Icontrol's cameras are excellent. But, that's only because their basic features -- live streaming, free cloud storage, alerts and more -- form a solid security camera foundation.

Strip away any of those elements and you end up with something much less recommendable, something that focuses on the bonus add-ons and neglects the basics.

That's precisely where the Withings Home runs into trouble. It's a very nice-looking camera, complete with fancy extras like a magnetic base that lets you angle the camera without a complicated hardware-heavy install, an air quality sensor that picks up on carbon-based volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and nightlight and lullaby settings, but it doesn't do particularly well when it comes to core security camera features.

A look inside the Withings Home iOS app. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Take the motion sensor. It is extremely sensitive and there's no way to customize it within the iOS app. So, while it worked well when I deliberately triggered the sensor, it also sent me dozens of "phantom" notifications. I first noticed this when I received an alert around 2 a.m. The office was closed at that time, so I checked the saved time-lapse photo sequence, concerned, only to find that no security event had taken place.

After that, I received dozens of similar alerts at times when the office was vacant and no apparent activity had been captured. This was pretty disconcerting, since you're supposed to be able to rely on the camera to zero in on the important stuff, like someone walking in front of the 135-degree diagonal field of view, and ignore the rest -- or at least give you the option to customize the settings so you can ignore the rest.

I also don't find the time-lapse photo diary particularly useful. Most $200 security cameras will record and save clips for a set period of time so you can review footage and reference pertinent activity as needed. Withings' Home camera saves time-lapse photos on a 30-day rolling basis. These are sufficient, but definitely not as helpful as a video recording. It's the difference between playing a photo slideshow and watching a fluid video of the same activity.

Withings' Home also doesn't have an Android app or a Web interface, although it says that these features are in the works -- as well as 2- and 14- day cloud-storage options.

The day and night vision modes look good, but not exactly 1080p. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Those things aside, the Withings Home handled itself pretty well. I received prompt alerts, the VOC air quality chart helped identify times when potentially harmful toxins were more present, and the day and auto-night modes had little to no lag time. The Withings site says the Home camera has "Encoding up to 1080p30." That's 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second, but the optics definitely weren't as sharp as the Dropcam Pro, Netgear Arlo and many other HD models we've reviewed. Still, it was always clear enough to make out what was happening, unlike the occasionally pixelated 720p Ring camera doorbell .

The Withings Home camera is easy to set up, and the iOS app is fairly simple to navigate. To get started, connect the supplied power adapter to the Micro-USB port. The app will walk you through the quick installation process, with light indicators to alert you to its progress. Once you're in the app, you can access the live stream, photo album, air-quality chart and monitoring settings (this is where you can opt in and out of specific motion, sound and air quality notifications and adjust the VOC alert threshold). The night vision, feature, however, was hidden in the settings section under "My Devices."

As far as third-party integrations, Withings is HomeKit compatible and has its own IFTTT channel. Unfortunately, Apple hasn't made its Siri-based HomeKit software platform available yet and the IFTTT channel focuses on Withings products like the Pulse, the Body Scale and the Blood Pressure Monitor instead of its Home camera. That's a shame, since cameras like Homeboy and camera-related apps like Manything have all sorts of useful IFTTT applications.

The air quality chart and alert options. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

The $200/£170 Withings Home camera has a few interesting features -- a VOC sensor with real-time air quality readouts in parts per million, a timer-based lullaby and nightlight feature and even a removable cover that can be used to create a physical "privacy mode" -- but these peripheral features don't mean much without the expected core functionality.

Things like an Android app, optional cloud storage and adjustable motion sensitivity are pretty standard at this price range and Withings treats them like afterthoughts. This isn't exactly a failing, but it would make it hard to use the Withings Home strictly as a security camera. Consider it for your webcam or baby monitor needs, but don't expect it to do much beyond that.


Withings Home

Score Breakdown

Features 7Usability 7Design 8Performance 6
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