The $50 Wyze Cam Outdoor Starter Bundle takes the best parts of the $20 indoor Wyze Cam, and adds a weatherproof design and battery-powered flexibility. It's a great camera that looks nice and is easy to set up and use -- at a ridiculously low price. Wyze continues to offer two weeks of free cloud storage with this camera, as well as a built-in microSD card slot if local storage is more your thing. (You'll need to use the microSD card slot anyway if you want to take advantage of this camera's Travel Mode -- more on that later.)
Wyze's decision to introduce an option to pay for its long-awaited person alerts, returning this September, is the one thing keeping me from giving this model a CNET Editors' Choice Award (more on person alerts later).
Overall, though, this $50 camera is a great budget option that expands on Wyze's excellent line of affordable smart home products. Starter Bundles and standalone cameras are available for preorder now.
With your Starter Bundle, you get one Wyze Cam Outdoor, one Base Station and mounting hardware. Like Arlo's Pro series of cameras, the Wyze Cam Outdoor needs to be used with a hub, the Base Station, which you connect to your router with an included cable. Additional cameras will be sold separately for $40 each -- and you can connect up to four cameras to one Base Station.
The idea here is that the Base Station will both extend your Wi-Fi range and improve your camera's battery life. While its battery life can vary based on usage, the outside temperature and other factors, it's supposed to last three to six months. Unfortunately, you do have to bring the camera in when you need to charge it -- it doesn't have a removable battery.
Setting up the Wyze Cam Outdoor is simple; it's the similar to installing the indoor Wyze Cam, with the addition of connecting the Base Station to the app. Check out my Wyze Cam how-to article detailing each step for more information. But, in short, you need to download the Wyze app, create an account (if you don't alread have one) and follow the prompts to connect your camera.
The app will ask you to plug the Base Station into your router and name your Base Station. Then add your camera, placing it near the Base Station and turning on the power switch behind the camera. Hit the sync button on the bottom of the camera, name your camera and you're pretty much done. You do also have the option to share your device with a family member or friend. Also, you can follow instructions in the app tutorial to mount your camera. The camera has a built-in base similar to the indoor Wyze Cam, so I opted to set it on the railing of the back deck rather than mounting it.
All told it took a little over 5 minutes total to set up, although it will take longer if you mount your camera more permanently.
Just like the indoor Wyze Cam, the Wyze Cam Outdoor offers adjustable video quality (auto, HD, SD and 360p), livestreaming, motion alerts, a motion detection zone and time lapse, two-way audio and free saved clips in the app's events tab.
The camera also works with Alexa and Google Assistant. I don't have a smart display at home to test this out, but you should be able to ask your Alexa- or Google-Assistant-enabled smart display to show your camera's live feed. The Travel Mode option is supposed to record motion and time-lapse clips to a microSD card without being connected to the Wyze Base Station or your home Wi-Fi network. Again, I didn't have a microSD card handy when I was testing out this camera.
That brings me to person alerts. Wyze used to have a free person detection feature that worked really well, but got rid of it in January, promising to bring it back soon -- and to continue to offer it as a free service. An excerpt from the Nov. 26, 2019, email alerting customers to the upcoming change read: "The good news is that when we do reroll out this feature [person detection] it will still be free for you -- even if we end up using the cloud instead if edge-AI."
On July 20 of this year, Wyze contacted select early customers, letting them know that person detection would be returning this September and that everyone who had created a Wyze account before Nov. 26, 2019, would continue to get person detection for free. But, due to costs Wyze didn't anticipate, everyone else will have to pay for person detection via an upcoming optional service called Cam Plus. I don't have the pricing details for this optional subscription plan yet, but will update this review when I do.
Fortunately, you still get two weeks of cloud storage -- and the other existing features, like motion zones and time lapses -- for free.
User privacy is an important consideration when you're shopping for a security camera or any camera-enabled smart home device.
A Wyze data leak exposed user data for 22 days in December 2019. Customer credit card info and passwords were not part of the leak, but Wyze logged all users out of their accounts and reset integrations with Alexa, Google Assistant and other third-party partners. To protect yourself after the leak, CNET's Jason Cipriani suggested creating a new password (and changing any other accounts that might have the same password), as well as signing up for two-factor authentication and reconnecting your third-party integrations.
If you're looking for an affordable weatherproof home security camera, the Wyze Cam Outdoor should definitely be in the running. This model combines an outdoor-rated housing with a rechargeable battery so you can put it pretty much anywhere within range of your Wi-Fi network -- and, if you use Travel Mode, well beyond the reaches of Wi-Fi.
Wyze gives you storage options with two weeks of free event-based video clips and the built-in microSD card slot. The camera itself is easy to install and performs well. It's a shame Wyze wasn't able to bring back free person alerts for everyone, although the company says it will revisit whether to charge for the feature in the future, if it's able to. Regardless, this is a great camera that brings the best of the original indoor Wyze Cam outside.