Netatmo Smart Outdoor Camera review

The Netatmo Smart Outdoor Camera was originally called the Smart Outdoor Camera. But name change doesn’t alter anything: this is still one of the best choices if you’re after an outdoor security camera. 

Why? Because it works really well, has a built-in LED floodlight (which you can control via Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant) and records to built-in storage so there’s no subscription to pay. 

It’s smart because it can detect people, animals and cars up to 65 feet away, sending alerts to your phone – and even your smartwatch. This means you shouldn’t end up with a load of false alarms: other cameras can’t differentiate between a tree swaying in the wind and the stuff you actually want to know about.

Netatmo Smart Outdoor Camera: Price & availability

You can buy a Netatmo Outdoor Camera from Amazon. At the time of writing it cost £229.99, £20 less than the RRP. But if you buy from Netatmo direct, there’s an option to buy a 2-pack for £399.99, making each camera £200.

A better deal is available from BT Shop where you can buy the Smart Outdoor Camera for only £179.99.

If you’re in the US, you can buy the Smart Outdoor Camera from Amazon. It’s a little more expensive at $299.99.

Wherever you live, it’s a relatively expensive choice compared to some outdoor security cameras, but it is always important to consider the lifetime cost. Most rivals use cloud storage and therefore charge a subscription fee, either monthly or annually. But with the Netatmo, you just pay once and then it’s yours to own and use.

Plus, good news for geeks: you can also set the Smart Outdoor Camera to save video to Dropbox, or your own FTP server.

For alternatives, read our roundup of the best security cameras.

Netatmo Smart Outdoor Camera: Design and installation

The best thing about the Smart Outdoor Camera is that it doesn’t look like a security camera. The lens is at the bottom, but at first glance you notice only the light. If anything, the camera is easily mistaken for a motion sensor, so few people will realise they’re being recorded. (Note that the Protection of Freedoms Act sets out guidelines for using outdoor cameras in “a responsible way to protect the privacy of others”. )

Unlike other outdoor cameras, the Smart Outdoor Camera doesn’t have an inconvenient mains adaptor – few people have an outdoor socket, let alone right where they would want to install a camera. Instead, the Smart Outdoor Camera is designed to replace an existing outdoor light.

This makes installation a breeze – as long as you have an outdoor light you can replace and can drill the two necessary holes in your wall. Then it’s just a case of connecting the three wires which powered your old light to the chocolate block on the Smart Outdoor Camera.

Doing it this way means there are no visible wires a burglar can quickly cut, an no mains adapter that can be unplugged.

Before mounting it, though, do check you have a strong Wi-Fi signal in that position.

The only issue is if you have multiple lights operated by the same switch, as the others which aren’t replaced by the camera will be on all the time (or your camera will be switched off if you turn the other lights off). Netatmo says it has no plans to release a matching LED light without the camera.

You’ll need to install the Netatmo Security app and sign up for a Netatmo account to complete the installation. And as with any Bluetooth-equipped camera, this process is quick and simple and can be done entirely from your phone.

Netatmo Smart Outdoor Camera: Features and performance

On the main screen of the app you’ll see each of your Netatmo cameras (including Indoor cameras) and an up-to-date thumbnail. You tap the play button to see the video feed (rotating the phone to portrait for full-screen) but below the thumbnail is a timeline of events.

Netatmo Presence review

These crop in on the subject detected, and you can tap one to bring up the full frame from the video. It’s a great feature, but if you play back the video it will start at the beginning rather than going straight to the action.

However, it’s a minor quibble. In general, the Smart Outdoor Camera reliably records the motion you want and doesn’t give false alarms. Plus, you can download any clip and save it to your phone’s camera roll. It’s best to do this when you’re at home on the same Wi-Fi network for the fastest speed, but you can do it remotely. However, there’s no progress indicator and you can’t leave it downloading in the background while you review other clips or change settings.

Videos are stored on the built-in 16GB microSD card (but you can replace this with a 32GB card if you want more storage space). When the card fills up, the oldest videos are deleted automatically. If you want to keep everything, you can link your Dropbox account, but the best option is to get the camera to send video to an FTP server, such as one running on a NAS drive. This way you can easily access the full-HD clips and the video will be safe even if someone steals the camera.

As part of the setup, you can name your camera and set up one or more zones for motion detection. You can create multiple zones, but they can only be rectangles and there’s a minimum size. This restriction is there because Netatmo uses an intelligent algorithm to detect what’s creating the motion in a bid to avoid false alarms. It can detect people, animals and cars.

Not everyone can choose the perfect mounting location and when mounted on a shed in a back garden we found we couldn’t avoid including a small tree in one zone and had a fair few alerts telling us a person had been seen, along with thumbnails of said tree. In the end, we deleted that motion zone and relied on another one.

Netatmo Presence review

The floodlight is nice and bright and there’s a slider so you can choose the brightness you want. The light can be set to on, off or auto mode. In the latter, you can set it to turn on whenever people, cars or animals are detected. You just enable the categories you want. There’s also ‘other motions’ as a catch-all for anything else.

If you prefer, you can set it to turn on whenever it’s dark. What’s missing is a timed option so you can have it on from, say, dusk until 10pm, so you don’t annoy your neighbours should it keep turning on through the night.

Also, we’d prefer the floodlight power control to be on the main screen rather than buried in the settings. Fortunately, since we first reviewed the camera back at the tail end of 2016, there’s now integration with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa (and support for HomeKit, too) so you can turn the light on and off with your voice, so long as you have a compatible smart speaker or another device with those assistants built in.

Netatmo Presence review

Motion detection

There’s no sensitivity slider for motion detection (there’s no need because of the intelligent detection) but it’s a shame there’s no way to specify which type of motion you want to watch out for in each zone. These are set globally.

You can turn the camera on or off by bringing up the settings, but there’s no option to set a schedule so it only records at certain times.

It’s good, though, that you can choose when to receive notifications. Two sliders let you set ‘from’ and ‘to’ times. There’s also an option to get notifications only when nobody is home, but this works only if you have a Netatmo Indoor camera too), and only for certain types of motion.

We found that alerts arrived on our phone (and Apple Watch) within a couple of seconds of motion being detected, and we were impressed at the accuracy of the algorithm. It could correctly identify a person moving in the garden roughly 60 feet away, and picked up a surprising number of animals roaming during the night when using its infrared LEDs.

Again, you may well have to set up motion zones as we did to avoid false alarms – Netatmo’s algorithm isn’t quite foolproof.

Verdict

Overall, the Netatmo Outdoor camera is an excellent choice for most people. It records good-quality video and the motion detection works well. Unlike Netatmo’s Indoor camera, it can’t recognise faces, which is a shame, but it does just about everything else you’d want and doesn’t force you to pay an ongoing subscription like most of its rivals.

Specs

Netatmo Presence: Specs

  • Outdoor Wi-Fi security camera
  • 4Mp sensor, video resolution up to 1920×1080
  • Field of view: 100 degrees
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz
  • Storage: 16GB microSD card included, optional Dropbox integration or FTP server
  • Floodlight: 12W, dimmable
  • IR night vision: detection up to 15m (50ft)
  • Dimensions: 50x200x110 mm
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