Keep Tabs on Your House With Logitech’s Portable ‘Circle’ Cam

1 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Keep Tabs on Your House With Logitech’s Portable ‘Circle’ Cam.

The ultimate nanny cam, Logitech’s new device brings your home happenings to your smartphone: stream live HD video and two-way audio over Wi-Fi. Consumer electronics and accessories maker Logitech has launched a slick new home-monitoring video camera that’s as much about snapping priceless family moments as it is about recording intruders.Well-known for its stable of iOS device accessories including cases, keyboards, and much more, Logitech continues to branch out after announcing the new Logi label earlier this summer. Plus, Scene Intuition technology teaches the camera your home life patterns, then filters footage to send alerts concerning only interesting activity. Though you may be more familiar with Logitech for its PC peripherals, such as mice and keyboards, it is no stranger to cameras, with a slew of webcams and security cameras to its name.

The Logi Circle is portable and rechargeable, letting users carry it from room to room to stream up to three hours, then drop it onto the magnetic charging ring to rejuice. But the Circle is aimed squarely at the smartphone-toting family setup, and powered by a handful of neat features to ensure you capture everything important for posterity. It also provides Day Briefs—auto-generated 30-second video summaries of the day’s best moments. “Now you can watch your kids playing or catch your dog chasing its tail even if you’re running errands, traveling for business or at the office,” Vincent Borel, director of new ventures at Logitech, said in a statement. It’s not a home security camera, it’s a “home connection camera.” This novel approach to home cams has less to do with hardware and more to do with the user experience.

The new brand represent’s part of the Swiss company’s efforts to reinvent itself with smarter, sexier designs after it hired former Nokia chief designer Alastair Curtis back in 2013. The camera is able to send you push notifications when there’s movement, and that motion detection also helps break out moments you may have missed throughout the day. Rival Nest Labs recently released the $199 Nest Cam, which can sit on furniture or be affixed to a wall or metal surface to monitor your home when you’re away. That said, I did encounter issues setting the camera up through the Android app, though I think that may be due to the Android version that’s used on my OnePlus 2 smartphone. And, when you want to see what action has taken place in your home, Day Briefs™ provide an auto-generated, 30-second video summary of the best moments from that day.

Both the Android and iOS apps worked like a charm once the camera was set up, and I was able to easily access the Circle’s functionality anytime, anywhere. Other cameras like the Nest Cam and Canary can stream and save video clips in 1080p HD, but to be honest, the higher resolution isn’t noticeably better. With real-time HD (1080p, not full HD) video-capturing, wide-angle viewing, and an 8x zoom, you can tune in to watch what’s happening in your house, wherever you are in the world. Curiously, the camera also serves up a 30-second “Day Brief” of all the best events it has captured on a given day, enabled in part by Logitech’s so-called “Scene Intuition” which “adapts to your home to identify and record interesting activity.” Digging down into the Circle’s other features, it offers a two-way “talk and listen” feature so you can essentially bypass Skype and use this as a telephone to chat with your loved ones back home.

It’s a great way to quickly check on what’s been happening at your home without needing to scroll through a timeline, or waste time loading individual clips. This may be a little creepy for some, however, given that the camera can be sitting innocuously on a cabinet in the corner, and all of a sudden, from a hotel room on the opposite side of the world, you could yell “WATCHA DOING” to your spouse while they fix themselves a coffee in the kitchen. Both of these features seemed to work well in the few days that I’ve been using the Circle in my apartment, where the most interesting action always comes from my dog. While the Circle retails for the same price as a number of similar devices, the combination of portability and video filtering is definitely an interesting proposition.

Instead, notifications were limited to the times where she was playing with her bone, or when the dog walker picked her up and dropped her off. (The Circle also affords me the same existential problems that I had with the Dropcam, like feeling creepy when I’m watching her walkers come and go, and an immense feeling of guilt for not always being in the apartment playing with her.) But the software is also where Circle falls a little short against its competition. For other recent accessory news, see: Sonos pumps up the volume with a new Play:5 speaker, Google takes on Apple TV with revamped Chromecast 2.0, and Apple HomeKit support will reportedly arrive for the Philips Hue lights next month. Over 30 years ago, Logitech started connecting people through computers, and now it’s designing products that bring people together through music, gaming, video and computing.

It also has a night-vision feature, which could be useful for capturing wild animals frolicking in your back garden, or it could be useful as a baby-monitor. Founded in 1981, Logitech International is a Swiss public company listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (LOGN) and on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (LOGI). Being able to mitigate the amount of notifications is nice, but I found the Dropcam Pro’s ability to draw zones in your video that you want your motion notifications to come from to be much more useful. Though the Circle doesn’t have a motion-sensing feature in a traditional form, it does replicate this with a “video analysis algorithm” that senses when there is “significant motion.” This helps it conserve storage and reduces “spam” movements such as moving shadows, your fan blowing, or leaves rustling on a tree outside. Find Logitech at www.logitech.com, the company blog or @Logitech. 2015 Logitech, Logicool, Logi and other Logitech marks are owned by Logitech and may be registered.

And while the 24-hour cache does work great — especially since it’s free — there is no option for recording or storing your footage right now. (That also means no saving or sharing clips, something that comes in handy if you don’t want to pass off your login info to someone else.) One useful and unique thing about the Circle, though, is that it’s portable. The Circle actually reminds me a little bit of the Homeboy security camera in terms of look and feel, and part of me wishes the Circle offered some of the functionality of the Homeboy.

It unshackles the camera from needing to be plugged into an outlet and gives you the freedom to place the camera in places like on a coffee table in the middle of your living room (no wire snaking off waiting to be tripped over or extension cords needed), or on a bookshelf. If you’re away from your home a lot and find yourself worried about your stuff, your pets, or even your children, there’s no shortage of options that will let you keep a virtual eye on them. However, the Homeboy and other security-focused cameras on the market will broadcast a shrill noise to scare off intruders if they detect movement and send an immediate alert to your phone.

To get started, you turn the camera on via a switch located on the bottom of its base, wait for the LED light to flash blue and then wait for it to connect. The most obvious comparison here is the Google-owned Nest Cam that was formerly known as Dropcam, as they are similar devices at the same price-point. It wouldn’t be possible if the camera wasn’t fast enough to process the clips, which are stored on your own free private Logi Circle Cloud service account. Logitech doesn’t specify exactly how much storage each account has, but a company representative assured me it’s enough to store an entire day’s worth of video clips.

The smart filtering that shows you only the meaningful moments works very well, and the Daily Brief feature is something that I’d use every day, if I wanted to keep up with a houseful of kids or pets or potential burglars. I did, however, notice it did sometimes fail to record a bunch of clips when I quickly left the room, came back, left again and came back within a single minute.

For a parent, though, the footage would probably look a lot more interesting; they only need to spend 30 seconds to catch up on what their kids were doing throughout an entire day. As I peeled back the shrink wrap and unboxed the Circle, it became immediately apparent to me the experience Logitech wanted to impart on buyers — that this camera is fun and easy to use, but most importantly, not intimidating when placed in the home.

Logitech is aware that it’s entering a space that’s already super crowded, which is why its Circle is positioned as a Wi-Fi connected camera that’s more digital lifestyle and less about monitoring.

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