SpotCam makes low-cost security and webcams that aren’t quite as flashy as models from Ring and Nest but do the job just fine. I’ve used their products for a number of years and, aside from issues with the device app UI, they’ve done what it says on the tin: supply you with a live, HD audio and video feed from almost anywhere.

Their latest product is the $59 SpotCam Pano 2, a small HD camera that allows for object tracking, digital pan and zoom, and 24-hour cloud video recording. The camera, which sits on a cute little base, can be placed anywhere in your home to keep an eye on pets, kids, or valuables.

There are a few important considerations to understand before you pick one of these up, so let’s talk about how it works and why you’d want to buy this versus close competitors.

SpotCam’s marketing is decidedly wonky

How does the SpotCam Pano 2 work?

To get this thing set up you simply download the SpotCam app and plug it in. The app pairs with the camera and offers a live screen and notification system for Android and iOS devices. The app has improved in recent years – it used to crash quite a bit – but it’s still pretty wonky.

The resulting video, as you can see below, is good enough for passive monitoring but isn’t quite 4K quality. I have this camera in my upstairs window, looking down on the street, and as you can see on the right image the video is fine but not quite as sharp others I’ve tried, including Ring’s floodlight camera. You’ll be able to tell people are running around outside and even recognize them but don’t expect to read a license plate at a distance.

You should also avoid putting this in a window as the night vision mode will reflect in the glass. There isn’t quite a way to fix this issue although you can turn the night vision mode off and increase the resolution (although both those settings didn’t do much to the picture.)

Night Vision?

This brings us to the app itself. Because it’s the only thing you’ll interact with when using the device, it should be SpotCam’s time to shine. It isn’t. The free 24-hour recording feature lets you store video in the cloud for one day. In practice, this works fine but I didn’t notice some situations where the app couldn’t find recorded video I was looking for. The camera also has AI features including face detection and in the outdoor model, the SpotCam Sense Pro Wireless Home Security Camera, these worked well. In this model the usability was limited.

That said, for $59 you could do worse. There is no built-in storage and so video storage depends entirely on SpotCam’s cloud features. This also brings up another question: should you trust your video footage with a company that doesn’t charge you for storing the video securely. Although I’ve never heard of trouble, there is something to be said for subsidizing the company that will be storing pictures of your dogs, cats, and kids in its servers. If you’re pointing this at your boiler or out the window, fine. If you’re putting it in your living room then maybe you’ll want to think long and hard about what provider to trust, and this is true of every single on of them, including Amazon’s own services.

The SpotCam Pano 2 is cheap and it works

I’ll sum up this review with a simple thought: the SpotCam Pano 2 is cheap and it works. If you’re looking for a security camera and you’re not planning on using the video in your next 4K production, then this is more than sufficient. Because it is so cheap you could easily pick up a few to create a whole-home solution but again, what happens if the company loses control of the video? SpotCam makes good cameras for not much money and the work fine. I have no reason to be concerned right now and neither should you and, if you’re looking for a simple way to watch your cats play while you’re on the road, you could do worse than the SpotCam Pano 2.

By John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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