Netatmo Welcome | $219
Home security is a hot topic. People are more aware of the security issues around their house today, and with an ever-rising range of products trying to address those issues, Netatmo’s Welcome smart home camera deserves a look for its simple approach to a big concern, especially for parents.
Here’s an example: if you’re working late or out running errands, how do you know when you child gets home from school without them actually calling you?
Netatmo’s Welcome aims to address this question with a simple approach: you install the smart home camera by your front door, and Welcome notifies you on your smart phone or tablet with updates when faces are visible, or when there is motion detected.
Want to see a live stream from the camera? Welcome does that too. The device is essentially a watchful eye for your home, with facial recognition software to help keep an eye out for loved ones or strangers.
Maybe most importantly, and unlike other home camera systems, Welcome doesn’t require any paid subscription plans or additional costs. Once you’ve bought your Welcome and installed it, you won’t need to keep paying to receive service or connect to your camera, and that’s the beauty of what Netatmo has created.
While other camera systems do offer more features, Welcome focuses on facial recognition and a simple service offering that the company can grow on with updates in the coming months.
Looking at the features, here’s what the Welcome does offer: full HD video, user-friendly user app for Android and iPhone, 130° viewing angle, night vision, event timeline, locally stored and encrypted files, and customizable profiles based on recognized faces.
Setup and Installation
The Welcome installs fairly easily, whether you’re familiar with these kinds of app-based products or not. Take the Welcome out of the box, plug it in to a wall outlet, and then run the app for instructions. At one point you will need to turn the Welcome upside-down to prove that you’re in front of the device, and to activate the installation process that will connect it to your Wi-Fi network, and then you won’t need to touch the Welcome again.
After that, Welcome will always be on the lookout for faces, and through the app it will start asking you to put names to faces and building up profile strength so it will generally always recognize known faces.
Where Netatmo has purposefully made Welcome a little more interactive is the fact that it will always err on the side of caution when it comes to facial recognition. Even if a person’s profile strength–meaning how well it knows that person’s face–is at 100%, it will request confirmation from you through the app if it’s not absolutely certain it’s the same person. That means that someone who kind of looks like you, or a family member, won’t be mis-recognized.
In terms of profiles and features, you can set the Welcome to always record certain faces, never record them, or only sometimes record them when the home is considered empty.
On a nearly-live basis, Welcome will notify you if a stranger enters your home, or motion is detected when the home is thought to be empty. You can toggle this setting to make the most sense, but it’s a cornerstone of what the app can do to make you aware of potential issues. You can also watch the video stream live from the camera, which includes basic audio and decent night vision.
The security on Welcome is very good–as it should be. All of the camera’s video and face-recognition data is stored on an 8GB micro SD card, which is encrypted to the device, so anyone who gets their hands on the chip will not be able to view any of the video or data. Otherwise, Welcome is only accessible through accounts that are configured to it, so the only way to get into your video data is for someone to log in to your Netatmo account. For that reason, it’s important to make sure you create a strong password for your account.App
Ultimately, the power of Welcome is within the app. How much you appreciate the device will probably come down to how much you like the app, and I was mostly impressed with it on Android.
My biggest complaint was simply that Welcome had a hard time recognizing some faces, no matter how often it saw those people. That comes down to placement, the distance from the camera to the faces, and available light too, but it can get tedious to have numerous requests to verify the same person over and over again.
I loved, however, how I could look back over the timeline of events to see what had happened, whether it was a specific person’s arrival, or motion (the cat) that was detected over night. The only limit to how much video I could review was the size of the SD card, and how much I was asking the device to record. By installing a new card, which will wipe Welcome’s settings and profiles, you could store a lot of video, or optimize the included 8 GB card to last for a number of days. By default though, I found the Welcome only could keep about a day’s worth of video.
The long-term upgrades to Welcome will really dictate how great the device will become, especially once they start working with IFTTT. As it is, Netatmo’s Welcome is a good option for tracking who comes in and out of your home, with functionality to see when your kids come home, no matter how far from away you are.
I would like to see more features, and an enhanced system that possibly even allows you to train Welcome, in addition to more options for how and when video is stored. It would also be nice to see options to connect external storage options, like Network Attached Storage, to backup video down the road, but I accept this is still early, and out of the box, Welcome does what it sets out to do: it’s your protective eye watching over your home, day and night.
You can find out more about the Netatmo Welcome at netatmo.com.