Review: SmartCloud for Samsung SmartCam HD Plus

I recently reviewed the SmartCam HD Plus (see our review) and was very impressed with its performance and features. One of the features I was looking for that was lacking was the ability to store the video to the cloud. Such a feature is useful if the camera is stolen or damaged during an event – with recordings available in the cloud, I could review the video to determine what happened and potentially provide the footage to the authorities if needed.

Samsung has recently released their new SmartCloud Offering for their SmartCam HD Plus. As of now, the subscription service is only available for the SmartCam HD Plus, but more models will be supported in the future. If the product works as advertised, by storing the video to an offsite location in the cloud, my concerns about the camera getting stolen along with the footage will be addressed. Let’s set it up and see how easy it is to use.

Features

The service provides a viable alternative to the 128 GB of local video storage that the SmartCam HD Plus currently offers.

With SmartCloud, video footage is securely and privately stored in the cloud, offering users the strongest level of protection against any home invasion. Whether a camera is stolen or damaged, the video will be preserved and users will be equipped to review the footage history from any unforeseen events.

SmartCloud also delivers improved motion detection accuracy in any setting, leveraging enhanced algorithms to better analyze lights and shadows to filter out irrelevant activity from footage that could trigger false alarms. It can disregard rain, snow and shadows seen through a window, resulting in improved video accuracy for challenging outdoor environments compared to the SmartCam HD Plus standard features.

This offering also represents the latest progression in activity recognition. While most home video monitoring services overwhelm users with alerts regarding slight changes in the vicinity, Samsung SmartCloud’s Zone feature can accurately distinguish between motion that is of interest to consumers and meaningless noise. With this tool, there are also no limits to the number of zones, within a camera’s field of view, that a user can individually monitor.

Three service plans are available at launch, ranging from a $49.99 (annual)/$4.99 (monthly) entry-level option delivering five days of historic recording, through to a $199.99/$19.99 Elite tier offering twenty-one days storage plus a Cloud DVR feature. Note that pricing is per camera.

Getting Up and Running

The first step is to go to http://www.mysmartcamcloud.com or download the mobile app to your phone or tablet. Once there, you will be asked if you want to use an existing account or set up a new one. I chose to set up a new account by selecting “Start My Free Trial”.

Samsung SmartCloud

Once you select the option needed, you will need to follow the wizard to get your account set up. The first screen asks if you are an existing SmartCam user and you want to upgrade your account or if you are a new user. I selected New User. The next screen asks you for a user ID, e-mail address, password, your country of residence, and the customary User agreement check box.

Once through, you will see the Activation Wizard screen. Click “Activate my Camera” and you’ll be asked to verify that you have the latest firmware installed on your Samsung HD Plus. If you are not up to date, complete the upgrade using the SmartCam App on your mobile device before continuing or you will not be able to proceed.

 

The next step is to activate your SmartCam HD Plus for use with the SmartCloud service by clicking the “I have the latest firmware” button.  The next screen explains that the wizard will build a QR code to activate your camera.

You will be prompted for your wireless network SSID and Password. Once you have entered the correct information, click “Next” and you will be greeted with a screen that explains how to use the QR code to activate your camera.

Make sure the camera is powered on and located close to your computer screen (or phone/tablet if you have installed the mobile app). Hold the camera twelve inches from the screen, aimed at the QR code. Once the camera sees the QR code correctly, you will hear a chime. At this time you can put the camera down and wait for the service to activate (this can take up to 3 minutes). Once it’s activated you will be asked to set up your time zone and create a camera name.

You are almost done. The only task remaining is for you to set your Alert Zones (the areas in the camera’s field of view you want to monitor for movement. A doorway or window is a good example). You’ll be asked where you want alerts to be sent and once configured, you’re done.

I found setup to be very straightforward. The only issue I experienced was that my SmartCam HD Plus didn’t like the QR code displayed on my monitor – but it worked just fine using the mobile app on my phone. I did call Samsung’s 24 x 7 tech support number and was talking to a live person within a minute.

The person that answered took my phone number and I got a call back from a technician in about fifteen minutes. The experience was positive and efficient. It was the technician that suggested trying the mobile app. He even called back in about an hour to see if everything was working – it was one of the best support experiences I have had.

Samsung SmartCloud

Performance

I have had the Samsung SmartCloud up and running for about a week and it has worked flawlessly. I am sufficiently impressed that I signed up for the $7.99 a month package and prepaid for a year to receive a 15% discount – that provides a continual recording (DVR) mode.

This service level offers seven days of historical video that I can review and download to my local storage if I want to for any reason. I haven’t noticed much, if any, difference in the zone sensitivity, or a reduction in false alarms as compared to the local SD card storage option. The Samsung SmartCloud and SmartCam HD Plus will send an alert for something as small as a mosquito while in night vision mode. (this can be adjusted by reducing the sensitivity settings). I have experienced around a four second delay while streaming live over the internet which I feel is acceptable.

Samsung SmartCloud

Summary

Setting up the Samsung SmartCloud service couldn’t have been any easier (other than my issue with my monitor and the QR code. I suggest  you set it up using the mobile app to avoid this issue.) The Technical support I needed was a very positive experience. The video quality is very good – you will be able to recognize the faces of the people you see very easily. The Zone feature greatly reduces the number of alerts you will receive by focusing on the parts of the room, or locations you are concerned about, for example doorways, swimming pool, where valuables are stored, and so on.

I feel that for as little as 49.99 a year the service is well worth the money and, as a bonus, Samsung will give you 50% off any additional cameras you decide to add later. Samsung SmartCloud is available now for the Samsung SmartCam HD Plus.

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