I have reviewed quite a few smart home cameras in the last year and, as you know, there are many products to choose from. One thing I have noticed is that, if you group them by price point, the features will be very close, with a few differences in design, software, and image resolution.
I have a pan and tilt camera and often wondered what it would take to have one automatically track the person or pet while they move around the room. It is very hard to manually follow a moving object remotely with a pan and tilt camera due to latency issues. When I heard that Samsung was introducing their SmartCam PT Security Camera with auto tracking capabilities I was excited to review it.
What’s in the Box?
I was very impressed with the packaging, which is similar to the NETGEAR Arlo. The SmartCam PT Security Camera is attached to the top of the retail box under a clear cover – this allows you to see the actual device as opposed to a photograph of it, while still protecting it from damage.
The printing on the front of the box does a great job of letting you know what the SmartCam PT Security Camera is and what it does. The right side of the box informs you of controller apps for iOS and Android devices, and that you can access the SmartCam PT Security Camera via your smart phone, tablet, or PC. There is also a label that lists the model number and serial number of the camera. The left side of the box lists the main features of the SmartCam PT Security Camera.
On the rear of the box you will see a description of features including pan and tilt support. Overall the packaging was very well designed and added quite a bit of excitement to the unboxing experience. One thing you will notice is that the box is a very dark gray and the printing under the headings is also gray, making it quite hard to read the finer print. I had a lot of difficulty reading anything under the headings.
To get the box opened the very first step is to cut the security tape on bottom of the left side, this will allow you to slide the lower cover off exposing the tape that holds the clear 5 sided box on the top. Once you remove the tape you can simply lift off the clear box on top revealing the camera and the flap you will need to pull out to open the top of the box.
When you open the top of the box you will notice that the SmartCam PT Security Camera is attached to the top of the box with a thumb screw. Removing the screw can be done by hand – no screwdriver needed. Make sure you keep the screw though, you will need it to use the wall mount.
After you remove the camera you will notice a relatively thick black piece of plastic glued very well to the top of the flap the SmartCam PT Security Camera is mounted to. This is done to make it virtually impossible to pull the camera off the top of the box unless it’s opened correctly. My guess is this is done to assure the SmartCam PT Security Camera stays securely fastened during shipment to assure it arrives safely, and to deter theft in the retail store.
When you open the rest of the flaps on the top of the box you will see the contents inside. You can simply reach in and remove them or turn the box upside down and let them slide out.
Once you have everything removed from the box, you should see the following items:
- The SmartCam PT Security Camera
- 1 Wall Mount
- Template for wall mount hole placement
- Warranty Certificate (Support Number is on the first page)
- 3 Quick Start guides for iOS and Android in 3 languages, English, French, and Spanish
- 1 Licensing Document
- 2 Wall Anchors with Screws
- A/C Power Adapter (Yes it is USB)
- 8 foot long USB power Cord
The SmartCam PT Security Camera supports resolutions of 1920 x 1080p, 1280 x 720 and 640 x 360 so you can choose the best resolution for your situation. While 1080p offers the clearest image, if bandwidth is an issuesyou may need to drop the resolution down. Certainly, if you want to capture small details like license plate numbers or facial features you will want to use the 1920 x 1080 option. You will be able to stream to up to 4 profiles at a time. The pan and tilt specs are Pan:350°(-175°~175°), Tilt:155°(~80°~+75°) – as you can see the tilt and pan ranges are very good.
As mentioned, auto tracking is also supported. It’s an innovative feature, allowing the camera to follow a person or pet around the room automatically. Low light recording should not be an issue as the SmartCam PT Security Camera supports 0.3 Lux (Color) and 0 Lux (Black/White). You can record any events locally by inserting a SD card (up to 128 GB). Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (Single Band) should be sufficient to fit any wireless network you have.
One additional feature that really makes sense to me is the ability to set the camera to tilt completely down, disabling any recording to allow privacy when needed. I almost forgot the 4x digital zoom feature, which will never be as clear as an optical zoom, but is available for zooming in on objects and people. For a complete list of specifications and please check out this link.
One of the things I noticed right away is that the SmartCam PT Security Camera seems to be very well-built. It is very solid to the touch, everything fits together very well and can be moved around the house without fear of it breaking. I expect it to stand up well to everyday use. The weight also seems to be just right – it’s heavy enough to stay put once you have placed it. It even has rubber feet attached to the bottom if you decide you don’t need the wall mount.
On the front of the SmartCam PT Security Camera you will see the lens, infrared light for night vision, LED status light, and a slot for the speaker. On the back you will find the SD card slot (up to 128 GB cards supported) and the USB power port. If you flip the SmartCam PT Security Camera upside down you will see the reset/WiFi Direct button and label with the serial number and MAC address. The threaded mount you will need to attach the wall mount is located on the bottom as well.
Getting Up and Running
The quick start guide is only three short pages long so it looks like it will be an easy installation. I used an Android smartphone to set up the device – iOS mobiles are also supported.
The first step is to create a user account – just follow the prompts. You will need to set up a username and password – Samsung provides a place to record it in the quick start guide if you want to.
Step 1. Once you have an account set up, you will see a screen that allows you to add a camera. Just click on the plus sign. The setup wizard will start to guide you through the steps.
Step 2. After selecting the plus sign you will see a screen that asks how you will be setting up the SmartCam PT Security Camera. Most will set up the device using a wireless network, but a wired option is also available.
Step 3. The next screen takes you through preparing the SmartCam PT Security Camera to join your WiFi network. When the LED on the front of the camera starts to flash red, press the WiFi button on the bottom for 5 seconds. The status LED should change to light yellowish/green and the camera will perform its entire range of motion – ending up in a centered position.
Step 4. The app will find the camera you are adding on the network. Confirm the last four characters of the serial number are correct and select it, then click next. It will take a few seconds for the app to find your available wireless networks. Be patient, then select the correct SSID, enter the password when prompted and click Next.
Step 5. It will take up to 3 minutes to relay the network settings to the new SmartCam PT Security Camera. The LED will change from blue to green when its time to give the camera a name and set a password.
Step 6. Once that is done you should see a screen that lets you know everything is connected and its time to set your preferences. Select “Yes”.
Step 7. Next you need to set your time zone and daylight savings time options, then click Next.
Step 8. The next screen is where you set your alert settings. Do you want to be alerted to any motion and/or sounds the SmartCam PT Security Camera detects? Make your selection and continue.
Step 9. You are done! It took me about 15 minutes to set up the camera but I was recording each step as I went along. I think I could have completed it in about 5 minutes otherwise. The SmartCam PT is the easiest camera I have set up to date. Everything went very smoothly and I had no issues whatsoever.
Using the Samsung SmartCam PT Security Camera
I have spent quite a bit of time with the SmartCam PT Security Camera and have had great success getting it to do everything as advertised. Let’s take a look at some examples of the user interface.
To log into the SmartCam PT Security Camera you simply open the SmartCam app on your Phone, Tablet, or PC. When you open the app you will be prompted to sign in – you can set the app to retain your login info for later use. It will take a second or two to log into the console. Once you are logged in, you will see the cameras you have set up and you can then choose the one you wish to work with. Once you select the camera, you will be greeted with a screen that will allow you to view its live feed or any recorded events. The settings page for each camera is available from here as well.
Here are some examples of the different settings screens you have available. The general settings screen lets you configure the majority of options for each camera. Event settings allows you to configure motion and sound alerts and you can adjust the sensitivity. You can also configure the camera to send an email alert to your inbox and that of others you determine.
A big win is the Privacy mode settings page. If you are using the SmartCam PT Security Camera in your home, there may be certain times of the day or night where you don’t want the camera to be on and recording the events in the space it is monitoring. This is the screen where you tell the SmartCam PT Security Camera the days and times you want it to automatically go to sleep. The lens will tilt all the way down and all sensing capabilities and recording capabilities will remain off for the times you set.
As you can see from the pictures above, the camera’s image quality is quite good. The SmartCam PT Security Camera does a great job in low light and does pretty well in complete darkness. The night vision range is not as good as some but it is satisfactory. I had quite a bit of fun testing the camera’s Auto Tracking feature – it did a great job of keeping the subject in the center of the screen when in motion. I tried both vertical and horizontal movement and the camera worked flawlessly. If the subject is moving at a pace faster than a very brisk walk it will take a little time for the camera to catch up, but in normal situations. it is spot on.
I really enjoyed putting the Samsung SmartCam PT Security Camera though its paces. I had no issues with the camera dropping connectivity (as with some recent cameras I’ve reviewed). I was able to use the 1080p settings wirelessly with no network issues. I tried very hard to find something the SmartCam PT Security Camera was not able to handle and was very pleased to not find any so far. Of all the cameras I have reviewed this year, this one beats them all hands down.
Samsung has set the bar high with their latest smart home security device. You can find the Samsung SmartCam PT Security Camera at Amazon, priced at $179.00