I Tried Swann’s Indoor Camera to Spy on My Cat but Learnt So Much More About Home Security

I Tried Swann’s Indoor Camera to Spy on My Cat but Learnt So Much More About Home Security

Swann is a brand I associate with industrial-grade security monitoring, or at least a company that puts cameras up in spaces like a small business or a house. But they also make monitoring equipment for indoors. So I decided to use the Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera to spy on my cat.

What I learned was my cat, Boston, does a whole lot of absolutely nothing while I’m in the office. He sat in the one spot on the lounge for five hours. But I also learned there’s a whole side to personal security devices that I’ve not been too exposed to.

Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera

The Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera is billed by the company as a 2K Quad HD Wi-Fi Camera with heat and motion sensing, a siren, colour night vision, two-way talk as well as free cloud and local recording capabilities.

It offers itself up as a baby monitor, and it works with both Google and Alexa. It’s not too expensive, at $99, and the quality of the stream isn’t bad, either (as long as you don’t need to zoom too far in).

First, some context

In my kitchen (which joins the loungeroom given I’m in an apartment) sits a Google Nest Hub Max. It has a camera that via the Nest app alerts me when there’s movement. One of my biggest grievances with this camera is that when my partner is home and I’m out, it will alert me when he’s in the camera’s view. You can set it up to disable alerts when you’re home, but that would prevent capturing, for example, if someone was to break in while you’re asleep (or if Boston was to do something naughty). It will also alert me of motion when the sun comes out from behind a cloud.

I do like, however, that I can use the Nest Hub Max to not necessarily spy on Boston, but check in on him.

The field of view for the Nest Hub Max is quite restricted, given it has a whole ass smart home hub attached to it. It would definitely be beneficial, I thought, to have a nimble, standalone security camera. One I could place anywhere. Enter the Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera.

Easy to setup, hard to stand up

To set it up, you take it out of the box, plug the USB-C power adapter into the Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera and power it up. The device is super light, and the cable is super short. I also rent, so I can’t fix it to a wall.

Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera
The cable is too short (left) I have to run an extension cord (middle) and Blu Tack is to hold the Swann 2K Indoor Camera in place on my bookshelf (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Upon firing it up, the Swann 2K Camera screams: ‘READY TO PAIR’. The sound was muffled and it was enough pressure to knock the darn thing onto the floor. Luckily, the camera is resilient and there was no damage. Boston was traumatised by the scene it caused, however. It fell onto the floor, again, purely from the weight of the power block.

If you want to locally capture footage, you’ll need a microSD card (not included). Up to 128GB is supported by the Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera.

Aside from that, you’ll just need to make sure the cam is in range of your Wi-Fi.

Before you connect to Wi-Fi, however, you’ll need to download the Swann Security app, sign up for an account, enter your address, verify your email, then log back in, confirm/deny access to certain things (camera, Bluetooth, location, etc). The UI ain’t pretty but it’s easy enough to navigate.

Setting up the Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera itself is simple, especially considering you can just scan the QR code and follow the prompts.

Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

It yelled something (I think it was “Connection in progress” then “something something you can use your device now”). I cannot emphasise how awful the sound is. Thankfully, you can turn this down in the app.

Boston TV

When the Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera senses a person/movement, the light beams red. Initially, I thought that was a notification that someone was watching the stream, but unfortunately, there’s nothing to indicate that. Definitely something that should have been baked into the device from a privacy perspective.

When viewing the footage, it’s a little delayed. Watching myself on the phone while I’m sitting on the lounge typing, it took eight seconds to update to me moving. Side note: my posture is terrible.

Notifications come in hot and heavy, but I was walking back and forth right in front of the Swann Cam.

The stream is clear enough from my phone, but as you can see from the image below (I’ve deliberately blurred the edges, privacy and whatnot), but the breakout image of Boston was zoomed in on the phone’s stream, not on the first image. Zoom is quite bad. You’d need some NCIS-level tech to make out a person’s face properly.

Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera
Cat, not a cushion. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

While Boston TV was probably the most boring thing I’ve ever watched in my life, I’d still probably watch it over sitting through Morbius again.

You can speak through the cam via a simple in-app activation, I just didn’t want to make Boston think I was home when I wasn’t, stress the poor little thing, and you can go back and view footage taken that day. This is either via the memory card or the cloud stream, which is accessible via the ‘Playback’ feature in the Swann app. This brings up a calendar view where you can flip through previous video captures.

You can switch the cam into different modes: home, night, away or set specific schedules. This is helpful when you want to avoid those annoying notifications I was mentioning a little earlier.

While the cam was set up for me to spy on Boston, placing it in a different area, towards the door, allowed me to see activity going on outside. I captured a neighbour stickybeaking at a delivery that was left at my door. They left it, thankfully, but I saw it thanks to an alert and it’s definitely something to keep in mind.

Night vision, meanwhile, is fantastic quality.

boston tv
Boston looks like he has a hat. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

I mentioned earlier that the Google Nest Hub sends an alert when it notices motion, which includes the clouds moving from in front of the sun. The Swann cam, thankfully, doesn’t do this. But, it also doesn’t notify me when it senses Boston move, unless he’s right in front blocking the view.

What I learned

Despite his inactivity, I quite like having the Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera to spy on Boston. He’s a COVID cat, which means he’s social, almost too clingy, and really thrives on human contact. Despite nothing being broken/destroyed upon my return home on the days I’m in the office, it’s good to know he’s actually quite content just hanging out on his own. He’s not walking around crying, he’s just living his best life on the lounge.

But it’s not just that. Moving the camera around to the front door allowed me to keep across the delivery that was left while I was in the office, one I wasn’t expecting. It’s the obvious application for a security camera, yes I know, but previously I never thought I needed one. I don’t necessarily need one now, but I like that I have one.

It’s helpful connecting it to your smart home, too.

The Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera isn’t perfect, however. The 2K stream isn’t super clear when zooming in, it lacks a few privacy features such as a notification that there’s an open stream, the voice on it is horrendous and it’s too light that it doesn’t stay upright well when not stuck down. This is nothing that can’t be teased out with future iterations. It’s a decent peace-of-mind device for under $100.

Where to buy the Swann 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera

JB Hi-Fi $74 (on sale for Black Friday) | Swann $99.99 | Bunnings $89

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