Sunday, September 24, 2023

The Tapo Smart Wire-Free Security Camera System is an impressively inexpensive security package

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TapoTP links other brand smart home, has a new security camera. The Tapo Smart Wire-Free Security Camera System (Tapo C420S2) is an impressively low-cost setup with two indoor/outdoor cameras and a hub for $200. The wireless cameras feature up to 2K video resolution, six months of battery life, full-color night vision, AI detection, and have a built-in floodlight and siren .

TP-Link’s original smart home brand, Kasa (which is the less frills, more budget range) has even cheaper outside cameras, but they only work over WiFi. The difference here is that the Tapo C420S2 cameras use a proprietary low-power wireless protocol to communicate with the hub, which helps improve connectivity and extend battery life. The hub can support up to four cameras.

The Tapo camera hub needs to be connected to Ethernet and has a micro SD card for local storage.

The Tapo camera hub needs to be connected to Ethernet and has a micro SD card for local storage.
Image: TP Link

This is similar to how most Eufy and Arlo camera systems work. In my experience, security cameras with hubs are more reliable – and have better connectivity and longer battery life. They are also a lot more expensive, because of the extra hardware. But here Tapo has managed to beat even the cheap Eufy, whose 2K dual-camera security system costs $350.

The other benefit of a hub-connected camera system is that it opens up the possibility of compatibility with Apple Home, which doesn’t support standalone battery-powered cameras. Both Eufy and Arlo offer this, but despite having other HomeKit-enabled accessories, Tapo says its C420S2 cameras only work with Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

With that integration, you can stream footage from the cameras live on an Echo Show or Google Nest Hub, or on your TV with a Chromecast.

Other features of the new cameras include free AI processing to send alerts when the camera sees people, pets, vehicles, and packages (Arlo charges for this, and Eufy only has people detection on its mid-range cameras).

There’s also color night vision from a built-in Starlight sensor, or use the dual floodlights to illuminate what’s happening at night. Standard night vision, two-way audio, and a built-in siren and light alarm are also offered. The camera’s battery is removable for easier charging.

Tapo says the cameras can be used indoors, but they don't really blend in with the environment.

Tapo says the cameras can be used indoors but they won’t really fit into it.
Image: TP Link

The Tapo cameras support local recording to the hub using a removable microSD card (up to 256 GB, sold separately). Without one you have to subscribe to Tapo Care for cloud storage. That starts at $3.49 per month for one camera and goes up to $11.99 per month for 10 cameras. That’s more expensive than Arlo’s cloud service, which covers all your cameras for $10 a month (although you’ll pay at least double that for an Arlo camera upfront). Eufy does not require a cloud subscription to access recordings.

Tap care adds 30 days of motion-activated video history, enhanced notifications with snapshots, manual clip recording, and the option to share videos from the Tapo app. Tapo is currently offering the new camera system at a launch promo price of $149.99 (after a $50 coupon on site) through November 30 at the TP-Link website and further Amazon.

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