Talking tech since 2003

A few weeks ago I took a trip to Florida and like all pet lovers, I wanted to be able to check in on my little fur-babies throughout the day. Prior to this trip the way I did that was by leaving my computer on at home, signing into Skype, and have it set to auto-accept calls. This allowed me to turn on the webcam at home and also say things to my cats through my speakers. While this particular setup worked, it’s clearly not ideal, which is why when I was presented with the opportunity to review the Oco Smart Camera I jumped at it and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

Comparable to other products in the same vein (e.g. Dropcam and Simplicam), Oco’s Smart Camera retails for $149 and is capable of streaming video at 720p HD. The Oco also sports night vision with view-ability up to 15 feet, 120 degree wide angel viewing, up to 8x zoom, and an iOS and Android app that lets you view a live stream wherever you are in the world (connection required, 3G/4G/LTE/or WiFi).

Ok, so that’s pretty standard with most of these cameras. Here’s some things that I really liked about Oco.

Stand Out Features

oco-wifi-camThe Oco Smart Camera doesn’t require you connect it to a computer to setup. In fact, all you need to do is plug it in (it even comes with USB to wall adapter, so you can literally plug it in anywhere) and use the app on your smartphone — it takes probably anywhere from 3-5 minutes. That’s a nice touch.

I also really liked the circular design of the product, it’s well-built and they also provide the necessary parts to mount the camera on a wall (if you want).

Because I was using the camera as a way to check in on my cats, I liked the built-in two-way communication feature. In the app on the smartphone, I could tap a button to record/send a message that would be played through the camera’s speaker. I could then hear if my cats “meow’d” back at me.

Oco also offers something called smart notifications (that can be customized and turned on/off), which basically can send you a push notification whenever there is motion or audio picked up by the camera. So like, in my example, if I wanted to know if the cats were in front of or near the camera so I could check in, I could have Oco tell me. The motion and audio notifications are also captured in still frames so if you can’t check in at that particular moment you can see what was happening when you do open the app. Very cool.

Another nice feature of the Oco is the smart bandwidth consumption. If you are on a cellular connection it will adjust the video quality accordingly so you don’t burn as much data. Pair that with the fact Oco and lvideon (the company who powers the Oco app) have data centers worldwide you can be sure you will always get the best possible video stream possible.

I’ve been told that face detection is coming soon, too. I didn’t get to test that, but that should be a nice addition.

A screenshot taken on my iPhone while viewing the Oco camera.
A screenshot taken on my iPhone while viewing the Oco camera.

Feature Ideas/Improvements

Swivel Camera: One thing I kept thinking to myself while using the Oco is “it would be so amazing if the camera could swivel.” The circular design of the Oco and the fact that it can sense motion and audio make it seem like a no-brainer.

Improved Two-way Communications: I mentioned the two-way communication before and I really liked that feature a lot, but I think it could use some improvement. Audio messages had to be recorded, then sent. Additionally the recording time was limited. I’d like to see a more realtime nature to this feature — it should be like having a Skype call.

Night Vision: The night vision on the camera works, but I noticed that it would sometimes either be turned on when it shouldn’t be or get stuck on even during the day.

Conclusion

The Oco Smart Camera is my new go-to recommendation when it comes to WiFi cameras. It also offers the cheapest cloud storage, starting at $3.99/month.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this review included a chart that had a few inaccuracies in it relating to the features and functionality of the Oco Smart Camera and similar products. While the rest of the review is accurate, we have removed chart in an effort to provide the best and most accurate information to our audience.


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