Smart security cameras come in all shapes and sizes and, above all, in many different price ranges. The SwitchBot Pan and Tilt Camera wants to do things differently. It aims to offer advanced features at a very competitive price. Is this one of the better security cameras in the budget segment?
Basically, the SwitchBot Pan and Tilt Cam might be pretty standard. It is a smart security camera with 1080p resolution, night vision and two-way communication. So you can communicate with any unwanted visitors. What makes the camera unique in this price range are the so-called Waypoints, Cruise Plan and ‘Privacy Mask’. The camera can actively monitor preset points, switch quickly and can turn completely away when privacy is required. In addition, automatic tracking is available. The camera should automatically follow people where the camera can rotate 360 degrees and tilt 115 degrees, or move vertically.
What is unique is that you can not only put this 360-degree camera from SwitchBot down, but also hang it from the ceiling. Then the camera hangs upside down, but this is automatically compensated so that you do not view the images upside down. And thanks to the automatic tracking, the camera on the ceiling really comes into its own. Of course you can combine the camera with all sensors from SwitchBot and you can save images locally on a micro SD card (up to 128 GB). The good news is also the very low price. You can already buy the SwitchBot Pan and Tilt Camera for 29.99 euros.
Design and build quality
We cannot call the design of this SwitchBot Pan and Tilt Camera really spectacular. The design seems to come from a comparable 360-degree camera that you buy at the Action or Kruidvat store. So a bit thirteen-in-a-dozen, but the camera is a bit more compact. The top part can rotate 360 degrees relative to the base and the camera lens can also move vertically in the housing. This way the ‘Privacy Mask’ is enabled. Instead of the lens you will see the SwitchBot logo.
On the back we find the USB connection for the power and the speaker. This model does not run on a battery and must therefore be plugged into a mains socket. The supplied plug is quite long, so that makes the camera relatively flexible in terms of placement. At the bottom we find a possibility to mount a mounting plate. So you can not only put the camera down, but also hang it from the ceiling with the supplied screws and the mounting plate. Hanging the camera on the wall is not really convenient, because then the camera cannot look around properly.
The SwitchBot Pan and Tilt Camera is made of white plastic, but it doesn’t look cheap. The camera is quite solidly built and seems to be able to take a beating. You cannot use the camera outside. Place the micro-SD card under the lens. Have the camera face up to reveal the memory card slot.
Installation and the app
Unlike many SwitchBot sensors, which also work via Bluetooth, this is not the case here. You need to connect the camera to your Wi-Fi network (2.4 GHz only) via the SwitchBot app (iOS and Android) and scan the QR code. That’s all. Within a minute the camera was completely ready for use and that is of course very fast.
We have used the SwitchBot app before and it is fairly well-arranged. You can actually compare it with a Tuya app such as Smart Life or LSC Smart Connect, but with just a little more options. From your home screen you can see all your installed products and you also have Scenes to make products work together, Shop for advertising and Profile for personal settings. Click on the newly added camera and you will enter a separate menu with the live view and all camera options. The nice thing is that it works a little differently than with security cameras from other brands. From the live view screen, you have a series of buttons at the bottom for taking a screenshot, recording a video or enabling two-way communication. You will also immediately find all buttons for privacy mode, motion tracking, motion detection and the gallery and playback for reviewing the images. It may seem a bit much, but it is constructed in such a way that the functions are quickly and clearly accessible. Also nice is the joystick, with which you can look around with the camera.
Do you want some more settings? Tap the three red dots at the top of the screen to open the settings. Here you can adjust a lot to your liking. From night vision to local storage and from motion detection to ‘flipping’ the image when you want to hang the camera from the ceiling. Nice extras are ‘Cruise’, for switching on the cruise control of the camera, after which it starts looking around itself at preset times, and the ‘Preset Point Settings’, with which you can save preset points, for example where the sensors of SwitchBot are located. With Scenes you can easily set automation rules via the if/then principle and you can let the camera work with SwitchBot’s sensors. SwitchBot supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa with this camera. You can ask to show the live stream on the Nest Hub or Echo Show and you can also talk via two-way communication through the smart display.
Picture quality and sound
No matter how extensive the various functions of this camera are. The image quality of the SwitchBot Pan and Tilt Camera is unfortunately not top notch. The 1080p resolution will suffice in most cases, but we can’t call it really sharp. It all gets a bit pixelated pretty quickly. The camera also has trouble with light and dark at the same time. Let the camera look at a window and the difference between light from outside and dark inside turns out to be quite a task, with the bright outside light being immediately bitten out. Another drawback is the so-called ‘narrowing mirror effect’. The fisheye lens is quite exaggerating. Only the exact middle is in the right proportion, beyond that everything quickly starts to look skewed and the proportions are lost.
However, if you just let the camera look around the house, the image quality will be fine in most cases. The night vision is really good up to a few meters. The biggest drawback is actually the viewing angle. The image is quite narrow, which makes it seem as if it is continuously zooming in. So you have to place the camera a little further away than you might wish. The ceiling would be ideal due to the narrower viewing angle, and that is also possible with the mounting plate and the ability to flip the image, but most people probably just want to put this camera down. Picking a strategically good location turns out to be a bit more difficult with this model.
The sound is fine by the way. You can be understood well from your smartphone via the camera and vice versa you can also understand everything well with clear sound and a good volume. We’ve seen poorer audio quality with such cheap cameras, but the sound is excellent with the SwitchBot Pan and Tilt Camera.
SwitchBot Pan and Tilt Camera in use
What is immediately noticeable about the SwitchBot Pan and Tilt Camera is its reliability. You will receive immediate notifications when you move. Although it lacks a built-in siren, this camera is ideal for interoperating with SwitchBot’s other products. This way you can set certain trigger points. Does the door and window sensor go off? The camera immediately turns to this door and window sensor and starts recording. Is a motion sensor going off on the other side of the room? The camera turns towards the motion sensor and starts filming. Please note that for this cooperation with the sensors you also need the SwitchBot Hub Need.
Also nice is the Cruise Plan, in fact a kind of cruise control for your camera. You can set certain moments or times when the camera itself will look around to see if everything is still okay. The camera then looks around in 360 degrees, but will also look vertically to see if there is something going on above or below. And does the camera see an unwanted person? Then it will automatically continue to follow you. And this automatic tracking works really well. The narrow viewing angle is noticeable here, because if you stand too close to the camera, it will lose you. However, it works fine from a distance. Any unwanted visitors are always well visible and are followed through the house.
Another nice extra of this camera compared to many other budget models is the ‘Privacy Mask’. The lens rotates downwards in the housing and the SwitchBot logo appears. So you can’t record the camera now. For example, combine them with the SwitchBot NFC tag next to your front door. Turn on all sensors and the cameras when you leave by holding your phone against them. And are you coming home? Again hold your phone to the NFC tag and the sensors stop being alert and the camera lens turns away in the housing. This way you can switch the entire alarm system on and off by keeping your phone with you. It all works very well with this camera and for the price of 29.99 euros it is unbelievable what options you get. Too bad about the narrow viewing angle, but if you can see through it, this is a very nice camera to use that works perfectly with other SwitchBot products.
Conclusion – SwitchBot Pan and Tilt Camera
The SwitchBot Pan and Tilt Camera is not only a nice addition to the SwitchBot range, but can also be used very well standalone. This smart security camera has a lot to offer for a low price. Image quality could be better and the narrow viewing angle is distracting, but the auto-tracking, privacy mask, local storage, cruise plan, collaboration with SwitchBot sensors and the option to also mount the camera on the ceiling make a purchase well worth it.
- Automatic tracking works well
- Collaboration with SwitchBot sensors
- Good value for money
- Sound fine
- Many options
- Narrow viewing angle
- Image quality could be better