When we talk about securing a home, the first protection we think of is often the camera. Depending on the desired location, we will opt for an indoor or outdoor camera system. It is for this second option that we present today the Vacos 1080p outdoor camera benefiting from a IP 65 which guarantees protection against dust and water jets from all directions at the lance! No fear in the event of a downpour or even a winter storm.
Vacos is a brand that belongs to the American company Annke founded in 2014. In 2019, Annke launches the Vacos Cam AI, a wireless camera whose batteries can be powered either by a solar panel or recharged by USB cable, thus implementing their leitmotif of creating innovative and efficient security products. Let's see what it is.
Vacos Cam AI 1080p: an elegant presentation
The least we can say is that Vacos takes care of its presentation! The camera is indeed delivered in a superb box covered with an all-white envelope simply featuring a photo of the Vacos Cam on the top. On the sides, we find the main characteristics including the one mentioning " Works with Alexa" page (in French).
Once the emerald green box has been removed from its envelope, we discover the different parts of the Vacos Cam AI, each housed in a molded foam compartment.
We thus have:
- The Vacos Cam camera
It is quite heavy with its 274 grams and a template 7.6cm wide x 7.6cm high x 8.8cm deep. It is made of ABS plastic and white polycarbonate on five of the six sides, the side being classically on a dark background.
We find on the face:
- Up : 2 LEDs projecting a powerful warm light for night vision and allow color display,
- In the center : the objective endowed with a sony sensor, the WDR function (for Wide Dynamic Range), DNR 3D (for the reduction of image noise), BLC (for Black Light Compensation) or more simply it is an image processing for a correct display in against day, day or night.
- A double LED testifying to the operation at the bottom left, which according to the color indicates:
- Blinking red : ready for Wi-Fi
- Blinking blue : while connecting to the Wi-Fi network
- Solid blue : Operating
- Flashing blue and red : reloading
- Blue and steady red : reloading completed
- To the right : a light detector
- Above : the microphone since this camera is bidirectional.
- In the lower part : the motion detector.
On the back, the reset button, to be held down for 6 seconds if necessary, is placed above the camera mounting system.
Below we find a loud speaker and USB plug for recharging the battery from 6700 mAh including L'announced autonomy is 3 months at the rate of 15 trips per day.
La Vacos Cam can be installed either with the screwed support or with the magnetic sphere. This second system is comparable to the one we discovered on the Konyks Camini Go camera, except that the one of the Vacos Cam is not adhesive and must be securely screwed. The opening is done by just sliding the support up and down to remove it from its housing. You obviously have the necessary dowels and screws (4 in number: 3 for the articulated ball support and 1 for the magnetic one). Everything is well planned. You will even find 3 silicone plugs to cover the screws.
Le USB cable with a length of one meter allows the batteries to be recharged but, be careful, there is no adapter supplied. A continuous solar panel power system is also possible, it is sold separately for 30 € but can be interesting.
- Brand : Vacos
- Model: Vacos Cam AI
- Reference : VD-I41FW0102 # EUFBA1
- Size 7.6 cm 7.6 cm x 8.8 cm
- Weight : 274 grams
- Color : White and Black
- Materials : Pc and ABS
- Operating temperature : -20 ° C - 50 ° C
- Humidity : <95%
- Protection sign : IP65
- Supply : 2 AA Lithium-ion batteries 6.700 mAh
- Battery life : up to 6 months for 15 triggerings max or 7 min / day
- Network : 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi
- Motion detection: Human detection and PIR by AI
- Warehousing : Integrated 16GB eMMC storage card or subscription cloud
- Optical sensor : 307 / 1 ″ Sony IMX2.8 Scanning CMOS Sensor
- Lens : 2.6 mm at F1.6 / 120 °
- Night vision range : 8 M by PIR IR-CUT
- Video resolution : 1080p day and night
- Compression : H264+
- Angle of vision : 120 °
- Night vision : 10 meters
- Audio system : Bidirectional
Installation and use of the Vacos Cam
To use the Vacos Cam AI outdoor camera, you have to start by installing the home application called: Vacos! Logical no? It is available for Android et iOS . Once downloaded, you must of course register to create an account and then accept the general conditions of use. Once done, activate the GPS of the smartphone and grant permission to access your photos. Here you are on the home page of the application, ready to install the camera!
To add the camera, click on the "+" in the center of the page, then select the Vacos Cam in the list offered to you yes ,. To be sure to start the pairing, you are asked to press the button for 6 seconds "Reset" located on the back and confirm that the camera light is flashing red (it will also speak to you but in English). On the next page enter the password for your Wi-Fi network.
The next step will be to have the QR Code displayed on the smartphone through the camera. As soon as it is taken into account, a jingle is heard and the Vacos Cam AI connects to the network and if everything is correct you will be prompted to give it a name in the next step.
Once the installation is complete, you will be prompted to take a subscription for cloud storage. Not compulsory, the Vacos Cam incorporating a 16 GB eMMC memory card, it can be monthly or annual. The rate shown below is surprisingly fluctuating since we have seen changes of around 2 cents overnight, probably due to exchange rates. It's up to you to fall at the best time!
Now let's take a look at the Vacos application… The home page shows you a first view from the Vacos Cam AI camera.
At the top left, the menu allows you to access:
- profile: mail, nickname, but also to your QR personal code if you want to share your camera's feed with a third party. You will have to send it to her so that she can install your camera on her Vacos account. For you disconnect from the application this is where you have to come as well.
- Message : you will have the messages of the day, as here, the low battery and by clicking on it, you will have all the other notifications (this information is also accessible from the view). The concern is that it is impossible to determine why a notification (Human Triggering) is made at certain times and not at others. There is no logic. Pass 50 times in front of the lens and nothing will be notified whether the application is open or not. To refresh the page, put your finger on the screen and lower it, but this does not mean that you will see new notifications appear. Go to the log at some point and you will see a notification….
- My file : you access your photo / video album. These are taken at your initiative.
- Sign up : to take out a subscription.
- Share : if you wish receive the stream from a third party which also has a Vacos camera. This must send you a QR code to scan to access its flow.
- Parameters : among other things, give you access to the general conditions and confidentiality policy (in English) and the version of the application.
When you are on the page with the photo, you can see the timestamp on the image. Below the picture:
- Three little points: you access the notification log again, but without a subscription you cannot view the contents of the alert.
- The cloud : it directs you to the cloud subscription or the recordings that are made in the internal memory of the device. Here no SD card to insert, it is a much faster 16 GB eMMC card, we will come back to that.
- The square with arrow : different access to scan the QR code of another camera to which you are invited to watch the stream.
Let's go see the "live" stream.
On the picture you have:
- The flow which is displayed… When he wants! Often at 0B / s, it remains frozen and you have to go back to the previous page to restart it. It is very rare that the flow comes on the first try, it is quite painful. Although we have excellent fiber throughput and are quite used to camera testing, we were quite disappointed on this point.
- On the right you have a tricolor display for battery telling you its state of charge. There too, we are enough taken aback by its weak autonomy because we had to recharge it after 48 hours of use ... Allow a little less than 5 hours to put it back to full charge, but a such frequent handling makes it difficult to use outdoors without a solar panel… That must also be acquired separately.
- At the bottom left of the image, the flow quality : It is always displayed straight away in SD for which no data is communicated to know the resolution. Tap SD to switch to FHD at 1080p. Honestly the difference is not obvious to the naked eye on a wide shot and on a landscaped background we do not perceive any modification on the screen. On the other hand, if we zoom in on the screen by placing two fingers on the image and moving them apart, the FHD mode carries out an additional magnification. There is always a Fish Eye effect with the vertical lines.
- Bottom right the timestamp. This one is permanent. There is no setting to remove it. Note that it is written in white on a black background which allows it to be read correctly.
Now let's see the function icons placed below the image.
- Speaker : it is rather sensitive and you will clearly hear the birds, the wind, the rain hitting the camera, the firefighters in the distance….
- La bubble with three dots, opens the page of the detection log. Note that you don't have a human detection snapshot just hourly information. You will also find here the messages concerning the low state of the battery.
- Le nuage : it opens a page with two tabs:
- The first refers once again to the cloud subscription,
- the second : Apparatusl, displays the recordings detections carried out on the device's internal eMMC storage. This has a capacity of 16 GB. This is not a 24 hour recording. Depending on the location of the camera and therefore the use that will be made of it, the capacity may be sufficient. You will most certainly need to refresh the page to launch the display because again this is not done without bug. You will notice on the last photo a little red character is the detection, supposed to be that of a human but there was no human passed in front of the camera in the void of space that there is before. The only movement is that of the tree branches.
- You can activate the speaker switch to landscape mode, take a snapshot or make a video recording of the recording ...
- At the top right, the pendulum gives access to the visualization of the remaining capacity of the internal storage and if necessary in formatting.
- The square with the arrow: it is always to import the feed from another Vacos camera
- The double oblique arrow: allows switching to landscape mode. This is also done automatically if you have authorized the automatic rotation of your smartphone.
In the center of the page, the functions:
- Take a snapshot: When you take a snapshot, briefly a box corresponding to the shot is displayed at the bottom right of the stream.
- Microphone: press to talk.
- Recording a video: when you activate it, a counter is displayed above the stream.
In landscape mode the three main functions (photo, microphone and video) are accessible. Above the stream, the small arrow opens a pane on the right where you can view several cameras. The account can display up to four. At nightfall, the night vision LEDs did not activate, but you can clearly see the landscape and the different shades of color.
Indoors and in night mode, the 2 LEDs light up to provide color vision. We note despite everything that the pixelation is found clearly on the zoom where the image is blurred even though the distance is only 3 meters. In its defense, the Vacos Cam is made for the outside world, but don't we say "who can do more, can do less"? Nothing prohibits its use indoors, and there, it is not terrible ...
Taken with the smartphone, this is the "live" image. We can compare and see the color vision which is present on the live stream above.
Here is a comparison of SD and FHD views in "normal view" and zoom mode.
Let's move on to settings
You will see, there are few settings available, but the essentials are there.
- PIR : to adjust the sensitivity of the detector between the three possible: low, medium or high. For our test, we placed the camera in a different way. When it is in backlight, count a little less than 8 meters for the detection. If it is you are in backlight, count 4 meters whatever the defined detection mode. Indeed, we did not notice any obvious difference in the capture field for the detection.
- Battery : you will find here the traffic signs of its condition. If you use the continuous recording function, it only lasts 48 hours. Fortunately, in detection mode only, more time will be taken, but this will depend on use.
- Mermaid : Activated she will spit a shrill sound between 60 and 70 dB at 1 meter for 3 seconds but repeated throughout the duration of the detection. It really is the strong point of this camera because, even if the stream is not available (at 0b / s, remember), the siren remains independent of the video reception and has always worked perfectly. In our tests, we still noticed a much better reaction in broad daylight, the alerts were much less responsive in the dark.
- Light : you can activate or not the blue LED operating indicator.
- Device Info : you access the page where you can change the name of the camera.
- Recording setting : allows you to configure continuous recordings. Be careful to validate your choice by checking the selection on the right on recording.
- Cloud storage : we will not tell you again, it is an option reserved for subscription.
- To restart : to restart the Wi-Fi connection (the blue LED operating indicator will flash during operation)
- Firmware update.
As you have noticed, there are relatively few options, only the choices of the sensitivity of the detector (relatively relative), of the activation or not of the siren, and of the programming are proposed.
With Amazon Alexa
Although there is one, even two skills for Amazon Alexa, Vacos and Vacos Smart Life, neither of them allow the account to be linked Amazon with that of the application. It is indeed the first named that must be used with this camera, but a “login error” message is displayed as soon as you want to start the procedure. To be sure not to make a mistake, we disconnected from the application, then reconnected without difficulty, our password not blocking. As it stands, the camera is therefore not compatible with Alexa.
With Google Assistant
Repeat again, impossible to link accounts Google Home and Vacos, although the Add-on exists. On the Vacos site, it is mentioned "coming soon". Is the site up to date? We can't tell you, but the point is that although it is available it is not functional.
Conclusion on the Vacos Cam
In use, even disregarding the non-compatibility with voice assistants even though they are advertised as supported on the product sheet Amazon, we must admit that the Vacos Cam has little going for it. We have, in fact, more than one criticism to make him.
First, after the 3-month trial period, you will not have no notifications of movement detections if you don't take a subscription! And that is ugly, let's say it frankly. You will still be able to have the information opening the application, but that is clearly not what we expect from a connected camera in 2020, especially since the vast majority of competitors do offer the functionality for free.
Likewise, we remain quite skeptical about the mention of artificial intelligence. We have indeed received many reports, still without notification, for branch movement detections ... Not terrible AI! Another concern, the frozen image or the lack of reception of streams with a speed of 0b / s is very common and painful to manage since you have to go back and forth with the previous page.
Another complaint, in "24/7 recording" mode (which is not continuous since only the detections are recorded), the Vacos Cam has an autonomy of only 48 hours while the brand announces 3 months. Certainly not in this mode, but constantly unhooking the camera is painful, especially if you place it high up outside. It is therefore almost essential to also invest in the solar panel optional. Otherwise, you'll have to recharge it three times a week, that's huge!
However, everything is not to be thrown into this Vacos Cam and we must recognize it excellent responsiveness. Although it is not expandable, its 16 GB storage in eMMC format is also a very good point. To record detections, this should be sufficient for the majority of users.
Video level, although the fisheye effect is present, the image quality is very good with excellent colors. The zoom on the smartphone is possible, and although it seems a bit overpriced, night lighting is efficient. We also appreciated the siren, very responsive during the day but with a small drawback in total darkness.