Amazon's Cloud Cam brings home monitoring into an inexpensive package that works with Alexa.
The Amazon Cloud Cam is the company's newest product, and it's a new product category for the company as well. It's a security camera, so it is entering the space that already has some stiff competition from Nest, NETGEAR, TP-Link and many others. But Amazon had another reason for bringing the Cloud Cam to market, and that's for package delivery. Together the Cloud Cam and some smart locks, Amazon is planning to start delivering packages inside your home. But for now, most people buying the Cloud Cam will be using it to keep their home safe. So just how well does it work? Let's find out.
Cloud Cam streams in 1080p and it is streaming 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. It doesn't have a battery built-in, so it does need to be plugged in at all times, and it is not weatherproof. Which means this is best for being used indoors. There's not a whole lot of information available about the actual sensor inside this camera, but we do know that it does have a 120-degree field of view, that's about the industry average, with the Nest Cam being a bit wider at 130-degrees. There is two-way audio available on the Cloud Cam, so you can speak to whoever is being seen by the camera - making it a good camera to use for a nursery to keep an eye on your child. Finally, as far as storage goes, you do get 24 hours of storage available in the cloud for free, with other premium options available.
In the Box
Amazon has really only included the essentials in the box here. You'll find the Amazon Cloud Cam, the micro USB cable and charging brick, as well as a plate to mount the Cloud Cam, if you wish to do so. Of course, there is a variety of paperwork available in the box, so you'll be able to get started with your new Amazon Cloud Cam.
Setup is pretty simple, as it should be with any smart home product. Simply plug in the Cloud Cam where you want to have it placed, then download the Cloud Cam app from either the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. From there you'll set up the Cloud Cam in the app. It'll have you connect it to WiFi, and your Amazon account and you'll be good to go. The app does a good job of walking you through it pretty easily. It'll also have you download and hook up the appropriate Alexa skill, which will allow you to watch the stream of the camera on your Echo Show, Echo Spot or Fire TV (stick).
The quality of video from this camera is definitely important, and well the quality is decent. It's a 1080p stream, so you're not getting the highest resolution video out of this one, but it does still look good. You are able to zoom in and see what's in the picture without any issues. Now when it's dark, there is night vision available on the Cloud Cam, and it does still turn out some rather good pictures, given the lack of light available. So even in the dead of night, if you have someone in your home that shouldn't be, you can get a good look at who it is. Which is definitely a good thing.
Amazon does allow you to zoom in on the video and see what's happening, both on live video and on older video that was saved to your account. It's worth noting here that while it is recording 24 hours a day, it only saves content when it detects motion or when a person is detected. So in actuality, there shouldn't be a ton of video added to your storage in a 24-hour period.
The Amazon Cloud Cam app is quite simply to use. You open up the app and you are taken to the main screen which shows the live feed at the top, with previous clips that had motion or a person (people) detected in them. You can tap on the previous clips and watch them to see what happened as well. There is a settings shortcut in the upper right-hand corner, which allows you to adjust a number of other things, like how often you are getting alerts, what alerts you are getting, changing the WiFi Network, and even removing the camera from your account. Amazon does also allow you to change the name of the camera, which wouldn't be a big deal usually, but since this works with Alexa, it is a bigger deal. As you can say "Alexa, show the Living Room", so you'll want to name the camera something easy to remember, or based on the room it's in, like I have done.
Now in the overflow menu, you'll see your list of cameras, which for us is just one. There's also the option to add another camera, plans, get help and then to sign out of your account. Amazon does have a cloud storage plan available for the Cloud Cam, and it starts at $6.99/month or $69/year. That's the basic plan which covers 3 cameras and 7 days of recording, it gives you notifications as you'd expect, as well as person detection, but you also are able to share video as much as you want. So say you caught something funny with the Cloud Cam, you can export and share that video as much as you want with the basic plan. Now the Extended plan is $9.99/month or $99/year and provides all of the same features, but you get 14 days of storage and 5 cameras are supported. Then there is the Pro plan which is $19.99/month or $199/year and it provides you with 30 days of storage and 10 cameras, along with the same features as the Basic plan.
Now the app is pretty simple to use, but during the review process, I really never used the app. I mostly used Alexa to see what was happening in the living room. With the Echo Show, although this will work with other Echo devices that have displays or the Fire TV. Simply by saying "Alexa, show the living room" I was able to see what was happening in the living room in a mere seconds. Alexa was quick and it was pretty easy to get the stream up and running, and it was virtually in real time.
Amazon didn't go crazy with different materials on the Cloud Cam here, it's mostly made of plastic and since it is an indoor camera, that makes sense. Since it won't need to combat the elements of different seasons like winter and summer. It's only available in white right now, with the actual camera part being in black. The camera does swivel, so you can get different angles of the room, or so you can mount it on the wall. Since the base is what mounts on the wall, if you couldn't adjust the camera angle, you would be recording the floor, which is not an ideal way to use this camera, obviously. And the way it swivels, it makes it take up less room, and look cleaner in your home. It even makes it harder to find, depending on where it is.
The speaker is on the back of the Cloud Cam, as well as the micro USB port for power. The Cloud Cam does not use a regular micro USB cable, it has its own that comes in the box. And that is so that the cord doesn't go straight back from the camera, but goes down. Again, this is because Amazon thinks most people will be mounting this camera in their home somewhere. It also makes it tougher to take out of the back of the camera, so you won't lose power (unless your home loses power).
There's not a whole lot to say about the hardware here, it's basically what you would expect from Amazon these days. Hardware that may not be the best looking, but is definitely functional and does its job quite well. Which is really all you need when it comes to a camera, especially since you are likely looking to hide these in your home so that people don't see them - especially if you are unfortunate enough to get robbed or something.
As we mentioned in the introduction here, the Amazon Cloud Cam is entering a very competitive space right now, not quite as competitive as the smartphone market, but pretty close. But that's not stopping Amazon. The Cloud Cam is currently one of the cheaper security cameras out there, and given that it does tie in with Amazon's Alexa, it will likely have a leg up over its competitors because of that. And there's really no reason to go with another security camera over the Amazon Cloud Cam unless you want something that can be used outside, or something that's wire-free, which is where the NETGEAR Arlo lineup comes in, and that's likely why Arlo is the leader in the security camera market right now. But for indoor security cameras, the Cloud Cam is likely the best option out there.