Amazon Cloud Cam Coupled with Alexa is a Nice Combination

Amazon Cloud CamThe Amazon Cloud Cam is here and we must admit it was fun to integrate with our various Alexa enabled devices.  This is probably the best camera integration we have seen with our Echo Show.

This is Amazon’s first foray into the home security camera space.  They usually become a major player in the spaces they choose to play in and it’s going to be interesting to see where these products go.  The camera already compares favorably to some of its competition in terms of features and cloud plans.  Plus, as already stated, it does an excellent job at integrating with several of the Alexa-enabled devices.

Let’s take a closer look at the Amazon Cloud Cam.

Software

You can access the Amazon Cloud Cam through an iOS, Android or FireOS device.  The camera cannot be accessed from a web browser on a desktop or laptop.

Setup of the Amazon Cloud Cam is quick and easy.  First download the Amazon Cloud Cam app and sign in using your Amazon credentials.  It’s the same ones used to do your shopping.  After that, plug the camera in and the app will walk you through the setup.  This procedure was one of the easiest we have encountered with home security cameras.

The included manual is a small pamphlet containing mostly setup information.  This seems to be the latest trend in well made home security cameras.  If you’re technically inclined, you should be able to figure out how the rest works but if not, you may need to rely upon web searches and their site for guidance.

Motion alerts can be established by clicking the little gear icon then toggling to the notifications selection.  Alerts for motion detection can be activated and the frequency can be selected.  The frequency selections range from never to every time the event occurs.  You can also selection motion sensitivity from the settings.  The settings of low, medium and high are quantified with the range of motion detection in feet away from the Amazon Cloud Cam.  That’s good information to know for properly establishing the sensitivity versus trial and error.  Video clips from motion are accessible without an additional subscription from the past 24 hours.

Before we get into additional software features, it’s worth discussing the Amazon Cloud Cam Plans because some of their advanced functions requires a paid subscription.  It’s quite similar to Nest Aware but at a lower price.  There are three tiers.  All tier subscriptions unlock useful features such as person detection and motion zones.  It also allows you to store more video.

The person detection feature is useful for differentiating a pet from a human.  The zones are very useful in minimizing false motion alerts.  For example, if pointing your Amazon Cloud Cam out a window, you might find it useful to exclude a tree with leaves that move with the wind.  Setting the zone to exclude the tree would allow you to avoid any motion events caused by the tree.

The Basic Tier is the least costly followed by Extended and Pro.  The plans are differentiated by the number of days of data retention and number of cameras included.  While the features of the plans somewhat mimic Nest Aware, they are less costly, especially when you start looking at multiple Amazon Cloud Cam devices.  The Basic Plan is a pretty good price, especially when you consider it covers up to three cameras.  The inclusion of zones to reduce false alerts makes it especially worthy of consideration.

There is no on board micro SD card slot present so everything will go through the Amazon Cloud service.

According to the manufacturer, data usage will take approximately 1-2MB per minute in SD, or 4-7MB per minute in HD. Important to be aware of if any ISP limitations are present. Video quality selection is available through the settings with the ability to select HD, SD or Auto.

It appears that new features are rolling out for this camera as they recently introduced a very welcome features with the ability to turn the night vision on and off.  This is especially useful for pointing the camera out a window.  Turning off the night video will dramatically reduce glare off a window pane.  It’s nice to see a manufacturer committed to improving their product after introduction.

You can control the Amazon Cloud Cam with Alexa.  It’s especially useful with an Amazon Echo Show or Fire TV.  Just tell Alexa to show whatever name you gave the camera and watch the video on your Echo Show.  You can also turn your Cloud Cam on and get activity notification using Alexa on many Amazon devices.  Using our Echo Show with the Amazon Cloud Cam worked well.  Nice job.

Integration with third party apps such as IFTTT isn’t available yet.

Hardware

The Amazon Cloud Cam is one of the smallest we have seen and measures 4.09 inches tall, 1.65 inches wide, 2.36 inches deep.  It weighs in at a little more than 5 ounces.

The shape is somewhat reminiscent of a Nest Cam IQ but it’s a little smaller and it is much lighter.  The camera sits atop a ball and socket which is sloped forward.  The camera portion can swivel 360 degrees and pivot in all directions.  A fairly versatile stand that’s coated in rubber to help it get a firm footing.

A typical micro USB cable is used for power.  The included cable is about ten feet long.  If it’s too short, consider this 25 ft Power Cable.

The status light is found on the front of the camera above the camera lens.  There doesn’t appear to be a way to turn it off.

This is an indoor camera.  No way to use it outdoors.

Audio is fully supported.  A 5 mm x 11 mm x 3.5 mm speaker and one omni-directional microphone is present.  A two-way conversation can be held by pressing the microphone in the app.  Audio quality isn’t too bad.  We could hear what’s taking place in the room where the camera was located.

A 120 degree wide angle lens is generally sufficient for seeing most of a room when the camera is seated in a corner.  This isn’t a pan and tilt camera, i.e. the head doesn’t move via the app so you need to play around to cover the most territory using the stationary lens.

The 1080p lens renders video at a nifty 30 frames per second for what turns out to be a very clear video quality.  Night vision is aided by eight IR LEDs for very clear night vision.

The front of the camera has a status light that’s green when the camera is activated and off when it’s not.

Connectivity

The Amazon Cloud Cam only supports connectivity at 2.4 GHz using 802.11 g/n.  The 5 GHz band is not supported.

Mounts

As is, the camera sits atop a table or shelf.  The weighted base makes the setup very stable.  There is a flat mounting plate with screws that attaches to the bottom of the weighted stand and will allow the Amazon Cloud Cam to be mounted to a wall or ceiling using screws.

You won’t find many alternative mounts for the Amazon Cloud Cam.  Interestingly though, the ElHook Stick-On Nest Cam Security Video Wall Mount will work with this camera quite well. Although it’s marketed for a Nest Cam, turns out these fit a few other home security cameras including this one.  This mount is useful in that you can mount it to a wall or window without using screws.

Fun and Different

The fun and different part about this camera is the best part.  Alexa integration.  View your Amazon Cloud Cam on an Amazon Echo Show or television powered by an Amazon Fire TV.  The apps work quite well.  Simply say “Alexa show the living room” and you see the Amazon Cloud Cam that’s in your living room.  The only current but important caveat with this skill is you must use one the camera’s pre-defined room locations.  So if you renamed your camera to “Bob’s Room”, the skill won’t work.  However, if you used one of the pre-defined locations prompted at setup like “living room” then it will work quite well.

Summary

After using this camera for a few weeks, it’s a nice start for the Amazon Cloud Cam.  It compares favorably to the Nest Cam and has a more competitive subscription plan.  The video quality is quite nice and they continue to roll out enhancements.  A worthy purchase for someone looking for a quality camera with higher end features.

Quick Specs:

Video QualityField of ViewCloud SupportSD SupportNight VisionMobile/Web AppAlertsOutdoor
1080p120 DegreesYesNoYesYes/NoYesNo
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