Logi Circle Portable Wireless Video Monitoring Camera Review

Logitech Circle Wireless HD Video Security CameraThe home security camera space is getting a lot of attention from established networking and peripheral companies.  Today, it’s Logitech’s turn.  The Logi Circle Portable Wireless Video Monitoring Camera is made by Logitech.  For those not familiar with Logitech, they made a big name for themselves in the computer pointer, aka mouse, marketplace.  The mouse market isn’t what it used to be.  Ever see someone using a mouse on a tablet?  They also make a bunch of desktop video cameras which aren’t as popular as they used to be.  Time for new revenue streams.

By the looks of things, the Logi Circle appears to be an updated version of the old Panasonic BL-C131 Cameras.  Fortunately, the insides are way updated and the software is light years ahead.  However, when I first saw the Logi Circle, that’s the first thing that came to mind (Ironically, I still use one of these to do some monitoring).

Software

You can access the Logi Circle Wireless Camera with your Apple iOS or Android smartphone.  To set this up, you need to be running Android 4.4 KitKat or iOS 8.1.  Logitech does not offer a web portal which is somewhat disappointing.

One of the best features and a definite advantage of the Logi Circle is free cloud storage.  OK, it’s not much.  Only 24 hours.  But that’s enough to go back and see the day’s events.  It’s even more important if you activate event monitoring such as motion.  If you get a motion alert, you can then go to the cloud via the Logi Circle smartphone application and see what’s going on.  I often compare features of newly reviewed cameras with the industry leaders.  The industry leaders such as Nest offer cloud recording but you will pay additional for it.  The 24 hours worth of free cloud pay for itself pretty quickly.  For those needing more than 24 hours, Logitech plans to offer that at an additional cost.

The Logi Circle app makes setup extraordinarily easy as the app uses your phone’s Bluetooth connection to setup the camera.  That’s a little different.  Most other cameras use WiFi.

There is a motion detection function which uses a Logitech proprietary algorithm called Advanced Motion Filtering.  The Logi Circle supposedly is able to filter out insignificant motion from important motion.  To illustrate this, I have a camera pointed out at my pool.  I want to see someone coming in through my pool cage other and trespassing (important motion).  I don’t want to see unimportant motion such as the trees swaying in the wind.  It’s nice to be able to go back using the free cloud storage and see what happened versus guessing what made it go off (aka the Nest Cam without cloud storage).

There isn’t any on-board storage but since you have access to the free cloud storage, this may not be too much of a concern.  Depends upon how far back you need to go.

This is another one of those minimalist packaging products meaning no manual.  There’s some basic setup information, that’s it.  You’re off to explore via the Logitech site and your smartphone.  I think this is a mistake.  Manufacturers shouldn’t assume everyone is an instant expert.

Hardware

This camera has some very nice unique features.  I like the fact that the camera can be powered by traditional wall current or an internal battery.  It’s so annoying to lose connectivity when you want to move a camera or if you lose power.  The Logi Circle has an internal battery that lasts up to three hours so if your modem and router are on a UPS, the camera should continue to broadcast during a power outage.  There is also a power saving mode that can be deployed which can increase battery life to 12 hours.  Motion detection is disabled in power saver mode.

The Logi Circle will typically be seated in a charging cradle.  it attaches using a magnetic bottom to the camera.  The camera is easy to remove for placing it in a remote location.  Once you do that, the battery is automatically engaged and now it’s a pure wireless camera.

The Logi Circle has a built-in speaker and microphone so you can scream at your dog or hear what’s going on.

The image is very clear.  It records video at 720p resolution at 30 frames per second.  The hardware is 1080p capable but the software can only handle 720p, so for all intensive purposes, this a 720p camera.  There is night time vision of up to 15 feet.

These cameras are small.  They measure 2.95″ high x 2.55″ wide x 2.63″ deep and weigh 9 ounces.  It’s a little heavy for it’s size due to the internal battery and charger.

Connectivity

The Logi Circle connects via typical wireless protocols 802.11 b/g/n.  The camera supports dual 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies when connecting to a dual band router.  The 5 GHz works best close to the wireless router.  The 2.4 GHz for further away.

Mounts

The Logi Circle is primarily a tabletop security camera.  Logitech includes an adhesive strip so that you can mount the base to a surface that’s not horizontal.  At least that’s the intent.  I’m not a big fan of adhesive mounts for anything that’s heavy.  This camera weighs 9 ounces.  I’m apprehensive to use the adhesive method.

Since the bottom is magnetic, you can in theory attach this to a metal surface.  That’s got some interesting potential but you’re limited to the battery life on the camera if going this route.

There are no alternative mounts that I know of. It’s a shame given it’s battery operated features as I think there is additional potential that is untapped by the lack of alternative mounts.

Fun and Different

The software has a feature called the Day Brief.  Want to know what activities happened in the past day?  Select Day Brief from the app and you can see what happened.  The Day Brief is generated by the software based upon significant motion that was captured.

Summary

The Logi Circle has some nice features and I’m liking the 24 hours worth of free cloud storage a lot.  It’s priced similarly to many popular cameras that have hardware features somewhat similar.  This camera is good for non-technical people and those that place a heavy value on the free cloud storage.  Those that prefer a more feature rich experience especially on the hardware part might be better off passing on this one.

Quick Specs:

Video QualityField of ViewCloud SupportSD SupportNight VisionMobile/Web AppAlertsOutdoor
1920x1080135 Degrees24 Hours FreeNoYesYes/NoYesNo

Manufacturer Link:  Logitech

All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way.  I have owned and tested dozens of cameras.  Manufacturer support varies.  There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions.  There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).