YI Dome Pan and Tilt Camera Hands On Review

Yi Dome Camera Pan and TiltWe have been fans of the Yi line of cameras for at least a year.  We had a chance to test out the Yi Dome Camera.  Like the other models we have looked at, this one didn’t disappoint.

We previously looked at the YI Home Camera Wireless IP Security Surveillance System and were impressed enough to name it our best value for 2017.  A very reliable and simple app coupled with a reasonable price made this an excellent value.  We had our hopes high for it’s pan and tilt sibling called the Yi Dome Camera.

We recently picked one up and gave it a try.  Let’s see how it did.

Software

You can access the Yi Dome Camera with your Android or Apple smartphone.  There is no web portal.

The smartphone apps is very simple to use.   You can manage all of your Yi cameras from here.

We wrote a comprehensive article on adding a Yi camera to the app and the Yi Dome Camera can be setup following that article.  The software is sparsely documented so you will need to rely upon articles like this to help or if you’re good at figuring out technical stuff on your own, it’s not hard to master.

Everything with setup is done using the app which is named Yi Home.  Download the app to your smartphone.  You will be prompted to select a wireless network, enter the network password, then scan the code that appears on your phone.  The Yi Dome Camera speaks to you during the setup and will tell you when pairing is successful.  Depending upon when the camera was manufactured, you might be prompted to update the firmware which was our case.

Unlike our initial pairing experience with the Yi Home Camera from last year, this one paired on the first shot and took all of a few minutes to complete.

The pan and tilt function is accomplished using the circular software control beneath the video.  Press the arrow that want the camera to turn to until it reaches the desired position.  Easy.

Video quality can be set to Auto, SD or HD from the app view screen.  Auto lets the camera choose the video quality based upon available bandwidth.  We recommend using Auto.  More on this in the hardware section of the review.

The software allows establishment of motion sensitivity settings as well as frequency of alerts.  Putting it in the middle is typically the best advice but something you need to experiment with.  Notifications are received via smartphone alerts.  You can then get into the alerts screen and view 6 second clips of the activity that triggered the alert.

Activity zones are not supported.  This is a pan and tilt camera so the head moves 360 degrees.  That means the activity zone would need to move with the head.  Haven’t seen any of the pan and tilt cameras do that yet so no surprise this feature isn’t there.  It’s a handy feature to have, you will need to consider a fixed head camera.  As already mentioned, we liked the Yi Home Security Camera a lot and it supports one activity zone.

The Yi Dome Camera cloud implementation is unique and needs an explanation.  Their free basic cloud storage retains a six second video clip of motion events over the past seven days.  Yi offers paid cloud services which provides a greater amount of video retention for a fee.  We outlined some of that in our article outlining Yi Cloud.

Hardware

The Yi Dome is a large camera measuring 4.3 x 3.6 x 3.6 inches and weighing in at a little over 8 ounces.

There is a blue status light just below the camera head which can be turned off.

A speaker and microphone is integrated into the camera.  I found the quality of this implementation to be fairly good in what’s called intercom mode.  The hands free mode is the term Yi uses for duplex.  Hands free mode was not as reliable or clear as the traditional intercom mode.  These modes can be changed under camera settings then call mode.

The 720p lens will provide clear video day and night. The lens has a 112 degree field of view which is excellent for a pan and tilt.  Combined with the 345 degree moving head, you will get a 360 view.  While you can zoom up to 4x, setting the camera to HD on tight zooms will help clarity.

The night vision is good with 8 integrated infrared lights that illuminate up to 3 meters (about 10 feet).  Your mileage may vary as we were able to see a bit further than the 3 meters specified by Yi.

There is a micro SD slot at the back of the camera which accepts cards up to 32GB.  These cards are cheap so splurge and go for 32GB.  You can view history very easily without removing the micro SD card.  According to Yi, you need a card at least Class 4 or faster.  Our experience dictates that you should opt for an even faster card.  Consider the Transcend 32GB MicroSDHC Class10 UHS-1 Memory Card with Adapter is rated higher than the standard 10 MB per second transfer rate for this class of card.

Connectivity

Connectivity refers to the connection of the camera to your home router.  The Yi Dome attaches via Wi-Fi to a wireless router.  The camera will connect to your home router at 2.4GHz using 802.11 b,g or n.  The 5.0GHz frequency is not supported.

Mounts

The Yi Dome Camera is primarily intended to be placed on a table or shelf.  There is a mounting disk (they call it a mounting tray) which includes two screws and a round disk that the Yi Dome slides over.  This is intended to facilitate attachment to a ceiling or wall.  You insert the tabs on the mounting disk into the tabs on the bottom of the camera.  No traditional tripod screw hole on this one is a bit disappointing and leaves alternative mounting alternatives relatively sparse.

Fun and Different

The Yi Dome has a unique feature called Auto-Cruise.  Integrate up to eight preset positions and set auto-cruise to turn to that position for about ten seconds then go to the next position for ten seconds.  You can also let the Yi Dome make a circle with preset stops.  You can also set Motion Tracking which follows a person moving within a room.  Both very useful features.  All of this is activated by pressing on the little Yi Dome image at the very bottom of the camera video home page.

Summary

Another great value, the Yi Dome Camera is on our approved list.  It’s one of the better pan and tilt cameras we have used.  Very easy to setup and operate once you learn how it all works.  The video is clear and the microphone and speaker when used in intercom mode works well.

Quick Specs:

Video QualityField of ViewCloud SupportSD SupportNight VisionMobile/Web AppAlertsOutdoor
1280x720345 Degrees (Pan and Tilt)YesYesYesYes/NoYesNo

Manufacturer Link:  Yi Technology

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).