Review: Welcome home Netatmo

Netatmo’s security camera, Welcome, is getting better with age. Last month, the Welcome received an update with improved facial recognition, smoke alarm detection, and personal FTP storage. The update has prompted us to give the device a proper test, and see how it's getting on in the increasingly crowded market. 

"Welcome is a game changer, making smart homes even smarter," claims Fred Potter, Founder and CEO at Netatmo. "It is the most advanced consumer security camera. With Welcome, the user knows who enters their residence and when, giving them peace-of-mind when they're not home." 

Hardware 

Minimalist design is difficult to fault. Netatmo keeps things simple with the Welcome, but solid. The internals are encased in a robust metal chassis which has a premium finish you will be proud to put on display; standing out against the cheap plastic used by most other security cameras. 

Importantly, the design is understated enough to fade into the background and keep a watchful eye on your home without causing unwanted attention. All you will find on the front – if you peer close – is the 1080p camera lens with 130 degree field-of-view, along with a small hole for the microphone. 

(Image: Front of the Netatmo Welcome) 

It's hard to disguise ports, but fortunately they're often hidden away around the back. Netatmo has kept things simple here, and the only things you will find is a microSD port for local storage, micro USB for power, and the bane of a product designer's life – the ethernet port. 

(Image: Close-up of ports) 

Although it's always hideous, it's good to see Netatmo's designers include an ethernet to help ensure a reliable internet connection. Welcome has built-in WiFi, but an ethernet is a lot more reliable particularly in homes or areas with a lot of wireless devices causing interference. 

Software 

Well-designed hardware deserves to be paired with equally good software, and Netatmo hasn't disappointed. That's not to say there aren't still a few things which could do with being ironed-out, but more on that later. 

Available for Android and iOS on mobile, and from the web for most other devices, Netatmo has most platforms covered. The app follows Netatmo's simple hardware design, only showing the information you need to know such as who's home, who's away, what time people were last seen, any connectivity issues, and people not recognised. 

Welcome basis its security around superb facial recognition – enhanced through an update to its algorithms on January 6th, 2016. Whenever anyone unrecognised is detected and no-one is home, you will be sent an alert. If you recognise that person, you can create them a profile to ensure you're not receiving alerts every time motion is detected. 

To ensure a high-level of accuracy when it comes to facial recognition, Netatmo will allow you to assign different photos of the same person to their profile. Sometimes wear glasses? No problem. Occasionally wear a hat? Not an issue. 

(Image: Face recognition validation) 

Using mobile location data, the Welcome can even tell when people have left the house. If users do not have a smartphone, the Netatmo Welcome will automatically set those people as "away" if they haven't been seen for a predetermined amount of time. Once everyone is away, Welcome goes into "high alert" mode and will send notifications if any suspicious activity is detected. If someone is at home, alerts won't be sent to ensure users aren't spammed with notifications. 

Welcome has a deep level of customisation as to when alerts will be sent, and when footage will be recorded. By default, footage and alerts won't be recorded/sent when someone known is home. 

Streams and recordings are in 1080p, and offer impressive detail. The resolution of streams will scale dependent on your internet connection to ensure you can quickly view what's happening at 360p, but will go up to 1080p where possible. If your connection drops, the recording will still be stored locally and uploaded for viewing from the cloud when it reconnects. 

At night, the Welcome switches automatically to a night vision mode which shows a clear picture of what happened in the event of an intruder. 

(Image: Night vision in action) 

Here's where a minor issue arises. When switching a light on during the recording, it doesn't seem to switch off the night vision mode. You're still able to see all the details you need – and it's not likely an intruder would switch on the lights – but it's a small issue nonetheless. Importantly, the device will switch to night vision if a light is switched off during recording. 

A second minor problem arises with live streaming, which has a considerable lag even on a high-speed connection. This could be somewhat by design, to prioritise recording motion and uploading to Netatmo's cloud. The quick availability of clips makes up for this slight issue, but if you want live streaming then you're better off looking for a dedicated webcam. 

Conclusion 

Netatmo's CEO, Fred Potter, claimed the Welcome is "the most advanced consumer security camera" and in our experience – it's not an outrageous claim. With an impressive facial recognition system, smoke alarm detection, and free cloud service to retrieve high-definition clips at night or during the day, it's a camera which is hard not to recommend. 

Sure we could make an issue about the live stream lag, but it doesn't take away from the Welcome's effectiveness as a security camera. The only thing we'd like to see is more integration with other smart home devices and services – which is coming, we're assured. Another product by Netatmo, their Weather Station, has fairly deep integrations, so we're comforted it won't be long.

Here's our video review of the Netatmo Welcome:

You can find out more about the Netatmo Welcome here. 

What is your favourite IoT security camera? Let us know in the comments.

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