Home security systems are becoming very commonplace these days. They’re so convenient to keep your most prized possessions safe while you’re not there and they’re also cheap enough to be able to run full-blown security setups in and around your home. I’ve had one for a while now in my new place, and for the most part it was fine though struggled a lot when it came to night-time shooting. So, this is where the TP-Link Tapo C320WS came in. I needed an upgrade and it’s definitely been a worthy one so far.
The C320WS is a small, rectangular-shaped security camera. It has two aerials on either side of the main housing, and a simple mounting system to the back. It’s primarily made from plastic to keep the weight down as it’s designed to be hung to the side of your house. There are two cables running from the rear of the camera for power and for Ethernet. The camera is fully wireless, so I didn’t bother running an Ethernet cable through my home, and it only needed power.
Installing the camera is easy. It comes with a template that sticks to your walls so you know where to drill your screw holes, and all it takes is three included screws to secure it. From here, I drilled a hole to the inside of my house to run my power and away I went. I angled the camera using the rear screw mount to face the direction I needed it to go and it was done. The camera booted up, I launched the Tapo partner app that needs to be downloaded, and it found the camera and asked for my WiFi details. Seriously, compared to other cameras we’ve tested here at TechNuovo, TP-Link has this down. It was so simple to set up.
Once inside the Tapo app, I have access to what looks like up to 32 individual cameras, which is mental. If you’ve got a big enough place for 22 cameras, I’m sure it’ll look akin to a security room at a bank but for now, I’ve only got the one. The home screen stores your favourite products, and that’s where I can access my camera. Once selected, I’ve got full control of what my camera does. There’s a thumbnail view at the top, with options for taking screenshots and recordings and opening the other cameras. Under that I can use the built-in microphone to talk to people in front of the camera, from anywhere by the way as long as there’s an internet signal. I can make a voice call to the camera and even set of the alarm, which by the way sounds like a nuclear warning. It’s loud, and it’ll definitely deter a nighttime intruder.
Diving into the extended options and you’ll find things like your camera name, timezone settings, privacy settings if you want to turn the camera off and all that kind of basic thing. But, what’s interesting, is the different detection zones you can set. Motion detection is pretty self-explanatory. AI detection is for detecting people. Line-Crossing detection allows you to draw a line on your feed, so it gives you an alert when something crosses it. Area Intrusion detection allows you to draw a box around an area and finally Camera Tampering is for alerting the user if the camera or cables have been touched or cut. For all of these options, you can choose to have an alert sent to your phone or the alarm to go off. Of course, I set the former, as these detection features can be super sensitive at times, and I don’t want the alarm to go off every time a raindrop floats past the lens.
But where this camera truly shines, is with its image quality. It’s a truly impressive image. Now I live in quite a dark area, and street lights are way off in the distance, and my old camera was pretty much useless at night. I couldn’t see a thing. Switching to the C320WS though, and it’s a night and day difference. Nighttime using the night vision feature is clear, and there’s even the option to use a colour sensor at night too. This turns the light on the camera on to illuminate the area, though it’s nowhere near as clear as the night vision mode. You can film in up to 1440p, but I’ve opted for 1080p to save data, and 720p is an option for those with limited data space. Now when it comes to recording there are two options. The first is Tapo Care, which is TP-Link’s subscription service, and the second is using a microSD card on the camera to save footage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t save it to your phone or save to some kind of server as it did with my old Hive camera.
I’m impressed. The TP-Link Tapo C320WS is a decent little camera that produces some decent image quality which is important, but for the most part, it was just so easy to install and set up, and I like that. No faff when it comes to the app. They don’t cost the Earth either and can be found online for around £45 here in the UK. Bargain if you ask me to keep your house protected. For more info, head over to the TP-Link website.