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28 May 2015

REVIEW: Withings Home

Home body.

There are so many home security gadgets out there right now that it can be hard to choose one over the other. Most allow you to stream video over the internet to your phone, so you can keep a watchful eye over all your precious stuff. Others include home automation features to control your lights and plug sockets, but do any hep to keep you and your family healthy? That is the thinking behind the Withings Home.

No strangers to Withings product range of smart fitness kit, we were keen to see how an IP streaming camera could be improved to also monitor our health. With the Home, Withings have managed to fit an excellent camera and speaker, along with a tonne of unique features, into a unit which also contains an air quality monitor - and it was this element of the design that interested us the most.


As air pollution can be stronger indoors than out on the street, the Withings Home monitors the quality of your home's air, watching out for Volatile Organic Compounds. Should the amounts reach unhealthy levels, it will send you an alert direct to your phone or tablet, allowing you to take action by opening a few windows or switching on air conditioning. We loved that it did this, and think that this feature alone is enough to justify the purchase, especially if you have children with breathing conditions.


Before mentioning the actual video and audio streaming features, we need to get something out of the way. The Withings Home only (for the time being, at least) works with iOS, meaning that Android users are out of luck for a while. Why Withings have released only the iOS version of the required app, we can't guess, but in doing so they have severely affected their potential audience (with Android being the most popular OS worldwide). This is something very important to know before buying a Home, but let's just hope they get the Android app out soon.


So, the camera itself. The Withings Home features a 5MP CMOS sensor which boasts an impressive 135 degree viewing width. Because of this the Home can be position to cover a lot of ground, even several rooms or areas in the house if positioned correctly. Streamed video was always very clear, regardless of whether it was coming over WiFi of mobile internet, and seemed to have a lag time of just a second. The Withings app allows you to view the feed in real time, watch over 'events' from the day that were triggered by motion or noise, or see a recap of the whole day in a dazzling timelapse - which we really loved (so long as something actually happened that day - if you were out at work you're only to see your living room get steadily darker).


The zoom facility is actually worth noting on the app, allowing you to zoom into live footage with impressive clarity - thanks in no small part to that camera lens. Also impressive was the two-way audio chat capabilities, and the Withings Home's two-watt speaker helped a lot there. Add all that to a tidy package that is surprisingly small and features changeable covers, and you have a winner of a home gadget.

£169.95

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