4 April 2016

REVIEW: Motorola FOCUS73

Hocus Focus.

We're being honest here; we're genuinely worried about the structural integrity of Test Pit Towers. Because of the number of WiFI security cameras we've installed, both inside and out, the walls are looking pretty dodgy what with all those damn holes. Still, putting that real worry aside, lets review the crap out of the Motorola FOCUS73, an outdoor WiFi security camera. Yay, lost our deposit, yay!

The Motorola FOCUS73, like the previously reviewed Y-CamHome Monitor HD Pro, is a security camera that is designed to be installed outside, being as it is water and wind proof, with a rating of IP66. It connects wirelessly to your home WiFi network, and thanks to the glorious splendour that is the internet, allows you to view the streaming footage on your phone from anywhere in the world.


The FOCUS73 boasts 2.4Ghz FHSS wireless technology and captures footage in HD (although at 720p, not 1080p), both during daytime and at night thanks to the infrared night vision. The most striking feature of this 'hang-down' camera is that contained within the inverted glass dome is a sensor that can both pan and tilt. This means that you don't necessarily have to install it pointing directly at what you want to monitor, as you can use Motorola's free Hubble app to remotely change the angle.

Mounting the camera was actually very easy, as you first have to install a mounting plate with four screws. The FOCUS73 then securely clips onto this, and all you have to worry about is how to get the power cable inside the house to a plug point. We decided to mount ours on the side of the house near to a window, meaning it was a simple matter of drilling through the wooden window frame and feeding the cable through. Fortunately Motorola give you lots of cord to play with here, so your choice of positions won't be too limited.


Setting it up was as easy as downloading the Hubble app (iOS and Android) and following the on-screen instructions. All this took about three minutes before we could see the live feed from the camera – one of the quickest and easiest of any home monitoring systems we've reviewed. The Hubble app is bright and user-friendly, and it lets you add other Motorola cameras and sensors so you can keep an eye on everything from one app.


Here's where we made a bit of a boo-boo. Believing that the camera could pan through the full 360 degrees, we installed in on the side of Test Pit Towers toward the front of the house; that way we could scan the entire side of the building, and also turn enough around to catch the front door. Nope. The FOCUS73 is limited to pan through 180 degrees (which isn't very limited at all, come to think of it), so despite the fact that the 'ball' hangs lower than the mounting bracket, you still need to mount it 'face on', if you see what we mean. It probably won't be an issue for you, but it ssomething worth bearing in mind before you settle on a final position.

In use the FOCUS73 is... okay. We can only say okay as for the past few days of using it we haven't been blown away by either the quality of the footage, nor the ease of use. Controlling the pan and tilt function with the app is pretty frustrating, and although an on-screen warning pops up saying the process 'may appear delayed' we experienced gaps of up to five seconds before we saw the camera move. We can't put this down to the distance from the WiFi router or a slow network, as the camera is mounted just a couple feet away from the router and our internet is super quick, bruv.


Also, without a paid-for subscription to Hubble, you're not gong to be able to save your footage. We've never paid for a cloud storage service before for a security camera, and we ain't starting now. Because of that (once the two week free trial runs out, anyway) footage can only be recorded if you physically tap in and hit the record button on live footage, with the file being saved to your phone or tablet. The motion sensing will still work, but all you'll get is a notification reporting the event, not the actual clip saved to the cloud. That's a real shame, especially when you consider the amount of other systems that offer at least a seven day free cloud storage service.

So although we were left feeling sightly disappointed about Motorola's choice of recording service, there is still a lot going for the FOCUS73. For a start it is (currently) half the price of the aforementioned Y-Cam product, despite having similar specifications, and the ability to pan and tit the camera lens itself is a big winner. Sure, go ahead and pay for the cloud storage, or if you prefer a simple camera for occasionally logging on to check that all is well at home, this is a definite contender.

£99.99

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