21 January 2016

REVIEW: CleverLoop

In the loop.

Smart home security systems are all the rage these days, and we should know, we've tested enough of them. But however smart these systems are, they still can't actually tell you when something weird and out-of-the-ordinary is happening when you're not there, relying on motion recording EVERYTHING and firing thousands of heart-stopping false alarm notifications to your phone. CleverLoop is different. We check it out.

An intelligent WiFi security system, CleverLoop is based around a central hub which connects to your home router, and then connects wirelessly to a number of cameras that are dotted around your house, inside and out. Nothing new there, we hear you shout. What makes CleverLoop really stand out is that the hub contains some clever programming which 'learns', by watching, what a normal day in your home is like, then alerts you to anything that is seemingly not normal. Like a burglar. Or a dragon!

The kit we were sent was a pretty good representation of a useful system, consisting of the CleverLoop Base Station, the brains of the operation, and two WiFi cameras; both 720p, but one weatherproof designed to be fitted outside. When buying you can choose two indoors, two outdoors, or one of each camera. Set up was relatively easy, but all components do require you to plug them directly into your router via an Ethernet cable to get them up and running. It's not too much of a hassle, but we haven't had to do that with a security system or WiFi camera for a couple of years now. Just saying.

The Base Station actually needs to stay wired in to the router, something that we were a bit surprised to read at first, but after a couple weeks of use it isn't something that really matters. Both cameras however are truly wireless, requiring only a power supply from the supplied AC adaptors. The indoor version is nice, light and subtle, possessing a 115 degree field of view, night vision, and two-way audio, while the exterior camera is reassuringly solid and metal, features a 60 degree field of view (but with a further distance focus), night vision (again, to a further distance), and is, so we are assured, completely weatherproof.

All these parts are controlled by the CleverLoop app, available for both iOS and Android. The app is lovely, with a clean interface and lots of useful features. From it you can dip into the live feed from your cameras (even over mobile internet we found that the lag was only a couple of seconds), as well as accessing saved pre-recorded footage from CleverLoop's free cloud storage. Yep, up to seven days worth of video clips can be saved to the cloud without a monthly fee. Score! Unlike many other home security systems, which only record footage in this way (most after you've forked out for a monthly fee) with CleverLoop you have the option of connecting up an external hard drive to the Base Station, allowing you to set it to record everything, constantly, and save the footage to the drive. Which, in the simplest and most basic of terms, means it can act like a good old fashioned CCTV system. That is a major plus in our humble opinion.

But what about that intelligent system - the function that might sway your decision (and your cash) in CleverLoop's direction? Well, we've had our system up and running for a fortnight now, with one camera outside facing the drive, and the internal one stood watch over the entrance hallway. For the first week it was business as usual, with alerts being sounded for pretty typical and mundane things; cars pulling up, motion in the hallway, lights coming on suddenly at night. We assume that this was the time when CleverLoop was 'learning' our day, collating information on regularly occurring events and familiar faces.

After about a week the number of alert notifications dropped, and we really thought at first that the system was malfunctioning. But, there was all the footage, happily being saved to the connected drive, and occasionally uploaded to the cloud. Then one day the plumber came by to check the boiler. Whoa, did it not like him! The presence of a strange person (and trust us, he is very strange) appearing in the house, at a time of day when traffic is pretty low, sent the notifications a-popping. To be fair to the guy, the footage captured was of him just entering the house, and not, say, of him peeing in the kitchen sink, so we weren't too concerned.

We've written before about how conventional house alarms, which sound an annoying siren at the slightest trace of movement within the property, are effective useless. Burglars know that very few people respond to them going off in their neighbourhood, so they are hardly a deterrent. Do you know what is a deterrent? A bloody great eye-catching WiFi camera bolted to the outside of your house. So you already have the burglars off your back, now all you need is s system that won't bother you every time the cat sneezes while you're at work. Enter CleverLoop.

Around £250

© The Test Pit

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