WyzeCam Version 2 (V2) Hands On Review
I was selected as a beta tester of the WyzeCam Version 2 (V2). Here is a review of my first experiences using the camera as compared to my 12 Version 1 Wyzecams.
Unboxing and Setup
The packaging and physical form factor of the V2 camera and accessories are essentially identical to V1. The most notable exception is that instead of being surrounded by clear cling film, the V2 is in a semitransparent plastic bag secured with tape. This is because the cling film does not adhere to the matte finish of the V2. It is slightly more difficult to remove than the cling film, but since it’s a one-time event, it is not a problem.
The matte finish of the V2 is noticeably different than the glossy finish of the V1 when close to the camera. From a greater distance, the difference is not very apparent. Whether this finish is an improvement over the V1 is a matter of personal preference. The V2 will likely appear a little less obtrusive in a brightly lit space.
Other than the matte finish, the V2 form factor is identical to the V1. The only other way to tell the difference between them externally is by the V2 labeling on the bottom of the camera. The power block and microSD cable are identical to the V1. Plugging the micro USB cable into the V2 for the first time was a little too snug. However, it loosened up nicely on the 2nd and 3rd attempts.
Setup of my beta unit proceeded smoothly in the same manner as the V1. The unit required a firmware update out of the box (as did my V1s) and that update proceeded without problem. The microSD card slot in the beta unit was shipped in the engaged position. This meant that the microSD card had to be inserted, then removed and reinserted to get it to engage. Once that was done, it operated normally. The current firmware and iOS app are able to format the card while in the camera – a nice feature. Time sync from the iOS app to the camera was without problem. The setup voice on the V2 is quite loud due to the improved sound processor. You will get a lot of attention if you set it up in a quiet office.
As with the V1, I cannot readily discern any difference in image quality when zoomed in on a still scene in HD vs SD mode. The lower SD data rate is achieved not by a lower image resolution, but instead by a higher compression factor. Therefore, you will see differing compression artifacts when comparing the two modes. However, in my opinion, the overall image quality of HD is not really any better than SD.
The timestamp imprint on the V2 image is dramatically more clear and clean than that of the V1. This makes it easy to identify image captures taken on the V2 vs the V1. Here is one example:
V1 Timestamp: Attachment 1 below (the forum will not let me embed images in line)
V2 Timestamp: Attachement 2
My first comparison of image quality involved putting the V2 beta unit next to a V1 that points out to the street through a front window. I was expecting significant improvement from the V2 and in all honesty, I was a bit disappointed. The V2 image in this situation does not appear to be improved. Here are two full size images from side-by-side V1 and V2 cameras respectively:
V1: Attachment 3
V2: Attachment 4
Note that there are reflection artifacts in both images that are the result of shooting through glass, no fault of the cameras.
Here are the upper right 650x350 pixels of each image:
V1: Attachment 5
V2: Attachment 6
The image quality appears to be pretty similar with maybe a small advantage going to the V1.
My next comparison involved putting the V1 and V2 side-by-side in a basement rec room. Here the V2 was the clear winner in image quality.
V1: Attachment 7
V2: Attachment 8
The V2 image is more true-color and has clearly sharper features.
Here are two 200x200 pixel areas of the ribbons in the background of each image capture.
V1: Attachment 9
V2: Attachment 10
There are clearly sharper edges and more detail in the V2 image.
The V2 handles low light much better than the V1 and therefore automatic night vision switches on later, as it gets darker, with the V2. Once on, the night vision image on the V2 is clearly better than the V1:
V1: Attachment 11
V2: Attachment 12
Conclusion: The V2 has greatly improved image quality in many, but not all, circumstances and settings.
The sound quality of the V2 is vastly improved. It is both louder and more clear, both in transmission and reception.
My first test was to play a voice program at normal listening volume on a TV about 12 feet from both cameras and listen to it on each camera version from another room. When listening via the V1, the spoken words took great concentration to understand and many words could not be heard clearly. When listening via the V2, the audio was much more clear, louder and with much less static in the background. The spoken words were easily understood without much effort.
Next I compared the speakers of the two camera versions. The ultimate test is whether my dogs react to me calling them over the speaker of each camera. With the V1, there was no reaction from the dogs. Whether that is because the V1’s audio out is much quieter or because there is less frequency response, I do not know. But the dogs acted as if nothing was happening.
When I called the dogs over the V2 speaker, their reaction was much different. They started looking all around trying to figure out where my voice was coming from. The audio output of the V2 is much louder although, to my ear, a bit more distorted. However, the dogs’ reaction tells it all - much more useful audio output.
WyzeCam V2 supports tagging of motion observed by the camera. This is done by drawing a green box around areas that the camera considers to be motion in both live stream and playback. The feature can be turned on or off in the settings for each camera. Here’s what it looks like:
I have found the motion tagging to be mostly just a novelty, although it is useful sometimes to know what the camera is “thinking” in terms of motion detection. The real benefit will be if Wzye is able to use this to eventually support masking of motion detection areas in the camera’s field of view.
iOS Beta App
The beta iOS app allows recording and pause/resume in playback. This was a much needed feature, enabling you to save video from the on-board microSD card without having to remove the card from the camera.
The beta app allows formatting of the microSD card while still in the camera and the ability to turn on/off the timestamp watermark. Automatic screen rotation is supported, although only while watching live or playback video.
Future Improvements Needed
The WzyeCam V2 is a dramatic improvement over the already fantastic V1 model. The fact that Wyze has made these improvements and kept the price point at the same low $20 is terrific. Below is a list of hardware and software improvements that I think could make the product even better:
Better form factor for the supplied power block: The current power block protrudes quite far from the wall with the USB cord protruding even further. It would be beneficial if the prongs on the power block were mounted at 90 degrees to their current orientation so that the block and USB cable would lie parallel to the wall.
Holes in the base for screw mounting: While the magnetic mount and metal disk system is useful in some applications, the metal disk adhesive leaves a very large area of wall damage when removed. If there were a couple of small holes in the base, these could be used with small drywall anchors, leaving a much smaller area of damage when removed. I have drilled holes in the bases of some of my WyzyCams and mounted with small drywall anchors, and it works great.
Motion detection masking: As mentioned above, it would be a nice feature to be able to mask out areas in the camera's field of view to be ignored for motion detection. This could be used for areas such as a waving flag, or a TV screen, that trigger unwanted motion alerts.
More camera thumbnails per screen: The current app only shows two large camera thumbnails on the home screen. There is a lot of scrolling to find the camera you want to view if you have many Wyzecams installed. The app should optionally allow up to 8 (smaller) thumbnails per screen to improve camera selection.
Rearrange thumbnails: In addition showing more thumbnails on the app's home screen, it is important to be able to rearrange the order of the thumbnails so that it is not dependent on the order that the cameras were set up. With 12 or more installed cameras, thumbnail organization is important.
Thumbnail refresh: Pulldown on the home screen would not only refresh the camera list, but it could retrieve a current image from each camera. These updated images could be used to select which camera to view. It would be especially useful when the cameras are used as pet monitors. A further improvement would be to implement a very low frame rate (eg. 1 fps) constant refresh of all camera thumbnails, user switchable.
Full rotation support: The app should support full automatic device rotation in all modes including the home screen, camera settings, notifications and account settings. This is especially important when using the app on a tablet that is sitting in a stand in landscape orientation.
The WyzeCam Version 2 camera is a worthwhile improvement over the V1. For those planning to increase their cadre of Wyzecams, you will be pleased. For those yet to purchase their first WyzeCam, it adds even more value to an already value-priced product.
[NOTE: this forum will not allow me to embed images inline with the text and will not allow me to remove or reorder attachments. Therefore the images attached are not complete or in the proper order. This review will have to stand as is without the images that were supposed to be included. Too bad]