Wyze 4+ years on
I want to disclose that for many years I have been a Network/Systems admin for places such the government (1,000+ user office), Dell Research, Cable Company, etc. with over 20 years experience I’m not a network lightweight. [Mod Edit]
A few years ago I was very much security camera retarded however. Never interested me, that was for the security folks that monitored the physical aspects of the company. My job was the network infrastructure.
So I had decided I wanted to own a home in the location I wanted it but work from whatever state I saw fit. Bought and RV and decked it out with network equipment. And, I purchased several wyze cameras as a test since I was going to be over 1,000 miles away. I’m cheap, well on some things, shrug, so wyze cameras. And they worked well for the most part. I was able to know what was happening at my RV and the house wayyy up north in near real time. I ended up with most of the cameras outside under the eave of the house (second story to keep people from @#$!@$ with them) out the weather and out of direct sunlight. There were a couple on the outside of my RV also. Some inside the house and RV.
I eventually ran into issues with cameras that would become unresponsive (wireless noise levels mostly). Some would respond enough to reboot them and sometimes they were just down until power cycled. Not a problem for the RV cameras because I could just power-cycle them when I got home. But the house cameras up north, that was a 18 hour drive from me one way, big problem. So a caffeine induced weekend (cannonball run) later I had a kitchen timer on them that reset all the cameras twice a week. I was happy once again. Everything was functioning 98% and since I had camera overlap all was good. If a camera hung it would reboot in a day or so and until then an adjacent camera had it covered.
Then. Woot! Human detection! Now I didn’t have to check every single video of wind in the trees. Unless I was really really bored. The camera system had become a much more automated fair. Then, they had a falling out the folks that hey had partnered with. Wow, that was short lived! My spidey sense said something a little dirty had happened. But hey, they had us covered right? Right? They said so. Then I find out I have to “register” to keep human detection after being told I was grandfathered in. No fuss, no muss, right? Well, this tipped the scales for me personally.
I had mentioned that I have no small amount network experience. I can tell you the pin outs various implementations of Ethernet wiring, T1 wiring (almost gone now), etc. I can tell you the structure of your TCP/IP datagram and the structure of the frame it is encapsulated in. In my early years I spent time as a hacker. Wardriving, etc. Not your typical network admin. I always record everything. I mean everything. Every website people go to and how long they are on a given page. Every email they send. Their CPU and disk activity to correlate with the other data. I record everything. Even at home.
So I run a somewhat complex network of Cisco switches and VPN equipment at home and this makes it much easier to record information I want. It takes the right equipment. What I had been recording for some time on the wyze cameras (don’t get me started about Roku) I did not like one bit. Traffic destination, times, and volume. The human detection fiasco just pushed me over the edge into action. You can’t make money selling cameras for $20 and offering free recording. And maybe you make the mistake of initially sending your data to China thinking nobody will know but just because you redirect it to AWS (Amazon Web Services) or wherever doesn’t mean anything has changed. Location or seeming location of data doesn’t mean much. Maybe you incure latency but in the end that can be dealt with in how you buffer, etc.
There was also dealing with recorded video on the SDCard (maybe 15-20% usable), muddy video, horrible audio, wireless issues, bad RTSP, etc. I could write a book on wireless. I had to implement one of the earliest forms of it back many years ago when it was far worse than today (much more reliable now). It’s still [Mod Edit] though IMHO. Only so many devices can talk ok on residential and residential sucks. But even if your run the “good” stuff you will run into problems based on your environment and the medium the signal has to go through. I run pretty good wireless and after about 10 wyze cameras at the house it was getting pretty rough. Wireless is just not a reliable medium unless you are in a business and far enough away from other businesses to control your environment or you only use a few devices. Not long ago in the residential world people had to manually set their wireless channels in their router (if they knew how to, usually set to channel 1 or 6 by default). And wireless ideally needs a few channels of separation from anything somewhat close in frequency. Now imagine living in a subdivision and everybody has newer access points which dynamically change channel (all the damn time, and there are only 11 channels) and channel 9 you picked a couple days ago, that’s now trash. Go fish. If you run your cameras outside this can be a big problem. Most people are not going to be able to visualize this problem. I can, and I see when some [Mod Edit] wireless router changed frequencies (channel) and now my cameras have high noise levels (making them harder to talk to). I’ve implemented a lot of enterprise wireless infrastructure and it always leaves a slight snarl on my face.
Ok, so now after a few years of my endeavor into security cameras I have reached my Wyze Rubicon. Something had to change. I initially tried alternate firmware. Very very cool in the added functionality it was just too unstable. In the end I began searching for a replacement.
Now I primarily run Amcrest POE security cameras. Although there are still a couple Wyze cams running inside (alternate firmware). How are the Amcrest cameras? Well it’s a night and day difference. Love the Amcrest. Cost wise I never purchased Wyze cameras off of their site. I purchased off of Amazon. So usually I paid $30 for a Wyze cam off of Amazon and I pay $50’ish for an Amcrest camera from there but it’s 10x the camera in options and settings. The Amcrest cameras have been running off of POE for many months and I have had zero problems. Very reliable. The image is many magnitudes better in detail (5mp, 2k (vertical)) and color. I can firewall out Internet and DNS (local DNS server) access and record locally to an FTP server.
It’s a pain to run the Ethernet cable through the roof for the POE cameras. But running Ethernet POE is WAY easier than running 110 AC power to the Wyze cams. The Amcrest cameras are perfectly what I wanted, or imagined what I wanted, when I started. There are some quirks but I’ve figured them all out. Really happy now.
Would I go back to Wyze? Yeah, I would. If they offered that small form factor with poe so I could get wire speed video quality and I could firewall them out and record to FTP with somewhat similar options to Amcrest. Yeah, in an instant. The Wyze cams were so small in the black outdoor mounts along with paint scheme I chose for the house that I could put somebody in the front yard and tell them multiple cameras were pointed at them and ask them to find one. They never could unless I pointed them out. There were 6 cameras up front. They camouflaged that well. Mostly due to size. No missing finding my Amcrest cams because they stand out. I’m going to paint the base of the cameras but still they are pretty large by comparison. If Wyze doesn’t change I’m perfectly happy loving my Amcrest cameras.
Would I recommend Wyze to somebody who only wants 1-3 cameras. Absolutely. I always say “something is better than nothing”. I would say to Wyze that they need to provide more secure options for their customers to record their videos. Not everybody is enamored with and trusts the cloud.
MOD NOTE: Post edited to conform to the Community Guidelines.