After a lukewarm impression from Sonoff Cam Slim, I’m glad to look at a new IP camera from a brand that hasn’t disappointed me so far. Imou products may not always be perfectly suited for my needs, but each camera, I had the pleasure to test, delivered a consistent performance so far. The new camera is all about outdoors, resolution and connectivity: Imou Cruiser 4MP (Currys, AmazonUK, AmazonUS).
Imou Cruiser 4MP
I’m all in favour of putting CCTV facing outwards rather than indoors. Having an IP camera should be all about security than figuring out what is the best way of protecting your privacy and not recording accidentally the most embarrassing moments. Imou Cruiser 4MP is designed to work in harsh conditions and for that, I left it in the back garden for 2 months as a part of testing (or I just hooked it up there to record some birds feeding on the feeder, then couldn’t allocate enough time to cover it).
Imou Cruiser 4MP is a PT camera with digital zoom. As the camera comes with WiFi (2.4Ghz) and Ethernet (including PoE) – it caters to everyone in terms of the hook-up options. Two antennas will maximise the range of the signal of the WiFi connection, but the effective range will depend on the router as well.
To look around, Imou has equipped the Imou Cruiser 4MP with a really nice 4MP sensor (2K, WQHD stream), 2-way audio capabilities, a siren and strong LED light to scare off the intruders. The Imou-specific colour night mode is back and the camera brings exciting AI functions to detect specific events and notify you.
Inside the box, you will find the IP camera itself with a connector split between DC power and Ethernet, charging brick and a mounting bracket with a template to fit the camera properly. The size is one thing to be aware of, this is by far the biggest IP camera I had in my hands.
Included SD card support: if you have a spare micro SD card (I use these to test my IP cameras) you can store up to 8 days of max definition video on your 32GB card. Max support is 256GB.
The 4MP sensor inside the camera is actually pretty well suited for outdoors. The dynamic range fleshes out details in the shadows even on a sunny day and the stream is at max resolution (even over WiFi) is very smooth. An HDR filter is also available if the location of the sun makes things particularly difficult but overall the impressions are positive.
Despite pointing Imou Cruiser 4MP at the trees shaking in the wind, the artefacts of the stream are minimal, and I could read the reg plates from as far as 30-40m thanks to the increased resolution. Even when the camera is rotating around, the amount of detail retained by the stream is very good. I tested other cameras in the past that often resulted in a compression mess.
I really like the night colour mode. It works best in the areas with street lights, but if it’s too dark, Imou Cruiser 4MP will use built-in LEDs to deliver its own light when needed. If you are planning on deploying the camera in areas that have no extra lights, the mode is also available and does a great job of using IR LEDs to keep things illuminated.
The camera offers object tracking and human detection with extra AI triggers offered via subscription. To narrow down the event list to essential alarms, these can be further modified thanks to the detection zone (ability to exclude parts of the frame from motion detection) and set the activation schedule.
Furthermore, the detection sensitivity can be set to 5 levels. Although even at the lowest setting the camera will make it a bad bird tracker. Leaves will trigger it if placed too close to anything that moves. The camera is specifically prone to bugs flying close to the lens, triggering the detection relentlessly.
With human detection applied, the number of events drops down significantly, but so will your chances of capturing a stray fox at night wandering about your garden. I live in a very quiet area, and foxes are probably the most exciting things that happen here.
This translates into poor motion tracking. Imou Cruiser 4MP does a good job at tracking human targets, but switch it over to motion events, and the camera will attempt to track every leaf on the tree.
The Imou app
Access to the stream is very quick on the local network and reasonably quick on external networks. Via LAN there is almost no delay between the camera stream, movement and what you see in the app, with exception of recording. When mobile recording is active, a delay is introduced which makes camera PT controls a bit awkward.
The app allows you to stream up to 4 cameras at the same time, which is handy if you have more areas to keep the tabs on. Each camera interface comes with the preview of the camera stream in SD/HD and settings to control camera position or initiate the 2-way conversation.
Extra options allow you to start recording the footage directly to the phone or capture a screenshot. Pinching the screen enables zooming – an option that works much better on the 2K variant of the camera due to extra resolution.
These are simple smart scenes that allow you to change the camera setting based on your location. You can set all Imou cameras to be more alert when you leave the house and ease on notifications when you are back. I like this approach, as schedules for monitoring and notifications don’t take into account your daily routines.
Settings bring control over the motion detection events and notifications. You can set the sensitivity of the camera motion detection, limit it to humans only and specify the schedule and the area for active detection.
Cameras can be linked to the alarm siren and you can play a sound on them once an event is detected to scare away intruders. Advanced settings bring HDR, image rotation, sound and LED configurations.
Smarts & other stuff
Imou came up with new ways to monetise their products. Cloud-based AI offers an analysis of the footage and AI alerts based on what’s happening. This is all included as part of their Storage Subscription (£4.42/m with discounts for multiple cameras) but also basic plans are available too (£1.92/m with discounts for multiple cameras). It’s very reasonable pricing and one of the best value for money for these services.
The AI package allows you to narrow down your detection events further by recognising parcels, couriers or animals are detected approaching the camera giving you a personalised push notification on the fly. I don’t have the subscription to test it out, Imou advises that this is still in beta, but it looks really promising. As it’s a monthly fee, it’s easy to sign up, test it and revert back to the regular cloud plan.
Alexa & Google Home
Smart skills for your voice speakers are included and the camera links up within about 6 seconds. Unfortunately, there are no controls in the Alexa skill to move the camera around and the video feed is delayed about 5 seconds making 2-way conversations difficult. This is not a camera I would set up for 2-way conversations anyway.
Another thing is the lack of 2K streaming. The Imou skill offers 1080p resolution only and pinching on the stream doesn’t improve the details either. You can’t take advantage of the extra resolution using smart skills.
This time around NVR option is actually mentioned on the product page and in the camera’s specification. It works in the same way as Imou Bullet 2E.
To use the NVR function, you have to generate the ONVIF stream link, but the setup is messy (not documented). To make it work (I verified the stream with VLC) Depending on your client, you will need to provide the URL stream. The Imou Cruiser 4MP uses 554 and 37777 ports to output the stream.
To get the safety code, navigate to your camera options in the IMOU app and you will find a barcode in the general camera information with a safety code listed. This is the password to use the RTSP stream from the camera. To troubleshoot and manage the camera you can use the manufacturer software from this page. There is a configuration tool and NVR SmartPSS software that you can try with the camera.
Thanks to the Windows version of the IMOU app, you can set up your IMOU cameras with the NVR software provided. The software will take care of the monitoring for you, offering similar options to the Android counterpart. I suspect the native IMOU NVR setup is less troublesome but you will need their NVR unit.
Browse all Imou IP cameras and security devices in the following online stores:
Imou Cruiser 4MP (Currys, AmazonUK, AmazonUS) is a solid choice. It’s made for outdoors, delivers consistent performance and covers a wide area, limiting the number of devices you have to purchase. It leaves you in charge of connection type and advanced AI features bring interesting automation to the mix. You will have to pay for all that a pretty penny. At £99.99 it’s not the cheapest IP camera out there, but the feeling of safety always comes with a price. Are there any other features you’d like to see on IP cameras? Let me know in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈💵 – See the transparency note for details.