It’s time for a new outdoor IP camera. This time from a company I’ve not come across before: ieGeek. What’s on offer? A completely wireless camera which you can leave outside: ieGeek ZS-GX5S. It’s not the most marketable name, but the product comes with a couple of features worth my attention. Will it beat other battery-powered cameras I have tested? Let’s see.
The two most noticeable things in the box are: how big the camera actually is, and the solar panel included in the box. Usually, you have to pay extra for solar panels for IP cameras, so it’s nice to see one included in the price. Speaking of price, you are expected to spend $159.99 ($199, after pre-order) for the ieGeek ZS-GX5S. It’s not a budget camera, so I’m setting my expectations high.
All that money can buy you the following features:
- 2K video resolution
- Super bright floodlight
- Battery/mains powered
- WiFi 2.4GHz connectivity
- Colour night vision
- microSD card support (128GB)
- Solar panel
The camera has a unique T shape, thanks to the LED floodlight panels on each side of the camera. As it comes with an included battery, the device is heavy and feels well-built. Two WiFi antennas make sure you get great reception regardless of where you mount the camera. My first critique would be the lack of 5GHz WiFi support – at this price tag, I would expect that to be an option.
Apart from the camera, a solar panel with a fairly long cable is included. It comes with a separate mounting stand and connects to the ieGeek ZS-GX5S micro USB charging port. The port would be my 2nd complaint – why are we still using micro USB ports? What’s wrong with USB-C? The panel is approx 12x16cm delivers 5V and has a 19.5% conversion rate. If you leave in a sunny place – I’m sure it will do the job. Here in the UK – this may vary, but it will definitely extend the life of the IP Camera. The included battery is a beast – 13500mAh. It should be big as LED flood lights will take a chunk of this power for sure.
Remarkably uneventful. ieGeek app discovers the camera promptly and pairs it without issues via QR code scanning. Nice easy and simple, just the way I like it. Once in the app, ieGeek ZS-GX5S loads the stream in a couple of seconds. It’s quicker than some of the cameras I tested before.
So far so good.
2K resolution should be a standard for outdoor cameras. ieGeek ZS-GX5S brings enhanced resolution as well as good dynamic range. The resulting videos and images are detailed even in deep shadows on sunny days. Compression artefacts are present on the load of the stream for a moment but the image improves quickly and looks good despite my pointing the camera at trees with way too many leaves.
A night-time performance would be awesome if not for one annoying thing. The camera comes with colour night mode thanks to the LED floodlight and IR-based night vision. The behaviour of the floodlight can be set in the settings (making the camera less or more conspicuous) but I quickly discovered why I want the colour vision on.
Despite cleaning the lens glass multiple times and making sure all protective films are removed, I get massive lens flares from my street lights. They only appear in IR mode and go away when colour night vision is selected. Pointing the ieGeek ZS-GX5S towards areas without strong light sources also mitigates the problem. Be mindful of that.
The floodlight is very bright and can illuminate approx 5-7m in front of the light at the max brightness level. The app gives you access to LED light intensity and duration as well as schedules and manual controls. It can easily double as your entry light.
Footage on your card
This is where ieGeek ZS-GX5S got it right. Saved footage is saved as
.mp4 file with 15 fps and 1550kbs bitrate. This is where I wish things were slightly different. The bitrate is too low. They already make provisions for battery-operated life with limited duration time and event-only recording. Keeping the bitrate low to save space on the card is not the most desirable solution.
Other than the local storage, ieGeek offers cloud plans that start from $2.99 a month with unlimited storage options. As far as the cloud plans go, ieGeek plan is one of the more flexible ones and one of the least expensive too.
I’m on the fence here. Until I reset my ieGeek ZS-GX5S to factory settings I had no motion events at all. I checked the detection settings about 10 times before finally restoring the firmware (since then camera had a firmware update too). After my reset, I started to see notifications for the events again.
Despite a counter for human detection (weeks in, still shows zero) this model doesn’t appear to have settings for human detection only. There is a 1-10 slider responsible for motion detection, but even at the maximum sensitivity, the camera struggles to respond to some quite obvious events. In custom operating mode, there are toggles to record “humans” during the day or night but despite both modes being enabled, I have no human count in my stats.
As the camera works almost flawlessly indoors, I believe the motion detection cone is limited to the centre of the frame and my camera positioning (high, parallel to the ground) made it less likely to capture all events. I checked the custom detection grid (which the camera supports), but after the reset, I have no off-limit areas.
In one of the instances, my neighbour is seen leaving my drive in the recording, but there is no recording of her entering the drive. I know what path she would take, as she was very kind and took my bin back in, making it impossible (and not probable) to sneak past the camera. If you are going to use the camera, make sure the camera points exactly where you want the motion to occur.
Smarts & Notifications
Despite having an SD card, which is often required for previews to show up in the notifications, my Android notifications are limited to the event’s title and the timestamp. Clicking it takes you to the event preview.
The timeline takes a moment to load the events for selected days. Each event is displayed as a 10-30-sec recording (you can’t modify the recording’s length) – a light blue stripe. You can zoom in and out to set the timeline the way you want. I really liked the statistics included in the app showing you the WiFi range, activation number and battery discharge range.
What’s absent, is the smart speaker integration. At the time of writing, there are no skills for Alexa or Google Home and the only way to preview the stream is via the ieGeek app. When I reached out to ieGeek, they assured me that the skill integration is coming soon.
It gets more disappointing
Despite supporting constant charging and solar panels, ieGeek ZS-GX5S can’t be set to constant recording mode. It’s disappointing to see, especially since the menu in the camera app looks like you could select other modes. You are forever limited to even only recording mode with 10-30s clips.
With all settings maxed out, the discharge rate suggests that the camera should last about 5 weeks. That’s with super bright LEDs, long videos and no “off” schedule while recording nearly 300 events. With a more conservative approach, you could extend this to about 3-4 months and with solar power even longer. ieGeek ZS-GX5S doesn’t disappoint in this regard.
What started as a promising product, quickly become underwhelming. ieGeek ZS-GX5S asks for $159, which is a lot. It fails to match what more established brands offer. Sure it has a great battery, incredibly bright LED floodlight and 2K resolution – it needs better detection, less restrictive settings and perhaps support for RTSP. The good news is that apart from the glare on the lens, all my complaints can be addressed by the firmware update. The question is: will ieGeek ZS-GX5S see groundbreaking updates that bring it to the level of competition? We shall see. Let me know your thoughts in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈💵 – See the transparency note for details.