The howling wind outside discourages any outdoor activities, which is perfect for testing an indoor IP camera. This time it came from a company named Winees. It’s sleek, small and designed for use inside your house. With 2-way audio and 1080p video quality, it aims to please anyone looking to up their security game, or just give owners insight into what’s going on at home while they are away. Let’s take a closer look at the Winees IP camera (AmzonUK, iWinees Store).
Indoor camera from Winees
I have to say, the camera feels more like a webcam than a security camera with its round body and lightweight stand. Inside the box, you will find the Winees IP camera, the stand, a micro USB cable and a charger to power it up. There are also optional wall accessories if you have other plans for placing the camera.
I thought the inclusion of the magnetic mount was a really smart and nice touch. The camera snaps into the stand thanks to the magnetised joint allowing for a generous degree of movement in any direction (about 45 degrees in each direction). The same goes for the wall kit that uses a magnetic plate to keep the camera in place.
There is a “but”
All that clever design is essentially ruined by the micro USB cable (no USB-C – bummer). The cable is thick, heavy and hard to bend causing the camera to be unstable, basically destroying the clever design. I found myself placing the cable gently to avoid moving the stand or causing the camera to tip over.
What’s worse, in my first unit, this cable rigidity and the inclusion of a 90-degree bend caused the micro USB port to pop out. The 90-degree bend acts as a lever and any adjustments to the cable can infer unnecessary stress in the socket. I might have been unlucky as the 2nd camera I received is still intact (I’m taking precautions with the 2nd unit). I was able to fix the 1st camera, as the cable wiggling caused the micro USB port to detach itself from the PCB without any damage to components.
A long story short, the solution to this problem is childishly simple. Get a nice soft and bendy micro USB cable that won’t get in the way of the camera operation. I recently got this cable for another reason, but it would solve the issue perfectly – especially since it comes with a bendable, rotatable magnetic connector. Can we please have this cable by default in the box, please?
Winees IP camera uses an app called AIDot to connect and manage its own ecosystem of devices. The paring is pretty standard, with English voice prompts guiding you along the way. The camera uses 2.4GHz WiFi to connect to your network and comes with typical features:
- 1080p video stream
- 2 way audio
- IR based night vision
- SD card support
Audio – Video
1080p sensor captures decent images/video when light conditions are optimal. Unfortunately, the sensor has a very small dynamic range and loses the details when the frame is pointing at well lit by the sunshine areas. To take the advantage of the camera, it’s best to use it as the indoor camera (pointing indoors) as the light is usually evenly distributed inside.
Night performance brings the familiar, supported by IR LEDs black and white images. The range is pretty good at night and the camera will pick up enough details to provide you with useful video information.
I delayed this review for over a month, as at the release date, Winees IP camera had issues with saving the files to my mobile. Compression artefacts were bad, to the point that the footage was not usable. I submitted my findings back and I was asked for the time to resolve these issues.
Two app updates and one camera firmware upgrade later, Winees IP camera is where it is supposed to be at launch. It seems that the recording issues had been resolved and the security footage can be now saved locally on your phone. Even the dynamic range seems to be a little better than before, or perhaps we are more into the UK’s winter and things are even more deprived of the Sun.
Where the camera shines is the audio. Usually, the audio (especially the built-in speakers) are an afterthought and any voice sounds like spoken by Darth Vader. Winees IP camera sounds pretty decent and you should not have any problems with 2-way communication. If you are planning on talking to the person on the other side, you will be pleasantly surprised.
Storage and detection
With Winees, you can either select event-based recording (15-sec clips) or continuous recording. These clips can be either stored on the SD card (up to 64GB support) or in the very inexpensive cloud ($1.99/mo unlimited storage per one camera -events only).
Files are stored as
.TS and are a pain to view on the computer without transcoding. Each time I see this, I wish they offered an option to save the files as something more usable on the computer for a quick lookup. Even at the expense of the storage.
Detection events can be configured to motion, humans and pets. In my tests, the detection works in indoor situations only. Subjects further away than 6-7m are ignored and the camera ignored my persona while it was pointing through the window. Recent updates brought also detection zones and revamped the human detection sensitivity, however human detection when pointing outdoor is lacking. If you are interested in that scenario – you will have to fall back on motion detection only.
When set to monitor indoors, movement type and a thumbnail was presented quickly as a notification in my phone. It’s nice to get the event type and the thumbnail available at glace, reducing the time spent in the app itself. Just remember that for the thumbnail to appear, you need to have an SD card in.
The app is basic. It has some cool functions like linking cameras together, which will force recording on all cameras if one of them detects the motion, giving you a glimpse into what was going on around your house when a thing set it off.
What I don’t like, is how the app manages the timeline. It’s a calendar view of when the recordings were present with no indication of movement detection. For these, you have to go to the event tab and browse the events individually. It’s cumbersome, and I found that I like timelines that indicate the events with colours. What’s also annoying is, that you can’t select clips to save locally. You have to open the selected clip (60 sec each) and record every individual clip to store it locally. It’s a nightmare if you quickly want to share 1-2 min of footage as you will have to repeat the process 2 times and your video will be available on your mobile in 2 parts.
One promising feature is the event types in the cloud playback. While not available to this model (for now) the options include the filters for vehicles and parcels. Something I would like to see more in IP cameras. These are either present in the outdoor cameras by Winees or the feature is coming soon.
The app comes with Alexa/Google Home/Smart Things integrations too so if you have an Alexa Show or a similar device, you can monitor your feed from it. It takes about 8 seconds to get the feed from the camera and the feed is delayed around 5 seconds. The feed from the skill carries video as well as audio. It’s good enough for monitoring but you would struggle to have a conversation due to latency.
Initially, the camera was available at almost £60 making it near impossible to recommend in good faith knowing that there are good alternatives in that price range. Since then, the price dropped to £49.99 with an extra £30 voucher available through Amazon. With a final bill of £19.00 (available until 11 Feb 22) the camera may not beat the competition with advanced features but it’s hard to beat the price like this (Sonoff IP camera comes closest). If you are looking for a couple of inexpensive cameras to scatter around the house, Winees M219 (AmzonUK, iWinees Store) might be the one you need. Let me know what do you think in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈💵 – See the transparency note for details.