Introduction

Review: iCam HD 360 from Amaryllo

Review: iCam HD 360 from Amaryllo

Have you ever wanted to know what was going on at home while you were away? Do you want a security device to video record activity in your home? If these are questions you have asked, then maybe the iCam HD 360 is something for you.

 

iCam HD 360 from Amaryllo. Presented at CES 2014.
iCam HD 360 from Amaryllo. Presented at CES 2014.

 

iCam HD 360, after rotating to the left...
iCam HD 360, after rotating to the left…

 

iCam HD 360: the backside with buttons and SD card slot.
iCam HD 360: the backside with buttons and SD card slot.

 

The iCam 360 HD was first seen in the US at CES 2014. This is a product just hitting the market in the US.  The device is made by AMARYLLO, which is based in the Netherlands. There are basically three models of the iCam.  These are the iCam HD, iCam HD 360, and iBabi HD. All of these devices feature 1280 X 720 high definition video recording and a lens with a viewing angle of 100 degrees. Further they all feature night vision to capture video in complete darkness, a passive infrared motion sensor, an audio sensor, support micro SD recording and have a built in microphone. The iBabi HD also has support for Micro SD MP3 support to play music for the baby. Both the iBabi HD and the iCam HD 360 feature pan and tilt capabilities and provide for 360 degree viewing. Thus while they have some slight specification variations depending on your use and desired features, they work in basically the same manner.

 

What You Need

The iCam is a colorful cube shaped device that almost looks as if it were made from putting large LEGO blocks together. It connectivity is through Wi-Fi, so a good home Wi-Fi system is a necessity. Since it operates from a power plug, it needs to be positioned in an area of your home that has access to an electrical outlet either directly or by extension cord. Since the remote viewing is done through making a Skype video call to your iCam, a Skype account is necessary.  Last, video recording is done on a micro SD card and then uploaded to Google Drive you will need both a micro SD card and a Google account.  You get from AMARYLLO 15 GB of free storage on Google Drive.  Before you purchase a micro SD card, check the AMARYLLO website for compatible brands and capacity.

 

Operation

Among the various remote cameras that can operate from an iOS or Android device, the key selling point of the iCam HD 360 was that you could connect to it over Skype and that it uploaded video to Google Drive.  Further by giving simple commands via the Skype message feature, you could tilt and pan the camera.   You type in L for left, R for right, and either a U or D for up and down. These features made it one of the easiest devices on the market to utilize, especially if one already had a Google and Skype account.

The iCam app provides the basic controls.  The controls include recording at either 720 p, 480p, or 360p; voice controls for turning on the microphone, setting the speaker volume, and enabling two-way audio; Miscellaneous the enables you to turn on or off the night vision, set the time zone, turn on or off the motion control and the ability to grant control to other phones; Wi-Fi AP list showing the Wi-Fi system it is connected to; Skype viewer list that enables you to add Skype accounts for individuals that you want to be able to connect to the camera through Skype; and the controls for turning on or off the motion sensor, audio sensor and setting the audio sensitivity and whether to alert you through a snapshot or a text.  Everything about the iCam is simple and straightforward.  This makes it an excellent choice for those that are not that tech savvy beyond the basics.

 

Setting Up

 

iCam HD: Google Play
iCam HD: Google Play

 

iCam HD: Apple Store (iOS)
iCam HD: Apple Store (iOS)

 

Reference to QR code for Android-specific app
Reference to QR code for Android-specific app

 

Initially my experience with the iCam HD 360 was one of frustration.  Despite the very clear and simple instructions for getting the device up and running, I found the process anything but easy.   I just could not get it connected. After spending several hours attempting to set up the iCam I gave up and turned it over to my more tech advanced colleague.  He also spent far more complicated than the easy 1-2-3-step process found in the instructions.  He did get it to work finally.  However, I felt that if I was going to write this review that I needed to be able to set it up myself.  Thus, I wrote to AMARYLLO tech support and got a prompt reply back to do a device reset and use the specific iCam HD 360 app.
 
With that in hand I sat down to see if I could successfully set the iCam up. I followed the procedures to the letter and spent another 2 hours resetting, reinstalling the app, and faithfully going through the SIMPLE set up steps.  My efforts and time were all to no avail. At that point I felt that I would never write this review or if I did was to pan the iCam as one ornery and anything but simple device. However, to be fair I again sent off an email to AMARYLLO tech support.  Within 15 minutes of having detailed my latest trials and travails with the iCam I got a response asking me to send a picture of the QR scan sticker on the bottom of the iCam. Within 15 minutes of that I got back a response telling me that by mistake I had been sent the European version of the iCam HD that has a lion head logo on the QR code. Thus, I needed to install the iCam HD app rather than the iCam HD 360 app.  In addition to the email response a member of their support team also sent a connect request to my Skype account and offered to walk me through the process step by step via Skype.  Any number of companies could well take a lesson from the prompt and personal support given to me by AMARYLLO.
 
With this new information, I downloaded the app onto my smartphone and then reset the iCam and let it go through its startup process. I then followed the simple installation steps that are contained on the app. You enter your Wi-Fi password, take a picture of the QR scan code on the bottom of the camera, enter your Skype account information, hold your smartphone with a picture of a QR code on the screen in front of the iCam, wait until it beeps once and you are connected.  Simple, straightforward and it all took about a total of 4 minutes.  It really was as easy as described on the app and on the website.

 

Video Recording and Alerts

The last feature that I wanted to comment on was the video recording and motion alert snapshots.  Below is an example of a motion alert snapshot.

 

Sample motion alert snapshot from the iCam HD
Sample motion alert snapshot from the iCam HD

 

Motion and audio alert snapshots appear within Skype. Audio detection alerts and motion detection alerts show up as messages in the iCam’s Skype account.  Skype messages also show that the iCam sent a file. Currently the app version of Skype states “This version of Skype doesn’t support that yet.”  However, I can download the snapshot files in the desktop version of Skype.  The one above opened on my desktop within Skype and I then opened it with my preview program. Since the app version of Skype was just updated, I suspect that the transfer and opening of the file will be worked out in the future.
 

Note: there is some loud static at the beginning on this unedited video. Please consider turning down your audio level before playing.

 

The videos are easily accessed from the iCam app on your smartphone.  All you need to do is to click on the Google Drive icon on the opening page of the app.  The videos can also be accessed directly from logging into Google Drive. You get up to 15 GB of free storage on Google Drive. It is amazing the sharpness of the video. Anyone caught on camera in daylight would be very sharply identified with the HD quality of the video.

 

Two-Way Audio

Another feature of the iCam HD 360 is that it has a built in speaker and microphone.  This enables you during a Skype call to listen to what is going on in the room.  It further allows you to speak and be heard through the device.  The audio is not stellar (it sounds like talking on a walkie-talkie) but it is clear enough that one can hear what is being said.  To clearly hear through the device, the sound needs to be fairly close by and loud enough to be picked up.  I enjoy watching the startled look on my cats when I speak to them through the camera.

In Summary

Despite my early frustrations, I have found the iCam HD 360 a very useful tool to monitor the activity of my cats when I am gone from home.  It also gives me a way to monitor the back entry to the house.  When you have the right iCam with the correct app, the set up is truly as easy as 1-2-3.  Beyond the easy setup, setting up the features for the camera and viewing recorded videos is easily done from the app.  Connecting to the iCam through Skype is also seamless and it is easy to give pan and tilt commands.

Support for the iCam is provided on the AMARYLLO website.

Click on the Support tab and it will take you to a series of questions about iCam settings and services.  When you click these general questions it will take you to a page that will have a series of detailed things that you may be asking or wanting to know more about.   Some of these are then linked to YouTube videos that demonstrate and walk you visually through what to do.  If these resources do not suffice, then you can contact their support team by email.  Given my issues, I found that I needed to do this and was tremendous impressed by how quick the team responded and solved my problem.  Most impressive was how one of the team set up a Skype contact and was willing to walk me directly through the setup process while on a real time Skype video call.

 

The iCam HD 360 retails for $199. It comes in three colors, (red, white and blue; all white; or green on the top and bottom with white in the middle).  The iBabi HD that comes in pink and blue also retail for $199.   The iCam HD that lacks the remote pan and tilt control retails for $149 and comes only in white.  All of the models can be purchased directly from AMARYLLO through the store on their website.  B&H Photo Video also can supply the iCam at the stated list prices.  If you do a Google search you may be able to find the device for $20 less.  I would encourage you to carefully note shipping prices as they may make it more expansive than directly buying from the AMARYLLO store.

 

Rating

The iCam HD 360 is a very versatile remote camera that allows you to view its home area from your smartphone or tablet device.  The iCam HD 360 does everything that it is advertised to do and does it simply and well.  I will not let my initial experience downgrade my review as I discovered that their support services and staff were excellent.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Connectivity through Skype
  • Recordings viewable and saved on Google Drive
  • Quality of picture
  • Tilt and Pan
  • Support Service

Negative:

  • Lack of more neutral or black colors
  • Upgrades to Skype, Google Drive, and or AMARYLLO app

Since the iCam HD 360  needs to get along with Skype and Google Drive, any changes and updates with them will most likely require an update from AMARYLLO.  I suspect this is the case currently in not being able to view the alert snapshots due to the app version of Skype not supporting the file type in the upgraded version of their program.  This is a common problem today in getting everything to play together nicely all the time.  Last, the bright colors that are offered do little to make the camera inconspicuous in a room.  Thus, for a security device it is rather obvious to anyone entering the room.  It would be nice to have it available in black and other neutral colors so as to better blend in with the home décor.

 

Device: 9 out of 10
Support: 10 out of 10

Stephen C. Anderson
Writer/Reviewer

The iCam HD 360 (from Amaryllo) in action from Rex Suba on Vimeo.