AMCREST PRO HD 3MP POE Bullet Camera: Does not work out of the box.
Many people are aware of home alarm systems and the pay per month style of home security. For some, the security of a monitored system is reassuring. This is true for myself and my family. I choose to have Vivint Smart Home and I love the protection they provide and the peace of mind that my fire alarms, exterior and indoor systems are monitored. I honestly would not have it any other way. However, this is not for everyone. Many people may forego separate, unmonitored, protection/cameras due to the complicated technology itself. Some of the technology is not straight forward. You may think you know what you are getting, but you may get something else entirely.
Take the AMCREST 3MP POE Bullet Camera for example. I may not be a computer engineer, I may not work specifically in the tech industry, but I am not a novice. It is incredibly frustrating that this product does not work out of the box. I repeat, there is no way to use this product as it is shipped. It did not come with any type of mechanism to provide power to the camera. There was no Ethernet or AC adaptor included. Before this product, I was unaware of what POE meant. I did not have any idea that you could have POWER OVER ETHERNET, as my home router does not have a POE slot. I did not have a POE adaptor. I did google the company and found a set of 6 cameras and a NVR recording system on Amazon for $650. I also found a separate listing for a Qcam, but most of the reviews talk about POE and plugging it into the larger system. In fact, it seems that Amazon had separated the single camera as a separate listing. These are not the same camera that I have been given to review. There are numerous concerns I have with this product. I will detail many of them below. Essentially, the product ships without any included power source, the manual seems generic (1 cable included in the box), it seems that it was an oversight and that this was meant to be an add on piece to a much larger kit. Oh and the App on IOS is just plain bad (more below).
The product comes packaged in a rectangular gray box measuring at 7″ long by 3 9/16″ wide by 3 3/4″ tall. On the front is a pictorial representation of the camera and images of the features of the camera. It lists 3MP Superior resolution, 98 feet night vision, mobile viewing, 81 degree viewing angle, quick and easy setup (More on this below), IP67 (Ingress protection), Power Over Ethernet. The front has blue ellipse (leaf shaped) bubbles itemizing the above options. Turning the packaging onto its side, you see similar information to that detailed on the front. Really, the only useful piece of information here is that it tells you that you can stream 2048×1536 @ 20 frames per second and that there is motion sensing capability. The other side is incredibly busy and overwhelming. It displays the same leaf shaped icons as the front of the box. I am unsure why they recreate these here. It also lists all of the specs in very small font. This seems quite overwhelming actually. Listing facts like electronic shutter speed auto/manual 1s-1/100000s, Image sensor, Max IR LEDS length (98 feet), White balance, gain control, lens type (fixed), etc. Much of this information is irrelevant to a large number of people. Let’s be honest, techies are into that stuff. I like to know the capabilities, but I want to know information that actually matters to my use of the product. The back of the product yet again shows very similar information to the front.
Opening the lid of the box, there is a layer of foam. Inside of the foam is the camera, which weighs 13.6 ounces. The camera is quite sleek and reminds me of the typical camera you may see in a department store. The camera has a single silver sticker labeling the model, the input power 12V .2A and a QR code. AMCREST is painted on the sides. On the top of the camera is a set screw, which allows you to move the sun shade cover very slightly. This does not move far, as it only has a 1 inch slot to slide. Turn the screw counterclockwise, slide the lens cover forward and then turn the screw clockwise. This provides roughly 1/2″ of coverage across the top, which seems underwhelming. The camera has a ball and socket like joint, attached to a black 3″ diameter base with 3 screw holes. Out of the base of the camera is 14 inches of cord. This is long enough to get through masonry, through a wall and into the home allowing for the IP67 status of the device (IP67=complete dust protection and submersion in water up to 3 feet for 30minutes). This is more than capable of withstanding rain and storms. The cable has 2 ports, 1 for Ethernet and an AC power plug. The camera is really professional, hefty and feels that it is made of quality materials. Unfortunately, I wish it worked.
In the Box:
There are a few accessories included with the box. First, the company includes a sealed bag containing three 1-inch screws with drywall anchors. This will allow for easy installation. There was an open bag with black plastic pieces. These are designed to seal the Ethernet power port, to maintain the IP67 status. This bag was already opened when I received the box, with a corner torn from the plastic. There is a rubber O ring to attach to the Ethernet port and a rubber cylinder to allow attachment of the AC adaptor. I could not get the Ethernet port cover to work, as it appears you need to apply the plastic cover before the end of the Ethernet cable is crimped on. There is a mini CD rom disc, an important security notice card informing you to make sure you have the latest firmware. There is a warranty card detailing the unlimited life term technical support and a quick start guide.
Quick start guide:
Included is a 3 1/8″ X 4 3/4″ user manual. Quickly thumbing through the manual, you can see the following sections: How to Setup Your AMCREST CAMERA, Quick Start Guide App Setup, Desktop Access, Could Access, Web Access, information and links. You can link online to the user manual at AMCREST.com/poecameramanual. You can download the app AMCREST from IOS App Store, Google Play store and Amazon. The manual starts out detailing camera setup. The company notes that they have included multiple ways to set up, view and operate the camera to make your experience easy and simple. I wanted to first set up the app, to be able to use and my camera. Step 1 instructs you to connect the camera to a Power Over Ethernet Jack (POE) on your router or switch using an Ethernet cable (1 cable included in the box). I experienced two problems with this same step. First, there was no included Ethernet cable. This was not that big of a deal as I have plenty of Ethernet cables lying around. The other issue was the fact that my router has no POE port. I looked back through the products and noted that there were 2 ways that the camera could accept power, but neither an AC adaptor or Ethernet cable were included in the box. The company sent the package without any way to charge this device or any way to turn it on. This was a huge disappointment. This device is unusable in it current form and for most it would have quickly been returned to Amazon.
I thumbed through the manual, read it cover to cover and this is where I noted there was a listed online user manual. I went to the website and downloaded the user manual. There are links to YouTube videos through this site. Unfortunately, none of the listed videos show me how to actually set up my camera. So, I read on. Section 3.1 tells you to not connect to POE and AC power source. It also says that the AC power source was included (which it was not). Under section 3.2 of the user manual, it shows an installation map (template) to install the device. It states to stick the installation sticker on the designated surface (no sticker). You then drill 3 holes through the sticker, insert expansion bolt (anchor) (No sticker). Then tighten the screws. Now I am just plain frustrated. Section 4 then goes on to detail similar details to the quick Setup guide.
Having been incredibly agitated we reached out to the company. They did send a separate box with an Ethernet cable and an AC adaptor. The AC adaptor is rather large and there is no way that this would be able to be included in the box that shipped to me. The Ethernet cable also would not fit into the box that the camera was shipped in either. I followed the quick Start guide. I downloaded the AMCREST View Pro app. This app has a total of 36 reviews, 2 stars average. The Light App had no reviews at the time of writing of this review. Why would you use the light app over the full app when they are both free? Many people left negative reviews of this app. After using it, I can see exactly why.
I plugged the Ethernet cable into my router, I plugged the AC power into the wall. Accessing the app, you will be given a series of screens to click through. Start by pushing the 3 horizontal lines along the top left. Then select “Device manager,” and then press the plus Icon top right (near P2P. Your camera will open a QR reader. Scan the QR code on the camera. It will then prompt you to enter username and password. This process was straight forward and easy. However, this is where the ease ended. When you open the app you are greeted by “Live View across the top of the iPhone 6s Plus. You need to click the + in the center of the screen. From here you can click the name of the camera, the one you chose, and then click IPC. It is frustrating that it takes 3-4 clicks just to activate the camera. Why is there no short cut that takes you directly to the feed when you open the app? The motion detection does not work. You can use the app, with a series of about 4 screen presses, to access a fixed camera at home. The app is not very good. It took a long time to try to connect (roughly 2 minutes). Seriously, check out the negative reviews on the IOS store. This is a good indication of what you will run into.
I am not a fan of the device, I am not a fan of the app and I am definitely not going to install this onto my computer or server. I would say that 90+% of Amazon users would have sent this back due to the faults noted above. It is frustrating that it did not work. The app was very slow, clunky and in general is just not good. The product does not work as intended. Honestly the picture quality that I received was quite good. This is a blessing in disguise, as the picture is very clear. Unfortunately it is laggy, the motion software does not work on the iPhone and I had to continue to reset settings to get the device to function. It must remain plugged into the router and to power, essentially making a computer room security system. Again, this is a wired option that will significantly limit the ability to use this in various locations. I have been really disappointed with the amount of effort I have placed into the app and device. If I bought this for personal use, I would have returned it long before now. No power options, no wall mount template, no ease of use on the app. Overall I would not use this device, and I will not. I will stick with Vivint as they have not let me down.
In regards to the AMCREST PRO HD CAMERA, unless you want to spend time trying to get this system to work, consider alternative options. I rate the device and app at 2/5.
BUY FROM AMAZON