High-quality video doesn’t make up for shortcomings.
I’ve been a fan of Ooma years. Several years ago, I discovered that my grandmother had been paying a lease on a rotary dial phone that she didn’t even own anymore from AT&T. When I found that out, I immediately canceled the contract with them and looked for other options for our landline. At the time, one of the only options was the Magic Jack. It worked, but not well. Finally, Ooma brought a true VOIP phone system out for consumers. I joined up with it immediately and have been a very happy customer ever since. So, when Ooma started their home security division, I was eager to jump on the bandwagon. A year ago, I had the opportunity to test out their door/window, water, and motion sensors that connect directly to the Ooma base unit. The one piece to the security puzzle that was missing was a security camera. Now, they have that with the Butterfleye.
Late in 2017, Ooma acquired Butterfleye, a smart video camera with AI for facial and audio recognition. The camera has onboard memory and a battery backup. It’s available in both black and white and can be placed anywhere that has a WiFi signal. Even though the Butterfleye is part of the Ooma Home Security System, it is a stand-alone camera and does not need to connect to the Ooma base station. Users can control the camera and view the video through the Ooma Butterfleye mobile app for iPhone and Android.
The Butterfleye camera is designed to record video clips in full HD resolution whenever motion is detected, a loud noise is heard by the camera, or it sees a face. Clips run for 20 seconds when the camera is plugged into AC power and 10 seconds when running on battery. Butterfleye offers seven days of free cloud storage (up to 1GB total). They also offer subscription plans starting at $9.99/month, which extends your service to 30 days for home service (business service is $29.99/month for 90 days of cloud storage for video clips).
- 1/3″3.5-megapixel full-color CMOS sensor
- 120-degree field of view
- 1080p full HD video with 8x digital zoom
- H.264 encoding.
- Auto-adaptive white and black balance + exposure
- Noise reduction – low-light high sensitivity
- Focus range – fixed focus (2 feet to infinity)
- Wireless & Audio
- 802.11 b/g/n 2.4 GHz
- WEP, WPA, WPA2 support
- Bluetooth Low Energy (BT 4.0)
- Half Duplex Two-Way Audio with Speaker and Microphone
- Power & Capacity
- USB: Input – Micro USB 5V DC, 2A
- AC Adaptor: Input – 110-240VAC, 50-60Hz
- AC Adaptor: Output – 5V DC, 2A
- 10,400mAh built-in rechargeable battery
- Battery life varies based on settings, usage, & temperature
- Battery level indication
- 16GB built-in
- 32GB built-in (black Butterfleye)
- Sensors & Detection
- Passive infrared
- Ambient light
- Sound sensor
- Instant push notifications
- 5-second preview (instant video capture)
- Adjustable sound detection
- Dimensions & Certifications
- Weight: 12.5oz (355g)
- Height: 3.3″ (83mm)
- Width: 3.8″ (97mm)
- Depth: 1.6″ (41mm)
- UL, FCC, and IC certified
The Butterfleye comes in an appropriately sized box with some branding and basic information included on the outside of the package. A nice image of the camera is pasted on the front and when you open the box, you are greeted by the friendly little camera. As first impressions go, I really like the look of the Butterfleye. It’s stout and actually quite heavy, but it’s designed to live on a flat surface like a shelf or a desk as it does not have any mounting equipment with it. The camera comes with a power supply (Micro USB cable and wall adapter) and a quick start guide. That’s it. It’s a very concise kit.
To get started, you plug the camera into power and then download the app. The app is free to download from the app store. Next, you create an account. Because this is a standalone system from the Ooma security devices, the login is different from your Ooma Home Security app. After you create an account and log into the app, the camera should be automatically detected (as long as it’s connected to power). When the app does find the camera, it will then ask what WiFi network to connect to and because it’s connected through Bluetooth to your phone, it will connect to your WiFi. The camera automatically finishes its own set-up and you are ready to start using the camera.
When I first set-up the camera, I was very impressed with the quality of the video feed and how easy the interface is to use. Unfortunately, the camera takes a long time to connect. The camera did a good job of detecting motion, but I ended up having quite a few connection issues with it. In the middle of testing the camera, I had to disconnect it for a short period of time when we moved some things around in our office. When I reconnected it, the camera would connect to the WiFi network, but was unable to use the live streaming function. The app would show that the camera was connected to the cloud, but I couldn’t get a video feed from it.
I was disappointed that this was the experience I had with this security camera. I thought that maybe I had a defective unit given the issues I was having so I looked up a few other reviews and found that others had similar issues. After reconnecting it to power, I started receiving an error that stated: “Error Occurred During Stream – Please try again…” This is something that other users have seen as well. When the camera works, it works really well, but unfortunately, I had a 50/50 experience. It only worked about half the time while I was testing it out and that’s not very good for reliability when you are talking about a security camera.
Another disappointment was that some of the features that Ooma promises like the facial recognition are part of the subscription plan perks. This is something that Ooma does not make very clear in the marketing of this product. It boasts a feature-rich, smart camera with no contracts. While that is mostly true, there are a handful of functions that I was looking forward to testing that I was unable to because they were locked behind a subscription. With the $10/month Home Secure Plan, you unlock the following tools:
- Facial recognition
- Remote 911 (coming soon, Telo customers only)
- Automatic arm/disarm
- 2-way audio
- Scheduled notifications
- Fixed fee up to 6 cameras
In addition to those features, you will also unlock Multi-site automatic arm/disarm and Business analytics (coming soon) if you upgrade to the $30/month Business Secure plan. To me, this makes the Butterfleye an expensive security camera with limited features. The black Butterfleye retails for $249. You can invest a little more ($299) and have a single camera set-up with Arlo that includes the same basic functions as the Butterfleye and also has night vision and can be placed anywhere.
With my success with the other Ooma products, I was really looking forward to having the Butterfleye in my home. Unfortunately, the execution of the product is below par and even though they added integration with Amazon Alexa (August 2018), I can’t recommend it at this time. If you need phone service then Ooma is by far the best option to look at.