Camera has a clunky App, poor firmware yet quality optics.

There is nothing I treasure more than my family, and I want every safeguard in place to know they are protected.  Unfortunately, my collegiate training kept me away many nights/evenings and weekends, leaving my wife and young children home alone.  I turned to Vivint, an amazing Smart Home monitored system.  This followed me from my college home to my current home and this is a system that we use every day. Until recently, Vivint did a wonderful job protecting the perimeter of my home, doors, windows, doorbell camera, entrance cameras.  With 3 children, 7 and 4 yr old boys and 18 months old girl, I wanted options to monitor common areas as well.  I have received the VStarcam IP Camera to review.

The product arrives in a black/white glossy cardboard box with VStarcam on the front (Android:IOS:Windows) and IP Camera across the top.  The front panel is white with classy silver lettering.  The top is black with gray/blue lettering. The two side panels have numerous logos detailing a few of the specifications. The back shows Eye4 Smart Cloud: Baby, home, Shop, Company.  There is an image on the top of the box, but this is a generic looking camera lens.  You have no knowledge of the actual appearance of the camera, based on the packaging.  This is a little disappointing.

Opening the packaging, the company has taken great care with wrapping the camera in plastic and nestling it safely inside of an eggshell like cardboard material.  You will also find the AC power adaptor with 71” cord, 48” ethernet cord, wall bracket, wall mounting hardware to include drywall anchors/screws and the Quick Start Guide.  One of my technology pet peeves is an unreasonable power adaptor.  In 2016, there seems to be little reason to have a large power adaptor that plugs into the wall.  Nearly everything is USB powered and if not, there can be a small Type A or B wall plug and an inline adaptor.  At least this adaptor has the prongs perpendicular to the axis of the plug.  This allows the long axis of the plug to angle to the side, leaving the other plug open.  This works great for a wall axis, but may not work in some of the surge protectors/power strips.  At least, the prongs should be able to swivel 90 degrees to accommodate other angles. The bracket screws into the bottom of the camera and allows for an additional wall mounting option.


The instruction manual is well written and provides a really easy and quick start.  The manual is an 8-panel front and back pamphlet.  The camera controls are detailed on page three.  ON the back of the camera you have the power input port, recessed reset port, microSD slot and the ethernet port.  Once you have perused the manual, ogled the camera, you need to navigate to either the IOS App store or the Google Play Store or simply scan the QR code. You will get redirected to the Eye4 application.  Open the app, select register along the top right.  You will need to enter a username and password and then you will need to add the camera. Plug in the power adaptor, make sure your phone is on the WiFi network, then tap the Add Camera icon in the App.  This will lead you through a series of 3-4 instructional screens, you will need to follow these instructions.

Once you power on the camera, you should be able to set up the camera with a quick mode.  Should is the main point here.   You will hear “Wireless configuration is waiting” from the camera.  You must then select “I have connected power.”   Place your smart phone near the  camera, make sure that the volume is set to high.  Press the send button and then wait.  “Wireless configuration is connecting, please wait.”  I tried this 6x and continually got a wireless connection failure, please check password and try again. This was incredibly frustrating as I thought with certainty, that the password was correct.  I retyped the password x3 and finally noticed that the IOS automatically capitalized the first left of my password.  The password is case sensitive and thus this caused the failure.  This setup is transmitted over the sound emitted from your phone. Quick Setup did not work and would not have worked, had I not noticed that the first character was capitalized by the setting on my iPhone 6s Plus.  It would give me “Wireless is Connecting, please wait” but would then fail every time. The instructions note that this will not work with some WiFi configurations. Unfortunately, it does not say why this process did not work.  I really dislike when this type of connection does not work, it is incredibly frustrating.  Ordinarily, at this point, the product would be returned to the store.  Sometimes it pays to question each step, in this case, it allowed for the connection.  I did not have to set this up manually, which is very appreciated.

Little did I know that connected did not mean connected.  I could not find the device on my phone,  I had to reset the phone app and I had to reset the app.  I then re-added the camera and it worked.  I had to change the password (only numbers and letters).  It took about 60 seconds but rebooted so that I could see the environment.  The camera is really neat, it will rotate, pan and tilt.  It has daytime and nighttime modes, it also detects motion, alerting you.  The range of rotation is about 270 degrees.  The pan/tilt is a really neat feature but feels very clunky.  There is no storage without an SD card, not included.  I really love the preset feature.  You have the option to set 5 preset positions. You can zoom in/out of those positions.   Setting those positions is a pain, however.  You must swipe and make very small, incremental changes.


The installed firmware was not the most recent, however, a quick 60-second update fixed the firmware.  This really did not provide any benefit/difference that I could notice.  The camera switches between daytime and nighttime mode (IR) quickly.  I was actually impressed with the IR mode.  Whether you are in daytime or IR mode, you can pinch and expand to zoom and-and pinch and squeeze to zoom out.  The camera has a 2-way intercom, but the app must be open to work.  Also, it picks up every ambient noise and makes it very hard to hear.

This would work wonderfully as a baby monitor.  I just wish that the motion alert would work.  The motion detection would not work. The picture quality is pretty good indoors. Whether I had the app open or closed, there were no alerts for motion detection (set to high or normal sensitivity).  If I had to make an overall summary, the camera is a 4 and the app is a 3.  This averages out to a 3.5/5 stars rating for the device.  No email on motion alert, no notification, no banner on motion, makes the camera almost useless to me.  I reset the camera, opened/closed the app and the did not make any difference. This product will not serve my purposes in its current state.  The camera/app promise much but do not deliver.

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