Withings Home, using a few months

The withings home is (According to Withings) a full HD camera with motion and sound detection. In the last few months I have been using the home for both a small review as on my normal life to detect if there is motion or sound in my house. Now I have used it for a while I decided to write a short review about it. You can see a few examples of the app in the video below as well. The video mentions a few of my conclusions at the end.

For this review I used a second Withings Home, so I was able to experiment with it around. With this review you won’t find any real world photos, all photos that are shown are from a “setup”  style view. However, it will still show the quality of the video and the app.

So, first of all, lets starts with the Withings home app. According to Withings, you can use the app on both the iPhone as the iPad. For the tests I have been doing I have been using mainly my iPad. However, the app has several bugs when using it specifically with the iPad in landscape mode. What also happens in some cases is that the app simply starts with a completely black image for all saved photos and the current live view.
IMG_0006
If this happens, you will need to restart the app completely. After you restarted, it works in most cases again, however I have had that I needed to restart the home itself as well. I am not sure what the cause is, as it can’t be a network issue. I have connected my withings home (The review one, not the other one) by a ethernet cable, so the network connection should be pretty stable. Due to the bugs with the landscape mode, I prefer to use it with portrait (And thats how you would use it with your iPhone as well primarly).
IMG_0011This works pretty well, especially since the updates from end of Februari to the app.The main view of the app is with the live feed. This also plays the audio (Which is pretty bad in quality, also don’t try to watch you feed nearby the home itself, it won’t like it :)), below the live feed you find short videos of what happened that day. However, as both the motion and the sound detection is really sensitive, you will find a lot of photos. In my case, with the sun most of the day shining into the windows, it will generate up to 100 detections a day. After a few days, I disabled the push messages for the motion simply because they were useless. The sound detection works a bit better, however I still see some false positives here as well.
IMG_0008In the first version of the app there was support to set the sensitivity for both sound and motion, however they removed that in I think februari. The last update (Which was actually released the moment I am writing the blog/making the video, so I haven’t be able to test it. In the video I mention that I never used it, however I actually did previously, and had set it to the lowest threshold) reintroduced these sensitivity settings, so hopefully that works better now. Another problem with the photos in the timeline is the actual quality of the photos. Withings says the video quality is full hd, which I actually think isn’t the case. Especially in low light situations, the quality of both the photos as the videos is pretty bad, and shows a lot of blocks within the video.
IMG_0013While you can recognise someone on the video, it is (Especially from a distance) hard to see any details.

Another issue with the sensitivity of the sensors is the amount of photos it saves into the photo album (Which is not linked to your photo album on your phone). You will end up with all photos which are nearly the same, as on the screenshot on the left. All of these photos are triggered by motion, however if you look on the videos (Which are behind the photo if you select them), you will see that most of them are due changing light.

A great feature in the app is a daily “overview”  of what happened in that day.
IMG_0009This overview shows how “well” the air was for that day, and gives a opportunity to watch the playback of what happened that specific day. Don’t expect to much from this playback, it is currently based on the photos in the album. Unlike Withings promised I haven’t found a way to watch the full video feed which they say is saved to the cloud.

The playback screen itself is pretty simple. There are a few buttons to start and stop the video, and a long strip to go through the day yourself. The time is shown as well, which is matched to the photo shown at that moment.

Lastly you have the graph for the air quality.
IMG_0010This is based on Organic particles in the air. I am not fully sure how this works, as I see different results in the same scenary. What I understand is that it detects the amount of particles in the air, and based on that it gives a rating. With that assumption, I would say that when a window is open near the home, the VOC would go down. However, my experience is that it also happens the other way around, when I sit am around in the room working, the VOC level goes down, and when the window is open, the level raises. But I am not fully sure if this is simply a wrong detection, or my assumptions are incorrect.

In general, when looking at the graph at the left, you see that during the day, the VOC is  low IMG_0012(My window is normally open until around 3-4PM this time of the year), and when it closes the VOC raises. However, two days ago (When I was actually working the full day in this room), the VOC only came above the 1200 once, while the window was closed the full day.
This issue happens with both of my Withings home, so I am pretty sure it is not a defect in one of them.

When using the app daily to see what happened around the house works as you expect. But don’t expect full HD quality of your playback or perfect photos. You can see what happens, but thats all.

Positive things

  • Responds really fast to any detected motion
  • Gives a good overview of what happened in the last day/week/month
  • Nice app, and gets better with every update

Negative things

  • No android support (yet)
  • Not the best photo/video quality
  • Pricy for what you get
  • Trigger happy

With a price for nearly 200 euro, you get a pretty bad camera. There are much better quality security like cameras on the market which can do the same, and are not as closed source as the Withings home. If you have some technicaly knowledge, a custom created solution will work much better, with lot better quality. However, if you have no technical knowledge, the home is kinda perfect, with the disadvantages it has. Hopefully they can continue to update the app with new features, like temperature sensing, and increase the photo quality. With Android support coming soon, they should have a really great things if it has good quality photos/video.

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