Hive is taking another stab at the smart home camera market with the new Hive View. The original, dubbed the Hive Camera, looked like a typical home security camera – this time however, Hive has thought about the aesthetic as well as the functionality. Designed by industrial designer Yves Béhar, it should *easily* satisfy even the most design conscious of home owners… And it should, at £189.
Can Hive’s View camera offer enough to tempt those away from more popular smart security cameras? Read on to find out.
Hive View camera: UK pricing and availability
The Hive View camera is available to buy in the UK right now following a January 2018 launch, and can be ordered from the Hive website for £189. This makes the camera comparable to the likes of the Logi Circle 2, which arguably has more features than Hive’s offering (two-way talk, ability to export videos, 24-hour day brief, integration with Alexa, etc).
Hive View camera: Design and build
The Hive View comes in well-designed packaging with all accessories and a mini quick start guide. Though the setup is very straight forward, we recommend reading the guide first.
You get a lengthy slim micro-USB cable (3m to be exact) that powers the camera and a very stylish looking metal stand (in either champagne gold or brushed copper) which can be placed on a flat surface or installed to a wall or ceiling with the included fixing screws. As the base is magnetic, it could also be attached to any metallic surface in your home – quite handy if you want to avoid making holes in your wall.
The Hive View camera itself is only a 56mmx56mm light plastic cube, available in two colour options: White or Black. The overall build quality of the camera and stand are quite an improvement over the original Hive Camera, offering something that looks a little more high-end and bespoke.
One side of the camera has a magnetic connection which attached to the stand. This holds the cube in place and allows for easy tilting of the camera. It’s also used to power the View via wireless charging when it’s attached to the stand. This means that the USB power cable can be plugged directly to the stand, making for a cleaner looking installation.
You could, of course, choose not to use the stand, but that would limit the viewing angles. With that being said, the camera’s 130-degree wide angle lens (which sits behind a black glass front) captures a very wide image.
Hive View camera: Setup
If you’re already a Hive user, you will most likely have the Hive app installed on your smartphone or tablet. That’s good news, as the Hive View is not supported via Hive Home in a web browser, so you will need to use the iOS or Android app exclusively to connect.
The good news is that installation takes just a few minutes. Using the Hive app, you tap ‘install a new device’ and tap on the Hive View icon. As long as you have Bluetooth enabled and the View has power, the app will find the camera and guide you through the setup.
It took us five steps and we had the camera up and running – not bad compared to some overly-complex smart security camera setups.
Hive View camera: Features and app
The Hive View displays its own icon on the Hive home screen next to our Hive Active Light and Hive Heating (these won’t appear if you don’t have them yourself).
However, apart from the ability to view and control Hive-branded equipment in a single app, there is no other integration with the other Hive devices. It would have been useful, for example, if the active lights could be triggered to come on when the camera senses a person in the room. Hive has reassured us that this functionality will be available in February though, so we’ll revisit this once the update is released.
The camera functions are quite simple. You can choose to monitor the live video feed or re-play events that are recorded to the cloud via TLS transfer, which Hive claims is protected with AES-128 encryption, whenever the camera senses movement. Alternatively, you can just disable monitoring altogether and access the live view in the app whenever required.
In the Settings menu, you have a number of options including the ability to change the resolution from 720p to 1080p (although you’ll need a decent internet connection for the latter). Admittedly, we tried both but did not notice a huge difference in picture quality as both were more than clear and crisp enough to see what was happening. However, we did experience playback stutter in live view mode with the more demanding Full HD video setting.
The main feature of the View is that it can be detached from its base stand, and thanks to the built-in 2100mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery, it can be re-positioned elsewhere in your home to quickly monitor another location without messing with the original setup. The issue is that the camera only lasts around an hour on battery power, limiting the uses when not connected to the stand. It’s an interesting concept and one that could be useful on occasion, but the severely limited battery life means you can’t pop it next to the cat flap while you’re out all day (for example).
You have options to rotate the video image 180-degrees if you attach the camera up-side-down. You can also opt to use night vision, which works quite well, that can be left on auto or disabled completely.
With a dual-core processor, the View has a few smart motion detection options. The headline detection feature is that the View can distinguish between a human and a pet. Unfortunately, we’re a pet-free family and couldn’t fully test the claim, but we found that when choosing to detect people only, the camera would not be triggered by lights being turned on or off or by outside plants moving in the wind.
The camera can also detect sound in the room, and both this and the motion sensitivity can be adjusted from low to medium or high depending on your environment. You can also decide whether to record audio when motion is detected as the View features a built-in microphone.
The View also offers a number of ways to notify you when it does detect someone in the room. These include push notifications and emails, and while SMS notification is also an option, it’s exclusive to those that opt in to Hive’s £4.99 monthly subscription (which also provides 30-day video storage compared to the standard 1-day offering). Strangely enough, we could not find a way in the app to sign up to this – and that’s much the theme of the Hive View.
There’s a built-in speaker that will eventually be used for two-way talk – a feature of nearly every smart camera – but the feature is yet to make an appearance in the Hive app. We’ve been reassured by Hive that it’ll be available soon, but we’ve got no solid date just yet. It’s a similar story with the video clips that the View records – while you’re able to view these from the iOS and Android apps, you’re not currently able to download the videos. Again, Hive assures us that it’s coming, but it’s quite an omission at launch considering it’s a security camera.
Anyway, we digress. If you find yourself spammed with detection notifications, you may want to opt in and set up a schedule. This is handy if you know exactly when your home is empty on a daily basis, although it doesn’t seem practical for busy families that are constantly coming and going. A better option would be smart activation using smartphone location services – when we leave home, the camera would automatically activate. It’s a feature on other similarly-priced cameras, so we’re a little surprised it’s not offered here.
Hive recommends an internet connection of at least 1.5Mbps, and a 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless router, to use with the View. We have a pretty quick fibre broadband at home and we found that live playback of the recording was fine at 720p, but bigger 1080p recordings had a bit of a delay.
When away, and using a slower Wi-Fi or on our 4G cellular connection, we struggled to get live playback for longer than a few seconds – even when capped at 720p. This is not the fault of the View, but it does make it very frustrating to use, unless you do have a solid, reliable home internet connection.