This post was sponsor-supported by Swann Security. All views and opinions expressed in this piece are my own and unaltered. Thanks for supporting my blog and sponsors.
It wasn’t all that long ago when home video security systems were thought of as something that only wealthy people could afford; protecting mansions in ritzy areas. But these days, there are video security systems that are suitable for all budgets, homes and situations. Adding video surveillance to your home can be as easy as popping to your local Bunnings and connecting a basic DIY home system yourself – no electrician needed.
Research has shown that your home is 8 times less likely to be broken into if you have signs of security – like cameras, sensor lights or alarms – visible on your property. Research also shows that 60 percent of burglars change targets after spotting a home security system on-site. Video footage can also aid police in recognising and arresting thieves.
A global leader in home security, Swann Security is an international company that began from humble beginnings right here in Australia more than 30 years ago. Swann really kickstarted the DIY-installation home security sector, and recently asked if I would be interested in reviewing a couple of their video security products.
Sarica Malhotra, head of Global Marketing for Swann, says Australia has the seventh highest rate of burglaries in the world (New Zealand ranks the highest) yet the majority of Australians don’t use any kind of sensor or video home security.
“We Australians are often praised for being a laidback and trusting bunch,” she says. “When it comes to home security, only 33 percent of Australians have a system installed at home. The reasons for this are plentiful – some believe their home is secure enough on its own, others think that because they live in a safe neighbourhood they are exempt from a potential break-in.
“However, recent statistics show that this isn’t necessarily the case, with 1 in 5 people having had someone break into, or steal a parcel from, their house in the last year.”
The good bit is there are multiple things you can do to help keep your home and deliveries safe, says Sarica. “By just adding visible security cameras, sensor lights or security signage, your home becomes less likely to be broken into,” she says. “Adding alarms, outdoor and indoor cameras or smart doorbells are proven to help deter intruders and in turn, provides peace of mind when you’re away.”
SWANN XTREEM SECURITY CAMERA REVIEW
Swann gifted me two items to review – one the Swann Xtreem Security Camera (the wireless version).
I installed both easily myself. I am famed for once assembling a basic IKEA shoe rack so that it ended up looking like a DNA helix. So if I can install a DIY home security system on my own, trust me, you’ve got this. I initially had trouble connecting the camera to our Bluetooth connection but a brief online chat with a Swann representative quickly it sorted out (and haven’t had connectivity problems since).
The camera has an impressive 110 degree video scope range and the picture quality is very clear. The Swann camera withstands rain and heat, and the battery life is good: up to six months of charge, longer than the Arlo cameras we had bought a few years ago. Ours Swann camera hasn’t run out of battery yet (it alerts you when the battery life is low). The sensors are impressive, and adjustable sensitivity and distance-wise, making it a good choice for apartments or those who live on busy streets with a lot of foot traffic.
The loud siren is also a plus. You can set the SwannBuddy sensors to trigger a siren (with choice of siren length and volume).
The camera has a two-way microphone – ideal for telling delivery people to leave a parcel at the doorstep, or to communicate with intruders.
The Swann Security app itself has a little room for improvement – a geofencing mode would be good, so that the system automatically detects that you are away from home. As is, you have to remember to switch the camera onto Away mode if you are heading out. For a scattered mum sometimes just trying to make it out the door in one piece with kids and dog in tow, setting the alarm onto Away mode is often not something I am thinking about. However, it will still record what happens in your absence if this is the default mode. You can connect it to your Hey Google or Alexa.
Prior to trying Swann, we used Arlo security cameras. One of my gripes with the Arlo app has always been that the cameras loaded SO slowly… and the pop-ups! You would receive a security alert late at night, and go to quickly log on to check that no one was breaking into your car, only to receive an annoying pop-up asking you to upgrade your subscription. Of course, they were hoping people would tire of the ads and subscribe to the updated system just for the ease of it. That’s one of my pet peeves – monthly subscription services. Before you know it, you are paying for multiple services, Netflix, Dropbox, email, Canva, Prime, that seem like nothing individually – but add them all up and woah!
In contrast, there are no pop-up ads with the Swann Security app (at least, I’ve not had one yet). While you CAN upgrade to a higher level plan with Swann with their Secure+ plans, designed for extra peace of mind, it’s definitely not something they push on you consistently, and it’s not expensive (starting at $39.99 per year for your doorbell or a single camera. Cheap as chips for peace of mind). Signing up to the Swann Secure+ plan means your Swann products can be set up to distinguish between people, package, vehicles and animals, and intelligently alert you with what you want. No more security cameras being triggered by the neighbour’s cat going on his nightly stroll.
Swann do offer a 90 day free trial of a plan if you want to give it a go (use coupon code 90DAYSFREE). But so far, using the cameras without subscription has been enough for our needs.
The SwannBuddy video camera comes with an on-board MicroSD card, so you can keep a hard copy of all events recorded, even if you don’t want to pay the subscription. And while it is chargeable, being wireless, there is also a wired option available. Recordings are first saved on your app so you can refer to them at ease, save your clips to the cloud, or locally to the SD card.
Another bonus of the Swann Security system is that I have found the loading time to be faster compared to our old Arlo system. Even if the app isn’t open on my phone and the cameras are on standby, it usually only takes about 4-6 seconds from tapping the app icon to getting a live feed on a camera. Pretty good.
The picture quality on the Xtreem Security Camera is also excellent – I would say much clearer than the Arlo and although the videos can occasionally be choppy, overall the quality is definitely good enough to identify vital details, even at night.
Not long ago, a bunch of journalists who were interviewing inmates about tricks they used to break into houses found out that while it’s fairly common for burglars to knock on a door to see if someone is home before attempting to break in, they also found that many robbers intentionally avoid ringing smart doorbells, knowing it will trigger a video recording.
They also knew that video doorbells could be answered from anywhere – meaning that an answer is not a true indicator of whether someone is home or not (some burglars will knock, rather than ring the bell, to see if they get a response before breaking in). Outsmarting the smart doorbell!
The good news is that this particular doorbell can be set so it records the moment it detects a heat signature – so you’ll get a capture regardless of whether or not someone rings it. The SwannBuddy Video Doorbell can be set to record any movement that comes into the camera’s view – you can arm it completely or choose the motion detection sensitivity and proximity, from close to far. Which is great. There have been so many times our Arlo system had woken us up to the ominous Motion Detected alert, only for it to be just something small and harmless, like a spider who decides tonight is THE night to make an elaborate new web while pinging your security alerts all night long.
Big points for how wide the view of the SwannBuddy is – it is a fish eye style, unflattering to the figure and face, yes. But all-encapturing? Yes – impressively so. It has a 180 degree viewing angle and a 1:1 aspect ratio so you can clearly see who’s at the door and also deliveries on the ground. And small people too.
The SwannBuddy doorbell comes with a simple wireless chime too for placing in your home. The only downfall of the Wireless doorbell is the battery time – I find it needs a recharge every 10 days or so. I’m not sure if my kids ringing it 20 times every time they come home is helping with that battery lifespan, though.
I find sometimes the video recordings would be slightly choppy. But not so much enough so you can’t tell what is going on – and the image quality is still very good.
The infrared vision is good for night-time. It means the colours are obviously in ‘night vision’, as you can see below, with this slightly creepy-looking capture of my face returning home one evening but the image IS super clear.
I quickly realised how much I appreciated being able to see who was at the door before opening it… or not opening it. I had a lot of fun pretending to be these different characters…. can you name who’s who?
The app interface is simple and easy to use and the Doorbell comes with a mobile chime that you can pop anywhere in your house so you can hear the doorbell better – not a big issue in our smaller house, but would be very handy in a large house.
One more small thing I have to mention; I like that included in each item are a bunch of stickers saying Swann Security 24 Hour Video Surveillance. “Not only are the cameras themselves a deterrent, but also with home security stickers and signs for your home, to remind anyone looking for an easy intrusion that it’s unlikely to be successful if they try,” says Sarica.
Cost-wise, both the SwannBuddy Video Doorbell and XTreem Security Camera are decently priced at $199.95 each, and sometimes can be picked up for even less – their online sales mean you could pick up a security camera 2-pack for as low as $169. Sarica says while having a fully fledged security option isn’t an option for everyone, they also have affordable alarm sensors and sirens, which work great when done with other precautions to boost your home security.
“There are multiple different ways to protect your home, apart from security cameras,” she says. “These include locking up your home with updated security doors and windows, changing your locks if you have just moved into your new home, deterring thieves with a dog, maintaining your yard, closing blinds at night, installing sensor lights at your front and back doors, keeping valuables out of sight, and getting to know your neighbours so they can help keep an eye out when you’re away and report suspicious activity at your home.”
All in all, I give a big thumbs up to both.
Thank you to Swann Security for sponsoring this post. You can check out all their home security options perfect for young families here, and they also currently have a bunch of special offers. Pick up their products online or at your local Bunnings.