Imilab C20 : test / reviewCategory: Connected objects
[b][b]Imilab is a Chinese company specialising in the marketing of connected objects and more particularly surveillance cameras. Imilab is not yet very well known in Europe but this is likely to change as Imilab is part of the Xiaomi universe, so it is very likely that with the experience of Xiaomi in Europe, the Imilab brand will end up following the same path.[b][b]Being part of the Xiaomi universe also means that Imilab is not just a small Chinese manufacturer trying to make a place for itself on the market, it is a solid company with the means to market successful products. The other advantage compared to other unknown Chinese brands is that the products will continue to evolve and the product you buy today will still be usable tomorrow.[b][b]I hadn't yet tested a product of this brand but I have tested other cameras before, so I have some references to compare products.[b][b]
Price Imilab C20[b]Imilab products are available just about everywhere but if you want to get the best price, you can use the promo code C20CAMERA on Aliexpress.[b][b]
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Unpacking[b][b]The Imilab camera is delivered in an almost completely anonymous box. I was wondering what it was about when I received it, it's quite an amazing choice for a product that seems to have been the subject of design research. The box contains the camera, a charger, a cable, a manual and a base to attach the camera. [b][b][b][b]
Configuration[b]To be able to use the camera, you need an application, so you need to download the Imilab Home application. It is a free application but with paid services and the reviews on the Play Store are not very positive. The first connection with the camera is rather laborious and I suspect that one of the reasons for this problem is related to the location of the recording service, which is in China.[b][b]To associate your camera with the application, you first have to choose your country. This does not present any major difficulties but the button to save your choice is not directly visible because the keyboard hides it. You then have the choice between an identification by SMS or an identification by email to create your account. I tried the SMS identification but it never worked, I never received the SMS. I then tried the identification by email and it didn't work the first time either. I received a first code by email that didn't work in the application. I tried again several times until the code I received by email worked. First step passed.[b][b]After creating your account you need to log in to the camera. The detection is fast, the camera appeared directly on my screen. However, to connect the camera, I had to do it several times because the connection failed all the time. I looked at what was happening on my router and I saw requests to a Xiaomi domain and others to Taobao. Again I think that the location of these services in China makes the experience more fragile because the connection time is longer and when the connection takes a long time, the application ends up giving up. A large part of the negative comments about the application come from this problem. So yes, the application works but you have to persevere to create an account and connect the camera.[b][b]After the initial configuration, I didn't encounter any further problems with the connection between the smartphone and the camera. [b][b][b][b]
Application[b]The Imilab Home application allows several types of connected objects to be connected, so there is no need to install an application for each product. The main screen lists all the objects connected to the application, in my case there is only one camera. The main screen allows you to connect to the camera, buy a cloud offer for video storage, view the events generated by the camera and configure the camera. The events are also traced back to your phone's notifications.[b][b][b][b][b]From the main screen, you can control the camera from a central control button that allows you to rotate the camera from left to right and up and down. The movements are sequential, so you can move the camera step by step, if you leave your finger too long it will continue to rotate until it is no longer possible. There is a delay between the commands and their execution. On the same screen you can switch to HD or SD mode, turn the sound on or off, start a recording or switch to full screen. You can also switch on the microphone to speak through the camera. I have a good wifi signal and the camera was in the same room as my router (about 2m away), I still had some signal loss.[b][b]The videos are stored on your phone but if you want to record the video stream 24 hours a day, you have to subscribe to a cloud offer which varies from $1.99 a month to $69.99 a year. This may seem out of proportion to the price of the camera but these are unlimited cloud offers, so the price is quite competitive. I tested the Blink XT cameras from Amazon, unlimited storage is offered but the cameras cost much more than this Imilab C20. So it's all a question of calculating your budget.[b][b]
Overview[b][b]The Imilab C20 is a beautifully designed object. The camera is rotatable, it can rotate on both the horizontal and vertical axis. However, it is not possible to rotate 360 degrees, but the angle of vision avoids a blind spot. The camera is powered by a mini USB port, the cable and charger are delivered with the camera but the USB cable is quite short. The Imilab is also equipped with a loudspeaker at the back and to use it you need to speak through the application. The sound delivered by this speaker is good enough to understand what you are saying.[b][b][b][b]
Video quality[b][b]Daytime video[b][b]The Imilab C20 is capable of producing 1080p video, the image quality is really good for a camera at this price. The distortion due to the angle is quite visible but it doesn't matter because this camera is not designed to produce artistic videos.[b][b]I will post a video as soon as possible.[b][b][b]Night video[b][b]Night vision is one of the strengths of this camera, I will focus on night detection below in this article.[b][b][b]Sound quality[b][b]The Imilab C20 has a very good microphone as it is able to capture sounds in a fairly clear way in both high and low frequencies. I think the sound amplification is also good because on other cameras the tendency is to amplify the sound and this results in a permanent background noise even in the middle of the night.[b][b]
Features[b][b]Motion detection[b][b]The Imilab C20 camera is able to detect and track movements. If you pass within its field of vision, it will follow the movement as long as this movement is not too fast because the camera rotation is not fast enough to follow someone who is moving fast. When it loses contact, the camera will try to find the moving object or person. Motion is only captured on the horizontal axis, so if the moving object or person is moving up or down, the camera will not use its vertical axis to find it. The camera must therefore be correctly adjusted on its vertical axis so that it does not miss any movement. If you position your camera too high, it will not be able to capture what is happening just below. Ideally, the camera should therefore be placed on a piece of furniture that is less than a man's height.[b][b]When the camera detects movement, it can record video but you must either insert a memory card or use the cloud service offered by the application. I used a memory card to do this test and I see that the camera records one-minute MP4 files. I have taken the properties of one of my files below:[b]Video: HVC1 1920x1080 29.917fps 805kbps [V: hevc main, yuv420p, 1920x1080, 805 kb/s][b]Audio: aLaw 8000Hz mono 64kbps [A: pcm_alaw, 8000 Hz, 1 channels, s16, 64 kb/s].[b][b][b]I couldn't find a way to download or share the videos from the camera to my phone or mailbox. I have to remove the memory card to be able to transfer the videos, I don't find it very practical. I would have liked to be able to watch my videos on a big screen or share them.[b][b][b]Sound detection[b][b]The Imilab C20 camera can also be triggered on the basis of noise, which allows it to trigger a video recording before any movement in the field of vision occurs. This is an interesting feature that increases the chances of capturing movement but unfortunately the camera is not able to orient itself towards the source of the noise, so it will continue to scan its surroundings in the hope of capturing something. I don't know what the camera bases its definition of abnormal sound on but it was triggered by my canary singing as much as by a door slamming. However, when I clapped my hands next to the camera, it didn't go off.[b][b][b] Night vision [b][b][b]The night vision is impressive because I've had the opportunity to test a few cameras of this type and the infrared lighting is often limited to a few metres. The Imilab allows you to see in the dark for more than 10 metres or even more. In the photo you can see the end of the hedge which is about 15 metres from the camera, you can also see the shape of the roof of the neighbouring house which is more than 20 metres away. [b][b]The power of night vision has an effect on the objects/persons in the vicinity, the light saturation is so strong that the video loses details. A face captured at close range will be almost entirely white.[b][b]
Latency[b]The biggest flaw in wifi cameras is the time lag between a movement and the reaction of the camera. The Imilab C20 is no exception to this problem, if you pass your hand in front of the camera fast enough, the camera will trigger but will not have recorded your hand. You therefore need to position the camera in the right place with enough distance back to capture a large enough scene, but you also need to make sure that a possible intruder remains in the same place for a few seconds to be visible on the recorded video. Using a memory card rather than the cloud does not seem to solve this problem. The problem is not related to my wifi network as I have other cameras (Blink XT2) that are triggered within a second. [b][b]
Conclusion/review[b]The Imilab C20 is a really good camera for this price category. It can't compete with a Blink XT2 type camera, but it costs three to four times less. [b][b]I liked it:[b]- the quality of the video[b]- the range of night vision[b]- ease of use[b]- the external appearance, it is a beautiful object[b]- the possibility of using a memory card[b]- triggered by sound[b][b]What I liked less:[b]- the slowness of the movements[b]- the absence of follow-up on the vertical axis[b]- the impossibility of downloading or sharing videos[b]- the memory card slot is not easily accessible[b]- the camera flashes and thus indicates its presence[b]
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