Consumer home monitoring cameras come in a small variety of shapes and sizes. The most common ones you’d find are in the shape of a puck or some kind of zoom lens. Or a miniaturized observatory for astronomy. None of them are really designed to be small and secretive to blend in with a room’s background. Interesting in knowing more about a pocket-sized home camera? Keep reading!
Design & Installation
They say that great things come in small packages, and the Stem Innovation Izon View Wi-Fi surveillance camera is no exception. This is definitely one of the smallest, most discreet home monitoring cameras I’ve seen up close. It’s practically the same size as a 1.5oz Bath & Body Works room spray, and only twice the size of its own wall adapter! The Izon View camera portion itself weighs as much as its hemispherical magnetic base.
This is most certainly an indoor camera, as it’s not designed to withstand outdoor elements. The rear of the Izon View is very well ventilated, making it open to water and dust. The exterior is made of a lightweight plastic that can scratch and dent easily, so take care not to scuff it all up. There are no buttons or switches to hassle with. The Izon View just has the covered camera, infrared sensors, and microphone in the front, and the mini USB plug port in the rear. That’s it.
Some monitoring cameras can pivot, or tilt, or swivel, or a combination of all that. The ease of finding that perfect angle and placement depends on how well the camera can adjust. The Izon View abandons convention by using magnets to hold the camera in a fixed position.
You can get a full range of smooth movement, hindered only by your imagination and ability to nudge by millimeters. The magnets are strong enough to hold the camera no matter how the base is mounted: table, wall, or ceiling. The bottom of the base has silicone to prevent slipping, which is a nice touch.
Also included in the package is a very long (9 feet) mini USB cable for power and some mounting equipment. The base appears to be able to twist apart and open in order to set up the mounting screws. Not confirmed because mine seems to be stuck, and the included instructions aren’t much of anything either. Most of the documentation that addresses questions regarding linking the camera to your mobile device are provided through the Izon app.
Izon App (Android)
Creating an account to access and use the Izon View camera takes only a minute or two. The actual pairing may take longer than you want. After identifying the home network and entering the network password, the app goes (slowly) through this checklist to initialize the camera. You might have to reset the camera a few times – I did that before resorting to using the QR code method the app offered. Not the quickest camera pairing I’ve ever performed, but not that bad either.
The app’s landing page shows a still frame image of what the Izon View camera sees. It’s refreshed every 5 seconds, so you can see any changes going on without having to actually stream it live. Clicking on the image opens up the video for live streaming, which can also be used in landscape mode.
This is the only time the app behaves in landscape mode. When viewing live footage, you can only adjust the volume and choose to record, which keeps things simple. All recorded video caps out at 35 seconds, which are then stored in the Izon app’s cloud. Also simple, if a little bit limiting.
Pressing the top left corner of the landing page launches the side menu that, for the most part, is useful for toggling notifications. Notifications come one at a time and only replace the most recent one, meaning that 20 event triggers won’t send a stack of 20 separate notifications to your mobile device. The additional information and options in the left-side panel revolve around adding additional cameras and seeking assistance through contacting customer service or reviewing the Izon guide (this launches a web page and it’s way more comprehensive than what comes in the box). That’s it.
The top right corner of the landing page shows a counter, which indicates the number of unread alerts. Pressing it opens the right side panel, which shows a list of date & time stamped video clips in the order of the most recent at the top. Each unread clip lists the camera’s name in blue with a tag of ‘new’ alongside it. It’s kind of clever. I do like how a still image is shown, and then clicking on it plays the video footage.
The events listed in the right-side panel also show icons indicating a motion and/or video trigger. There is also an icon of a lock which, when pressed, permanently saves the alert. Only a total of 100 can be saved as such, and only within with app. Everything else is automatically deleted after 7 days. There is no limit to the number of alerts at any one time, just an expiration date. Deleting individual alerts requires a press-hold to activate that option. For some, this can be very limiting. For others, not so much.
Although 100 events can be saved within the app, no videos or images can be offloaded for separate storage. So if the camera happens to catch the baby doing something super cute, you’ll have to record video playing off of the mobile device’s screen. That is, if you’re lucky enough to have one of the 25 videos per day be the one to capture. And if you are lucky enough, you only have a 35-second top-end limit, too.
Yes, there is a limit of 25 recorded video clips per day, so everything else after will be a still image. There is no way to control this either; any sound or motion activity can and will burn through these pretty quickly in an active environment. Although videos can be viewed larger in landscape mode, the still images are viewable only in the small thumbnail size.
Above the still image of the live camera viewing feed are four buttons for: noise, motion, both, and settings, relating to detection. The first three are simply toggle switches, with the one labeled ‘both’ feeling quite unnecessary – the buttons for ‘noise’ and ‘motion’ aren’t exclusive. Enabling/disabling these sensors takes about 10 seconds. The settings button provides sliders to adjust the Izon View camera’s sensitivity to noise and motion. There are no descriptions and no stop points either, so it will take a bit of experimentation to find the desired levels.
The other configurable options under these same settings are: renaming/removing the camera(s), setting the motion detection region, toggling the power LED, flipping the image, night vision on/off/auto, and check for alarms. The ‘check for alarms’ sets little icons in the top right corner of the still image, each of which flash blue when motion/sound triggers. It lasts 10 minutes or until deactivated.
Considering the very basic nature of these settings per camera, the app presents it in a very bulky way. The way the panels launch out from the sides of the screen make things feel a little cramped. And some of the lesser, less-used options could be put elsewhere, out of the way. But at least the app interface is quick, responsive, and easy to read, which counts a lot.
Izon Camera Performance
When watching live video, the delay is only a second or two. This is pretty good, even when on a 4G network. 3G adds a bit more delay, depending on the actual data rate. But when it comes to receiving alerts based on motion/sound triggers, it can take up to a couple of minutes (even on Wi-Fi) before being registered by the app, showing up in the alerts area. The video framerate is good, smooth, and very rarely does it get choppy or pixelated at the edges (except for 3G). At least during the day with ample lighting.
When set at maximum, both the sound and motion sensors are pretty sensitive and accurate. The Izon View’s microphone can pick up a muffled cough in the next room, and the motion detection triggers from small, sharp movements. The edges of the motion detection area have a little bit of leeway, meaning that an object can sneak into the boundary some before an alert goes up.
However, even the highest motion sensitivity can be fooled by slowly-moving smooth motion. I was able to pass the Izon View’s own box through it’s field of view one millimeter a second. Some cameras don’t fall for that.
The Izon View camera range is pretty good for being such a teensy little thing. Although the angle is standard (e.g. not a wide-angle lens), motion can be detected pretty much as far as the camera can see. But if the camera is looking over 20 meters to the very rear of the back yard, don’t expect it to notice that butterfly flitting about the ivy. Even with the motion detection sensitivity set to max, the lack of far-reaching definition has those kinds of details blend into the background.
The overall contrast and resolution are sufficient to separate objects from each other, allowing viewers to determine relative depth and distance. Lighting plays a key role, as shadows can blend things together as one slightly unidentifiable unit.
The Izon View camera’s central focus point is also critical. If the camera happens to be staring directly at a bright spot, the contrast is thrown off, making much of the surrounding area too dark to see. So, for example, an afternoon sunbeam landing right in the camera’s favorite focus spot is going to black out everything that isn’t of the same brightness level of the beam.
If you want the best contrast performance, you’ll have to have the area under observation continually evenly-lit. If it’s possible. As the sun goes down or light diminishes, it can be easy for the video image shown through the Izon app to appear significantly darker than the actual environment. It depends on what the focus is, and there are ways to adjust for that. But when it comes to colors, there isn’t much you can do.
Prepare for some purple haze, because you’re going to see video and image reproduction tweaked that way. Now, not everything is going to be affected this way, but enough will be. Some of the most surprising changes have been seeing black objects show up as purple. Green plants tend to look purple, lavender, or pink’ish (when there is more light on the subject). Blues lean more towards purple, and the same goes with brown cherry-wood.
Some reds, oranges, and shades of brown come off lighter-colored (again, towards the pink) and/or less defined. And then there are a few reds that appear a little darker/bolder than what it is in real life. Gray concrete can end up looking green.
Other than all of that, colors remain close enough to true (mostly). White is white (mostly), thankfully. But as the light dims, everything takes on a bit of a dinginess to it. Some of this coloration has to do with light intensity and angles of reflection, but not much. So don’t worry too much about it, since the colors don’t affect motion or sound.
Night vision. Video definitely takes longer to stream and update shown images. Although the video is bright and visible enough, the IR emitters create a wide hotspot in the center. The outside edges are far darker, like a vignette effect for a digital photo. Objects are crisp enough, though sometimes the reproduction plays funny optical illusions on your sense of depth. Movement within the video is blurry, especially if there is white for the emitters to reflect off of.
That whiteness that bounces back sort of blinds the camera, forcing it to take a moment to adjust to the changes. This refocusing results in the image blacking out for a second or so. For a nighttime monitoring camera – to keep an eye on any activity – the Izon View is adequate and practical. Just don’t expect it to deliver surveillance quality footage, because the camera just isn’t powerful enough for that level of detail.
There is none, which makes the Izon View a fantastic choice for those who want a casual monitoring camera for peace of mind! Every feature is available to the user from the very beginning, and you don’t have to feel like you’re not getting the camera and/or service’s full potential. The only real downside to a lack of subscription service may be the inability to export video and images.
The Stem Innovation Izon View Wi-Fi surveillance camera is a great option for anyone interested in a ‘checking-in’ kind of camera. Something small, simple, with a few frills and no fuss. The magnetic base is a stroke of genius, which makes me question the design teams behind so many other brands of home monitoring cameras.
I mean, it’s only been how long that we’ve been aware of the awesome power of magnets?
Despite being more involving to operate than it has to be, the Izon app is quick and simple to use. Even without any guidance, most users should be able to figure out the options and navigation within a few minutes. While I do like how the alerts are presented, the sliding menu bars that come in from the sides feel a bit much.
If two-way communication, color accuracy, longer video recording, and video/image saving options are deal-breakers, the Izon View camera won’t be for you. Not unless the company decides to update and upgrade their software to make it possible. At least for the video recording/saving – I’m not sure there is much that can be done to the coloration to prevent reality looking like an alien world at times.
But if all you need is a discreet camera that will allow you to receive alerts and view an area to check in on things, you can’t go wrong with this one. Pets, children, rooms, walkways, the street from the upstairs window – the Izon View does it well, inexpensively. And considering the physical size smaller than most other monitoring cameras or there, the Izon View is pretty powerful for what it is.