If you are in the market for a DIY Security System on a tight budget, you should really consider the eLinkSmart Home Kit. it might be a good addition to your Smart Home ecosystem.
Today I will be doing an in-depth review on this home security kit to see if it is worth going for it.
Before I get into the details, I should tell you that eLinkSmart has sent me a sample for free to review. Having said that, they have asked for an unbiased review and that is what I am planning to do.
I am going to be covering the following aspects on the product.
- What is the eLinkSmart Home Kit?
- Unboxing and Installation
- eLinkSmart Home Kit in Detail
- Security Camera
- Motion Sensor
- Contact Sensor
- SmartPhone App
- Recording Capabilities
I know…it is a lot to cover but you can skip to the conclusions if you are in a pinch.
What is the eLinkSmart Home Kit?
For those of you that don’t know about it, this Home Security Kit is a new product from eLinkSmart that features 4 gadgets:
- Security Camera.
- Motion Sensor.
- Contact Sensor
It is an interesting setup becuase unlike other smart home products out there, it doesn’t require an additional hub. The component that glues everything together is the security camera, which acts as the gateway to your wifi network and facilitates RF communication (433 MHz ) with the rest of the devices.
All the components are meant to work together as an integrated DIY Security System. Having said that, the camera can be used independently.
Unboxing and Installation
The design of the box is not very attractive and in my opinion, the potential of the product isn’t clearly appreciated by the packaging. This is a shame becuase it has a lot of potential.
Having said that, the kit comes with all sorts of accessories to place the sensors and the camera on any location you need it to be. I can see that the eLinkSmart guys have put a lot of attention into delivering a good looking and compact product.
The Installation process is very simple, I did not have to open the user guide at any moment.
As with most new wifi cameras on the market, the installation process starts by downloading the SmartPhone App.
Android and iPhone are supported and the apps are available on Google Store and Apple Store respectively.
Once the security camera is added to the app, you can go ahead and add the other gadgets. This part is not terribly intuitive, I guess we are not used to thinking of a security camera as a smart hub.
Once you grasp the idea though, using the app becomes easier.
Installing the rest of the components took another 5 minutes…and still without reading the user guide 🙂
I am not encouraging you to light up on fire the user guide as soon as you open the box, just saying that the process is very intuitive.
Bottom line, the installation process is well thought and simple enough for everyone to install it on his own.
eLinkSmart Home Kit in Detail
The security camera is the bulkier of the items. if you want something that keeps a low profile this might not be it.
I guess it is understandable considering that they needed to fit in the hardware for the hub.
Having said that, it has a good looking design so I am not particularly concerned about its “bulkiness”.
The camera connects to your wifi network but it can only use 2.4Ghz, no dual-band. This is a known limitation on many smart home products but so far this hasn’t been an issue for me.
Other than the camera itself, for which the highest resolution is 1280×720 HD, the device is equipped with a few other things that are worth mentioning.
- Speaker and Microphone: The eLinkSmart camera allows two-way communication and the speaker is actually pretty decent compared to other cameras on a similar price range. It is not well suited to play your favorite playlist but it will do just fine for quick communications.
- It comes with IR LEDs to provide the camera with night-vision. It easily covers 20 to 25 feet on a room, mostly on the area where the focus is on.
- Something that looks neat, but I haven’t been able to test, is the functionality to control the AC. The camera is equipped with an IR sensor and can be configured as a remote for your AC, if it is on the list of supported ones. I think it is a nice feature and if you were thinking of getting something like the Harmony to control your AC, you might be able to kill two birds on a stone using this kit.
The camera moves as advertised. The rotation is 335 degrees which is more than enough to cover the full room.
The vertical movement feels a bit short though. It is only 50 degrees so if you plan to hang the camera upside down on a very high ceiling, this might be a problem.
The eLinkSmart camera comes with an accessory to hang it from the ceiling or the wall. It should be sufficient to add additional pivoting so you can probably get by even if you have a very high ceiling.
When I test cameras many people ask me about the noise of the motor. Noise is very subjective but in my opinion, the eLinkSmart camera is very quiet.
Behind the camera, there is a button that, although it could be more accessible, has a neat functionality.
It is used to open a communication with the phone that has the app installed on. It is nice for quick communications with the family when they are home.
What about the Image Quality?
The camera delivers decent quality even under low-light conditions. This is my honest opinion but it is better if you get to judge by yourself.
I will share 3 images with you:
- Low light condition.
- Bright Light.
- Night Vision.
The images are taken outside which doesn’t mean the eLinkSmart Home Security Camera is rated as an outdoor camera.
The reason to take the pictures outside is to be able to check the quality on distant objects.
You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.
The motion sensor detects body heat. This means that you are a lot less likely to receive false positives and that has been my personal experience so far.
The sensor is meant to act in conjunction with the camera, when it detects motion, it tells the camera to focus on a given area of the room and take a picture.
The sensor itself is pretty minimalistic, most of the enclosure space is taken by the batteries. it comes with an accessory that you can use that hang it on the wall (and screws). There is red led that flashes when it detects presence but you can deactivate it if you want.
Although you can’t adjust the sensitivity, the sensor comes very well calibrated. After a substantial time of testing, I haven’t noticed false positives.
The transmitting range claimed in the user guide is 100 meters (300 feet) in open area. Unfortunately, during my tests, I wasn’t able to get successful communication past 18-20 meters (60 feet).
Contact sensors are not a sexy item within the smart home space, however, I love them.
The battery life is amazing and they have tons of use cases, especially for pet owners.
Motion alerts are useless with pets at home…
Most of the times you receive an alert, it will be a picture of the cat scratching the couch. For that reason, contact sensors are crucial to detecting real human activity.
That is until the cat learns how to open doors…
In case you haven’t used one of these before, a contact sensor is a small device composed of two pieces.
When the 2 pieces separate from each other, it triggers an event.
This is great to monitor doors, windows, drawers, even then fridge.
Contact sensors are the perfect set and forget device.
The sensor from the eLinkSmart home security kit is very precise. My favorite thing about it is the size. It is a tiny little thing, great to keep a low profile.
The only complain is again the communication range. The user guide claims 150 meters (450 feet) however I was only able to get 12 meters.
The last component in the kit is a smart doorbell. I have to say that I didn’t see that much of a point on this particular item.
While the other gadgets on the kit are very well thought, this particular one didn’t ring any bell.(bad joke)
It is a plain and simple button, when you press it, it sends a signal to the security camera which sends a push notification to your smartphone.
It doesn’t have any type of communication system or integration with 3rd party devices.
You get a notification when somebody rings the bell…yes…but you can’t do much about it.
I decided to reach out to eLinkSmart to ask them about the purpose of the device. They were very helpful and answer all the questions. They told me that the product was designed with mainly two functionalities in mind:
- As a signaling device for elder people when they need help.
- As an external doorbell since the product is rated to be outdoor.
It is still not the most impressive gadget of the kit but I can see the use now.
The eLinkSmart Home Security Kit doesn’t integrate with 3rd party systems hence the smartphone app is the cornerstone of everything.
The interaction with the camera is actually quite smooth. You can select different streaming qualities from full HD to Adaptive which allows the app to decide based on the available bandwidth.
This is great if you access the camera frequently when you are not on wifi.
The app is also used to configure the different gadgets on the kit; contact sensor, motion, etc…
In general, the app works pretty well and although it takes some getting used to, it delivers a good experience.
There are a few interesting features that I would like to share. find especially remarkable
The combination of the security camera with the external sensors is a game changer.
The best functionality, in my opinion, is the possibility to point the camera to a particular area of the room when a sensor is triggered.
Let’s say that you were playing with the camera and closed the app leaving it pointing to the ceiling.
A few minutes later, somebody breaks in, triggering your awesome contact sensor.
Guess what…the camera is pointing to the ceiling…not cool.
Having alerts based on external sensors will allow you to get a recording from the area affected regardless of the prior position of the camera.
The security camera has a function to follow objects in motion. Once motion has been detected, the camera will move and track the object throughout the room.
This works very well, it is almost creepy to have the camera follow you throughout the room.
The camera has a built-in speaker and a microphone that can be used to establish a two-way communication.
The feature that is a bit unique in this device is the possibility to start the communication from the SmartPhone app and from the camera itself.
The security camera/hub has an IR remote built-in that you can use to control your AC.
I haven’t had the opportunity to test it becuase I don’t have a compatible AC but I think it is a brilliant idea.
The alerts configuration is very flexible, they can be configured at the gadget level.
This means that you can have alerts only triggering based on contact sensors but not the motion sensor for example.
The motion detection of the camera can also be active only according to a given schedule, I wish you could do the same thing with the sensor.
The security camera has an SD slot that takes cards up to 128GB. It can be configured in two different modes:
– 24×7 which will record everything and start overwriting once it runs out of space. I am using a 32GB SD card and it gets me about 5 days worth of video.
– Motion Based Recording: The camera will only record when it detects motion. Obviously, this is a lot more efficient and your SD card will go a long way with this mode.
If you don’t want to have an SD card to do local recording, the cloud is also an option.
It is a paid plan that comes in two flavours:
– 4.99$ for 6 months
– 6.99$ for 12 months.
This gives 7 days worth of data in the cloud.
It is a good option if you prefer to have your data in a safe location or you have SD corruption panic.
They are now offering a 60-days trial of cloud storage for free, in case you want to check it out.
The only way for the user to obtain remote access to the camera is through the smartphone app. There is no web access or 3rd party integration. In some ways, this is a limitation, but it is also a way to mitigate the channels that can be used to get unauthorized access.
Once you download the app it forces you to create a user account and define a new password. Some cameras come with the default password that more often than not, users forget to change. This is a good point for the eLinkSmart guys.
For the paid cloud, the camera uses AWS which is a trusted service and it only connects to external servers to provide updates on the IP and status of the camera. It connects to a server on the eLinkSmart HQ. This is required for you to access the camera externally.
The communication is point-to-point from the phone to the camera and the footage doesn’t get stored on external servers.
There is something that I have to mention in order to provide all the information. While doing a small security audit, I found that there was a telnet server listening on the camera which was password protected.
I reached out to the engineers at eLinkSmart and they told me that it is only for debugging purposes and not for public use. This doesn’t really concern me becuase it is only accessible externally if you open the ports in the router, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
All the components in combination are extremely powerful, adding things like IFTTT integration would open a world of possibilities.
Right now, the only option to access the recordings is through the smartphone app. The app works well but sometimes you want to access things from your desktop.
The camera doesn’t expose an RTSP service. If you wanted to integrate it with a recording server like BlueIris it would be nearly impossible.
- The integration between the security camera and the sensors works beautifully.
- The waypoint functionality to move the camera where motion is detected works great and it is the biggest selling point of the kit.
- The alerts configuration is very flexible and allows you to adjust the settings at the sensor level.
- Small footprint and nice design for all the gadgets.
- Very competitive price