TP-Link Kasa Cam Outdoor KC200 review: an affordable, easy-to-install outdoor security camera Credit: TPLinkSupplied Art
Business Management

TP-Link Kasa Cam Outdoor KC200 review: an affordable, easy-to-install outdoor security camera

Smart home product and router manufacturer TP-Link impressed us with its indoor security camera about a year ago, which also marked its foray into the security space. Now it’s added an outdoor camera to its product line, and it’s a winner as well.

The KC200 is roughly the size of a tennis ball and is hardwired to a 10-foot USB power cable. It attaches magnetically to a ring-shaped bracket, which allows you to rotate it to get the optimum viewing angle. The whole unit is weather resistant with an IP65 rating indicating it’s protected from dust ingress and low-pressure water jets.

The KC200 shares many of the same specs as its indoor predecessor, including a 130-degree field of view and video resolution up to 1080p, but it adds an 8x zoom. A dozen infrared LEDs deliver up to 30 feet of night vision. It also offers motion and sound detection and two-way audio. You can trigger its built-in 80dB siren from the Kasa app to ward off human and non-human trespassers.

kasa cam outdoor TP-Link

The camera can be rotated within its magnetic ring bracket.

TP-Link provides up to 1GB of video storage for two days for up to three cameras free with purchase of the camera. If you want to extend your video history, you can upgrade to one of two paid subscription plans. The Plus plan includes 14GB of storage per camera for 14 days for $4 per month or $40 per year; the Premium plan provides 30GB of storage for 30 days history per camera for $7 per month or $70 per year.

Setup and performance

Setup follows the same basic steps as other W-Fi security cameras: Plug in the camera and when it indicates it’s in pairing mode—in the KC200’s case, its indicator light will blink alternately orange and green—press the plus button in the Kasa companion app and follow the onscreen prompts to connect to your wireless network.

The camera comes with a mountable base plate and screws for installing the camera on an exterior wall or fence, and clips are provided for managing the power cable (the Kasa app also provides instructions using this hardware). If you want to power the camera from an outdoor electrical outlet, that outlet must be completely weatherproof (with a bubble-type cover, not just a door covering the socket). If it’s not, you’ll need to thread the cable through an open window or drill a hole in the wall to reach a convenient indoor outlet.

kasa app live Michael Ansaldo/IDG

You can activate an 80dB siren to ward off trespassers or use two-way talk to communicate with them.

Once the KC200 is mounted, it can be rotated in its bracket fairly easily. I found that the 130-degree field of view is wide enough that the camera really only needed minor adjustment to get the desired viewing angle. Video was sharp with rich, accurate color and no fisheye distortion. Night vision provided excellent illumination with good contrast.

To access the KC200’s live feed, you select the camera from the device list in the Kasa app. The camera control screen has a straightforward layout, with the video pane at the top and record, push-to-talk, and siren buttons, and a horizontally scrolling timeline of event-recorded clips below it. At the bottom is a schedule button that lets you automatically turn the camera on and off at pre-determined times.

Outdoor cameras have a propensity for producing false alarms, thanks to the wide array of motion triggers outside. The Kasa app offers a few ways that, when used together, can keep the KC200’s sensor from being tripped by bugs, trees, cars, and other activity in the wild. First, you can create activity zones over the areas you want to monitor that will tell the camera to ignore activity outside their boundaries. You can also adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensor to decrease (or increase, if necessary) notifications and video recordings. Finally, you can set a minimum duration of continuous activity that will trigger the camera. This is a good way to make sure you don’t get an alert every time a car passes by your home.

Though many Kasa products can interact with other smart home devices either directly or through IFTTT, the KC200 is an exception. You can, however, stream live video from the camera to Alexa-supported smart displays, including the Amazon Echo Show, Echo Spot. The camera is also compatible with smart displays powered by Google Assistant, and you can stream video to a TV via an Amazon Fire TV or a Google Chromecast in conjunction with the relevant smart speakers (powered by Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant respectively).

kasa app sensitivity Michael Ansaldo/IDG

The Kasa app offers several methond for reducing false motion detection alerts.

Verdict

TP-Link’s Kasa Cam Outdoor KC200 offers the same easy installation (though not the advanced feature set) of the Nest Cam Outdoor for significantly less money. Its video quality is excellent and motion and sound detection were reliable and accurate. Though it doesn’t offer much in the way of smart home integration, it’s a great value if you’re more interested in security than setting “scenes.”

If you’re looking for a more sophisticated outdoor security camera, consider the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. It’s equipped with a 4K image sensor, high dynamic range, and person detection—it will even zoom in on a human in its field of view and “follow” that person around, capturing their face in great detail. You’ll need a bigger budget to work with though, as it costs a couple of bills more than the KC200, and that’s before adding on the Nest Aware subscription required to unlock the camera’s most advanced features.

PREVIOUS ARTICLE

« The 10 best complications for Apple Watch

NEXT ARTICLE

Here's why Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 foldable tablet may have really killed the laptop for me »
author_image
IDG News Service

The IDG News Service is the world's leading daily source of global IT news, commentary and editorial resources. The News Service distributes content to IDG's more than 300 IT publications in more than 60 countries.

  • Mail

Recommended for You

International Women's Day: We've come a long way, but there's still an awfully long way to go

Charlotte Trueman takes a diverse look at today’s tech landscape.

Trump's trade war and the FANG bubble: Good news for Latin America?

Lewis Page gets down to business across global tech

20 Red-Hot, Pre-IPO companies to watch in 2019 B2B tech - Part 1

Martin Veitch's inside track on today’s tech trends

Poll

Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?