This is a look at how this affordable home security cam can be used for increasing security of your gear while traveling on assignment. Even though it was never designed for this purpose, unlike a lot of other options on the market the Wyze Cam has just the right features to make it possible.
Security is a big issue for me when I’m traveling on an assignment. Sometimes I am able to pack just the essentials for the job but more often I have to carry a ton of gear. This means occasionally I have to leave gear in a hotel, trunk of my rental, or sometimes in a locked office. The best tactic in these situations is learning when and where the right places to do this are and overall awareness of your environment. Additionally, you should always have your gear insured for travel. Business insurance is one of the most important things we as freelance business owners should have. My insurance company Hill & Usher has worldwide coverage built into my package and it gives me a lot of reassurance when I travel. This, unfortunately, will not be a lot of help when your gear goes missing in the middle of nowhere and you still have a job to do.
That is why I started looking into security options. There are a lot of possible options out there like anti-tamper luggage, elaborate locks, cameras, GPS devices, and even web-based services. All ranges in actual helpfulness and price depending on what and where you are trying to keep your gear safe.
Then one day exploring the smart tech area of my local Microcenter I came across a possible solution. I’m a huge geek when it comes to smart home technology and have been coding and designing my own solutions for some time. Sitting on the shelf was a smart security camera I had never heard of for $25. For that price, I grabbed one to test out thinking maybe I could hack it to make my own mobile security device. Well, it turned out the Wyze Cam had already incorporated all the necessary features I was looking for.
The Wyze Cam made by Seattle based company Wyze Labs is a smart home camera like most the others on the market. Its biggest difference is the fact that it sells for roughly $25 or $20 plus shipping from their website. It connects to your WiFi network, records in 1080p, has night vision, motion detection, and two-way audio capabilities. It has a decent mobile app that allows for live streaming and 12-second event recording using AWS that saves for 14 days free. Its features are right in line with all of its competitors but all of these great features, however, are not what makes this device useful as a mobile travel security camera.
For starters, the device dimensions are roughly two inches squared with a folding magnetic base that allows for the camera to look in any direction. This is important for both packing it in my luggage while traveling and hiding it in the corner of a hotel room or car. It is powered via USB so can easily be plugged into any outlet but more importantly, this means it can be powered by a battery bank. The ability to not be restricted to a wall outlet with hiding the camera is a huge advantage. It also makes leaving the camera in a parked car or trunk a possibility. I have tested this with several banks and it seems with an Anker 10000mah bank depending on your settings I roughly got 20 hours of continuous recording.
Unlike a lot of smart home cameras on the market, the Wyze Cam has a MicroSD card slot that can be used to record to continuously. This is important because if you want to use it as a mobile security device you need to be able to place the camera in locations where you don't have access to WiFi. As long as the camera has been initialized and set-up on a WiFi network with the MicroSD card installed and all settings set. Then you can simply disconnect and take it with you. When you power the camera on it will start recording based on the parameters you set-up. You can have it do continuous recording direct to the SD card or you can even set it to only record based on motion detection.
Of course, when using the device like this you do lose all of the WiFi features like seeing playback in app on your phone, live streaming, and notifications. To see the footage all you have to do is pull out the SD card or reconnect the camera to your network and it will now be available to you in app.
For $25, a 32gb SD card, and a battery bank, two of which most of us have extras lying around. You can have some chance of catching or even retrieving your lost equipment. If in a hotel, video proof of another guest or even the staff taking your stuff will go a long way to getting it back. If nothing else it will speed up the process of an insurance claim.
I have been testing this camera like this for several months now. I was so impressed I grabbed another and started using it to monitor my motorcycles which I currently have to park on the street. I have had this second camera running for the better part of 4 months with only a couple minor issues all of which relate to router problems. In all these instances the camera continued to record I just couldn't log onto the camera remotely in app until I got home and reset it. Wyze also works with Alexa so you can view it on any Alexa video device. I have mine connected to my Firestick TV and whenever I hear something on the street out front I just ask Alexa to show me.
What I Like
- Small Size
- External Storage
- Can be run off battery pack
- Works with no WiFi
What I Don't Like
- Nothing. It wasn't really designed to be used this way.
Are these the best WiFi smart home cameras on the market? Probably not but they are affordable, packed with features, and in my experience pretty reliable. Recently Wyze Labs announced they were releasing a NAS device called a Maxdrive that will connect directly to your router's Ethernet port. This will allow you to record continuously from all your devices directly to the Maxdrive. They also mentioned an outdoor version of the camera was on the horizon. Great new products like these combined with the large community on the Wyze forums and Reddit make me think I might invest in more cameras as a more in-depth security system for my studio space.
There is so much more to be said about the Wyze Cam and even Wyze Labs but I wanted this article to be about using the device as a portable security device when traveling. If the cameras seem interesting to you and you would like a much more in-depth review, let me know in the comments.