A sector that is gaining more and more approval and attention from the public is the one dedicated to surveillance by means of WiFi cameras, either out of distrust or fear, or for the simple reason that you feel the need to check, for example, how our friends are doing. 4-legged, in short, the uses are multiple and completely personal, but if once we had to spend a fortune, now a few tens of euros are enough to take home completely valid products.
This is the case of the IMILAB C20, a surveillance camera that responds to the Xiaomi ecosystem, which offers good video quality even at night and some software goodies that make it one of the most complete on the market. Let's find out here together in this complete review.
Careful eye to the environment by the brand, which offers us the product in a recycled cardboard package, which is printed on the main functions made available by the room, on the sides of the same while inside we find the following equipment:
- IMILAB C20;
- Wall power supply with European socket and 5V-2A / 10W output;
- 2 meter long USB / Micro-USB power cable;
- Multilingual manuals (Italian is present);
- Bracket with wall fixing set.
The IMILAB C20 surveillance camera has shapes and materials typical of this type of product, that is made entirely of white ABS plastic, with rounded lines as regards the lens module. Rather compact dimensions equal to 112 x 76 x 76 mm and a weight of 211 grams with relative antennas for transmitting the 2.4 GHz WiFi signal integrated into the structure.
The sober and elegant design, will allow you to adapt the room in any environment and furniture, but if necessary we can also place our IMILAB C20 on a ceiling, upside down, so much at the software level there is the image overturning function. .
We have a rotating base that allows the sphere of the lens to rotate 360 ° on the horizontal axis while on the vertical one the excursion reaches 105 °, perhaps slightly limited in some areas of use, for example if we position the IMILAB C20 on a bookcase about 1,8 m high this fails to frame the floor very well. Right on the base we find the micro USB input for powering the device while on the rear profile of the sphere there is the grid that hides the speaker.
On the front we then have the optics with opening f / 2.1 and which allows video capture at 1080p, which are accompanied by 4 infrared LED sensors from 850nm for night vision. At the bottom there is the microphone and at the top a status LED, which warns us about the operation of the room, for example the steady blue light indicates that we are operational while a flashing blue light warns us that there is a problem in the WiFi connection.
By sliding the lens upwards instead, we are shown the slot for inserting a micro SD card with maximum support of 64 GB and the hole for resetting the device. Finally, in the lower part of the chamber we find 4 silicone feet that give stability to the IMILAB C20 when placed on a surface as well as the groove for inserting the wall bracket.
The motors that allow the horizontal and vertical rotation of the lens are rather reactive but not exactly silent, therefore if the motion tracking function is activated, the surprise effect may be lost, which in any case is not guaranteed because if the status LED can be switched off, the infrared sensors are clearly visible at night.
Overall, however, IMILAB C20 is a well-made and robust product. As mentioned before, the image is entrusted to a Full HD sensor with the possibility of deactivating the fisheye effect at a software level. Recording is always active by saving every minute of recording on the micro SD card accompanied by a preview image of the scene. The codec used is H.265 in MP4 format, on the one hand positive as regards the space occupied in memory, much lower than the traditional H.264 but the negative aspect is that this type of codec is not native to Windows platforms, which must be purchased as a license, or you can download software such as VLC to watch the movie.
However, we have said that 1 minute files are saved on the micro SD with relative preview for each hour of recording, therefore 120 files for an hour of video, which occupy approximately 380 MB, thus allowing you to have a memory of about 7 days inside the card. But if we need to extrapolate several video clips into a single file, we must use third-party programs that unfortunately do not recognize the audio or use the function made available by the companion app IMILAB Home, which still saves the file with codec H.265. In short, the gist of the matter is that if files are needed to be viewed by law enforcement or insurance companies, compatibility with the tools available to third parties is not certain.
We can also take advantage of the cloud made available by the software, but this is paid, but it could be useful in case of theft if the micro SD card is damaged or taken away with the camera itself.
The IMILAB C20 speaker and microphone combo allows the sending of two-way audio, i.e. it is possible to speak with the people present in the monitored scene. The audio quality is pretty good although we have to deal with a delay of about 6 seconds from when the user speaks compared to when the dialogue is repeated. However, this function can be useful in more situations, for example in recognizing a baby's cry, using the IMILAB C20 as a baby monitor, or as a video intercom.
As mentioned before, among the functions of this surveillance camera we also have the possibility of tracking the movement of a subject on stage, but I did not find this function flawless, first of all because if the subject moves rather quickly, the IMILAB C20 cannot precisely follow the movements but above all it happens too often that the camera is set up on a framed detail and is no longer able to trace the subject. Moreover, the 360 ° rotation is not entirely real, in the sense that it is true that the camera rotates the entire circumference, but the movement then stops and does not continue, so it will be necessary to perform a reverse rotation to bring the camera back to its original position.
However, we can receive warnings, when the IMILAB C20 reveals a change of scene, a movement and even a sound, such as the bark of a dog or the breaking of a glass, indicating the exact moment of the event, which we can then go and fish in the micro SD memory to subsequently export what we need.
Among the functions, IMILAB C20 also promises the possibility of command via Alexa, but at the moment the skill is only working in some countries and not in Italy, although the company has guaranteed that it is working on expanding the function to other countries. .
The quality of the videos that the IMILAB C20 manages to capture is very good, perhaps the colors too saturated in daytime conditions, but it is possible through enlargements to capture the details of the faces, thus helping us in the recognition of people if the criminal on duty had not adopted. precautions such as a balaclava, or details such as tattoos and other special signs. Even the night mode gives more than enough quality for the various purposes of use. The only flaw is the buffering of the image which does not happen properly in real time, although the delay also depends on the connection you will use. In my case, using only a smartphone, the delay was quite marked.
IMILAB C20 belongs to the Xiaomi Home ecosystem but it is not possible to associate it with this app, but you will only have to use the companion app IMILAB Home, available for both Android and iOS. The association with the camera is quick and once inside, by properly registering an account, you can interact with the camera vision, making it perform lateral movements, up and down but also interact with your voice, take photos or videos of the monitored scene.
But above all you can set some settings, such as the possibility of scheduling the camera on a sort of standby in which not to record, then going to save data on the micro SD card. But as already mentioned before, there are automatic recognition functions with relative alarm sending. In short, in principle, there are all the functions necessary to keep your home under control from anywhere in the world.
The IMILAB C20 amazes for the sale price, below 20 euros with shipping from Belgium in 7 days and at this price the functions and quality offered are definitely superior to all the competition that populates the market, in reference to the range of price. The quality of the video and audio are good, although the presence of HDR would have made a certain difference, but at this price you definitely couldn't ask for more.
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IMILAB C20 is a small surveillance camera with noteworthy smart functions, generally present in higher price ranges. Good video and audio quality and overall a great start to monitor the environments of your home, office and shops.
- SMART AI FUNCTIONS
- COMPLETE SOFTWARE
- TRACKING THE MOVEMENT IS NOT ALWAYS ACCURATE
- CODEC H.265