Oplink is DIY home security for Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone users. They’ve recently started releasing several Connected packages like the Oplink Connected Video™ package. What sets Oplink apart is their ability to deliver home security for a very low price point. The Oplink Connected Video™ package is simple video surveillance that can be self-installed and self-monitored for a one-time fee of $249. For $249, you get two IP cameras with night vision, motion sensing capabilities, a 16GB video storage device, and access to their free mobile app for your Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Or for just a little bit more you could get the TripleShield package which includes the OPU, two cameras, two door/window sensors, two remote controls, one siren, and one motion sensor. In addition to hardware, Oplink packages include stickers that you can put on your windows or doors to warn any would-be intruders that your home is protected by Oplink.
My Week With OpLink
I tested two of the night vision cameras and a door/window sensor in-house with an iPhone. I thought the setup process was slightly harder than some DIY systems but it still falls in the “easy” category as setup required no technical knowledge. The Oplink kits from Amazon come ready to go with everything you need including all wires and screws.
The first step is to download the free app. All Oplink systems require the app for control and a central hub called the OPU. The hub requires a power source and an Ethernet connection. After the OPU/hub connects, take the included 16GB flash drive and plug it into one of two slots on the side of the hub shown in the picture below.
Next, you simply screw the cameras into the base (unless you want to wall mount the cameras) and plug them into an outlet. If you have any additional sensors now is the time to install them. I installed my open/close sensor by navigating to the “Device Management” section of the app and then scanning the QR-code on the sensor with the mobile app. The open/close sensors work to provide smarter motion detection to the cameras. Though the cameras have built-in motion detection, I find that open/close sensors are more reliable.
Motion Detection Performance
It took me a couple of hours to realize how to trigger motion events from the camera as they shipped with motion detection turned off. From the homescreen swipe right, click “Device Management” and click on the name of your camera. Next click on “Motion Sensitivity” and adjust as needed from 0% (off) to 100% (super sensitive). Sitting 12 feet away from the camera I performed a test by arming the system and performing the Miss. America wave. At 100% I received a notification right away – no surprise there. At 50% the system did not recognize my Miss. America wave or a big wave or even like a “Hey I need help here!” wave. I went to 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, and still nothing! I got desperate and started doing the robot dance. Nothing. I started to wonder if this was a “smart” camera or if the problem was timing so I disarmed the system, moved the sensitivity to 80%, waited 24 hours and tried again. I armed the system at 80% when one of our household members was playing video games on the floor. The system picked up his slight movement and sent an alert. While I’m not sure what the best sensitivity would be, my suggestion is to play with it and give it time to adjust.
Arming & Disarming
The app is very simple to use. The homescreen has four color blocks for video, videograms, automation, and arming/disarming. Arming and disarming happens with a click of a button. When an armed system is triggered you will receive an instant push notification, email, and a siren will sound on your phone. The siren sound is a little cheesy but useful. It helps you differentiate between a call from a friend and an alert that requires immediate attention. Also, when you arm/disarm the system the app will verbally confirm the system is either armed or disarmed and the hub will beep. It beeps once to let you know the system is armed and twice to let you know the system is disarmed.
Video and Videograms
Like arming and disarming, watching live footage is easy with just a push of a button. There are other features within the live streaming view. For example, while watching a live scene you will notice a red bell shaped icon on the screen. When clicked you have the option to trigger a siren but you need to buy a siren from Amazon first. While we did not test the siren we understand that the siren starts off at a level that is about as loud as a vacuum cleaner and if you don’t disarm it, the siren will gradually increase until it hits 110 decibels which is louder than a motorcycle inside your home. AKA loud. The sound alone should be enough to scare off a bad guy. If you don’t have a siren, pushing the button will emit a strange siren sound from your phone and trigger an emergency clip recording. The emergency clip is recorded and saved to your videogram screen which can only be viewed if you purchase a monthly subscription. Each videogram is about 30 seconds long. Clips can be recorded manually by pushing the bell icon but they can also record automatically when triggered by motion.
At the bottom of the live footage screen is an audio icon. When pushed, the camera will deliver streaming footage with audio. The audio has a constant background noise like running water or static but in general I could still pickup what my test buddy was saying in real-time.
In regards to video storage, all videos are stored locally. As mentioned above, Videograms require a monthly fee which I will discuss in detail below. However, Videograms are also stored on your local flash drive installed in your system’s USB port. As a third option, you can save live video recordings to your phone’s gallery.
What About Home Automation
Oplink does have WiFi enabled home automation. As of right now, Oplink products are only compatible with other Oplink products. Just for fun, I tried to connect my Oplink open/close sensor to my SmartThings hub but they wouldn’t connect. No bother as Oplink link makes lots of fun products like a garage door sensor, a panic button, a smoke detector that also detects CO and ambient temperature changes as well as a WiFi two-way audio camera. From a home automation perspective they have their own WiFi SmartPlug which is essentially a small appliance module that automates anything plugged into the wall like a lamp or your coffee maker. Finally, they sell a 3-in-1 WiFi sensor. It acts as an open/close sensor on steroids with motion sensors and temperature monitoring abilities. All of these items can trigger video recording if you like and work with Oplink’s cloud service. Which brings me to my next point…
Premium Premier Service vs Self-Monitoring
While the entry price is sweet and basic features are free, they have reserved some love for those willing to pay for a “Premier Service”.
According to a press release,
Premier service includes “Videograms”: video alerts to smartphones that feature a 30-second clip when an alarm is triggered. The clip begins 5-seconds before the trigger is activated and runs 25-seconds after so that the user can determine the cause of the alarm and respond accordingly.
I was confused by this as I received Videograms but had not signed up for a monthly fee so I reached out to my contact at Oplink. She told me that customers receive a 30 day free trial with equipment purchase. After 30 days you can chose to renew. Those who don’t want to pay a monthly fee will revert to a free service. The free service allows the system owner plus one authorized user access to the app to watch real-time video footage, arm/disarm the system, and event notifications. Mobile app access also includes automation control and the ability to monitor multiple systems at multiple locations.
The next plan level is called Premium. For $19.99 per month you can add up to 11 users. This works out to be the system owner plus five authorized users and five emergency contacts. Five authorized users will have full access while five emergency contracts will be setup to receive email or text notifications of events only. This plan also provides video storage which is accessible in the app as 30 second video clips called Videograms. With the Premium Package you can monitor up to 8 cameras and/or 24 sensors. The Premium Packages does not require a contract and is month-to-month.
Oplink’s mobile app is currently rated 4.5 stars on iTunes, 4.4 stars on Google Play, and 4 stars on Windows Apps making it one of the highest rated apps in the DIY home security market and one of the few products with a working Windows app. Customers call the app “easy” and I would agree.
More About Video Surveillance
The included cameras have night vision and one-way audio. This means that you can hear what is going on but you can’t talk back. The camera’s image is static and cannot be panned or zoomed. Basically when you set the camera up, what you see is what you get. From an angle perspective the camera uses a pivotal base. The camera and the base must remain together but the base can set on a counter or you can use the included screws to mount the base to a wall. The pivotal ball makes it possible for you to mount the camera high or even upside down and the app can be adjusted to flip the camera’s footage making upside down recording possible. All footage is streamed and recorded at a resolution of 640 x 480. During the day the image was fine but at night the footage did get a little fuzzy. As a fix, we set the camera up next to one of our automated lights to boost the night vision power.
Beyond the specs, you should always question the security of any IP camera. Oplink’s response to security,.
The first level of security is authentication, your password is encrypted when you sign in to your account. At the next level all data transmitted, including videos, images, as well as account information, uses bank-level AES data encryption.
Likes and Dislikes
LIKES: I liked the ability to view multiple cameras from one screen on the app. I also liked the ability to swipe from camera to camera on the app. The fact that they sell complete packages makes it really easy to simply buy and protect. I also like the addition of the USB ports on the side of the hub. The fact that this provides local storage is awesome but you can also use one of the slots for a Verizon 3G USB Modem. This will provide a backup connection in the event that you lose internet for an extra $10 per month.
DISLIKES: I didn’t really think about the size of the camera until my husband walked in and said, “WHOA ROSEY! Those are some big cameras!.” He’s right. They are big cameras and in order to support the weight of the camera, they have big clunky camera stands. Remember…the cameras stay on the stand when wall-mounted too. Can you imagine that giant stand on your wall? Yikes!
Total Score? 80.80% which is a 4 Gem Rating. Check out our top reviews here or checkout Oplink’s TripleShield package on Amazon here. We think the TripleShield package is the best overall value of all Oplink packages and includes everything you need for basic home security. For those that just want one system that is packaged and ready to go, Oplink TripleShield is a great option.