Review: YI Home Camera 2

yi logoWith the YI Home Camera 2, YI Technology has completely redesigned its earlier 720p version into a sleeker, more modern design. It’s made some major improvements in video quality, upgrading to a true 1080p resolution, but has taken a few steps backward in terms of design versatility. We’ll break down the tradeoff between video quality and versatility in this review of the YI Home Camera 2.

Pros

  • Easy setup and installation
  • Clear HD video quality
  • Sleek, modern design
  • 130 degree wide angle view
  • Motion detection
  • Automatic recording and notifications
  • No service fees

Cons

  • Limited to an AC power source
  • Inconsistent alerts
  • Less versatile than previous design
  • No cloud storage

What’s different about YI Home Camera 1080p HD?

The YI Home Camera 2 is basically a more affordable version of the Nest camera without the ability to integrate with your home automation system (but also without the service fees). The new design, although sleek and modern, feels like a step backward from YI’s earlier 720p model. What I liked about the YI Home Camera 1 was the ability to detach the camera from its base, allowing for more versatility and mounting options. The new design has integrated the camera into the base, taking away some of its versatile appeal.

How much does YI Home Camera 2 cost?


$129.95
View on Amazon

What’s in the box?

IMG_3260One of my favorite things about the YI Home Camera 2 is its simplicity. Inside the box you’ll find the camera, a 32 GB SD card, and a power cable. That’s it. Once you’ve downloaded the YI Home app, the camera is ready to set up right out of the box.

Key features

Human Shape Detection

What is it?

The YI Home Camera 2 goes beyond simple motion detection and is programmed to recognize a human shape. If the camera detects a human, it will notify you with an alert on your smartphone.

Does it work?

Yes and no. After several days of testing, I realized that the camera wasn’t differentiating between human shapes and other movements. That’s not to say that it’s a bad camera; I just didn’t notice a difference between walking in front of the camera and throwing a couch pillow in front of it. Both motions were detected and triggered an alert to my phone.

Gesture Identification

What is it?

Holding your hand within two meters and making a fist toward the camera signals YI Home Camera 2 to record a 10-second video clip and send it to your smartphone.

Does it work?

The short answer: no. I stood in front of the camera and made enough fists to rival Bruce Lee, but I couldn’t get the camera to register the gesture and trigger a recording. This may be an easy software update fix, but right now it doesn’t work as intended.

Baby Crying Detection

What is it?

Normally, mobile-operated cameras are not ideal for baby monitors because you need an app open to hear or see what’s going on in your baby’s room. YI claims that the Home Camera 2 can recognize when your baby is crying and will send notifications to your smartphone so you can easily check on them.

Does it work?

I don’t have a baby, but I do have a three-year-old who was willing to pretend to cry in her room like a baby to test this feature. Unfortunately, unless the app was already open I didn’t receive alerts that she was crying. The idea is solid, but right now the functionality simply isn’t there. This could be another simple fix with future software updates, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Automatic Recording and Notifications

IMG_3270What is it?

When the camera senses movement it will automatically record a ten-second video and send a notification to your smartphone so you can check in on what’s happening.

Does it work?

The automatic recording feature works beautifully. Perhaps my favorite part is the ability to increase or decrease the frequency of notifications so I don’t get a ten-second clip every ten seconds for the same motion event. Many cameras that I’ve tested send far too many notifications, causing the user to have to filter through nonessential video clips. YI lets you adjust your settings and customize your recording notifications the way you like them.

Tech specs

  • 1920 x 1080p HD
  • 130 degree wide field of view
  • ARM Cortex A9 CPU
  • Ambarella S2LM IP
  • 6-layer optical lens, F2.0 aperture
  • 256-bit encryption
  • 11 IR LEDs
  • Light detection
  • Height: 4.53 inches
  • Width: 3.15 inches

My experience

The first thing I did after unboxing the YI Home Camera 2 was download the app. Here is a slideshow showing a few tips that might come in handy based on my experience:

[metaslider id=13178]

Video quality

The image quality on YI Home Camera 2 took me by surprise. Most cameras advertise a 1920x1080p video resolution but few actually deliver such a high-quality image in real time. The images and video recordings received through my smartphone notifications were crystal clear and I was able to make out important details both during the day and at night.

Motion detection

IMG_3311Motion detection is referred to as “human detection” within the app and on the YI Technology website.

As I mentioned before, I couldn’t tell the difference between human motion or any other motion the camera captured. All motion was created equal in regards to receiving notifications.

It’s worth noting that YI Home Camera 2’s motion detection feature is super sensitive, but can be adjusted within the app. This is nice if you’re like me and have a massive wheat field behind your house that blows in the breeze. The sensitivity can be turned down so I don’t receive an alert every time the wind blows.

Some confusion

The YI Home Camera 2 1080p and its earlier 720p version seem to get confused for one another in many reviews. I came across several reviews talking about the 1080p version but using the 720p tech specs or photography. These are two completely different camera designs that should not be confused. Their similar names cause confusion but keep in mind the 720p camera is detachable from the mounting base, and offers more mounting versatility, while the 1080p camera is fixed into the mount itself and cannot be removed.

User reviews

Positive

These are AWESOME alternatives to Nest Cams (Dropcam).. I have been a fan of YI products for years and used to buy them directly from China.. When YI started selling their products in America I was asked to test several of them.. One was the YI Home camera 1.. Because that camera was so AWESOME I decided to buy the YI HOME 2 and use along side my YI Home cam..

Tips
1.) Design is different (Something to keep in mind) – Those that like how the OLD yi home cams and NEST cams can “Rotate” keep in mind THIS IS AN ALL IN ONE UNIT and the camera lens CANNOT be removed or rotated.. SO you MUST mount this camera as is!! This is just something to keep in mind!! …

…Overall: I am very very happy with the improvements over the original YI home camera.. While the YI Home 1 camera was GREAT and I USE MINE DAILY, the video improvement in this camera is WELL worth the extra price!! This camera isn’t going to “Retire” my older YI home but it will be used along side it!! No more nest cams for me as I HATE their required fees!! Even if YI does charge money when and if their cloud service is released THEY STILL OFFER the option to use a Micro SD card which NEST does NOT offer! Awesome CAMERA that I highly recommend -Devin Stephens, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer, Amazon Reviews May 8, 2016

Great camera, really looking forward to new features being added! I really like this camera. We researched high and low for the best baby cam for our newborn. I didn’t want a typical baby cam that you can only use for a year or so, then you have to put it in storage because it becomes useless. I was going to purchase the YI Home Camera 1, but I saw this had come out right before I made my purchase. I’ve been very happy with the camera so far. It was very easy to setup. I was slightly surprised that to be so new, it would not connect to our 5ghz wifi. I had to connect it to our 2.4ghz band. The alert notifications are great. They can sometimes be delayed a few minutes though. I am really looking forward to the baby cry alert they are going to be adding soon. We use this camera along with a tablet we have plugged up next to our bed to watch our baby at night. -Seth, Amazon Reviews, May 13, 2016

Negative

It is a nice camera but doesn’t play well with my older cameras. I hate the fact that I have to use the cloud service. I love the features of human detection how easy it was to setup. I just in good faith can’t say I recommend it. I have a few other cameras by Foscam and Hikvision and them I have the option of viewing the stream locally and using ONVIF or rtsp. I don’t want to have to open different apps to use different cameras. So it is going back to amazon maybe I will buy it when they open up the walled garden a bit. – Mark M, Amazon Reviews, May 31, 2016

Overall, a minor update to the 720p version.. With some downgrades in it’s design. I really liked the 720p versions, I have 2 of them so I thought I’d give the 1080p version a try. First off, even though it looks similar in the pictures to the 720p versions it’s a completely different design. It’s all one unit, the black round camera part is no longer detachable and it can not be rotated in the mount to change the view, and the base is not removable for easy mounting. So it greatly limits how and where you can mount it compared to the 720p model. I wish it was a lot more flexible. It does work for where I wanted to mount this one, but it would not have worked where I have my other two mounted as I could not rotate the lens to level out the view. This one has to be mounted upright or upside down (does have the option to flip the view) but you can not mount it sideways and rotate the lens like the previous ones – David H, Amazon Reviews, April 22, 2016

Do we recommend YI Home Camera 2?

Although the YI 2 has a much better video quality than its previous version, we’re not a big fan of the design changes. Part of what made the YI 1 so dynamic was its versatility. It had a very similar design to the Nest Cam in that the camera could be removed from the mount and placed almost anywhere. The YI 2 has taken that away, and we’re not sure that’s a good thing.

Overall, the YI Home Camera 2 is an awesome alternative to the Nest Cam, even with some of its limiting design choices. Unlike with Nest, you won’t have to pay a service charge to use the YI and the improved video quality alone makes this camera worth the $130 Amazon price.