Tech review: TP-Link Kasa Cam Outdoor scores on features and price

TP-Link's Kasa Cam Outdoor camera houses a siren and that it is loud enough (80 decibels) to ward off potential intruders.
TP-Link's Kasa Cam Outdoor camera houses a siren and that it is loud enough (80 decibels) to ward off potential intruders.PHOTO: TP-LINK

Looking for an outdoor security camera to monitor the vicinity of your home?

You can now add TP-Link's Kasa Cam Outdoor camera to this growing category of devices, months after rival D-Link launched its first outdoor camera.

Unlike the wire-free, battery-powered cameras from Arlo and D-Link, the Kasa has to be tethered to a power outlet via a 3m-long power cable.

This likely reduces its appeal, especially for those with a large front yard or driveway. On the other hand, it also means there is no need to worry about the battery. And it probably explains the camera's cheaper price.

A pair of these cameras costs $290 ($145 each), compared with about $600 and $800 for D-Link's and Arlo's two-camera kits respectively.

The Kasa app (available for iOS and Android) is used to set up and control the camera. It is as seamless and as fuss-free as it gets - the app helpfully offers a graphical guide to walk users through the mounting of the camera.

Despite its affordable price, the camera has all the bells and whistles I expected, such as weatherproofing (IP65 certified), night vision and two-way audio that lets one talk to the party at the camera end.

  • FOR

    • Competitive price

    • Quality videos

    • Free cloud storage

    AGAINST

    • Not wire-free

    • No SD card support

    • Siren not as loud as competitors'

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $145

    VIDEO RESOLUTION: Up to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    VIDEO FORMAT: H.264

    FIELD OF VIEW: 130 degrees

    NIGHT VISION: Up to 9m

    MOTION DETECTION: Yes

    MOBILE APPS: iOS and Android

    WEIGHT: 310g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE: 4.5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

I was also surprised that this compact device houses a siren and that it is loud enough (80 decibels) to ward off potential intruders. While competing security cameras from Arlo and D-Link are louder (about 100 decibels), their sirens are located in a separate unit or hub that adds to the clutter.

Like most outdoor security cameras, the Kasa camera automatically starts recording when it detects motion in its 130-degree field of view or when its microphone picks up a sound. It also pushes an alert to your smartphone upon detecting motion or sound.

I recommend switching off audio detection because the camera offers only three levels of sensitivity compared with 10 levels for motion detection.

Hence, it can be tricky to calibrate the audio-detection feature to avoid false alarms.

I like that users can direct the camera to start recording only if it detects activity in specific areas within its field of view, such as a door or stairway. This feature helps to reduce false alarms. The zones can be drawn and resized in the Kasa app using your fingers.

The quality of its videos is good. Despite some slight artefacts, the colours are not as washed out as the ones captured by other cameras.

Videos are uploaded online to TP-Link's cloud servers, where they will remain accessible to users for two days. There is a 1GB storage limit and you can share the videos with others or download them.

Users have no alternative but to use this free cloud service as the camera does not support an SD memory card. TP-Link offers higher-tier monthly subscription plans with more generous features, but they are available only in other markets.

Like many newer security cameras, the Kasa can work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. I did not try this out, but from what I gather, it means that you can verbally order a Google Home or Amazon Echo device to stream the live video feed from the Kasa camera to a supported smart display, like an Amazon Echo Show or a screen connected to a Chromecast dongle.