I’ve recently acquired a taste for smart home accessories—the only problem I have is funding, or a lack thereof. IoT (Internet of Things) products are traditionally pretty expensive compared to “dumb” equivalents, but the idea behind a voice-activated, self-automating smart home is one that has been gaining traction in the market recently. As such, we’ve seen the emergence of more affordable smart home components such as the EZVIZ C1C Indoor WiFi Camera, which is priced at RM129 in Malaysia.
However, don’t make the mistake of underestimating EZVIZ’s budget camera. The specs are certainly up-to-par with other competitors in its class, with 1080p resolution, motion detection, night vision, and a two-way audio feature to boot. There’s also support for Amazon Alexa and Google Home, which is the main reason why EZVIZ’s C1C camera made it into consideration for my budget smart home setup in the first place.
So, did the EZVIZ C1C score enough points to become a permanent member of my ecosystem?
Setting up: Easy integration with Google Home
Setting the C1C up proved to be a straightforward task. All that’s needed is to plug the camera in (with a provided microUSB cable), download the EZVIZ app on either iOS or Android, and create an EZVIZ account. You also get a couple of metal plates with double-sided tape, as the C1C comes with a magnetic base—so you can mount the camera upright, sideways, or upside down on a metallic surface.
Overall, the basic setup process took under five minutes to complete for me. With that done, I proceeded to integrate the C1C with my existing Google Home ecosystem by adding EZVIZ as a linked partner in the Home app.
If you prefer, you can still use the C1C as a standalone device without Google Home—although you’ll miss out on voice commands and other benefits. These include the ability to turn motion alerts on/off with Google Assistant, integrate the camera into your Smart Home Routines, and my personal favourite: to stream the C1C’s feed on a Chromecast device in real-time (albeit with video encryption turned off via the app). However, a delay of around 15 seconds means that you’ll only be able to use the C1C as an effective doorbell monitor via the real-time feed on your EZVIZ app—unless your guests are okay with you taking 15 seconds to open the door.
The EZVIZ app, meanwhile, feels intuitive and simple to use. On the homepage, you’ll see all connected cameras with quick access buttons for settings and motion alerts, while two more tabs cover notifications and advanced settings. Keep in mind that most of the C1C’s functions are controlled here instead of the Google Home app, so I certainly appreciate the simple—and functional—nature of the EZVIZ mobile app.
Design, Storage, and Cloud Storage
The simple nature of the app has also been carried over to the design of the EZVIZ C1C camera. If you’re looking for something that adds a special touch to your home’s interior design, this isn’t it. Reminiscent of early generation WiFi cameras, the C1C has a hockey puck-shaped head, mounted onto a circular, magnetic base via a thin stem.
Like other entry-level CCTV cameras, the EZVIZ C1C does not have any sort of motorised ability. Instead, you’ll have to rely on careful placement and a 130-degree field-of-view.
Even if you place it on a non-metallic surface, the C1C is well-weighted enough to stay upright for the most part. However, for permanent installations, I’d advise to either stick the camera on a metallic surface, or to use the metal plates provided.
For storage, there are a couple of options available to you. You can view the real-time feed via the EZVIZ mobile app, where you can also opt to download or record snapshots or videos. If you prefer, microSD storage of up to 256GB is also supported, and the camera automatically overwrites by default. However, you’ll have to get your own microSD card as one isn’t included with the camera.
Something that EZVIZ is offering to sweeten the deal is a 7-day free trial to its Cloud Storage service. Basically, this means that you can forgo local storage, and have your recordings automatically saved in the AWS-based cloud.
You can set the C1C to only record whenever motion is detected, and scrub through the day’s timeline to easily find noteworthy moments. However, if you want to turn on 24/7 recording, you’ll need to download the EZVIZ PC app to enable the setting—which is pretty cumbersome, to be honest.
Be warned: I wouldn’t recommend using cloud recording if you don’t have an unlimited internet plan, as data consumption can be very high (depending on settings).
Once the trial has ended, however, you’ll need to pay for a subscription, with plans as follows:
7 days playback – RM16.99 (monthly), RM169.99 (yearly)
30 days playback – RM28 (monthly), RM289.99 (yearly)
What about the video and audio quality?
Let’s talk about the actual video quality you get out of the EZVIZ C1C. The 2MP camera is capable of streaming and recording at 1080p, and the resulting videos are fairly crisp during the daytime—enough for me to crop in (pinch-to-zoom) and ensure that my cat wasn’t ruining my furniture while I was out. However, the C1C doesn’t have much dynamic range, with videos noticeably overexposed in bright areas, especially when the camera is facing a window.
Here are a couple of samples, taken in three different modes: Ultra HD, HD, and Standard. Do note that only a Full HD resolution of 1920×1080 pixels is supported, regardless of how EZVIZ chooses to name their in-app quality options:
The C1C shines when the sun goes down, however, with an IR sensor offering night vision that, according to EZVIZ, offers visibility at up to 12 metres. My apartment is significantly narrower than that, but within a distance of 3 to 5 metres, the night vision works well—enough detail to recognise faces, and heavy contrasts that give you a reasonably clear picture of what’s happening within the frame.
Night vision is automatically turned on when the camera detects low light conditions, although I found this feature to be slightly inconsistent. On occasion, the camera turned on night vision mode during the evening—and the resulting video is then overexposed. You can sidestep this by turning off the IR light in the EZVIZ app, but an option to schedule night vision would have been a nice feature.
Audio quality, on the other hand, is disappointing for me. While I wasn’t expecting too much from the built-in microphone, the C1C doesn’t consistently pick up clear audio. When using the “Two Way Audio” feature that allows you to communicate via the camera’s built-in microphone and speaker, this becomes painfully obvious.
While the volume from the built-in speaker is loud and clear, it can be hard to hear the audio that’s being picked up by the camera’s microphone. Sometimes, even if the person is standing within a few metres of the camera, it can be hard to make out what they’re saying. It’s just not very reliable.
Verdict: For the price, the C1C is a valuable addition to the budget smart home
Like I said before, this review was basically an audition for the C1C to become a permanent fixture in my budding smart home ecosystem, and it’s one that was certainly passed. At a price of RM129, it’s hard to argue with the number of features—both hardware and software wise—that the C1C offers. There are other options in the budget WiFi CCTV market, for sure, but many aren’t officially available in the Malaysian market, while options like the Mi Home Security Camera offer added 360-degree functionality at higher prices.
The audio performance, while disappointing, stands as the only major negative thing I discovered with the EZVIZ C1C, and I’m also a little iffy on the camera’s auto night vision feature. Still, the ease-of-use of the EZVIZ’s budget indoor CCTV camera—and the accompanying mobile app—means that the C1C has proven itself to me as a valuable addition to the budget smart home.