A flawless, low-cost security camera system gets our top rating

March 15, 2024
10/10

Summary

Swann Xtreem4K Wireless Security Camera

$349.95

It’s a crowded market but some security systems can bleed you dry over time with extra costs. Not so the Swann Xtreem4K, writes PAT PILCHER.

 

When it comes to security cameras, some are definitely better than others given factors like installation, usability, and of course their ongoing running costs. In 2018, I wrote a buyer’s guide to security cameras (check that out here). Since then, the security camera market has continued to grow at an explosive rate.

I’ve reviewed my fair share of Swann gear, and as with previous Swann models, am impressed with their latest, the Xtreem4K security camera. While there is 4K in its product name, it actually packs a Full HD lens. It has a 120-degree viewing angle, and storage is provided by a Micro SD card (Swann bundles a 16GB card, but larger cards can be used) or via the Cloud (Swann offers both free and paid storage; more on this later).

Swann’s blurb says that the camera has True Detect, which is a form of PIR motion sensing over an 8-metre radius. This should, in theory, result in fewer ‘false positive alerts’ (such as swaying trees on a typically windy Wellington day). Motion sensitivity can also be tweaked in the app. The camera also has a built-in siren that can activate when detecting motion. A speaker/mic has been baked in so you can talk to couriers dropping off items (or warn burglars). Last (but not least), the camera can also play nicely with both Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.

The Wireless Xtreem4K earned brownie points due to its battery and wireless capabilities. These handily meant that I wasn’t tied to fiddly and fussy cabling (which massively simplified installation), allowing it to be mounted in many more possible locations. Swann’s blurb says that its rechargeable battery can run for up to six months, and an optional solar panel is available, which can hugely extend times between required charges. As the Wireless Xtreem4K camera is IP56-rated, it can also be set up outdoors or indoors.

It costs $349.95, which means you can get video security coverage for your crib without selling your firstborn or parting ways with a kidney. While you could buy a cheaper security camera setup, most don’t come with a built-in microSD slot or the option of free Cloud video storage, making them considerably more costly than their up-front purchase cost. This takes the form of Swann storing video for free for 24 hours. As most security-related issues (vandalism/burglaries, etc) typically result in a swift review and download of Cloud-stored footage, this is quite an attractive option. For any other situations, there’s always the footage stored on the MicroSD card, or you could pay for Swann Secure+, which costs AU$ 6.95 per month and comes with pet/vehicle detection.

From a build perspective, the Xtreem4K security camera feels built to last. Weighing 350g, its heft comes from its integrated battery. As you’d expect from a wireless security camera, the front is the business end. It’s where the camera lens/motion sensor and red/blue LED lights are located. Atop the unit is the MicroSD card slot for storage. On its underside is a micro USB slot for battery charging, plus a speaker should you wish to communicate with visitors.

 


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Getting set up was very straightforward. The camera comes with a clever screw mount and hardware, so you can mount it to a wall with little to no fuss and even use it with a tripod or have it on a shelf indoors. Swann also bundles several metric tonnes of security stickers.

Locating the camera indoors resulted in good video detail and accurate motion capture and notification. Similarly, with outdoor use, it worked like a charm, even though other reviewers had reported difficulties with wireless coverage. Using a Wi-Fi 6 Mesh setup that covers my entire house made this a non-issue, but it might be something to consider should your home be plagued by Wi-Fi dead spots.

Alerts of motion detection were received via a smartphone app. Downloading and installing the app was a doddle. I simply scanned the QR code for the Swann Security app (iOS/Android) and followed the on-screen instructions. Things were further helped along by voice prompts baked into the camera. The app is capable and is literally bristling with bells and whistles. I particularly liked that Swann had added different modes – home, night and away. These allowed me to switch detection off if I was home and to set ‘maximum’ motion detection for when I was away. Thankfully, there is also a “do not disturb” mode to turn off alerts. With the calendar-based app, accessing specific footage and cameras was intuitive.

Swann says the battery will last up to six months between charges. While I’ve not had six months to put this claim to the test, several additional factors figure in the claimed battery life. How often you use the camera’s live view capabilities and how often motion is detected plays a big part in battery life. If battery life is an issue, as I mentioned earlier, Swann also sells a small solar panel that plugs into the USB C charging port to trickle charge the Wireless Xtreem4K when the sun comes out. In theory, this should (assuming you get enough sun) save you from having to pull out the camera and recharge it (the battery is built-in and non-removable).

In use, the Xtreem4K camera and app work well together. A wide field of view covered the entrance of our house, and the footage looked crisp under daylight conditions and in night vision mode. While captured video won’t give any Hollywood camera gear a run for their money, it proved perfectly fine at getting usable mugshots of anyone entering our property. Given its low running cost and sheer ease of installation, the Xtreem4K cam gets a well-deserved 10/10.

https://support.swann.com/hc/en-us/articles/4715913289113-Xtreem-Wireless-Security-Camera-SWIFI-XTRCM

 

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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