The Wyze Cam Outdoor Is Almost Unbelievably Good for $50

Rating:
9/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $50

Wyze Cam Outdoor mounted to a wall
Michael Crider

Wyze might be one of my favorite companies right now: It makes quality smart home products, with good software and apps, at prices that seem borderline impossible. I’ve been using the inexpensive Wyze Cam for a while, and my only complaint was that it wasn’t actually rated for the outdoor conditions of the porch where I was using it.

Here’s What We Like

  • Unbelievable value
  • Great, easy-to-use app
  • Lots of extra features
  • Travel mode

And What We Don’t

  • Odd gap for motion sensing
  • No direct Wi-Fi option
  • Poor smart home compatibility

Enter the Wyze Cam Outdoor. The souped-up version of the basic Cam can handle rain, snow, heat, and especially gloom of night (because it’s got night vision) in places that the original camera can’t. It also has extended wireless powers, a more versatile mount, and a long-lasting battery to make sure that it doesn’t need to be plugged in. It is, in short, exactly what I was looking for—including the price, just $50 for the starter kit. A new Outdoor Cam with its extended-range wireless base station is only fifty bucks.

That would have been enough to make this thing an instant purchase for me. But Wyze went above and beyond, giving the Outdoor Cam access to local storage for recording when the wireless connection is out, scheduled recording, time-lapse capability, and two-way audio for talking to people at the door.

Wyze Cam Outdoor and Wyze Cam V2
“Don’t talk to me or my son ever again.” Michael Crider

It’s frankly astounding how much capability is crammed into this thing. With a couple of specific exceptions, I’d say it’s a perfect budget home camera for almost any outdoor application.

Cube in a Box

Crack open the Wyze Cam’s spare packaging and you’ll see the camera itself, the magnetic mounting brace, the wireless base station, a set of cables (chargers for the camera and base station, Ethernet), and mounting screws.

Wyze Cam Outdoor, base station, mount, and power cables
Michael Crider

The camera itself looks a lot like Wyze’s classic Cam, though it’s bigger in every dimension and quite a bit heavier. The two-axis mount returns, this time with the magnetic plate on top instead of underneath: The magnets are inside the stand itself, and the cubical camera pops off the stand instead. Once off, you can access the charging port (sadly MicroUSB, not USB-C) with a manual power button, and the MicroSD card slot. All are underneath silicone covers for protection against the elements.

Aside from the visible microphone hole, a bottom-firing speaker, and a tripod screw mount underneath the magnetic mount, the only other feature of the camera is some extremely mild branding on the top. The 1080p wide-angle sensor in the front also has infrared emitters, but they’re only visible in the dark.

Wyze Cam Outdoor bottom and charging port
Michael Crider

The camera is a two-inch cube that’s a great deal heavier than it seems, largely owing to two 2600mAh batteries (5200 altogether), which give the camera a 3-6 month operating time, depending on use and environmental conditions. The mount has hinges on both sides of its arm, with the magnetic plate allowing the camera to spin in 360 degrees. Between these three points of motion and screw mounting to either horizontal or upside-down surfaces, you should be able to point it more or less anywhere you want.

In a word, the Wyze Cam Outdoor is cute. No one’s ever going to confuse this for anything but a camera, but it’s simple and appealing enough that it should fit into any outdoor mounting without being an eyesore.

Easy Setup

Unlike Wyze’s previous cameras, the Cam Outdoor doesn’t connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network. That was a bit of a bummer—my front door is only about 10 feet away from my Wi-Fi router, so my existing Wyze Cams reach out the door just fine. But if you need it to go further without using mesh networking or multiple access points, the base station is a plus. The starter kit comes with one station, and up to four cameras ($40 extra, each) can pair to it.

Wyze Cam Outdoor mounted to the wall
Michael Crider

The base station looks like a tiny Wi-Fi router on its own. (Though again, the long-range RF wireless used between the station and the cameras is proprietary.) Plug it into a power outlet and your network’s router with Ethernet, and it’s ready to go. The starter kit includes one camera and one base station, and you can add up to three more cameras to the station for $40 each.

The base station gets its own MicroSD card slot for backup recordings from the camera. There’s also a full-sized USB port for attaching a Wyze Sense device. With the Cam Outdoor running on batteries, it doesn’t make sense (ha!) to have that expansion option on the camera itself.

Wyze Cam Outdoor and base station with MicroSD card
Both the camera and the base station can record to MicroSD cards. Michael Crider

The base station is a tiny little wireless remora fish hanging out on your Wi-Fi router, and it can also be mounted to a wall. Once you’ve plugged in the base station and powered up the camera, all you have to do is launch the Wyze app (iOS, Android) and connect to the same network to add the device. It takes about 5 minutes, barring any software updates for the camera(s) or base station (which will almost certainly be present out of the box).

It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s extremely familiar if you’ve used any of Wyze’s previous cameras. And though I hesitate to risk underestimating the ingenuity of idiots, I’d call it “idiot-proof.”

Using the Camera

Once your camera is mounted and connected, it works more or less the same as the standard Wyze Cam, which is to say, very well. This one has a 1080p sensor with a wide angle, which is more than enough for most applications of the tech. Between the excellently flexible magnetic mount and the Wyze app (which lets you adjust night vision and orientation), you should be able to get it at more or less any angle you want.

Wyze app for Android screenshots

Accessing the video streams through the app is easy, though it could be a little faster, and the Cam Outdoor reliably sent me messages every time it detected motion, day or night. I was able to share access with my significant other and access the camera from multiple devices easily.

The camera has a bunch of tricks up its sleeve, including the option to manually take still photos, schedule a recording for a specific time, use the integrated speaker as an intercom (great for scaring the neighbor’s cat), or working as a basic time-lapse camera. Here’s me using it for a little LEGO stress relief:

Oh, about that motion detection: Wyze has upgraded the system to support both pixel comparison and passive infrared light (PIR) detection methods. The settings menu indicates that the ideal spot for this combined detection only covers about 60% of the image frame. That wasn’t a problem for my modest home setup—I really only use it to check and see if I have a package at my door—but those who need this specifically for security or monitoring might need to flip the camera around and then flip the image in the app to get everything in that range.

Wyze Cam Outdoor detection zone

There is a 12-second limit to the recordings in automatic mode, and the Wyze Cam Outdoor is not currently compatible with Wyze’s inexpensive complete motion capture subscription. Presumably, that’ll be added later, but it’s a ding against it not to have it at launch.

Wyze Cam Outdoor night vision mode

I wish Wyze worked better with Google Home, too, as it’s my chosen automation system. I can’t use a voice command to access the camera stream from the Home app or send it to my Chromecast, it’ll only broadcast to the Home Hub in my kitchen. And my goodness, I really want a way to access the Wyze app from Chrome or Windows, as I’m on my computer more or less all day long and would like the option for active monitoring.

But these are minor quibbles. For the ease of setup and excellent Wyze software, to say nothing of the incredible price for such solid hardware, I’m willing to forgive quite a lot. And I do: The Cam Outdoor is great to use.

On the Road Again

What of that much-ballyhooed travel mode? It’s an interesting expansion, to be sure. When travelling with just the Cam Outdoor, you can set the camera to travel mode by pressing the sync button twice. This will broadcast the video signal via a dedicated Wi-Fi access point, which your phone can access with LTE at the same time. This allows for live monitoring, so long as you’re within Wi-Fi range, and recording to the MicroSD card if you’re not.

Wyze Cam Outdoor MicroSD card slot
Michael Crider

This brings up an interesting point. The camera itself is equipped with standard Wi-Fi, and could connect to a network without the base station. But at launch, it doesn’t want to. I wonder if Wyze could enable that in a future update, allowing the entry point for the Cam Outdoor to start at just $40 for the camera alone. It would be ideal for smaller homes and apartments. Anyway, I digress.

The base station can do travel mode, too, again with MicroSD recording, if for some reason you need to bring more than one camera. With that easy on-and-off magnetic mount, it’s a nice extra for this system.

Tough Enough

In order to be useful outdoors, a camera needs three things: untethered battery operation, a long wireless range, and resistance to the elements.

On the first test, the Wyze Cam Outdoor seems to pass with flying colors. After fully charging it and using it for about two weeks, the Cam Outdoor’s battery was at 70%. Considering all the extra times I needed live streaming and other battery-intensive performance for this review, I think that it should indeed last for the 3-6 month rated time with more typical use. When you need to recharge it, just pop it off the magnetic base and onto a MicroSD cable for an hour or two.

Wyze Cam app with battery percentage

That fancy base station is designed to give the Cam Outdoor a massive range, so I tested it by straying as far as I could before losing the live video feed on my phone, connected to LTE instead of my home’s Wi-Fi. I made it about 90 feet before the camera could no longer connect to the base station, and that’s through one brick wall and in a suburb bathed in wireless connections of all kinds. So, the Cam Outdoor should suffice for any standard-sized home, but you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want a security solution for your palatial mansion/40-acre ranch/mountaintop doom fortress.

And the elements? Well, the Outdoor Cam survived a day in direct sunlight in 100-degree Texas summer, and an hour sitting in the “rain” of my shower (as Texas didn’t bestow me with a handy thunderstorm during the review period). Note that I didn’t dunk the camera because it isn’t rated for that (IP65, if you’re wondering). If water completely submerges wherever you’ve mounted this thing, you have bigger problems.

Wyze Cam Outdoor, mounted to the wall, covered in drops of water
Michael Crider

The camera came through all of this unscathed, able to charge and use its speaker again without issue. So, it’s not bulletproof, and the range isn’t amazing, but it does what it says on the box.

If I could add one thing, it would be some way to lock it into place on the magnetic base—as it is, anyone can walk up and pop it off. A little hex bolt, just enough to make it need a solid yank, would be an effective deterrent . Wyze’s solution here is that it won’t accept a new Cam Outdoor if it’s been associated with an account and not manually deactivated. Which, fine, that’s bad for the thief … but they don’t know that when they steal it, and I’m still out a $40 camera. Wyze says they’re looking into other solutions. 

But again, this thing is $40-50. Even given its limitations, it’s pretty freakin’ fantastic.

Worth Every Penny

Should you buy the Wyze Cam Outdoor? If you’re already invested in Wyze’s growing ecosystem of smart home tech, and especially if you’re already using the standard Cam for outdoor use (perhaps via one of these adorable covers?) or through the window, I’d say that it’s a no-brainer. The battery-operated and weather-resistant upgrades are quality of life improvements that are well worth the low price.

Wyze Cam Outdoor on a shelf with potted plants
Michael Crider

If you’re just starting out with home cameras, I’d also say the Wyze Cam Outdoor is an excellent option, particularly for those on a budget. You’ll find Wyze’s system easy to learn and access. As a travel camera it’s pretty handy as well, a nice bonus if you’re looking for security at a campground or hotel room.

Those who are deeply invested in Amazon, Google, or Apple smart home systems might want something that’s a little more interoperable. And the camera isn’t very long-range, so if you need to cover tons of open space with multiple views, you might have to step up to something more expensive. But for the majority of users, it’s hard to go wrong with the Wyze Cam Outdoor.

Rating: 9/10
Price: $50

Here’s What We Like

  • Unbelievable value
  • Great, easy-to-use app
  • Lots of extra features
  • Travel mode

And What We Don’t

  • Odd gap for motion sensing
  • No direct Wi-Fi option
  • Poor smart home compatibility

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