Review: Panasonic Home Monitoring Twin Camera Kit
Home-security kit with interior and exterior cameras can be expanded with add-on items
The Panasonic Home Monitoring Twin Camera Kit features a weather-resistant camera that can be placed outdoors.
Product name: Panasonic Home Monitoring Twin Camera Kit
Where to buy: panasonicstore.ie
The appeal of do-it-yourself home monitoring systems is easy to see. Not only can you customise such a system to suit your own needs, but there are no wires to install and, most importantly, no monthly subscription fees to pay.
But it can be a bit confusing if you aren’t up to date on all the different options, and what system will interact with other smart home devices. So when a company offers a single-box solution, the temptation to grab it is strong.
Panasonic has been dipping its toe into the home security market for a while now; it has a range of indoor products that you can use to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. However, none of the ones we’ve reviewed before from the company has been suitable for outdoor use. The Home Monitoring Twin Camera Kit, however, solves that issue.
As the name suggests, there are two cameras to deal with here. The first is the camera previously reviewed in this column, an indoor camera that you can use as a baby or pet monitor too, with talkback functions.
The second is a weather-resistant camera that you can place outside your door, or pointing at a particular spot on the perimeter of your home to keep a watchful eye over your premises.
The kit has almost everything you need to get started, with two window or door sensors, a motion sensor, the two cameras, a smart plug and the hub that ties them all together; it even includes a DECT-enabled handset should you not already own such a thing.
The key with this kit is positioning everything to get the maximum benefit from the included devices. You can add to it as you go along – in fact, that’s precisely what Panasonic intends you to do, add more and more devices to your home – with extra sensors and plugs available to buy separately.
Getting the sensors installed was easy enough, and adding them to the hub can be done relatively quickly and easily. The plug comes in handy for turning a regular device into a smart one, for example a lamp that will switch on at the command of a motion sensor or simply by tapping on it in the app.
You can rename the devices to make it easier to decipher what sensor is triggering the alert, and link them together to perform specific action. For example, you could use the smart plug to turn on a lamp when the motion sensor is activated. At worst, it means you aren’t walking into a dark hallway at night; at best, it might fool a potential intruder into thinking the house is occupied.
The outdoor camera needs to be positioned carefully, and out of the way of glass; it’s fine during the day, but at night the glass will severely impair the night vision and we couldn’t figure out a way around that during the review. So, for example, if you have a glass porch and want to keep an eye on your driveway, make sure you put it outside the porch door. It sounds like common sense, but the first instinct was to put the camera somewhere public yet not freely accessible.
Once it was appropriately positioned, it gave decent images, even at night. Faces could be distinguished – if you knew the person – and once it was attached to the wall it didn’t feel flimsy or easily removed. That’s not to say it couldn’t be removed, but it wasn’t the easiest task.
The hub has a slot for a micro SD card to record video footage should you need it, which is probably advisable if you’re going to be using the device to monitor your property. One caveat though: be careful where that external camera is pointing to make sure you don’t fall foul of the neighbours, or data-protection laws.
It’s a good way to get started with your own home security system, and it’s one over which you have almost total control. There are no wires to instal, you can stick the sensors where you wish. And if you need to move them, you won’t need to contact a company to let them know you’ll be messing around with their system.
The not so good:
The image quality of the indoor camera could be better, particularly in low light. Plus, this system will depend on your wifi a lot, so best make sure that you have a good internet connection and no black spots in vital places around the home.
The Panasonic Network app allows you to set up the entire system from your phone or tablet, which makes it a relatively easy thing. This is just a starter kit, so you can get the basics up and running. That’s going to add to the cost though, so it’s worth bearing in mind.
A good starter kit, although you will need to add extras to it to cover the average property completely.