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Hive View

Hive View Product

Although the new Hive View smart camera is not part of the Welcome Home Pack, Hive included a Hive View for review.

The $200 Hive View is available in the two colors shown above. The Hive View view camera is designed in the shape of a cube approximately 2 1/4" on a side. It features a magnetic base and stands about 5.4 inches tall. An included mounting bracket adds about 0.3 inches. Power is supplied from a wall transformer rated at 5.2 VDC @ 2.5 amps. The white flat power cable is 3 meters long and plugs into the base with a micro USB connector.

One unique feature is the "Grab and Go" design. The camera attaches to the arm rising out of the base using a magnet. The camera can swivel up and down to provide flexibility when setting up the camera. Two pins on the support arm make contact with the camera to supply power. To remove it, simply grab and pull lightly. The camera has a built-in 2100 mAh Li-ion battery that can keep the camera operational for about an hour.

The camera supports either 720p or 1080p HD video. There's a built-in microphone used for sound detection as well as a speaker. However, two-way audio hasn't been implemented in the Hive View. You can hear audio from the microphone, but you can't send audio to the speaker - at least not yet. 2-way audio is a feature that users are requesting on the Hive Forums.

As you would expect, the Hive View is integrated into the Hive mobile apps. However, there isn't desktop browser-based support for the Hive View yet. Setup for the Hive View is a little different than for the other Hive Products. Unlike all of the other Hive products that require the Hive Hub, the camera uses Wi-Fi. However, for setup, you must use a mobile device with Bluetooth. Setup is done using the Hive mobile app (Select Add Camera), but the discovery of the camera is done using Bluetooth. Once discovered, you choose your Wi-Fi network (both 2.4 and 5 GHz are supported), enter the Wi-Fi password and the Hive View is registered to your Hive account.

The composite screenshot below shows the Hive View has been added to My Hive Home (left) and the Control view with the Hive View device opened (right). The Live view is currently displayed. Below the image on the right, there's the icon for settings and the privacy shield icon. With privacy enabled, the screen goes blank and all monitoring ceases. If you rotate the screen into landscape mode, the video appears full screen - either in live mode or in playback mode. The bottom of the screen is dedicated to a scrolling log of recorded events.

Hive View in My Hive Home (l) and Hive View Control

Hive View in My Hive Home (l) and Hive View Control (r)

There are a lot of settings options and the screen scrolls down. So the composite screenshot below shows the settings side by side so that you can see them all.

Hive View Settings

Hive View Settings

Several settings are worth noting. Under the Detection heading, you can control both motion detection and sound detection.

  • The Motion detection lets you choose "People" so that motion such as ceiling fans and pets don't trigger a recording. You can also trigger on sound. The log shows you whether sound or motion triggered each recording.
  • Camera - "Include audio" controls whether audio is recorded with the video
  • Notifications: You can choose to be notified either via Email or through application notifications. SMS notification isn't supported.

The image below shows a recording of an event triggered by a person (left). "Person" is shown at the top of the screen along with a time stamp that increments in seconds during the recording. The image on the right shows the Scheduling tab. You can schedule times during which monitoring isn't active. Note that the scheduling for this device works that same way as it does for all of the other Hive devices.

Hive View - "Person recording"(l) and Scheduling (r)

Hive View - "Person recording"(l) and Scheduling (r)

Setup was a snap. It took me longer to get it out of the box than to set it up with My Hive Home. Both the 720p and the 1080P videos were sharp and crisp and the 130-degree lens captured a good field of view. The recordings played back smoothly both on the local network and when I tested away from home. However, if you do frequent remote viewing over a slow Internet connection, you might want to set the resolution to 720p.

Recordings are stored in the cloud. The price of the product includes free storage for a rolling 24 hours of recordings. If you need to keep your recordings longer, you can purchase the Hive Video Playback plan for $5.99 per month. The plan provides for a rolling 30-day camera history for up to two cameras. Hive provides a one month free trial.

Motion and sound triggering worked as expected. People detection seemed to work fairly well. It even detected people on the TV screen when there was no other motion in the room. Sound detection, even set to Medium, also worked well. Once while I was away, my smoke detector decided it was time for a new battery and started to chirp every 15-20 seconds. I was surprised when I looked at the log and saw almost continuous "Sound"-triggered recordings.

Closing Thoughts

If you're looking for a simple way to turn your home into a smart home, the Hive product Packs provide bundles of products that are simple to set up and operate. The mobile apps, with minor differences, operate the same way whether you are in the Android or Apple camp. And, you can also use the website dashboard on your desktop - a feature not found in many smart home systems. Both the mobile apps and the desktop dashboard do a good job of providing centralized control of most, but not all of your Hive products. (There's no desktop support for the Hive View camera yet).

But like all smart home systems, Hive's downside is that it doesn't interoperate with ZigBee-based products from other manufacturers. But that may be less of a problem given its integration with Alexa and Google Assistant. For example, I currently have smart home products from seven different manufacturers running in my home. While you need to use each manufacturer's application to configure their products, once configured, you can control all of them using voice commands.

I like the Hive sensors, plug and bulbs and its ecosystem. But if I were going to consider purchasing a Hive Pack, I would probably start off with the $199.99 Starter Pack and add sensors, plugs and lights as needed. As noted earlier, I think that the Active Thermostat is the weakest product in the bundle. It lacks many of the advanced tracking, monitoring and analysis features that I've grown accustomed to having in my ecobee thermostat. I just wouldn't be happy with a lesser-featured device. And since most other smart thermostats are Wi-Fi-based, they'll work fine with the other Hive products.

For an initial release of a new product, the Hive View seems like a very solid, albeit expensive, product. I liked the industrial design and the ease of installation. The video quality was good and the night view did a good job of illuminating the scene when the lights were low or off. However, there are features missing that I think should be in the product to be competitive:

  • Two-way audio - Many cameras on the market have 2-way audio. Heck, even my doorbell has two-way audio. There is a speaker built into the camera, so I'm guessing that this is a feature that they could add to a future firmware upgrade.
  • Include the date in the date stamp - without the date included, you'll have no idea when the recording was made. If you're using the recordings for evidence, the date really needs to be included.
  • Use the built-in motion detection to trigger other Hive Products - The motion detection in the Hive View is significantly more sophisticated than the simple motion sensor, yet you can't trigger actions on your other Hive devices. You can't, for example, turn on a Hive Plug or Hive light if motion is detected by the Hive View. At minimum, a few IFTTT skills should be supported to bridge the gap.

These are more in the would-be-nice category, since no other cloud-based camera has them either:

  • Provide for public cloud-based storage - With my Office 365 subscription, I've got 1TB of cloud storage available. I've also got 15GB of storage on Google and a Dropbox account, too.
  • Provide for local storage - My primary office storage is on a NAS which has its own built-in fault tolerance and private cloud features. I could have virtually unlimited storage history at no additional cost and not have to worry about losing recordings after 30 days. And, for those who are security-minded, I'm sure that they would prefer to store video recordings where the storage is under their own control.
  • Export capability - currently you can't export your video. It's stuck in the cloud and you can't download it. About all you can do is take a screenshot if you want to keep an image before it rolls off of your cloud storage history.

I understand that from the manufacturer's perspective, at some point in time you have to stop adding new features and actually ship a new product. And perhaps the feature set included at the product's launch is all you really want/need from a camera. For me, I'd hold off spending the $200 until I see which, if any, of the additional features above are added.

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