As the range of wireless home security systems broadens, the choices offered range from elaborate information centers that monitor the local environment to simple cameras designed for economy and ease of use. One example of the latter is the Turcom Cyberview Mini, which is a plug-and-play camera with an emphasis on fast setup and expandability. We plugged one in to see what it could do.

The first thing we noticed about the Cyberview Mini is that it has an all-in-one design, with no accessories out of the box aside from some molly bolts for optional wall mounting and a power cable with a refreshingly long flex. The camera has a sturdy construction with clean lines, and a built-in mounting plate in the base of the steel ball-and-socket stand for wall or ceiling mounts.

According to Turcom, the Cyberview Mini is a Wi-Fi "plug-and-play" IP camera with a high-definition 1280 x 720 pixel camera. Its 90° horizontal view and 45° vertical view is aesthetically pleasing, but it covers much too small an area to be effective even when the camera is sited at a high elevation. Eight infrared LEDs provide night vision with a choice of on, off, and automatic modes with a range of eight meters (26 ft), though the quality and evenness of the lighting leave much to be desired.

The setup of the Cybervision Mini is in principle very simple, though we found it quite finicky in practice. It's basically a matter of setting or mounting the camera where desired, downloading the iSecurity app from the Apple App Store of Google Play Store to a mobile device, powering up the camera, switching the camera to Wi-Fi setup mode, connecting the camera to the device, then using the app wizard to complete the process.

Turcom says that this shouldn't take more than a few minutes, but we found that it still resulted in a number of false starts, a confusing account-creation process, and difficulty in knowing when we did succeeded. In addition, we discovered that unplugging and moving the camera after setup caused it to sulk for several minutes before coming online again.

The video frame rate of 25fps is respectable and the resolution in live feeds is good, but playbacks of cloud-stored videos are slow to start and often suffer from skipping and freezing. However, the built-in speaker does provide good audio coverage with acceptable quality from such a small device, and there is a speaker for talking to people in the room, though starting the latter feature proved unreliable.

The iSecutiry app may not have been all it could be for setup, but in day-to-day operations we found it simple and intuitive if not always the most responsive. It may lack the features of other security systems, but it's very timely with push prompts and does what it should in pulling up images, videos, and live feeds. It also allows for multiple cameras to be added and individually configured. However, motion capture is very simple without any sort of learning algorithm and relying on a simple sensitivity setting.

In all, despite its limitations, the Turcom Cyberview Mini is a simple, robust security camera that may require some patience to set up and use, but it focuses on its main purpose: keeping a lens on the premises and doing so consistently, with a motion capture technology that can catch the smallest of movements.

It's available now, for US$90.

Product page: Turcom Cyberview Mini

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