Setting up home security cameras has ever been easier, with the likes of Ring and Swann bringing smart security to houses all over the world for a modest sum.
Enter TP-Link and their Tapo C200, a pan/tilt home security Wi-Fi camera that can easily and directly compete with £100/$100+ alternatives.
Whilst the C200 is a feature packed incredible value device, it doesn't lean into the design some manufactures are sporting. The device itself whilst not exactly hideous by any means, isn't very stylish either. But, for a security camera, it serves an aesthetically pleasing purpose for what it is.
A big favoring feature of the C200 (and one we can fully forgive the nondescript design) is the tilt and pan functionality.
The C200 has a 114° vertical range, with a 360° horizontal range, giving you absolute freedom to look almost anywhere by controlling the TP-Link Tapo app for Android and iOS. The app is very simple to set up, and one of the pleasing features is the ability to save positions as shortcuts, and once done, you can just tap the shortcut and the camera will move to the desired position.
This is genuinely a terrific feature, and if you have the camera positioned in way to cover multiple areas; such as a kitchen and lounge, you can quickly switch between the views.
Obviously you can also manually adjust the angle at any time, as well as the option to set the camera to constantly pan left and right like a traditional CCTV camera.
The tilt/pan feature is clearly one of the main reasons for the design of the C200, and the weighted base means it's able to stand on it's own with no issues, but it also comes with a mounting kit if you'd like to attach it to the ceiling for true room coverage - do note, however, that the C200 only has a 2m cable, meaning you'll need to mount it with reasonable distance to a plug socket.
I set the C200 in my kitchen facing out the window into my back garden, so I can keep an eye on my son and my dogs when they're out playing, and despite the sub £50 price tag, the C200 is able to produce crystal clear 1080p footage during both night and day.
The built-in 850nm IR LED allows you to see up to 30ft away at night - although this functionality is not ideal through a window, as you just get the glare of the IR LED, but this is not a fault of the C200, it wasn't designed for viewing through a window.
Shooting at 15fps, the video is admittedly not quite as smooth as some alternatives, but there’s a lot of detail, and you're able to pinch to zoom on both the app, and if you have an Amazon Echo Show or Google Nest Hub you can also ask your AI friend to pull up the camera on your smart home screen.
Letting the dogs into the garden and asking Alexa to "show me the garden" is wonderful, meaning I don't need to stand and wait for the dogs to come to the gate - I can just watch them from the sofa until they're ready to come back in.
A question many have asked, including my wife, is how the C200 is able to capture such detailed shots compared to it's much more expensive alternatives?
Well, the answer is both good and bad.
The majority of 'high end' smart cameras utilise cloud technology for video recording, which obviously relies heavily on your internet connection, whereas the
C200 uses microSD (not included in the box) which allows for fantastic quality on board the device, and also allows the C200 to record constantly instead of only when motion is detected if you prefer,
With cloud storage, should the camera be stolen, all the footage is accessible on the cloud - but should the C200 be stolen, so is all the footage.
There is a built-in siren to deter intruders that you can program to auto-trigger when motion is detected, but it's not the loudest siren out there. These are the limitations for a device of the sub £50 variety, and considering the rest of the features and the fantastic tilt/pan, they're easily justifiable at the price.
Overall, the Tapo C200 is a fantastic device, and if you're looking at a low-cost, high detail addition to your home security, or even if you just want something to keep an eye on your pets while you're out, the C200 is absolutely recommended.