Miscellaneous

Merkury Innovations Smart Wi-fi Camera – Updated Review

January 15, 2020

It’s been two weeks since I finally got the Merkury Smart Wi-fi camera to connect to my phone and I’ve actually been quite happy with it after that first little snafu. For $35 it’s a pretty decent security camera, however at the full price of $70 I’d still be leary of buying the device.

The App

To use the wifi camera you’ll have to make use of the Geeni app. This same app is used to control a whole line of products including smart bulbs, smart switches and all the other usual stuff. What sets this app apart is that it is actually a pretty decent app and quite pleasing on the eyes. Perhaps that’s because I’m a fan of dark themes and the Geeni app uses that right out of the box. But beyond that the app is completely free of clutter, useless features and I haven’t seen anything yet trying to convince me to sign up for yet another cloud account nor does any functionality require any sort of premium account. All of the video can be streamed live to your phone or stored on an optional SD card – I really like that. Most other cameras out there cannot say the same.

Another thing I found really interesting was the ability to setup multiple homes each with as many rooms as you like. I can see this being handy for certain situations such as when you have an elderly family member with dimentia that you need to keep an eye on, or if you are a landlord looking to monitor multiple properties that are perhaps sitting vacant, or maybe you have a home and a cottage and need to monitor both.

To be honest I really wish I knew about this product line two years ago when we were looking for a similar solution for my wife’s Nana. She was determined to live on her own right up until the very end and that got to be quite the challenge in her final year. I feel like using a combination of their cheap cameras, door and window sensors we could have made her home a much safer place for her as she was a master escape artist. Even though someone was staying with her most of the time she’d wake up in the middle of the night, get dressed and head out the door to go shopping or who knows what and would be gone before anyone realized she was even awake.

I don’t want to go off on a tangent, but honestly this device would be fantastic for that because with the multiple home feature you could have your own house setup as a smart home and then in the same app and under the same account you could manage a completely different property. I just haven’t seen that offered in any other app that I’ve tested. It’s one of those things you don’t realize how much you needed it until you learned that it existed.

One of my only complaints about the app itself is that it’s really hard to delete multiple photos at a time. There’s an option for it, you can hit delete then select all and hit delete again, but that only deletes the ones that are loaded on the page at that time. So you actually need to scroll to the end of all the pictures then hit select all then delete, that will take care of them. This is one of the reasons I hate continuous scrolling, but I think I’ve blogged about that one enough before πŸ™‚

Other than that, there’s the nightmare of a time I had connecting the cameras. I’ve already blogged about that in a previous post, so I won’t get into it again, but just be aware that they can be a bit tedious to pair the first time.

The Hardware

For the price I wouldn’t say that I expected much. The box doesn’t even advertise the fact that these cameras are IP66 rated and can actually handle a fair bit of weather. Believe me, I know, because I accidentally left mine outside the first night during an ice storm.

Ignore the chair that fell over in the background πŸ™‚

I had thought the overhang on our deck would protect the camera bit better but due to the angle the rain came in at the device got pelted fairly hard all night and was frozen to the power box. The camera still works fine, and took more pictures than I’d like to admit through the night as every rain drop that passed in front of it set off the sensor. I still wouldn’t recommend leaving it outside, as it would be too easy to steal without a permanent mounting option, but it can handle it in a pinch.

So what are the actual specs you ask?

  • Night Vision
  • Motion Detection
  • Sound Detection
  • Push Alerts
  • Listen & Talk (microphone and speaker)
  • HD 720P
  • FOV: 115ΒΊ diagonal
  • Works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
  • No hub required – uses your home Wifi (2.4 GHz only)

Not bad for something that cost only $35! Mind you, full price is $70 CAD, but still a bargain!

Despite this, it does still have its flaws. The first big one I noticed is you cannot use the night vision through a window. I have attempted to use it to monitor my front and back door, but due to how the night vision works all you see is a big bright light reflecting back at you. This is because it doesnt actually amplify the existing light, but rather projects a beam of infrared light which is then in turn picked up by the camera.

Next up is the delay between detecting motion and snapping a picture is too short. I positioned one insight my front door and another in the garage and all I have captured so far is the front door and garage doors just starting to open. You never actually get a picture of the person who entered, as the camera takes one picture and it does so too early. I’ve tried placing it around the corner as well and you just catch the start of someone coming around the corner, again, never their full face.

I also find it to be too damn sensitive. I get dozens of false alarms each day caused by it detecting what I assume is the light shining through the window moving across the floor or wall. None of this is particularly useful and causes you to become apathetic to the alerts, meaning when a real threat presents itself you will likely ignore the warning.

Integrating with Home Assistant

Unfortunately this has been the biggest disappointment with this camera. I have so far been completely unable to get it to work with HA. Most of the Merkury Smart Devices use the same protocol as Tuya and can be setup under HA just by following the standard Tuya setup. This device, as far as I can tell, is simply not supported.

I have tried my hardest to add it manually. I figured I should be able to embed the video feed in a panel just as I do with the video feed for my 3D Printer. Again, no such luck. It is broadcasting on my network, I’ve found the URL and port for that without much issue, but it prompts for a username and password which is at no point provided or documented anywhere. I’ve tried cracking it using tools such as ncrack, and again, no luck. So for the time being, I cannot get this to work with Home Assistant πŸ™

In Summary

So what is my final verdict? I think overall this is a great camera for the price and would make most people quite happy. However since it does not work with Home Assistant and I have found it doesn’t actually capture anything useful I am most likely going to be returning them.

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