Kidde RemoteLync Camera review: A simple sentinel for your home

This security camera deviates from the Dropcam model to focus on strong security features.

If you know the name Kidde at all, it’s for its array of home safety products: smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers, and key-security solutions to name a few. It makes sense, then, that the company’s RemoteLync Camera ($199 MSRP) operates purely as a home sentinel and eschews many of the home-monitoring features we’ve come to expect from Dropcam clones. This will ultimately make or break your decision to take Kidde’s camera home.

What you get

RemoteLync is essentially an update of its Kidde’s Homeboy product from a couple of years back. Then and now, the white-and-chrome-finished spheroid evokes the EVA pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey, minus the mechanical arms. Eight LEDs are arranged in a semicircle under the lens to illuminate dark rooms, and a plastic attachment works like a helmet visor to slide down over the lens when privacy is a concern. A micro-USB port is hidden at the back behind a rubber cap.

remotelync camera crop Kidde

The battery-powered RemoteLync Camera can be placed virtually anywhere in your home.

But the design is where RemoteLync’s similarities to other home security cameras ends. Unlike virtually every other Dropcam-style security camera, this unit doesn’t offer live streaming. That means you can’t just peek in on our home when you’re away. Its 640x480 VGA resolution is also a far cry from the 1080p video that’s becoming standard on IP security cams. Familiar features like two-way-talk and audio alerts are also absent, though this is what facilitates this cordless camera’s generous three-months-on-a-charge battery life.

So, to be clear: RemoteLync is a straight-up security device. It’s not a camera for remotely monitoring children, elderly parents, or pets. It spends most of its time in sleep mode, waking only when it detects motion in front of its lens. When it does, it records a video clip and immediately sends an alert via email or push notification to your mobile device. It will also sound its siren (if enabled) to ward off the intruder.

The video clips run from 5 to 30 seconds in length, depending on your settings, and are immediately available to view on the mobile app for 12 hours. During that time, you can share or download them to your device from the cloud. You can subscribe to retain up to 30 days of video history for $5 per month or $50 per year.

Setup and usage

Setting up RemoteLync only takes a couple of minutes. Once you download the free RemoteLync app, it walks you through the process of connecting to your home network, without requiring you to enter microscopic serial numbers or scan stubborn QR codes.

Because the camera doesn’t need to be near a power outlet, it’s equipped for a variety of placements. Snapping it into its magnetic base is best for setting it on flat furniture surfaces, but you can also use the adhesive strip affixed to the bottom of the base to tack the whole unit to your wall, ceiling, or even a stair rail. Your imagination is really the only limit.

remotelync camera2

The camera comes with a magnetic base and a detachable privacy shield.

Once the RemoteLync is placed, there are two ways to arm and disarm the camera. You can do it manually, using a slider on the home screen of the RemoteLync app. The other is arm it by location: this readies the camera to record when you leave a geofenced area around your address (there are three preset geofences to choose from in the app—small, medium, and large). It automatically disarms when you are back within that circle.

You can opt to receive motion alerts via email or push notification and access video of an event directly from its alert. To see an entire timeline of recordings, just tap the camera image at the center of the app's home screen.

Once you’ve opened a clip and reviewed it, you have three options depending on the nature of the incident: All Clear for false alarms, Record Now for when you want to capture additional footage, and Call Emergency Contact for bona fide security incidents (the default is set to 911, though you can change this to another phone number in the settings. You'd want to change this to your local emergency responder's phone number, since you might not be home when the emergency happens.)

Arming by location was my preferred method for activating the camera, as I didn’t have to remember to shut it off when I returned home, thereby avoiding an annoying succession of false alerts when I entered the house. The downside is it requires constant GPS tracking; so if you’re uncomfortable with that, stick with manual mode.

remotelync app

The RemoteLync can be armed manually or via geofencing, which automatially activates it when you leave a designated geographic area.

Motion alerts were prompt and accurate, especially once I enabled “pet mode.” This feature minimizes the chances of your furry friend’s motion triggering the camera, and it can be customized to the size of the animal. The video, though not high-res, was crisp enough in regular and low-light modes to see what was or wasn’t happening at the homestead.

One of the best things about the RemoteLync is it lets you recruit your own security squad to help you keep tabs on your house or other location. You just invite select friends and family to download the RemoteLync app. Once they join the team, you designate them as Crew (who can receive motion alerts and view videos), a Deputy (who can also clear events, get videos on demand, and arm/disarm the camera—but not change settings), or a Chief (who has complete control over the camera and can manage team members). This feature assures that if you can’t access your mobile device for whatever reason, someone will be able to receive and respond to any security alerts.

The RemoteLync camera can be used by itself, but it’s designed to work with the RemoteLync Smart Home Monitor and automatically record video if a smoke or CO alarm is triggered, though we didn’t test this setup. The camera can also integrate with various other smart-home products via IFTTT.

The bottom line

The RemoteLync is an excellent security camera. But because it doesn’t have live video-streaming capabilities, it’s not for folks looking for a nanny/elder cam or pet monitor. That limits its appeal. It also makes its price tag a little steep, considering more full-featured cameras can be had for less $200.

But if live monitoring and a little extra expense are not a concern, and strong security features are a priority, you can confidently leave your home under the RemoteLync Camera’s watch.

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Michael Ansaldo

TechHive (US)
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