Hive View: The Hive Smart Indoor Camera - A Review Part 2.

  • 28 January 2021
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As you know if you’ve read part one the lovely people at Pure Planet gave me a Hive Indoor Smart Camera to try out (thank you again) .
This is about using the camera and some thoughts.

Apologies there is a lot of text in this review, so one for TL;DR (yes I had to look that up) but there is a short-ish conclusion at the end!.

In Use

Placing the camera:

It’s an indoor camera, and it’s attractively styled. There is a choice of 2 colours, I have the black one one and there is a white/champagne one.

It’s Black and White

If you don’t want it to be as obvious the white one is not as heavy on the eye especially against a light background..

It can stand on a shelf or you can attach the base to a wall or ceiling.

Even if the stand is screwed down, both the camera to the stand and the stand to the base are still only attached by respective magnets thus either is very easy to remove. You can screw the base to a surface
For mounting the camera, pulling the stand off the base leaves...

the base in place   and
the stand in hand
(a bit of rhyming there for you)

HERE is a photo of the base

This makes it a doddle to position but could also be a disadvantage; you couldn’t (or perhaps wouldn’t)  for example safely leave it in a porch or communal hallway. You might get some nice pictures of the thief stealing it!
It would (in theory) continue to record while it was off the stand (until switched off) as it has a built in battery which is supposed to keep it going for an hour when it isn’t on the stand. I never tested the length of time but it did work both off the stand and when the power was cut off.
I suppose if you wanted to move it somewhere quickly and temporarily for a brief period this might be useful although I didn’t have a use for that it’s good that it can be taken off the stand without interrupting function.

Video Quality
You can set 720 or 1080 video sizes although I can’t see why anyone would choose 720 unless they were extremely short on storage. (I suppose 720 could be useful in some less critical situations indoors)
The picture quality is good (in 1080) both in the day and when it’s dark. The dark video relies on the infra red lighting built in and is clear but monochrome.
If you place it close to and looking out of a window (as mine is) you’ll need to rely on any external lighting as the dark illuminators will reflect on the glass and obliterate the picture. In those circumstances you can switch off the dark illumination in the menu.

Movement Detection and Zones
Movement detection is very good, it picked up every person walking past. There is however no way to turn down the sensitivity but you can set it to “people” or “all motion” in the detection menu. “People” works well, the only time it misses detection (and this is down to my individual circumstances of having to switch off the night illumination as mentioned above) is if there is insufficient light to illuminate the area because it detects movement by changes in contrast. I doubt it would miss anything if the night illumination was on.
The specification says 60 ft. Daytime vision and 15ft. night time (15 ft.with the dark illumination presumably?), but if there is sufficient external illumination (we have a street lamp across the road) it will pick up events further away than 15 ft at night, this was without the night vision. It is an indoor camera after all and the night time vision inside works well.

I tested “all motion” to see how it compares.
It seems to trigger of almost anything with “all motion”. Maybe that would be the setting you’d use if it was being used as a cat or dog, gerbil, hamster, rat, mouse or large spider detector in your home.
Whichever mode you use there is no means to set the sensitivity other than zoning.

You have the option to set up to 4 detection zones.
Any or all zones are set on one page , you set a box and anything outside the boxes in theory won’t trigger a recording. The setting is either ALL of the zones you’ve set or no zones.
The obvious advantage of being able to select which of your zones you wanted to use would be (for example) to change the zones if you’re in or out or awake or asleep etc. This really needs to be added by Hive, perhaps they will… I hope so (see later)

The saved videos (and the live screen) are time and date stamped at the top of frame (although for reasons I couldn’t fathom the date stamp disappeared at one point after I’d taken it off the stand and it took a lot of switching on and off to get it back, (I think……it was just one of those things ,
Just one of those crazy flings :musical_note: , one of those bells:bell: that now and then rings:notes: , just one of those things:notes:
… a quick singalong there to break up the review…)

Recording, monitoring and viewing
To save bandwidth it doesn’t stay in “Live mode” you have to select it in the app.
When it detects motion (or sound see later) it automatically starts recording. You get a detection alert but once this has happened you have no control, you can’t switch off the recording and have to wait (many seconds) for it to finish before you can view the video. It then stores the clip with a timestamp and a thumbnail. The thumbnail situation is interesting…I’ll get to that soon.

Without a subscription to Hive  you get only 24 hours storage of any recorded clips. With a subscription costing circa £4.00 a month you would get 30 days storage. (See later).

Because it’s monitoring all the time it stores the first 3 or 4 seconds before the movement, that’s good. The thumbnail in person mode uses AI, it finds the best shot of the person in the frame that it can, and crops that bit for the thumbnail. This is a great feature but care is needed here because some respects it can mislead. When you look at the actual clip compared to the thumbnail the person can be (and usually is ) much smaller in frame than you thought when you looked at the thumbnail.
To protect the innocent (and the not so innocent) I’ve blurred the screenshot but it will give you some idea of what I mean by the magnification in the thumbnail compared to the full video frame.

Walkin’ tha dawg...

However, (and strangely) in “All movement” mode when for example it detects a car driving past, it doesn’t show the car in the thumbnail, even though it is in the video. Maybe the AI isn’t clever enough to know what to put in the thumbnail when it isn’t a person. I don’t know if the  app works in exactly the same way for the outdoor camera. (I expect so). In any event the all movement was too sensitive with no means of reducing the sensitivity other than zoning so I didn’t use it. (see later)

Clip Options

You have a choice of either deletingdownloading or renaming the clips The  clips are compressed and generally not that long  so small enough to email them to yourself after saving them.(see later)

Notifications

You can set it to notify you that there is an event (and/or email you)
Notifications are  delayed by a few seconds so don’t expect them instantly. 

Smart compatibility and Actions

It works standalone with Siri, you can set a phrase in siri and it will show you the app and switch to live camera on your device. It does not however work with Alexa out of the box, you have to buy the hub. I can’t justify buying the hub for one Hive device. I was looking forward to trying that, sad I know.  When you look at Hive’s website it shows the following under “works with” (see later)

 

App Menus

Menus are straightforward and generally self explanatory, everything is easy to find.

The two main menus (Hive account and Device menu are shown below.

Hive account menu                                                                                     Device Menu 

It would take too long (and probably send you to sleep) to describe all so here are some screenshots (glued together) of the device menus with some comments.

(I’ve tweaked the background to make it easier to see)

What’s on the menu, à la cam

You can schedule when you want to receive alerts, create zones, invert the image if camera is mounted upside down, choose email and/or  notifications, switch of night illumination (see above) etc. 

Sound

The one thing I haven’t mentioned is the sound functions. You can set it to trigger recording on movement or sound detection or both. It will also capture the sound if you set it to.
Sound triggering does have a sensitivity setting as low medium or high.
I didn’t test each but it recorded every time it heard us shouting at each other (I blame lockdown  cabin fever...)

When you’re in Live mode, by tapping on the mic symbol or the audio symbol on the bottom of the picture you can also talk to the camera or send one of 3 preset sounds to it, Alarm, Lullaby and Dog bark. (good for scaring visitors, but not tested as no visitors at the moment...)

How much electricity does it use?

The camera is designed to be permanently connected to the mains and it runs quite warm. I measured the wattage and I estimated it will cost £8 or £9 a year to run at circa 15-17p a kWh

 

Summing Up

This is an indoor camera only and is only suitable for inside the house. It is attractive to look at, much more so than many of the other offerings out there. The  camera won’t look out of place in most houses but care when choosing the colour as the black one is a little stark to my eye. I think the white would be more harmonious for indoors.

It is not suitable for a porch or a communal hallway unless installed out of reach. It’s too easy to remove as it’s only held on by magnets and it isn’t a subtle camera, you can’t really miss it, so neither will a thief.

It is easy to set up, and the video quality of the camera both in daylight and at night and of the recorded clips is good (in 1080 mode), it captures most events and misses very little.

It isn’t suitable to point out of a window at night unless you have external illumination, this isn’t a fault, it’s because the infra red illumination reflects back off the glass and obliterates the picture, but you can switch off the illumination in the menu. There are some nice touches in that you can also turn off the status lights on the front of the camera, so these won’t alert anyone that it’s active.

There is also a switch-offable chime warning in the camera. (The chime warns of status changes.)

 

No technology is perfect, there were some instances where when switching to the live view that it didn’t work and came up with

I found no pattern in this and a bit more info as to what the problem was would have helped, (please Hive?),  but that said it always came right eventually and this only happened maybe about 5-10%  of the time.

You only get 1 day (24 hours) of clip storage free, (that’s quite poor), and for 30 days you need to pay the subscription of £4 a month for one camera or £39 a year. The more cameras you have the more it costs, 2 cameras costs £59 and 3 cameras £99 a year. At the moment I’m not prepared to pay as I have a subscription to another device, and anyway I can access the recordings every day  so if you don’t have a  subscription you need to keep on top of any of the recordings which you will need to download before 24 hours  have passed. (see conclusion)

There is only an app interface for smartphones or tablets, you can’t access the camera on a web interface on computer. I’d like to see that option please Hive! (errr…just to remind you not having a web interface could be seen as ageist as PP discovered quite early on when they didn't have one, but they do have one now...)

It also works with other smart tech for example Alexa, Apple, IFTTT and Google  You can set up various Actions (switch on the light if it detects movement for example) and get alerts through the tech, BUT you have to buy the Hive hub for that functionality (a pity as I have Alexa and I’d like to have tried it.)  For those with other Hive equipment who already have a hub that’s a big selling point, but for those without it’s not so good.

What could be better?

More control over zoning is needed, Hive have really missed a trick here.  You can zone the picture to exclude areas you don’t want to trigger it but you can’t choose which zones, it’s either all zones or no zones.
The ability to schedule or choose which zones you want to monitor would vastly improve it. It needs perhaps 2 or 3 settable zone pages which can be scheduled at will or some other clever means to schedule which of the 4 zones you want to monitor and when.
 Easily achievable in software please Hive?

It needs more control over movement sensitivity.  (Again easily achievable in software.)

No web interface for viewing! This is a disadvantage especially for the elderly and also excludes those without a smartphone or tablet as users.

The clip viewing menu could benefit from some improvements. At present you can only Download, Rename or Delete,  Hive could/should add the ability to put a flag next to any video on the list (a coloured blob) so you can quickly pick out the important ones. Also a direct email option in the clip menu would be useful and save you from having to download it to your device first..

More information on what’s gone wrong when it doesn’t work, the placeholder tells you nothing other than to retry.

The ability to set it recording for say up to 2 minutes (or some other time) by choice would be nice to have but in fairness I can see why that hasn’t been implemented.

Working with smart tech and Actions, well it doesn’t unless you buy the hub, Hive need to make this clearer on the website  Better still make it work with Alexa (or whatever) without a hub.

Finally a comment about the storage time for videos. Hive only give 24 hours free. I think this rather mean for what is considered to be a premium product and isn’t in line with their competitors. I’d be much happier if it was extended to 2 days.

 

Conclusion

I won’t be so bold as to make a recommendation because it very much depends on what your use case is and whether you already have a Hive setup with hub may sway your choice, but I will say it does work quite well and was easy to set up. The software works well most of the time and it did what I needed it to do without the hassle of setting up an outdoor camera, so I’m happy!

Feel free to ask me about anything which isn’t clear.

Thank you again to Pure Planet!    (and sorry for the length of the review)


9 replies

Interesting that you say Hive say it works with HomeKit. When I looked it didn’t say it did... 

If you open the Home App is it there? If it were, you’d be able to use HomeKit video and see stuff on your phone or AppleTV or Mac and get secure storage if you already have a 200GB iCloud plan.

Anyway, nice read! 😊 

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Interesting that you say Hive say it works with HomeKit. When I looked it didn’t say it did... 

If you open the Home App is it there? If it were, you’d be able to use HomeKit video and see stuff on your phone or AppleTV or Mac and get secure storage if you already have a 200GB iCloud plan.

Anyway, nice read! 😊 

@25 quid 

Thanks, The Hive website says it works with homekit. I never tested any of that as I don’t have a hub.

You don’t need a hub for HomeKit when at home. That’s one of the benefits—no data sharing or dependency on a supplier’s flaky (or expensive) server.

To be able to control your home stuff when outside your home, you need a home hub. But you might unknowingly already have one, like an iPad that stays home… Look in Home Settings in the Home app.

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Thank you @woz for that extremely comprehensive review.  Very impressed. 👍👍👍

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A very interesting and informative review Woz. Thank you 👏

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You don’t need a hub for HomeKit when at home. That’s one of the benefits—no data sharing or dependency on a supplier’s flaky (or expensive) server.

To be able to control your home stuff when outside your home, you need a home hub. But you might unknowingly already have one, like an iPad that stays home… Look in Home Settings in the Home app.

@25 quid ahh OK I’m Alexa based so never investigated further, I went by the following which appeared in the app when I selected to set up an Action:-

 

Aha @woz, so that confirms that your Hive camera doesn’t support HomeKit, unless you add a separate hub (box). This is a trick that many manufactures use when they haven’t been able to build the required smarts into the device itself.

Homekit’s setup simplicity and security requires extra complexity in the device. Many suppliers do this now, but in the past they did it via an add-on hub.

I’m a big hater of hubs, e.g. Ikea use them and it just makes for messy unnecessary cupboard clutter.

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@25 quid I absolutely agree, hence hue (overpriced anyway) is not on my list.

I’m not a fan of relying on servers in China either...

Hey @woz 

Thank you for posting such a comprehensive review:relaxed:

It’s so interesting to be able to see the full picture (:drum: ) from a ‘real’ user point of view! 

I’ll definitely be referring back to this if/when we start to think about some smart home tech.

 

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