Battery operated outdoor security cameras are ideal for homeowners who prefer not to deal with electrical wiring, but they typically require a hub and can be pricey. Enter the $139 Vacos Cam, a reasonably priced wireless 1080p camera that’s easy to install and offers a handful of welcome features including color night vision, a siren and warning light, local and cloud storage options, and support for Amazon Alexa voice control. It delivered sharp video and accurate motion detection in testing, but there are a few key settings missing from the app. Moreover, locally recorded video was choppy and hard to access, and it was unable to stream video to an Echo Show using Alexa voice commands. The wired D-Link DCS-8600LH offers much better functionality for a similar price, while the Arlo Pro 3 is the best the wireless solution we’ve tested, but it’ll set you back around $500 for a two-pack.
Design and Features
The Vacos Cam looks very similar to the Arlo Go that we reviewed back in 2017. It measures 2.9 by 2.9 by 3.4 inches (HWD) and has a glossy black faceplate and a white enclosure with an IP65 weatherproof rating. The camera is powered by a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that is rated to last up to six months between charges. For an additional $10 you can buy a Vacos Cam bundle that includes a solar panel to keep the camera constantly charged (pictured below).
The camera doesn’t require a hub. Instead it uses an embedded 2.4GHz Wi-Fi radio to connect to your home network. It has 16GB of internal eMMC (flash) memory for storing event-triggered video locally, but you can also subscribe to a $2.99 per month cloud storage plan that gives you seven days of rolling storage.
The front of the device holds a 1080p camera with a 130-degree field of view, a PIR (passive infrared) motion sensor, two white LED spotlights, and a pair of infrared LEDs that work with the Sony IMX307 image sensor to deliver full color night vision for up to 33 feet. A mini USB port is positioned on the bottom of the camera along with a speaker, and there’s a reset button on the back. As with the Arlo cameras, the Vacos Cam has a magnetic back panel that lets you attach it to an included round mounting base. It also has a threaded mounting hole for attaching to a swivel mounting base and arm (also included).
The Vacos Cam offers intelligent motion detection that filters out all motion from cars and windblown object to focus on human motion. It also offers a couple of intruder warning features, including a siren that sounds when a person enters the motion zone, and two spotlights that flash at night along with the siren. While this is a nice feature it is poorly implemented, as there is no way to disable the siren or spotlight, nor is there a setting that lets you disable motion detection altogether. In other words, you’re stuck listening to a siren and dealing with flashing lights every time someone enters the motion zone, and both warnings will persist until the person leaves the zone.
A companion mobile app (for Android and iOS) opens to a screen with panels for each installed camera. Tap a camera panel to launch a live stream with buttons for muting the speaker, accessing video stored in the cloud or on the device, viewing the stream in full-screen mode, taking a snapshot, manually recording a video clip, and initiating two-way talk.
You’ll need cloud subscription to access cloud video, but you can search for video stored on the device using a timeline of events (more on this later). The gear icon in the upper right corner takes you to a screen where you can configure PIR motion settings (low, medium, high), check the camera’s battery level, adjust speaker volume, subscribe to the cloud service, and set a recording schedule.
Installation and Performance
Installing the Vacos Cam was quick and easy. I plugged the camera into a USB source, downloaded the mobile app, and created an account. I tapped the plus icon to add a new device and selected Battery Cam from the list. Following the onscreen instructions, I pressed the reset button for six seconds, tapped Next, selected my Wi-Fi SSID from the list, and entered my Wi-Fi password. A QR code appeared on my phone’s screen and I was prompted to hold it up to the camera. The camera was connected to my network within a few seconds and I gave it name, updated the firmware, and attached it to the siding of my house using the magnetic mount.
The Vacos Cam’s performance was mixed in testing. Its live daytime video was sharp, with good color quality. Colors in nighttime video were decent (although not as vibrant as daytime video) and the picture showed good image detail and was adequately illuminated. The motion sensor did a good job of filtering out all but human motion, and motion alerts arrived quickly.
The siren sounded whenever someone approached the camera, and at night the spotlight joined the siren when motion was detected, but without settings to disable these features, they quickly become more annoying than useful. Fortunately, the siren isn’t very loud. And, while Vacos claims support for Google voice commands, this feature is not yet enabled. A message on the Vacos community page states that this will be resolved at some point in the future.
Video stored locally on the device was problematic. It typically took up to 15 seconds to access the timeline, and once accessed, the video was very choppy. Moreover, the timeline cursor would suddenly jump forward and backward, making it difficult to land on a specific point in time. On several occasions I received a Timed Out error while trying to view video clips.
Additionally, I was unable to view video on an Amazon Echo Show device using Alexa voice commands. The Echo Show acknowledged the command and seemed to be connecting to it but it always came back with a message saying the camera doesn’t seem to be responding.
The Vacos Cam is one of the more affordable battery powered outdoor cameras out there, but it’s hampered by erratic performance and a half-baked app. On the plus side it’s a breeze to install and delivered sharp and colorful video in testing, and its motion detection did a very good job of eliminating false alerts. However, the camera doesn’t support IFTTT integrations with third-party smart devices, and the app is missing a few necessary settings including the ability to turn off the siren and flashing strobe light. Additionally, locally stored video appeared slow and choppy, and the camera failed to stream video to an Alexa-powered Echo Show device .
For around the same price you can go with a wired camera such as our Editors’ Choice, the D-Link DCS-8600LH Full HD Outdoor Wi-Fi Camera, which offers support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. If a completely wireless solution that works with other devices is vital, the Arlo Pro 3 is our current Editors’ Choice, but be prepared to pay close to $500 for a kit that includes a pair of cameras and a hub.
Vacos Cam Specs
|Field of View||130 degrees|