Looking for a simple no-frills home security camera that is cheap and easy to use? The TP-Link Tapo C210 should be on your shortlist then. It has all the basic features covered, and at around S$53, is as affordable as it gets. But don’t expect AI-powered smarts or free cloud storage — features offered by its more costly competitors.
- 3MP camera (2,304 x 1,296 pixels)
- Pan and tilt (360-degree horizontal, 114-degree vertical)
- Local storage (microSD card up to 256GB)
- Night vision of up to 30ft (~9m)
TP-Link has a separate smartphone app for each of its product lines. In this case, you’ll need the Tapo app (available for iOS and Android). Setting up this security camera is simple enough. Open the app and bring your phone near to the camera (powered on). I liked that there are voice cues during the setup process to confirm that things are progressing nicely, instead of blinking lights, or what not. Overall, the installation takes several minutes. If you plan to mount the camera to the ceiling (don’t forget to have a power outlet in the vicinity), you’ll need to break out the drill and use the included mounting screws. A minor grouse: the app did not send a notification to remind me of a new firmware update. Instead, there’s just an icon badge inside the camera setting to alert me that there’s an update.
Depending on your privacy preferences, you may like that the Tapo does not have a cloud storage option. Instead, videos are stored locally on a microSD card (not included). The camera supports cards of up to 256GB capacity, which is said to be sufficient for 512 hours (or 21 days) of footage. However, it seems rather easy for an intruder to access the hidden microSD card slot — just tilt the camera up — there are no screws to hinder access. In addition, the Tapo’s plastic housing does not inspire confidence. It feels like cheap plastic, though to be fair to TP-Link, it is a budget model.
The Tapo sent (after a 2 second delay) a smartphone notification upon detecting motion in its view. Additionally, you can enable the alarm function so that the camera emits a loud siren or tone, along with a flashing light. Like other cameras, you can set the Tapo to only watch over a smaller specific zone in its view, or adjust the motion sensitivity, so as to reduce false alarms. Video quality (tested at 1080p) is decent, but the camera understandably does not handle overly bright scenes, such as daylight through the window well. It does have night vision of up to around 9 metres, which works as advertised — no colour night vision here. There’s hardly any latency when using the two-way talk function, but I tested this with both my smartphone and the Tapo on the same home network. Your mileage may vary depending on the Internet connection.
At around S$53, the TP-Link Tapo C210 is cheaper than pan and tilt cameras from the likes of D-Link and Xiaomi. There’s even a 3-year warranty from TP-Link to sweeten the deal further. It may not have more advanced features, such as AI-powered image recognition. However, the Tapo is a decent and affordable security camera. It’s available from Shopee and Lazada.
Note: Review unit provided by TP-Link.