Gone are the days where you’d leave your house of a morning saying “goodbye” to your pets, not knowing what they’d be getting up to during the day. Wi-Fi enabled, cloud recording “home monitoring” products have been cropping up left-right-and-center over the past few years. Motorola have a whole range of products that allow you to monitor your home, pets and baby remotely via your smartphone/tablet!
The Motorola Scout 85 that I’m reviewing today has been available to purchase via Amazon since January 2015 and I personally have used this camera day-in day-out for the past 8 months.
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- Motorised pan and tilt (providing a 300 degree view of the cameras surroundings)
- Digital zoom
- 720p HD video
- Infrared Night-vision capability
- Temperature sensor
- Two-way communication (built in mic and speaker)
- Motion, Sound and Temperature notifications
- Motion triggered video recording
- Ceiling mountable
- iOS (7.0+) and Android (4.0+) compatible
- Remotely accessible via Wi-Fi or 3G/4G mobile data
- RSPCA Approved!
If you’re not ceiling mounting the camera, installation is really easy. Simply plug the power cable in and follow the included-in-box instructions. The whole process is completed via the Hubble app, which guides you through the basic step-by-step setup.
I found it took approximately 10 – 15 minutes to complete the setup process after having created a Hubble account, meaning this camera could be up and running during your lunch hour!
Image & Audio quality
The image quality you end up seeing via your smartphone or tablet is entirely dependent on your network speed. As always, 3G/4G connections are going to suffer from a fair bit of lag/delay compared to when you’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the camera.
The 720p stream is… not the best. I find the image to be a bit blurry at the best of times (when watching old recordings) and can sometimes be choppy. In an era where 1080p is the standard and 4K video is just around the corner from becoming mainstream (/affordable for the masses!), the 720p video does feel slightly dated and at times inadequate.
Audio quality, on the other hand, is a lot better than I was expecting! The mic has a pretty good pickup range, as well as providing fairly high quality audio when watching back. However it’s worth noting that if you use the two-way communication (and therefore, the built in speaker), the audio the camera outputs is not amazing. It’s tinny at best and is extremely delayed.
The Hubble app is a bit of a sore point for me. I had significant troubles initially, both with my subscription not applying to my account/camera when purchased through the app (there have been a plethora of updates since which may have resolved this issue), as well as my camera randomly and repeatedly showing as “unaccessible”. This happens regardless of the camera being powered on and untouched and as noted above, happens very randomly. Having this happen doesn’t put your mind at ease, with my wife asking “why can’t I access the camera, has someone been in to the house and turned it off?!?”.
However, the basic functionality is all there! When I can access my camera stream (99% of the time I can), the remote pan and tilt functions operate as they should, I’m able to watch all motion triggered recordings (requires subscription to Hubble) and I’m able to view and monitor the temperature in the room thanks to the built in temperature sensor. As with every camera, you’re able to capture and save your own images and videos locally to your phone.
You’re able to configure various notification settings, such as one for when the temperature gets above or below a certain level (you set the temperature, Hubble/the camera notify you). You’re also able to adjust the sensitivity of when you get notified of events such as noise and/or motion.
The IR Night Vision feature is a nice addition, although not amazingly well implemented. The “Auto Night Mode” is very clever and works exceptionally well, however the IR LEDs have a fairly short throw (around 3 feet by my measurement), which means unless your pet is right in front of the camera when it’s dark – you’re not going to see them. To work around this, we have placed a small LED lamp next to the camera which provides a VERY faint light in the room, just enough to allow us to see the whole room with the night vision mode still enabled.
My wife and I use this camera every single day that we are not at home (e.g. at work or out with family/friends) to keep an eye on our cats and our dog.
The sound detection and motion detection notifications from the camera are exceptionally useful, notifying us when our dog is barking or howling, when he’s moving around or when the cats are moving through the room. I’ve had an idea to put a camera above our cats litter box and to configure simple motion detection notifications, so we know when their litter needs cleaning (it’s the little things in life!).
We only have one of these in the area our animals spend the most time and ideally we’d like to get a couple more in order to expand our area of monitoring.
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Issues I’ve Had
On iOS devices, for some reason the pan and tilt functions can sometimes seem to go a bit overboard. A single tap in the direction you want to pan your camera will result in the camera panning as far is it physically can in that direction. When you try to pan back to where you were, the camera goes to the complete other end of it’s pan!
As I noted above: Sometimes my camera randomly becomes completely inaccessible both remotely and locally. I’m not sure whether this is a firmware issue, hopefully a fix will be released sometime soon!
As I noted above: The IR LEDs are a bit underpowered for the job, this has resulted in us having to come up with a work around to make use of the camera in the dark winter months!
At around £60, the camera does the job for us, with a few features that are either a bit lacklustre or could simply be considered dated.
Would I buy another camera? Definitely. I’d like to get one or two more sometime soon, to also review how the cameras interconnect as well as how the Hubble app copes with multiple cameras/notifications.
Would I recommend this camera to family/friends? Definitely. We already have and those people purchased and use one.
Hopefully, when it comes to me purchasing another camera, Motorola will have released a newer model fixing some of the aforementioned issues. I’d like to see a camera that streams 1080p and has slightly more powerful IR LEDs to rival the Nest Camera, but at a slightly more budget friendly price point. At that point in time, hopefully the Hubble app will also become a bit more polished with the pan and tilt bug fully ironed out.
Motorola website: https://motorolastore.co.uk/gb
Scout 85 User Manual: https://www.manualslib.com/manual/948116/Motorola-Scout85.html
This is not a sponsored/paid review. All opinions are entirely my own and unbiased.