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YI 1080p Home Review
Price: $60 List | $339.99 at Amazon
Pros: Good video quality, relatively generous non-subscription services, inexpensive
Cons: Relatively narrow field of view, real time viewing sometimes choppy
Bottom line: A mix of good quality, decent non-subscription services, and low price that makes for a great value
If you're looking for the most inexpensive yet effective way to keep an eye on what happens in your home, the YI 1080p Home is it. Providing sharp, high definition video, decent real time viewing capabilities, and relatively generous non subscription services, this camera can give you all the peace of mind you're looking for at a price that is just a fifth that of the top model on the market. Sure, you do make some sacrifices in overall quality when you compare the YI Home to the likes of the Nest Cam IQ, but you still get a camera that is more than capable of recording short video clips and sending you a notification when it sees motion. Plus, it provides good enough non-subscription services that most users can get away without a monthly fee, whereas the Nest models saddle you to at least $100/year of subscription fees if you want more than 3 hours of video history. If you're looking for an inexpensive camera that can handle being placed outside, we'd recommend the Blink XT.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The YI Home provides the most value per dollar of any of the cameras we tested, which earned it one of our Best Buy Awards. This is the perfect model for those that want to be able to look in on their home and see what has happened throughout the week, but don't want to spend much or be tethered to subscription fees.
The YI Home was a fairly average performer in our testing (see table above), but its far below average price makes it a great value. In the following sections we discuss all the different tests we conducted to establish the YI Home's overall score.
The YI Home offers good non-subscription services and somewhat lackluster subscription services. Combined, this resulted in an average score of 6 out of 10 in this metric.
Monitoring Services With/Without a Subscription
The YI Home offers a much more generous non-subscription package than most cameras. For no additional cost the camera will save a 6 second clip every time it sees motion, and will save a 7 day history of those clips on the cloud for your viewing pleasure. In our testing it generally took the Yi Home about 30 seconds to reset before it would capture another 6 second clip. That means you can miss a lot of the action if there is constant movement in front of the camera, but you'll still get to see whatever triggered the camera, and the 7 day history means you can go on vacation and come back to a mostly complete video history of what transpired whilst you were gone. This is much more generous than most brands, as Canary offers only 24 hours of history without a subscription, Nest offers just 3 hours, and Samsung offers no history at all. NetGear is the only brand that really compares, as it offers a 7 day history of motion activated clips for free. Blink also lets you set a clip length for motion activated clips and will save 2 hours of them on the cloud, which is somewhat comparable. But, unlike other cameras, the YI Home lets you save as much video you want to a micro SD card. The only downside with saving to an SD card is that your footage will be gone if someone steals the camera. But you can always disguise your camera with this.
If you're willing to pay for a subscription, YI does offer more services, but not quite as much as the paid fare of other brands. For $10/month you can either get a 15 day history of all the motion that is seen by up to 5 cameras, or a 24/7 video history for one camera. Upping the price to $20/month extends that history to 30 days. By comparison, Nest offers 10 days of 24/7 history for multiple cameras for $10/month, or you can buy a whole year up front for $100. You also get advanced features like more descriptive activity alerts, the ability to tell the camera where not to look for motion (like outside the window), and facial recognition (for the IQ models), all advanced features not available on the YI Home
Bottom line, we think the YI Home's non-subscription services are generous enough that you can effectively get the peace of mind of having a security camera at a low price. However, if you're willing to invest in a long term subscription, we would suggest spending a bit more upfront as well with a Nest camera, as their subscription services and overall video quality are noticeably better.
This is another reason the YI Home lost a few points in our monitoring performance testing. The microphone often produced a garbled sound. To understand what somebody was saying they had to be right next to the camera. This likely won't feel like a huge loss for most users, but if you're really concerned about the audio quality of your security camera clips we found that Canary cameras have the best microphones. The Yi Home does offer 2-way audio, so you can talk to anyone who passes by the camera vis the YI app.
The YI Home found itself just earning a spot in the upper echelon with a score of 7 out of 10 in our video quality testing.
We were quite impressed with the full high definition sensor in the YI Home camera. In our testing it produced very clear, crisp footage that was nearly as good as the footage from the top scoring Nest Cam IQ, and noticeably better than the footage from the other Best Buy Award winning camera, the Blink XT. The video also had almost no distortion around the edges, something rare in a security camera. However, that lack of distortion comes at a bit of a price. The YI Home's field of view is just 112˚, which is noticeably smaller than the 130˚+ field of view you'll get with most higher end models. It is in line with other budget models, however, as the Blink XT offers a 110˚ field of view.
The YI Home's night vision mode is fairly clear, with faces looking a bit dark but recognizable. This performance was very similar to that of the Nest Cam, with only the new Nest Cam IQ offering noticeably better night vision.
App Ease of Use
While we didn't find any app particularly difficult to use, the YI app was towards the bottom of the scoreboard, earning a 6 out of 10.
The app was by no means frustrating to use, its interface just felt a bit less intuitive than other offerings. When compared to the super streamlined Nest app, the YI app felt a bit more arcane and required clicking around through more menu options before we found what we were looking for. After a very small learning curve we had no trouble navigating the app and certainly wouldn't consider this a dealbreaker, but other companies are a bit better at designing a digital user experience.
Real Time Viewing
The YI Dome offers fairly average real time viewing performing, earning a score of 6 out of 10 in our testing.
Generally the video that came through when we turned on live viewing with the Yi Home was fairly crisp. Not quite as crisp as the saved video clips it produces, but close. We measured the latency at just 2 seconds, which was the lowest latency of any of the cameras we tested. However, it lost some points because the live video feed could be quite choppy at times. Overall we felt the real time viewing experience was acceptable, if slightly frustrating when the choppiness got bad. If real time viewing is your main concern, you really can't beat a Nest Cam, but the YI would satisfy most users.
The Yi Home can stand on any horizontal surface and must be plugged into a standard outlet.
Listing for just $60, the YI Home represents a great value. With it you get about 70% of what you'd get from the top end models, at about 20-40% the price. Plus, most of those high end models require buying a subscription to be really useful, whereas the YI Home is an effective tool even without a subscription.
The YI 1080p Home is a capable little camera that offers much of the performance of high end models at a much lower price.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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