Most of you associate Shelly brand with internet-connected, matchbox-sized smart switches like Shelly 1 (review). I associate it with a flood of comments associated with a rather controversial Shelly vs Sonoff article. Probably none of us associates Shelly with video & security products like Shelly Eye – a connected camera.
Shelly Eye – isn’t an eyesore
The first impressions are great. It’s incredibly small (for what’s inside) and visually pleasing to the eye (yes, expect to see more puns). It’s nice to see a product that tries to address the intended use of the product in their design, rather than putting a camera in an enclosure that resembles the state of the art prison monitoring system.
Shelly Eye is equipped with a PIR sensor which supports motion and human presence sensing, IR LED for the low light situations, microphone, speaker and – a LiPo battery to keep the camera rolling! To monitor the footage, you get a free 7-day plan (not a trial), local back up (microSD card) and SIM support for 3G/4G streaming the camera is all out of WiFi.
Video: Eye to Eye
The camera stream can be activated by motion (just motion or human detection specifically) and a push alert is sent to a registered mobile device. Because the camera is connected to WiFi (or 3G/4G) constantly, you can just open the app and access the video stream any time you want.
I’m surprised to see, that there are no options to pick the video resolution, the default video saved to the SD card is 720p at 16-18 fps saved as separate file every minute. If you pop a 32GB card, this will give you around two days of archived (continuous) storage.
If the storage card is inserted, you have access to the timeline. A feature that lets you scroll through the time bar minute by minute. Otherwise, the cloud-stored footage is limited to motion or voice-activated 15s video clips.
One more way of getting the video is to simply press the record button and save the streamed footage directly to the mobile phone.
The camera sensor will do a decent job providing it’s not placed against the light source (windows etc) and the night mode will illuminate a whole room with the IR light to stream a clear image.
Things that I liked:
It’s great to see a built-in battery. The lifespan of the camera will purely depend on the setting in which the camera operates, but in the constant streaming mode, you should expect a couple of hours. The added benefit of SIM support is the ability to access the stream of the camera if the power goes down.
Sensors are very responsive and trigger the recording and phone push notification almost instantly. I don’t have a desk stand (my sample came with a wall mount) and I received the motion notification at the same time as I had heard the camera tumbling down the floor after the power cable got accidentally pulled.
Timeline is a very convenient way to scroll through alerts, recording data and clips. You will see monitored periods and events and browsing the stream is very convenient.
Shelly Eye app comes with a couple of handy features, like disabling notifications for all or individual cameras and custom notification periods. A handy feature to keep the phone pushes to the minimum.
Less impressive side
Unfortunately, Shelly Eye, the camera that is made by the same people who won customer’s hearts by equipping Shelly 1 with an easy to work API, comes without the same concessions. RTSP is missing, so the footage is only available via designated Shelly Eye app. Yes, if you already have shelly.cloud app, you will need to add another app to your collection.
There are no integrations for Alexa or Google Assistant, so you won’t be streaming Shelly Eye content on screen-enabled devices.
The built-in speakers are not great. It’s serviceable, but the voice feels like trapped inside a cheap plastic box. Frankly speaking, I was expecting better.
I usually hate on everything that refuses to adopt the USB-C standard, but this camera made the top of my hate list for having microUSB controller so deeply embedded inside the enclosure, that half (if not more) my USB cables can’t reach it, or are disconnected the moment you touch the cable. Fortunately for Shelly, the camera comes with a very long USB lead that stays in place otherwise I would be very annoyed.
I really hope that the software side of the Shelly Eye is very much in progress. I’d love to see API and RSTP protocols available so you could connect the camera just the way you want. Shelly Eye is a definitely nicely designed piece of hardware but at the 99.00€ it’s a hard sell without the extra features, I hope that with time, the software will join the amazing options you get with other Shelly products.