A long, long time ago the de facto security system for homeowners was the motion activated floodlight. Married to the daughter of a retired police officer, I was reminded over the years that a well-lit exterior is a strong deterrent to home burglaries. While I believe that to be true, it doesn’t hurt to have the added bonus of a security camera to capture evidence in the event of a home invasion.
The Annke 1080P AI Floodlight Camera is a hard-wired motion activated floodlight coupled with a high definition security camera. It also features 2-way audio, cloud and local storage, 100db siren, and buzzwords like “AI” or “artificial intelligence.” That’s a lot of features for a camera that currently sells for $89.99 (Retail price of $99.99 with a $10 coupon at time of this review).
Read on to find out if this is the right floodlight camera solution for you.
NOTE: Unless you are comfortable connecting into your home’s 110v AC electrical wiring, it is recommended that you hire an electrician or professional installer to wire and mount your Annke 1080P AI Floodlight Camera.
The floodlight/camera unit comes complete with an assortment of mounting screws, mounting bracket, mounting hook (more on this later), and even screwdrivers. Inside the box, you’ll also find an installation guide, window decal, wire nuts and a thank you card.
If you’ve ever wired an outlet or light fixture to a junction box; you should have no problems wiring the Annke unit. It entails only 3 wires: hot, neutral and ground. Make sure you turn off power at the breaker box before proceeding!
The first step in mounting the floodlight/camera unit is to attach the mounting bracket to the junction box, making sure to route the wiring through the center hole. The mounting bracket includes a ground connection so I made sure to wrap the ground wire around that connection before attaching to the ground wire on the unit itself.
Using the aforementioned mounting hook to secure the floodlight/camera unit to the mounting bracket; I simply twisted the coordinating wires and secured them with the included wire nuts. The floodlight/camera unit then slides over 2 screws and is secured in place with mounting nuts.
Now the hard part!
Connecting to Wi-Fi
NOTE: The Annke 1080P AI Floodlight Camera ONLY supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. Most modern wireless routers support both 2.4GHz as well as 5GHz bands. If your Wi-Fi router does not support 2.4GHz, you will not be able to connect your floodlight/camera unit to your network.
If you’re like me, you didn’t RTFM. I work in IT and I’m used to streamlined and standard user interfaces. Installing the Annke 1080P AI Floodlight Camera is anything but streamlined or standard.
First, in order to add the device to your network, you need to download the “CAMB” app. I mistakenly searched for “Annke” in the AppStore and downloaded the “Annke Vision” app. The CAMB app is developed by Li Jianwei. This developer has 3 other apps available in the Apple AppStore and all seem to be related to wireless cameras.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, you scan the QR code on your floodlight unit to begin setup. Don’t quote me on the exact steps here as I was standing on a ladder 20+ feet in the air and I’m afraid of heights to begin with.
The sequence as I remember is once the QR code is scanned, the camera has a series of voice prompts and light blinks to show setup status. It reminds you once again that you need to connect this to the 2.4GHz frequency of your Wi-Fi network.
Depending on your wireless access point, that may have a separate SSID than your 5GHz SSID. After about 2 minutes, the camera was connected to my Wi-Fi network and I could watch video through the CAMB app.
Usage – Camera
First the camera portion of the unit. I am entirely satisfied with the video quality that the camera captures. Within the app, you can select “HD” or “Smooth” options but I honestly can’t tell if there is any actual video quality difference. The only noticeable changes switching between the two is bitrate appears to be between 50-100 kbps for HD while it is about 15kbps for Smooth.
Additionally, the timestamp is only slightly larger in the Smooth view. Because this camera has an integrated floodlight, there is no infrared or night vision capabilities.
Usage – App
As I’ve already alluded to earlier, you wouldn’t know the actual app for this device is called “CAMB” unless you read the instructions step-by-step. Once you launch the app, you will be prompted to create an account or login.
After registering, you’ll receive a verification code from “Account3.Danale.com” which you will be required to enter into the app within 30 minutes. Working in the Cybersecurity field, there are some serious concerns going on in my head at this point. We’ll touch upon this again in my conclusion.
The upper left hand menu of the app options are:
- Share message – view messages sent to you.
- Cloud storage – where you can sign up for a cloud storage subscription.
- Personal center – manage your profile (email, password, etc.)
- My files – access saved images and videos
- Help center – brings up YouTube videos offering install and app help
You can add additional units/devices by clicking the “+” in the upper right corner of the app and scanning additional QR codes.
Settings, History and Share buttons are along the bottom right portion of the camera preview.
- Settings – Opens Device Settings which include:
- Light Setting – Floodlight time setting when motion is detected (total on time 0-19 minutes).
- Light Sensitivity Setting – Low/Med/High. There is also a setting for motion detection on either the left or right area of the light fixture.
- Security Setting – Selectable for People only, close and a couple steps towards All Motion. You can also set custom schedules for when motion will be detected (e.g. 6pm-5am Monday-Friday)
- Device Info – Gives relevant product information (more on this in conclusions)
- Time Setting – Daylight Saving Time is configurable for on/off. However, the Timezone setting is locked at GMT-5:00
- Device Initialization – Reboot or factory restore the device.
- History – Allows you to watch video recorded to the cloud or stored on the SD Card if you inserted one. A link allows you to buy cloud storage if you are not already subscribed.
- Share – Asks for an account number and regardless of what you enter and submit, you get a “Share Success” message?
Selecting the “play” button on the camera view opens up the real-time video being captured by the camera. Options along the bottom of the video feed allow for (left to right) talking through the unit, capture photo, capture video, activate alarm, and manually operate floodlight.
I set my device levels at “People only” with a light sensitivity level of Med on both the right and left side of the unit.
Walking out of my patio door will trigger when I step out which tells me the unit does make a distinction between people versus simply the door opening.
If you can understand, “All your base are belong to us,” you’ll have no problem deciphering, “Device Back Yard Human Induction.” Back Yard is what I named the device. I assume if you have more than one Annke AI Floodlight Camera you could name them based on their location. Human Induction, I’m guessing, means Human Detection.
Usage – Cloud Storage
Cloud subscription levels available:
- 7-day Playback – $5/mo or $49/yr
- 15-day Playback – $10/mo or $100/yr
- 30-day Playback – $19/mo or $190/yr
Upon receiving the “Human Induction” notification, I noticed a red dot upon the “History” button under the camera view. Opening History brings you to a daily scrollable timeline of events.
A red line placed over the timeline would make you believe that scrolling to those lines would allow you to review the detected events. Good luck with that! Unfortunately, the timeline doesn’t “snap” to those events. The best you can do is get close to the event and wait for the video to buffer and then watch in real-time, waiting to discover what your camera may have detected.
Unlike other cameras that show thumbnails of detected events or allow for real-time scrubbing of the timeline, the Annke, errr, Danale cloud storage may only be useful if and when you are seeking evidence of a burglary. Otherwise, it’s a true test of patience.
Usage – Floodlight
If there is a bright spot in the Annke AI Floodlight Camera (pun intended), it’s the floodlight feature. The light is extremely bright and covers a wide area. The motion detection is adequate if not a tad too sensitive.
About a week after installation, I noticed the floodlight turning on and off repeatedly throughout the night. Setting the light setting to 30 seconds per motion detection event, my flood light was a slow motion strobe light for a few days before I decided to turn off the device altogether.
I searched in vain trying to determine what event may have set off the motion detection but had no luck using the cloud storage capability. Facing opposite the Annke floodlight; I have a Google Nest Camera which showed no motion detection during the same period other than the floodlight blinking on and off repeatedly.
I reached out to Annke technical support through email. Typical of offshore support, the response was slow but not terrible (messages are approximately one day apart). The very first support message ended up in my SPAM folder which was suspicious as I’ve had other support emails arrive from ZenDesk without issue.
Over the course of a few days, I went back and forth with support configuring different settings. Some of the suggested settings weren’t available in my installed version of the CAMB app. I decided to abandon additional support when they requested I provide them with my user ID and password so they could troubleshoot directly from my account.
At this point, I lost interest in pursuing additional support. I understand that there is little to no risk in providing my user credentials for access to my floodlight, but I seriously question doing business with a company with such poor cybersecurity practices.
For less than $100, the Annke AI Floodlight Camera offers a lot of functionality and with a reasonable investment. The Ring Floodlight Camera is over twice the cost at $189.99; the Arlo Essential Spotlight Camera offers a wireless experience for $130. All three cameras offer subscription cloud storage but only the Annke offers local SD storage out-of-the-box.
As impressed I was initially with the quality of the device and the thoroughness of included parts for installation; I was ultimately let down by the execution. The hardware itself works if you simply want a floodlight that can be operated with an on/off switch but even that requires the CAMB app.
Otherwise, it relies on the overly sensitive or defective motion detection capabilities. The camera works well and provides quality video which unfortunately isn’t easily reviewable in the cloud subscription. The application is very weak and borderline unusable when compared to competitors from Ring, Arlo and Nest.
Based on my experience, I cannot recommend this product even with its attractive price. I never intended to replace my Nest Outdoor Camera with this unit, but I regret throwing away my previous motion-activated floodlight. I’m certain that I will be replacing this unit when the Ohio weather warms up in the Spring and I gather the nerve to climb that 20 ft. ladder again.