What's the state of your security light?
It's supposed to come on when someone walks by, right?
But what if you want to leave it on?
Is there some kind of weird combination of switching on and off fast and/or slow that makes it do that? Can you remember what that combination is?
Does it work at all?
Do you know if it's working?
So many questions.
The Netatmo Presence is a lot more than just a light. It's a super-smart outdoor security camera that lets you access all its features from wherever you are, whether you're inside the house or out of the country.
Because it simply replaces any existing outdoor light and connects via WiFi to your home network, there's no tricky wiring involved. Installation took me about 15 minutes. I was a bit worried when I first took it out of the box because all the instructions were for placement on a vertical wall, whereas the broken-down hunk of junk I was replacing had been attached under the eaves above my garage door. On an angle. With very little space to move.
It's a bit hard to visualise, so here's a pic of the Presence in place...
As you can see, it's a pretty subtle, modern-looking device, constructed from durable aluminium and UV protected plastic. The bracket allows you to swivel the Presence to adjust its angle, but there's no real ability to rotate it around. Would this mean my footage would be all skew-whiff? We're getting ahead of ourselves.
Once installed, setting up the Presence is just a matter of downloading Netatmo's Security app. Via the app, you'll need to set up an account and join the device to your WiFi network.
The moment I'd done this, I started getting notifications from the Presence - primarily because I was standing directly below it. Turns out, the weird angle I'd been forced into mounting it at didn't make too much difference at all...
That's the Presence filming me taking a picture of it. Very meta.
As this screenshot shows, the 100 degree filming angle more than adequately covers the driveway and the pathways that lead off in both directions around my house.
The really clever thing about the Presence's security sensor, is it's smart enough to differentiate between people, cars and pets. What's more, you can customise precise zones to monitor, which is obviously a major advantage if you've got a busy street with lots of foot traffic in shot.
That's the real beauty of this device; not so much what the Presence can detect, but all the things you can tell it to ignore. If you only want to record people walking up your front path and don't care about cats rolling around on your driveway, those are precisely the notifications you'll receive.
If you have the sound up on your phone you can be alerted by quite a cool little siren noise that's hard to miss. This is great for me, because I live in a 3-level house and it's not unusual for me to miss the doorbell if I'm upstairs in my bedroom. Now, because I always have my phone with me (not to mention my smart watch on my wrist) I can view my cat rolling on the driveway day or night.
Detection isn't completely foolproof. At certain times of the day, depending on the location of the sun, I have large trees casting shadows into the monitoring zone and if it's breezy, the Presence can be fooled into thinking these are pets.
But I'd rather pick up too many movements than not enough - for some reason, and I suspect this might be the only downside of the weird angle I have the camera mounted at, the Presence rarely picks up our cars driving in and out of the garage, although I don't think it's ever missed a person walking past. Cars parked on the driveway are identified correctly so it's a bit of a weird one.
The Presence comes with an 8GB microSD card pre-installed which doesn't sound like much storage but it's actually plenty because a) the camera only records when it detects movement and b) you can choose to save videos to Dropbox, your own FTP or straight to your device. It's really very user friendly. The videos are excellent quality, full colour during the day (black and white via infra-red at night) and there's sound too so you can even hear your cat purring while it rolls around. (My cat purrs pretty loudly)
Of course, where this all began was replacing a crappy security light that wasn't working properly, and in this department, the Presence definitely over-delivers.
From the app you can turn the LED floodlight on or off and even adjust how brightly it shines (if you thought LEDs couldn't blast out a decent glare, think again) Because the Presence is so damn smart, you can also tell it to ignore your pets and only light up for cars or people.
At around $500, the Presence is a pretty pricey security light, but as a 24hr security system giving you the option to constantly monitor a whole side of your house, from anywhere, this could be the all-in-one peace-of-mind device you've been looking for.