Hive is a relatively well-known smart home brand in the UK. It all started with a connected thermostat released back in 2013, endorsed by nationwide utility provider British Gas. Not long after that seal of approval, British Gas acquired the company behind the thermostat, and now the Hive range includes motion sensors, lightbulbs, smart plugs and a water leak detector. Last year, the Hive brand crossed the pond in hope of breaking into North America, and what better way to start 2018 than launch a new product in all markets simultaneously for the first time? That brings us to the new Hive View home monitoring camera: An attempt to balance style and feature set to stand out from the crowd.
Gallery: Hive View camera | 9 Photos
Gallery: Hive View camera | 9 Photos
It wasn't long ago, just last summer, that Hive launched its first security camera. Requiring its own specific app and with no cloud storage option, it was a simple affair. And so it was back to the drawing board for the Hive View. That said, the new home monitoring camera has many of the specs and features common to competitor products. We're talking 1080p livestreaming to the Hive mobile app, nightvision, a 130-degree field of view and Bluetooth pairing for a simple setup process.
Motion and sound sensors, the sensitivity of which are adjustable, will trigger notifications on your smartphone and entries into an event log. Thanks to a dedicated video analytics chip, the camera can also distinguish between people and, well, not people -- meaning you can set it to ignore the family cat wandering in and out of frame. You get a rolling 24 hours of video storage for free, or 30 days with the monthly subscription plan. For the paranoid, there's a scheduling feature that turns the thing on and off at times of your choosing, in addition to an on/off switch on the actual device.
Fairly standard stuff among home monitoring cameras these days, but then most existing products look basically identical: An eyeball on a pedestal. Form is one of the ways the Hive View hopes to get noticed. Designed by serial consultant Yves Béhar, its cuboid body and curved arm are an attractive break from the norm. The ball-and-socket base and rotating head lets you experiment with all kinds of Kubrickian angles. The base is actually made of two parts held together by strong magnets, allowing you to mount the thing on walls and ceilings and pull it down to set up elsewhere when needed. It also comes in two rather lavish color schemes: White and "champagne gold," as well as black and "brushed copper."
This form also conceals a pretty unique function. Just as you can detach the base from the magnetic mount, so you can detach the cube from the base -- Hive calls this "grab and go." Say you want the camera to watch an open back door while you're airing out your place on a hot day. Instead of moving the whole thing, base and power cable, you pop the camera off and it's good for about 1 hour to 90 minutes untethered, depending on how often it's triggered.
In the near future, Hive wants to make its home monitoring cam more than a peace-of-mind device with a special "moment mode." Kind of like Google's Clips camera, the idea is you point the Hive View away from your front door and at something you want to capture for the right reasons, like your kid's birthday party. It'll then take pictures at intervals to document the event so you don't have to, as well as making the "grab and go" functionality a bit more useful day-to-day.
Announcing future features on day one might seem promising, but it also highlights what isn't available out of the box. Basic things like two-way audio and digital zooming aren't live at launch. The detection feature is very limited, too. Hive View can tell you it's spotted a person, but the push notification doesn't include a picture at the moment. You have to scan through the footage yourself for that info.
The Hive View launches in the UK today for £189 for a single camera or £319 for a two-pack (there's no hard limit on how many the Hive app will support, though your internet probably won't like 12 livestreams running at once). Bear in mind that the camera isn't fully entrenched in the Hive ecosystem just yet, though -- meaning it won't turn your connected lights on when it detects a person, as an example of what's promised in future updates. The Hive Video Playback subscription is £5 per month, should you want a footage archive stretching back a month.
There are also a couple of payment plans that include the View and various other Hive devices available to Brits. In the US and Canada, though, you can only buy one of these product packages to get one of the new cameras in your home (provided you're not already on the Hive bandwagon, that is). If you're an existing customer, you can simply buy a View for $200 (CAD $239) or spread the cost over 24 months. The 30-day rolling footage subscription is $6 (CAD $7) extra per month.
If you're entirely new to the Hive range, however, then you have to purchase the entire "Close to Home" bundle, which includes smart lighting, motion sensors and plugs. This can be purchased for $350 (CAD $439) or spread over two years, but if you like the look of the View camera, you've gotta buy all sorts to get it. And if you've got yourself other brands of smart home gear plugged in already, then it just doesn't make sense to double up, now does it?