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The Wyze Cam Pan offers robust security for just $30

This robot juice box will guard your valuables.
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Engadget

There are plenty of connected cameras to record the goings-on in your home or office. But few offer as much value as the $20 WyzeCam. It packs a surprising amount of functionality into a tiny stationary frame. But for those who need more coverage from their camera, the company has a new model that can rotate 360 degrees and tilt its lens up and down. The Wyze Cam Pan costs only $30, making it a bit pricier than its predecessor but with a lot more capability.

The Wyze Cam Pan takes after its predecessor's simple, unassuming looks. Instead of a diminutive white plastic cube, though, the new camera looks more like an unadorned juice box that rotates on a circular base. It buzzes around with all the seriousness of a little watchdog while its oversize "eye" ball tilts the lens up and down. It's HAL 9000 by way of WALL-E's Eve.

Gallery: Hands-on with the WyzeCam Pan | 7 Photos

Setting the Cam Pan up is a breeze. It took only a few minutes to sync it to Wyze's smartphone app, which pipes in live-streamed footage atop an intuitive dashboard. As with its predecessor, the software is the system's strong suit, and I was setting complex recording triggers in no time. Should it alert my phone when it detected any sound, or just when it heard the high pitch of a smoke alarm? And did I want to be notified when anything moved, or should I dial down the sensitivity until only humans trip the camera? Whatever you choose, Wyze freely stores alert recordings in the cloud for two weeks.

Many of those features were available in the original WyzeCam, though. The big upgrade here is the rotation. There are several settings, like motion tracking and simple pan-and-scan, that work well enough alone or in concert to surveil an area, especially with the camera's wide 120-degree field of view. It isn't weatherproofed, so you'll have to keep it indoors, but the base is threaded for screws to allow for mounting. Maybe that means securing it on a rickety shelf, but you can also install the camera on the ceiling (there's a helpful setting to flip the footage 180 degrees so it appears right side up).

Of course, if you're looking for a camera to keep tabs on something really expensive or precious, you probably won't skimp out and pick the $30 security solution. Wyze's devices are cheap enough for low-stakes surveillance -- say, watching to make sure pets or kids don't get into places they aren't allowed.

The Cam Pan still musters a surprisingly robust feature set for the price. It records at a respectable 1080p, capturing surprisingly sharp and colorful footage. Recording in HD fills up the integrated 128MB storage quickly, though a microSD slot lets you expand that with up to 32GB cards. Six infrared lights help shoot in darkness up to about 30 feet, and the integrated speaker lets you talk (or yell) through the app at whomever's on the other end.

The Cam Pan doesn't double as a smart home hub or Alexa speaker, differentiate people from pets or even work outdoors. But for the price of one of those more advanced security cameras, you could get two or three of Wyze's and cover more space. The Cam Pan's feature list is respectable, but it's the app's complex recording criteria that make this a more robust choice than its budget price would suggest.

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