The Swann Wi-Fi Tracker Security Camera is a 1920x1080p, 16:9, 180° horizontal FOV, indoor-only camera with a 32GB micro-SD card (up to 128GB). But its selling proposition is its ability to automatically track and record up to two objects in its field of view. All without using mechanical pan and tilt.
We are seeing more of this technology on smartphones now where things like auto-tracking, zoom, pan and tilt are simply cropped images from the overall larger camera sensor. The Swann Wi-Fi Tracker Security Camera is no different.
The Swann Wi-Fi Tracker Security Camera uses a 5MP (2560×1960 pixel, 4:3 ratio) sensor that after post-processing delivers a 2MP (1920×[email protected]) image. So, it can digitally track movement within the larger image and use digital zoom as well.
Spoiler alert – it is a pretty good camera, and its motion recording and tracking should be good for pets to people. But the new Swann Secure App needs lots of work, so we have decided not to formally rate it at this time.
Swann Wi-Fi Tracker Security Camera (SWIFI-TRACKCM32GB)
Warranty: 12-months ALC compliant and six extra months if registered online
Country of manufacture: China
Swann is a global security monitoring, consumer electronics and security-centric solutions for smart homes and businesses. It started in Australia and is now in 40 countries. It is now part of the US Infinova Group
Note: All tests are with the camera about 5 metres from the reference NETGEAR Nighthawk AX12 router showing 98%/-35dBm signal strength on the 2.4GHhz band.
Two things – it needs mains power for its 5V/2A charger, and it uses the new Swann Security (current version V1.9.11) App for Android or iOS.
The charger cable is 1.2m, but you can use longer micro-USB cable and any charger as long as it provides 5V/2A/10W. Do not use a USB-C-PD charger and an adapter cable – it is not capable of accepting higher amperage.
Next, the new Swann Security App. Swann’s original supplier stopped supporting it, and from 1 July you must use the new app and reinstall any Swann devices. But a caveat – the new app is having issues as verified by a 1.4-star rating from 1640 users. I am sure Swann will diligently update the app, but the install was not without issues, even for an experienced techy like me.
Connect time from app to camera averaged about eight seconds. If it took longer, it was usually a complete FAIL – too much of the time. A camera power on/off sometimes worked but if not, a factory reset and reinstall was necessary. Over a week of use this seemed to settle down a little but its frustrating not to reliably connect.
So, we went digging using the FCC ID: 2ASWVSWIFI-TRACKCAM to find more information.
It has a relatively low 30.62mW Wi-Fi antenna power output, and that explains the limited distance and a correspondingly weaker Wi-Fi signal. If you have a crowded 2.4Ghz band (music streaming, lots of IoT devices etc) then this camera needs to be as close as possible to the router – no more than 10 metres – for maximum reliability.
First, you need to check signal strength. Up to about 5-metres from the router is 98%. After that, it drops quickly and becomes unreliable at about 15-metres line-of-sight.
It has a 180° Horizontal Field-of-View. Now, 180° means 90° left and right of the lens (panorama) but not 90° up and down from the lens (because the sensor is a 4:3 format). And if you are after ‘detail’ try to keep it within 2-3 metres of the critical area.
So, it is important to mount it at the right height and position to record the area you want it to see (there is no zone selection). That is not exactly easy as we started on top of a bookshelf (no good) and gradually found it was best about 1.1 metres from the ground (desktop height is 800mm).
You can select low, high or max. I assume this is 720p, 1080p (with fall-back frames per second) and [email protected] forced.
Video (forced) is 1920×[email protected], MPEG-TS, H.264 compressed at approx. 8.4MB per minute. Interestingly it captures it as a full-frame (one image) with typical event clips about 20 seconds unless the motion detector says otherwise.
Mono night vision switches in at below about 100 lumens and uses the usual 10x IR LEDS and with a claimed maximum distance of 5-metres. Practically this is closer to 2-3 metres.
JPEG still preview images taken with each clip are 1280×640 (.8MP) – about 50KB. Mono images are about 25KB. These show two images.
JPEG downloaded to the phone is 1920×1080 (2.1MP) and 750kb.
Lag – Audio quality
The audio lag is about 1.5 seconds from the action to the live stream. As the signal strength reduces to about -60dBm that starts to make two-way conversation difficult.
Mono Audio is 48kbps AAC compressed with a typical 377m2 delay to the video stream.
The 8Ω 1W speaker produces a maximum volume of about 72dB. That is not loud for conversation or an alarm – it is about the same as a vacuum cleaner. We found proper two-way conversation impossible – just like most Wi-Fi cameras.
Uses a push notification system to a paired smartphone. The app does not support guest logins for family members – it is single user.
Remember to log out of the app when you are at home (and log back in when you leave) to stop notifications or recording – this affects all cameras in the app. It does not have geofencing or manual camera deactivation.
Link to Google Assistant
You can link it to Google Assistant or Alexa. But the lag becomes between 20-30 seconds or freezes, and that is unacceptable. You can ask Google to cast what is on the camera to a screen.
PS – its not the home Wi-Fi. The NETGEAR NightHawk AX12 AX6000 is blazingly fast and we don’t have that issue with other cameras.
That damned Swann Security app
I understand that it is work in progress and I appreciate the position Swann found itself in. But this app is far from ready. Here is what I found.
No cloud recording despite the offer of a rolling seven days free.
Unreliable reading the micro-SD via ‘Storage’. It was there sometimes and then gone. Also, no ‘format micro-SD’, image sizes and remaining capacity information
When connected to Google Assistant, the lag increases from two seconds to over 30 seconds.
No IFTTT (coming)
Unreliable connect times – if it does not connect then it usually requires a reinstall
No Geo-fencing to arm or disarm – you can log out of the app, and that appears to stop notifications
No manual arm and disarm nor the ability to turn individual cameras on or off
Motion detection settings erratic – close, medium, far and max did not make any difference
No user-definable detection zones (important to prevent false positives)
Alarm once triggered would not stop without power-down – settings for are off, 30, 60, 90, 120 seconds
Does not appear to have the ability to add extra users
When paired to a voice assistant lag increased from 2-30 seconds or more
Full-duplex voice was way too laggy even with a 98% signal strength, and volume was not as loud as others
No daylight-saving time zone switch (it syncs with the phone instead)
Some of the information icons i are not populated
GPS Location indicates the camera is over one kilometre away and there is no manual edit function (type in an address). Google Maps used outside the app is extremely accurate. Ultimately, we found that by moving the map and tapping on the right location that it updated.
Although the time was set correctly, the time stamp on the recordings on the microSD are different. For example, the photos embedded stamp is 16:29:34, and yet the Windows File Explorer shows 6.39 AM.
GadgetGuy’s take – Swann Wi-Fi Tracker Security Camera (SWIFI-TRACKCM32GB)
No, I am not impressed because the camera is fine. Swann generally has good gear, and I expect more.
The app is buggy and inconsistent. The 110-page on-phone Swann Security App manual is way too long for the average user to read on the phone (if you dig around, you can download a PDF on your PC).
The camera is designated SWIFI-TRACKCM32GB – but the support help is for SWIFI-TRACKCAM, not that there is a lot there.
Sorry but I can’t recommend it or any other Swann camera at this time for pets or people until Swann sort out the app and it gets it from 1.4 to at least 4 stars.