Uniden Guardian app Cam Solo Pro, Spotlight+ and Solar Panel – peace-of-mind privacy (Review)

Uniden Guardian app Cam

8.4

The new Uniden Guardian App Cam 2021 range includes Solo Pro, Spotlight+, and the SPS-02 Solar Panel offering true wire-free, Wi-Fi, camera security.

Japanese electronics company Uniden is strong in the 2-way radio, Dash Cam, baby monitor and Surveillance camera market. Its privacy policy is very good meaning you can use this brand and be sure that your personally identifiable information does not end up in a foreign agent’s hands.

It will release the new models this February.

Angus Jones, Managing Editor of GadgetGuy’s sister publication Small Business Answers takes an in-depth look at all three devices and compares with their 2020 predecessors .

Review # 1 Uniden Guardian App Cam Solo Pro

  • Website
  • 1080p and 120° FOV with IR mono and colour night vision via 2 x LED spots
  • ‘Thermo Sense’ Heat and movement-activated sensor
  • IP65 weather-resistant
  • 121 x 90 x 56 mm x 330g plus mount
  • Warranty 2 years ACL and 90 days on the battery
  • Price: $249.95
  • From: JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Officeworks, Bing Lee, Harvey Norman, and many more
  • Country of manufacture: China
  • The device is equivalent to the Reolink Argus 3 but GadgetGuy does not support that brand due to its Privacy Policy and cloud location.

First impressions

The camera looks more professional than the 2020 Guardian App Cam Solo+ that it replaces. It is 100% wire-free which means once charged; you can place it anywhere with 2.4Ghz home Wi-Fi coverage.

Uniden Guardian App Cam

Setup

This is a DIY product requiring some knowledge of home Wi-Fi.

  • Download the Uniden Solo App for Android or iOS.
  • Charge the camera and add it by scanning its QR barcode
  • Insert your 2.4Ghz home Wi-Fi SSID and password
  • A QR barcode appears on your phone – point the camera to scan it
  • Create a Uniden login and password (to access the Uniden camera and account)
  • That is all. Default settings are good to start with.
  • The app will push notifications to the smartphone or optionally an email with a snapshot

The Uniden Solo App for your phone is straightforward and has voice-guided setup.  Features we have not seen before are exclusion zones and creating time-lapse video’s – cool.

One of the challenges in buying security cameras is that you need to stick with that brand for everything. Why? Every brand has a unique smartphone APP.

Uniden exacerbated this problem with the introduction over time of two apps Guardian 365 pro and Uniden Solo. So a Uniden X light and a Solo needed two apps.

The excellent news is Uniden now has one app to manage both a mains-powered and battery Wi-Fi cameras.

Google or Alexa

The Uniden Solo app can link to Google Assistant or Alexa. You then display images on Chromecast video devices. Understand that this means you are subject to any voice assistant privacy terms.

But the good thing is that using a voice assistant means you can use a mix of brands and camera models that support it. But you do not get any of the app features via this method.

Wi-Fi coverage

Generally, 2.4Ghz coverage has a maximum of 20 metres line-of-site with 25% signal drop off every time it passes through a wall or window.

We suggest that you use a Wi-Fi signal strength app like Network Cell Info Light (Android). Switch your phone’s Wi-Fi to 2.4Ghz to determine if your desired placement has enough signal strength. It needs a signal strength (RSSI) of between -0 and -50dBm to transmit a 1080p signal.

Mounting

It comes with a metal ¼” tripod mount, a magnetic golf ball mount, a mounting strap, mounting screws, and a 1m micro-USB-USB-A cable.

The sensor has a 2-10-metre range, but it is most reliable to about 6-meters. The unit needs to at head height – much higher means you tend to see the top-of-the-head instead of faces. And ideally offset from ‘head-on’, e.g., beside a door (angled down slightly), not above the door.

The battery is not removable so you must take the camera down (unscrew or remove from the magnetic mount) to recharge indoors. Depending on activity/events, this could be as frequent as a week to a few months. That is a real pain if you mount it too high to reach easily.

Uniden Guardian App Cam
The straping mount is great for quick use but you should use screws for long-term

Battery

The battery is 3.7V/5.2A/19.24W.

No charger supplied, and you need a combo 5V/2A/10W and optionally a 9V/2A/18W (sometimes called a fast charger). You can use a 5V/3A/15W charger, but it does not reduce charging time.

Charging time is typically between 2-3 hours.

Battery life depends on activations per day.

Uniden quote up to 180-days at one detection per day. While technically correct, most security cameras have vastly more daily detections. For example, our driveway can have 20-40 detections a day – people coming, going, walking on the footpath within its 10-metre detection range etc. In reality, in higher traffic areas, you might get a week’s life from a charge. So, it is important to use every tool you can to reduce false detections.

From Uniden’s manual.

SensitivityValueDetecting Distance (For moving and living things)Detecting Distance
(For larger moving vehicles)
Low0 – 50Up to 4 metersUp to 10 meters
Mid51 – 80Up to 6 metersUp to 12 meters
High81 – 100Up to 10 metersUp to 15 meters

Note: Higher sensitivity offers longer detecting distance but leads to more false alarms and more battery drain. If using outdoors set to ‘Low’ or ‘Mid’. Bright sunshine like dawn or switching on a bright outdoor light can trigger an event.

The app does allow for privacy masking (no-record zones).

Review #2 if you buy the new SPS-02 solar panel, you should never have to charge it.

This solar panel produces 6V/.53A/3.2W. That means it will fully charge the device in about 9-12 hours on a ‘bright sunny’ day. At $99.95, it is a no-brainer – convenience is worth it.

Its placement is critical too. It must face East/West getting the sunlight all day. Do not mount it under eaves or in shadows. It has a 3.8m non-extendable white charge cable and a waterproof micro-USB cap.

Once charged the solar panel tops-up and unless its rainy, overcast, or the panel does not get enough direct light, it should keep it topped-up.

Uniden Guardian App Cam Solo Pro and SPS-02 solar

Sensor – ON Semiconductor AR20221 Starlight

The 2.1MP, 1928 x 1088, 120° FOV, Starlight CMOS Sensor has ultra-large 4.2um pixels, a low-light f1.7 aperture and Back Side Illuminated (BSI) Pixel Technology. It is a great sensor for <20 lux low-light use.

Uniden throttle this a maximum of [email protected] (or [email protected]) to meet typical Wi-Fi bandwidth availability.

Daylight
Solo Pro bottom

LEDs

It has two 115-lumen (total 230-lumen), 6500K (high blue light content equivalent an overcast, cloudy day) LEDs to enable colour night vision. It also has 6 Infrared (850nm) to take a mono image. LED activations also reduce battery life.

In practice, the LEDs gives off an ice-cream cone shape – ultimately about 2-meters wide at three metres.

Colour nigth
Solo Pro bottom image

The top photo is the 2020 solo+ camera using IR, and the bottom is the Solo Pro taken at the same time.

IR mono
Solo Pro bottom image

The camera uses Uniden’s Thermo Sense Technology, which reduces false alters utilising heat and movement to trigger a recording.  The 2MP 1920 x 1080 camera specification remain the same, but on first impressions, the image did appear better.

Storage or cloud?

It has a micro-SD slot for a maximum of 64GB using a Class 10 or greater card. A one-minute H.264 recording takes about 2.1Mbps and creates 20MB file.

Uniden has a basic 1GB free cloud for seven days of rolling backup. Our experience is that 7-days is not quite enough to go back and find that ‘alert’ you needed. We strongly recommend local microSD card recording as it also records if the internet is down.

The 30-day, 10GB plan for $129.90/year and a 60-day 100GB for $189.90/year.

If you commit to a Uniden security solution using a few internal and external cameras, you need a 30-day paid plan.

Two-way talk – useless as usual

Two-way talk means half-duplex, walkie talkie style. We measured lag, and it varies from 5-10 seconds – way too long to have even a one-way conversation ROGER!

The mic suffers badly from wind noise.

The speaker can also act as a 70dB siren (not very loud).

Privacy Policy

Uniden states, “We will not use or disclose Personal Information for direct marketing purposes, unless:

  • You would reasonably expect us to use or disclose such information for that purpose; and
  • We provided a simple method by which you can request not to receive direct marketing communications from us, and you have not made such a request.

First impressions this new app cam solo pro from Uniden looks to be an easy DIY camera.  It will tick all the boxes to provide security peace of mind around your property.

Review # 3 Uniden Guardian app cam Spotlight+

It is the ‘Solo’ replacement for Xlight. Both are DIY install with 2MP 1080p camera, integrated spotlight, two-way talk, siren, weatherproof and Thermo Sense heat and movement detection. Prices are also the same at about $180.

Much of the Solo Pro information is relevant to the Spotlight+ so we won’t repeat that. But it has very different internals – looks like a generation behind the Solo Pro. In comparison

  • Camera sensor is a standard f/2.8 CMOS (not as good at low light as the Solo Pro)
  • 180-lumen LEDs (versus 230-lumen on the Solo Pro)
  • 7-metre PIR sensor (versus 10)
  • Smaller battery
  • One ¼” tripod mount
  • Uses mains power and can continuously record (subject to micro-SD or cloud plans)
  • 1-year warranty.
Uniden Guardian App Cam Spotlight+

The first photo is Xlight, and the second is Spotlight+.

Uniden Guardian app Cam

GadgetGuy’s take

Uniden makes a range of competent, fit-for-purpose and reasonably priced security cameras.

The Solo Pro is more feature-packed, and it makes us question why you would bother with the Spotlight+. The SPS-02 solar panel is a blessing, and you should strongly consider it.

As usual, the cameras come in single, two and four kits.

Rating

We gave the 2020 Solo range 4.2/5. In most respects, the Solo Pro and the SPS-02 solar panel are a  better. The Starlight sensor alone gives it more points.

Uniden Guardian app cam, Uniden Guardian app cam, Uniden Guardian app cam, Uniden Guardian app cam

Uniden Guardian app Cam
Uniden Guardian app Cam Solo Pro, Spotlight+ and Solar Panel – peace-of-mind privacy (Review)
Features
8.5
Value for money
9
Performance
8.5
Ease of use
8
Design
8
From a good company
Reasonable privacy policy
As good a 10080p performance as you will get
The pick is the Solo Pro with its Starlight sensor
SPS-02 solar panel has enough wattage to keep the camera charged
Battery is non-removable means taking the unit down to charge
8.4

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Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of use
Design
Final Score