Priced at $129, the SimCam 1S offers many of the features you expect to find in a more expensive home security camera. In addition to providing sharp 1080p video and accurate motion detection, it uses face recognition technology to tell you who is coming and going, and will send smart alerts that know the difference between people, cars, and pets. It has a mechanical panning mechanism that tracks movement to 360 degrees, and uses local storage to archive motion-triggered recorded video. Throw in an included 16GB microSD card, support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands, dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity, and the ability to work with other smart devices via IFTTT applets, and you have our new Editors’ Choice for indoor home security cameras.
Design and Features
Available in black or white, the SimCam 1S is mostly designed for indoor use, although it has an IP54 rating that can handle indirect moisture but not pouring rain. If you do decide to use it outside, make sure it’s in a protected area where it will not be subject to direct water exposure. The camera measures 4.7 by 2.8 by 2.8 inches (HWD) and weighs around 8 ounces.
The top half of the device houses a camera that captures 1080p video at 30fps and has a 120-degree field of view. It uses Starlight illumination technology and 10 infrared LEDS to provide up to 50 feet of black-and-white night vision. The face of the camera holds a microphone, a light sensor, and a status LED that is solid red when you first power the camera up, flashes green during setup, and turns solid blue when the camera is connected to your home’s Wi-Fi. The back of the enclosure houses a speaker and a small removable panel that opens to reveal a micro SD card slot and a reset button.
The 1S comes with a 16GB microSD card for storing event-triggered video (including a five-second segment of what took place before the event), but can accommodate cards of up to 128GB. Connectivity comes by way of a dual-band Wi-Fi radio that lets you connect to your router’s 2.4GHz or 5GHz band, and there’s a siren that can be used to scare away unwanted visitors.
The camera enclosure sits atop a mechanical gimbal base that swivels the camera 360 degrees when you use panning gestures in the mobile app or when the camera is automatically tracking movement. The base contains a power jack and mounting hole that can be used with an included wall mount. Also included in the box are mounting screws, a mounting pad with adhesive, a reset pin, a hex wrench for removing the SD card panel, and a user manual.
Face recognition is available with a range of up to 18 feet, car detection to 20 feet, person detection to 60 feet, and animal detection to 10 feet. You can enable alerts for all or some of these AI motion events and define an area of detection that will trigger an alert if an object is moved or disappears. The camera supports geofencing and will enable and disable alerts depending on your location, and it supports Alexa and Google voice commands that allow you to view live video on a compatible smart display. You can also create IFTTT applets to have it interact with other smart home devices such as door locks and lighting systems. Apple’s HomeKit isn’t supported, however. You’ll get many of these same features with the Nest Cam IQ Indoor camera, but it’s nearly twice the price and many of its features require a Nest Aware subscription.
The 1S uses the SimCam AI mobile app for Android and iOS devices. It opens to a Camera (home) screen with tabs for each installed camera. Each tab contains a still image from the camera, a play arrow that launches a live stream, and buttons labeled Private, Detecting, LAN Mode, and Settings. Use the Private button to place the camera in Privacy mode, the Detecting button to disable motion detection, and the LAN Mode button to turn off Wi-Fi. The Settings button takes you to a menu screen where you can create schedules to disable the camera during specific times of the day and days of the week, adjust the length of recorded clips (15, 30, 45 seconds), enable and disable AI Detection, create motion-activity zones, and update the firmware. This is also where you can use your phone’s camera to add faces to the face recognition database, or you can use images from your phone’s photo gallery.
After you tap the play arrow, you can view video in full-screen mode by tapping the arrows in the lower right corner and turning your phone sideways. Along the bottom of the video panel are buttons for muting the speaker, initiating two-way talk, taking a snapshot, manual video recording, creating object monitoring and activity zones, and activating the siren.
Back at the home screen there are buttons at the bottom of the page labeled Camera, Alerts, Library, and Setting. The Camera button takes you to the home screen and the Alert button takes you to a screen that displays a list of all events by type (person, face, pet, car), with the time of the event and a video thumbnail. Tap the thumbnail to view the video clip, download it, or delete it. The Library button takes you to a screen where you can access all of your saved videos and photos, and the Settings button take you to a screen where you can edit your account information and view your face recognition entries.
Installation and Performance
To install the SimCam 1S, simply download the mobile app, create an account, and verify your email address. Open the app, tap the plus button to add a new device, and plug in the camera. Use the included reset pin to press the reset button for five seconds until the LED begins blinking green. When you hear a voice prompt say, “Starting up please wait,” tap Next, select your Wi-Fi SSID, and enter your Wi-Fi password. A QR code will appear on your phone: Hold it in front of the camera until you hear a voice prompt say, “Please wait,” and then, “Connection succeeded.” Tap Next to complete the installation. You can now go into the camera settings to give it a name and enable features.
The 1S performed admirably in testing, delivering colorful video during the day and crisp black-and-white video at night with no obvious distortion. Nighttime video shows good contrast and remains sharp out to around 40 feet. Two-way audio is loud and clear, and automatic tracking works as expected, though mechanical panning with swipe gestures could be more responsive.
Intelligent motion alerts worked well in testing. The software did a great job of distinguishing between people, cars, and pets, and push alerts arrived instantly whenever an event occurred. Face recognition also worked well, but the company’s claim of an 18-foot detection range can be misleading: In my testing, the camera was able to identify people by face as long as the person was within 10 feet or so of the camera. Beyond that, it was hit or miss. Still, the SimCam’s face recognition works much better than that of the Tend Secure Lynx, which requires that you get up close to the camera.
Alexa voice commands to display video on an Amazon Echo Show worked flawlessly, and the camera had no trouble executing my IFTTT applets. I created an applet to have a Philips Hue light turn on when the camera detected motion and it worked perfectly, as did my applet to set a Nest Thermostat to 68 degrees when the camera recognized my face.
With the SimCam 1S AI Home Security Camera, you get a lot of advanced features without spending a lot of money, including face recognition, motion tracking with mechanical panning, intelligent motion alerts, and dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity. The face recognition worked relatively well in testing and the camera delivered sharp 1080p video and responsive alerts. It also did a great job of differentiating between people, cars, and animals, and had no trouble interacting with Alexa and third-party smart devices via IFTTT applets. Its lack of HomeKit support and sluggish gesture response notwithstanding, it’s a terrific value and our new Editors’ Choice for indoor security cameras.
SimCam 1S AI Home Security Camera
The Bottom Line
The SimCam 1S is a moderately priced security camera that offers a wealth of features including face recognition, mechanical panning, smart alerts, local storage, and interoperability with other smart devices.