Review: Stem Innovation Izon View
Izon View ($100) is the newest home recording camera from Stem Innovation, following the iZon we reviewed and liked three years ago. Like its predecessor, the new camera can stream live video and record video clips to a free app by connecting to a wireless network, lending itself to numerous uses — a nanny cam, pet monitor, and security for a home or small business are all possibilities. Setting it apart from past Stem cameras, Izon View's newest feature is night vision, enabling it to continue to make videos when a room goes dark. The 5" x 2" cylinder camera comes with a magnetic base, 9' USB to Mini-USB cable, power supply, and two screws with anchors, in case you want to mount it to a ceiling, wall, or other surface. Izon View comes in black or white, in a single or double camera pack, and multiple cameras can be monitored from the Izon app. Up to 100 recorded video clips can be stored for free in Stem's secure cloud at one time. The camera is now being sold for $100 through Stem's web site, down from an initial $150 MSRP.
Setting up the Izon View is relatively easy, and we didn’t have any issues with Stem’s procedure. You download the Izon app, and set up a new account. Stem will send an identification code to your email address, which you’ll enter into the app. Once you’ve connected to your 2.4GHz 802.11g/n Wi-Fi network, the app will present you with a QR code for the camera to read. After that, there’s a brief communication with the server, and the camera is ready to roll.
As in the past, the camera itself is pretty limited: the field of view is somewhat narrow, there’s no zoom, and no way to reposition the camera remotely. Listed as “QVGA video at 10 frames per second”—320x240 in the app, versus the camera’s claimed 640x480 30FPS capabilities, the video quality itself isn’t great, but it’s sufficient for basic video monitoring purposes; there’s also accompanying audio, which sounds fine and has relatively strong gain capabilities, picking up sounds inside and outside of the room it’s in. There is about one second of lag when viewing the live video stream while on the same Wi-Fi network — typical of cameras like this, and not bad at all. When viewing from a 4G cellular network, the lag was around 2 seconds, which also isn’t bad. You can watch the stream continuously for five minutes over cellular, and for longer periods when connected to Wi-Fi. The Izon View app can support multiple cameras, though we only tested a single camera.
Stem’s major addition to Izon View is night vision, which works pretty well. When picking up motion, it takes the camera a second or two to re-adjust its Infrared lighting, but after that brief period, the video is clear enough, with adequate lighting to see objects five to ten feet away. Whether it’s worth the $20 premium over the Izon 2.0 — which has all of the same features but lacks night vision — depends on how you’ll use it. If you want to try it as a baby monitor or a security camera, both of which are dependent on night viewing, this feature might be critical. Note, however, that the camera is not designed for outdoor use, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking of using it as an exterior security monitoring solution.
Izon View offers noise and motion detection, as well — the camera will automatically record 35 second video clips upon being activated. Those video clip “alerts” will be stored in Stem’s cloud. Both noise and motion sensitivity can be adjusted, limiting accidental triggering events. During our testing, the camera did indeed record at the correct times. Push notifications can be enabled as well, to alert users to new recordings — they worked fine for us, as well, after a slight delay. Users can manually record their own clips from the live stream, as well: just press the record button to stop and start, and the video will be saved to the cloud. Video clips cannot be saved on a user’s hard drive or online storage account.
There are some unforeseen limitations to Izon View beyond the only decent video quality. While Stem’s cloud allows up to 100 videos to be stored for free, there’s a daily limit of 25 recordings. If you’ve got motion and noise sensitivity on, you might go through that limitation pretty quick, depending on camera placement. Not only that, but it’s unclear as to when that “day” is. Is it by calendar day, or per 24-hour time period? It would be helpful if a clock showed you how long you had to wait until recordings were possible again. After going over our limit on the first day, we tried to access more videos on our second day, but were still rebuffed. You’re also not told whether you’re over the limit until after a recording is completed. There appears to be a video preview, but trying to access the video gives you a message of “no video attached.”
Izon View promises customers a secure video stream, with the Stem website claiming “bank-level security.” The video feed is only accessible to the user with the account, according to Stem — the company cannot access the feed. An article posted late last year on cyber security site The Security Ledger claimed the previous Izon camera was “riddled with security holes,” allowing attackers to access the video feed. Stem claimed the company’s firmware, server, and app had been updated since then, and that the research itself contained “inaccurate and misleading information.” These alleged issues may not be present at all with Izon View, but it’s understandable to be a bit wary of security problems with any product like this.
Despite its limitations, Izon View is a decent solution for home video monitoring. It’s affordable, so for users seeking a low-cost way to monitor pets or babysitters from afar, while providing adequate video and audio, this could fit the bill, especially at its reasonable $100 price. Just don’t expect too much — if you’re serious about home security, you’d be better off going with a more premium system. And if you want a monitoring solution with improved video and other additional features, take a look at other options, including the Philips In.Sight Wireless HD Baby Monitor. Izon View is a good enough entry-level option to merit our general recommendation.