This teardown aspires to find out how a security camera delivers so much for such a small price tag.
As any of you who’ve read my stuff for a while already know, I’ve tested lots of consumer security cameras over the years. Generally, they fall into one of two categories: inexpensive or high quality.
Rarely do I find a product that checks both boxes, but occasional exceptions to the rule exist. That’s why, for example, I not only tested but also ended up purchasing, implementing, and to-this–day still using Blink’s products. And it’s why Wyze’s cameras also recently caught my eye.
Its MSRP is only $19.99, and it doesn’t even require a separate “hub” device between it and the Internet, as with the Blink Sync Module. The user community is (generally) quite enthusiastic about it, and did I mention that it only costs $19.99?
That’s the fundamental motivation behind this teardown, which aspires to find out how the manufacturer (seemingly) delivers so much for such a small price tag. Selling direct from the Wyze website versus relying on retail channel intermediaries (with their own profit expectations) helps, of course, in minimizing markups, but Wyze also needs to turn a profit. Inevitable leverage of overseas-sourced hardware (this Reddit thread postulates that the Wyze Cam v2 is a relabeled Xiaomi Xiaofang 1080P) along with, to at least some degree, overseas-located service can assist in reducing cost, at the potential tradeoff of sketchy security, but the company seems to be trying hard in this latter regard.
A quick aside before proceeding with the dissection: as some of you have likely already experienced, toilet paper (and other paper products), hand sanitizer (and its aloe vera and rubbing alcohol constituents), sewing machines, and hair clippers aren’t the only things currently in short supply courtesy of the COVID-19 crisis. Now that everyone’s doing online meetings, the only USB webcams (and headsets, and ring lights, and green screens, etc.) that you can find for purchase are either poor in quality, ridiculously marked-up in price, or both.
But thanks to a clever firmware retrofit, Wyze offers another webcam option. Until you subsequently restore the “normal” firmware image, you won’t be able to use the Cam v2 or Cam Pan as a security camera, but you can USB-tether it to your computer instead. The company doesn’t recommend leveraging the integrated microphone and speaker (versus alternatively leveraging the audio resources built into your computer, for example), and the angle of view isn’t optimal (then again, it was designed as a security camera, not a webcam), but all in all it works passably. And did I mention that it’s 1080p in resolution, widely available, and only costs $19.99?
Enough setup talk, let the teardown commence! As usual, I’ll begin with some external box shots:
Inside the external packaging there’s not much: a quick-start guide, an inner box containing a metal wall mount plate (and accompanying sticky tape), a USB-to-micro-USB power cable, and the USB power adapter:
And of course our “victim,” shown alongside an obligatory 0.75″ (19.1 mm) diameter U.S. penny for dimension comparison purposes. Here are the dimensions:
Note, on the backside, the LED “hole,” speaker output holes, micro USB input (for power), and full-size USB input (for daisy-chaining multiple cameras together, connecting a camera to the company’s line of motion and contact sensors, and other optional functions):
And here are a few more overview shots with the “foot” extended, showing off the unit’s range of orientation flexibility along with a peek at the true underside (with the “foot” out of the way):
Time to dive in. First let’s get that “foot” off:
Remember the metal wall mount plate I mentioned earlier? It works because the “foot” it mates with is (rather strongly) magnetized:
And with the “foot” removed, the true bottom of the camera comes into clear view; note the micro SD card slot (used for local storage of camera footage, along with firmware updates) at upper left, and the reset switch at upper right):
Enough of that, let’s get it off:
Thereby giving us our first glimpse at the innards:
Now for the back panel. A two-wire cable assembly is often indicative of a single-channel audio connection; then again, you already know that there’s a speaker on the back of the unit.
There she be!
[Continue reading on EDN US: The guts of the device]
—Brian Dipert is Editor-in-Chief of the Edge AI and Vision Alliance, and a Senior Analyst at BDTI and Editor-in-Chief of InsideDSP, the company’s online newsletter.