Security is a big part of technology, especially over the last 3-5 years. Most of what has been written and published on the subject revolves around the safeguarding of data; those who have access to it, those who attempt via multiple attack vectors to obtain it, and the risk mitigation that can be undertaken to minimise the success of those attempts. Whilst data breaches are still a huge security issue, there is still the issue of physical security that needs to be kept an eye on. The Imou Bullet WiFi Camera can be used indoors or outdoors and will record a 1080p video of any motion that activates it, allowing you to have a cheap, and functional CCTV set up to ensure you’re protecting what physically resides at your home or business too.
- Good value
- Good quality video for requirements
- Higher than average set of features
- Ethernet option
- No internal battery
- Struggles under some lighting
Fancy getting this a little cheaper? Our friends over at Imou have provided the following voucher to be used to get 20% off! Go and take a look: 7TSWY4XU
The Imou Bullet camera is essentially a small office/home CCTV camera. It can be mounted on a wall with ease thanks to the included installation map, and is accessed wirelessly through an Android/iOS device Whilst it can be accessed via WiFi, it can also be connected via Ethernet if you prefer. It also does need some power to it so it’s not completely wireless; there’s no included battery here. The power comes in the form of a 12v AC adapter which has approximately 3 metres of length on the power cable and it connects to the Bullet via a waterproofed connection.
The Imou Bullet is, as I just alluded to, a water-resistant device. It comes complete with an IP67 rating which means it has dust and water resistance sufficient for an outdoor device such as this. Just don’t go attaching it to the bottom of any deep-sea diving vessels and you should be a-okay.
In the package, you receive:
- 1 x Camera
- 1 x Quick Start Guide
- 1 x Power Adapter
- 1 x Screw Package
- 1 x Installation Position Map
Quite a simple affair and it doesn’t need to be complicated. This technology, at this level, should be all about intuitive experiences and speedy setup, and thankfully the Imou Bullet delivers there.
Performance & Use
The Imou Bullet is similar to several SOGO CCTV devices I’ve used and indeed reviewed in the past in that it is incredibly straight forward to get up and running. Position the Bullet where you want it to live (inside or out), use the installation map to plot the drill points, mount the unit with the included screws, power it up, and download the app from the relevant app store. Incidentally, I chose to affix this with Gorilla tape, on the underside of a PVC canopy, so screws aren’t always necessary, but remember that it needs to be in a location not easily accessible otherwise your security is defunct from day one; a simple swipe or steal and you’re done!
Once you have your app fired up, the “straight forward” continues with the step by step wizard leading you to have the smart device near the camera to pick up a sound, to pair it. Next, you’re choosing the WiFi SSID to connect the camera to, and finally, you get to set up some preferences such as when to notify of motion, detection sensitivity and regions, as well as the option to sign up to the Imou Cloud. Let’s deal with the latter first.
The Imou Cloud is subscription-based, allowing both monthly and annual subscription lengths, and has options for the retention period of uploaded video footage too. This is an important distinction as some businesses might opt to use this device in a small satellite office, and might need to retain certain footage dependant on company policy, whereas home users might be more flexible. It’s worth noting too that these plans include unlimited data storage within the plans.
At the time of writing, a 12-month subscription with 3 rolling days of cloud storage sits at $19.99 with a slightly inflated monthly option and can be extended to a 30-day retention period for $69.99. Even at the top end, that doesn’t seem particularly expensive depending on the use case. The only concern here is where the data is stored. Imou cites AWS, Azure, Ali Cloud and others as public cloud platforms they utilise to store your data but don’t go as far as to state where those geographic locations are. Again, this might be of no concern to the home user, but businesses might need to dig a little deeper here.
Regardless of the Cloud service, you can store videos locally to a MicroSD Card and offload them manually if required. The size of the card you may require will depend entirely on the motion detection settings you choose and how busy the chosen viewing region is at any given time. There’s more good news here though, thanks to H.265 encoding. The 1080p files that the Bullet stores are smaller thanks to this codec.
You can stream live just by connecting into the interface, and you can even choose to keep the bandwidth down if you’re doing that, and using standard definition, not high definition. You can, of course, choose to record in SD to save space, but the quality isn’t too good.
Whilst the Imou Bullet will be alerted to movement and record a short clip, it can sometimes get a little difficult to find those clips if your motion detection sensitivity is high. Luckily, there’s a built-in calendar which highlights the days that have had motion, and then can be drilled down into a timeline view to scrub along to find the correct snippet. The length of the clips are then displayed (and they vary based on the movement duration detected) so it makes it even easier to find the clip you need. This, whilst seen in other user interfaces on similar devices, is the best incarnation I’ve used and again keeps things simple.
As you can see, the image is acceptable, and there is detail to be had here. The audio is quite good also meaning you’ll be able to pick up the entire scene on video for decent quality playback. The only use cases I found that caused the Imou Bullet an issue were direct sunlight. In those circumstances, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a J J Abrams epic such is the amount of lens flare on show. That said, it does do very good in the low light, and it’s unusual to have a CCTV camera pointing upwards to the sun rather than down onto a road/pavement.
One other feature I wanted to highlight is that you can effectively change this to a full CCTV mode, and have an always-on recording, or indeed scheduled recording, regardless of motion. That’s another nice to have if you have a small or home office.
For the price, the Imou Bullet is a 1080p camera worth looking into if you’re after something small, intuitive to use, and easily mountable. It’s not a huge hulking industrial CCTV setup and it’s not necessarily going to discourage hardened criminals, but it is something, and it will discourage some of course. Any deterrent is better than none.
The H.265 encoding is nice to have to keep those storage costs down if you offload locally, or keep the files smaller if you upload to one of the Imou Cloud services. Just be sure you’re happy with the policies Imou present in those plans.
The audio and video quality is good, IP67 rating would be a minimum here of course but it’s here, and the options and flexibility around motion detection and regions are all excellent and easy to setup. Seriously, this entire setup, including mounting, microSD card insertion, and sensitivity, region and notification setup took less than 15-minutes.
There are a few missed opportunities here though from Imou. A rechargeable battery might have been nice to have, but I understand this is found at higher price point devices. Equally nice to have would have been the option of Power over Ethernet (PoE) which might have been achievable, if more expensive, due to the inclusion of the Ethernet cable for connectivity.
Intuitive is the main word here with regular voucher deals on Amazon Prime, it would be well worth checking out the Imou Bullet if you’re in need for such a security device.