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Honeywell has long been known for thermostats and, more recently, for security systems that are professionally installed and monitored. With the Lyric C1 ($119), the company has entered the DIY security market.
Unfortunately, while the camera has a few nice aspects, such as an included 8GB microSD card that allows for free access to your video history, it's a bare-bones product that skimps on quality and functionality.
The Lyric C1 looks like a miniature white monolith. The device stands 4.4 inches high, with a 2.5 x 1.8-inch oval footprint. On the front is a black 3 x 1-inch faceplate with the lens near the top, the two IR LEDs and status light in the middle, and the microphone on the bottom of the plate. The speaker is arrayed around the border of the oval top. The camera slips over its 2.5 x 1.5-inch magnetic base like a socket over a ball, obscuring most of the base.
The C1 doesn't rotate on its base and has minimal tilt coverage. The 70-inch power cord plugs into a recessed mini-USB port in the bottom of the device, as does the included 8-gigabyte microSD card. Both are hidden when the camera is fitted onto its base.
The C1 features AES 256-bit encryption. During installation, the camera connects to the app via Bluetooth, using a randomly generated QR code.
Video and Audio Quality
Though Honeywell's packaging and marketing statements claim that the C1 offers HD (high-definition) video, its 0.25-inch, 1-megapixel image sensor records only 720p at 30 frames per second. The glass lens has a medium-wide angle covering a 135-degree field of view.
Our daylight video was merely acceptable. The high contrast helped to offset the low resolution, but also obscured details in the shadows and highlights. Even so, faces were clearly identifiable, despite pixelization.
The two 840nm IR LEDs fully illuminated an almost completely dark room. However, the light was uneven, with details blown out in front of the camera and dark vignetting around the edges of the frame. Again, a person's face was distinguishable, but the overall image quality was only adequate, with significant pixelization and blur.
Audio quality is poor. In recordings, sound was very low-volume and often difficult or impossible to hear. When I tried using the device for two-way communication (between the camera and a mobile device), the speaker volume was so soft that I had to be standing immediately in front of the camera and within a couple of feet of it to hear anything.
The microphone was a bit better. Words spoken within 7 feet of the camera were audible on my phone, albeit with lots of noise and static.
Motion and Sound Detection
The C1's motion- and sound-detection controls are intuitive to use. You can define two separate detection zones: Each of which can be set to Low-, Medium- or High Sensitivity, or you can choose to have all activity in that zone ignored.
The settings for sound detection have similar options: Off, Low (80 to 100 dB), Normal (50 to 100 dB) or High (10 to 100 dB).
Honeywell claims that the C1 can recognize the alarm sound of a smoke- or carbon-monoxide detector, and will send an alert message with specific information.
Though the C1 doesn't allow you to schedule monitoring times, a geofencing feature will turn on monitoring when you leave home with your smartphone and then turn off monitoring when you return.
With audio set at normal, and our two motion-detection zones set at low and medium, we received frequent texts and emails, including false alerts about 24 percent of the time.
One advantage the C1 has over many competitors, including the more expensive Nest Cams, is that an 8GB microSD card is included in the price of the camera. Right out of the box, you can store and view your video history without incurring any additional expense.
This is not only convenient and cost effective, but also necessary. At the time of this review, Honeywell hadn't yet implemented a cloud-storage plan and would not comment on when it would be introduced.
Honeywell’s identical iOS and Android Lyric mobile apps are easy to use, primarily because they have few options. They are also the only software available for the C1; Honeywell offers no web portal.
The best part of the mobile app is the easy access to your video history. In vertical mode, the camera's home page displays the Live view; you can swipe up to view a scrollable list of thumbnails of recorded events.
You can filter the list to display all clips, new clips, viewed clips or downloaded clips. Simply tap a thumbnail to play the video. While you're watching a video, tap the download icon to save it to your mobile device's photo gallery.
As is typical with most security-camera apps, horizontal mode fills your screen with the playing video. However, if you play it in vertical mode, you can easily scroll up or down to access the previous video or the next one without going back to the Home page.
At the time of this review, Honeywell stated vaguely that it is working on smart-home integration. Until then, the only devices the C1 will work with are Honeywell's Lyric thermostats and its freeze/leak detectors. It isn't backward-compatible with other Honeywell connected devices.
Installation generally follows the industry standard of using a QR code to pair the app with the camera. But it also requires Bluetooth to be enabled on your mobile device. The Lyric C1 requires a 2.4-GHz Wi-Fi connection during installation, rather than the newer 5-GHz band.
One nice part of the installation is that once connected, you are immediately taken to the settings for motion and sound detection and for geofencing, so you won't have to go searching for them.
The Honeywell Lyric C1 is a low-priced security camera that isn't worth the price tag. Image quality is merely adequate, audio is poor and functionality is limited. For roughly the same price, the Kodak Video Monitor CFH-V20 has far better image and audio quality, a good cloud plan and much more functionality.
Video Resolution: 720 p at 30 fps
Field of View: 135 degrees
Night Vision: Two 840nm IR LEDs
Network Connectivity: IEEE 802.11 b, g, n; Single Band 2.4 GHz
Smart Home Connectivity: Currently connects only to Honeywell Lyric thermostat and freeze/leak sensors
Audio: Two-way audio
Mobile Devices Supported: iOS, Android
Web Browsers Supported: None
Cloud Storage & Monitoring: Currently no cloud plan
Local Storage: 8GB mini-SD card is included
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Sally Wiener Grotta is the president and lead analyst of DigitalBenchmarks test lab (www.DigitalBenchmarks.com). The scripts she created for various tech publications for testing and evaluating digital cameras, image quality, software and related technologies have become industry standards. Among her numerous books is the first major volume on image processing “Digital Imaging for Visual Artists” (McGraw-Hill), co-authored with Daniel Grotta. Her hundreds of reviews, stories and columns have appeared in scores of magazines, journals and online publications.