Earlier this year, TP-Link launched its new Tapo range of smart home devices, which includes indoor and outdoor cameras, LED light strip, smart bulb, motion detector and entry sensor. We got our hands on the Tapo C210 Pan/Tilt Home Security Wi-Fi Camera, an indoor smart camera that offers 2K video, mechanical pan and tilt controls, and two-way audio for just $34.99 . It’s affordable and easy to install, but it doesn’t offer as many third-party integrations as our Editors’ Choice winner, the $51.99 Eufy Indoor Cam 2K Pan & Tilt P24.


Pan and tilt controls, few smart integrations

The matte white Tapo C210 features a round camera housing above a motorized base that gives it 360-degree panoramic mobility. The motorized black lens assembly offers 114 degrees of tilt and houses both a microSD card slot and a reset button. The camera measures 4.6 inches by 3.4 inches by 3.3 inches (HWD). For comparison, the cylindrical Eufy Indoor Cam 2K Pan & Tilt P24 is a little more compact at 4.2 inches by 2.9 inches (HD).

On the back, a power socket allows charging via the included USB power cord and AC adapter. You also get a mounting kit to secure the camera to the wall or ceiling, along with an installation guide.

The Tapo C210 camera unit

(Credit: John Delaney)

The C210’s 3MP camera has a resolution of 2304 x 1296 pixels and captures 2K video at 15 fps. It sports a microphone and speaker for two-way audio, a built-in siren, and a small LED. The LED flashes red and green during installation and turns solid green when the camera has a stable connection. If the alarm function is active, the LED flashes white when the camera detects motion. Four infrared LEDs provide black and white night vision video up to approximately 30 feet. The camera does not offer color night vision, unlike the similarly priced ($34.95) Wyze Cam V3.

When it detects movement, the camera notifies you and can specify if a person caused the commotion. By default, the device stores video recordings of each event locally on a microSD card (not included). Tapo says a 256GB memory card can store up to 21 days of footage. But you can also subscribe to a Tapo Care plan for online storage. The $3.49 per month ($34.99 per year) Basic plan includes support for one camera. This tier unlocks 30 days of recording history, plus baby cry detection, motion tracking, rich notifications with snapshots, and custom activity zones (privacy). The $11.99 per month ($119.99 per year) Premium plan offers everything from the basic plan, but expands support to 10 cameras.

The camera uses a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi radio to connect to your home network, as well as any Alexa and Google Assistant-enabled devices, such as the Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub. Although a handful of IFTTT applets are available for Tapo bulbs, none work with Tapo cameras. The camera also doesn’t support the Apple HomeKit platform, nor does it allow you to create routines or shortcuts, let alone automations involving other Tapo devices. At least you can create Alexa and Google Routines that can involve a handful of third-party connected devices.


Tapo C210 App Experience

To install and configure the C210, you must use the Tapo mobile app, available for Android and iOS. The app opens to the My Home screen, which displays panels for each Tapo device in your home. The navigation buttons are at the bottom of the screen: Home, Smart Actions, and Me. The Home button takes you back to the main screen. The Smart Actions button lets you create routines, shortcuts, and automations on compatible devices (again, the C210 camera doesn’t support any of these features). Tap the Me button to update device firmware, subscribe to a Tapo Care plan, and access local and cloud recordings.

Tap the camera panel in the My Home screen to start a live stream from the camera feed. At the bottom of the video panel are buttons to take a snapshot, manually record video, mute the speaker, and view up to four camera feeds in split-screen mode. There is also a button that automatically switches to full screen mode.

A collage of screenshots from the Tapo mobile app

(Credit: PCMag)

Below the video panel, you get a Pan & Tilt button that launches a round wheel, a Talk button for two-way audio communication, a Voice Call button that lets you communicate through the camera without having to press and hold the microphone button, a privacy mode button that disables streaming and recording, an alarm button that activates the built-in siren, a Tapo Care button that displays subscription pricing information, and a play and memory button that opens a screen with thumbnails of locally stored video recordings. Finally, at the very bottom of the video screen are thumbnails for the video clips in the cloud storage. Tap any thumbnail clip to play, download or delete it.

Tap the gear icon in the upper right corner of the screen to access camera settings. Here you can enable and configure motion detection and notification settings, enable motion tracking, create privacy zones, invert the image if you need to mount the camera upside down, and format the microSD card. A video quality setting lets you choose between 2K, 1080p and 720p resolutions, while a few advanced settings let you enable audio recording and calibrate pan and tilt movements.


Quick to install, reliable in tests

It only took me a few minutes to set up the Tapo C210. I started by downloading the Tapo mobile app and creating an account. Then I pressed the plus button on the home screen and selected the C210 from the Cameras section. I followed the on-screen instructions to plug in the camera and confirmed that the LED was flashing red and green. Then I used my phone’s Wi-Fi settings to connect to the camera radio, went back to the app, selected my home Wi-Fi network and entered my Wi-Fi password. The app immediately paired with the camera and prompted me to specify a name and location for it. At this point you can post the camera mounting instructions on a wall or you can exit the installation guide. I simply placed the camera on a desk in my living room for testing.

A screenshot of the live stream from the Tapo C210 camera

(Credit: PCMag)

The camera performed admirably during testing. Daytime video looked crisp and colorful. The black and white night video showed good contrast and appeared sharp at around 35 feet. Mechanical pan and tilt operations were smooth and responsive, and motion tracking worked well.

Motion alerts came instantly and the camera didn’t register any false positives from passing cars and other objects once I set the sensitivity level to Normal. I had no issues streaming video to an Amazon Echo Show using Alexa voice commands, and an Alexa routine I set up to have the camera trigger a Wyze bulb worked flawlessly every time. .


Affordable, but lacking in some expected features

For just under $35, the TP-Link Tapo C210 Pan/Tilt Home Security Wi-Fi Camera from TP-Link offers useful features including mechanical pan and tilt controls, 2K video, local storage and voice command. It’s also easy to install and performed well in testing. Our main concern is that it doesn’t work with other Tapo devices or support Apple’s HomeKit platform. For less than $20 more, the Eufy Indoor Cam 2K Pan & Tilt P24 gives you plenty of features, like sound detection and motion tracking, that you have to pay extra for with the C210. The Eufy device also supports Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit, among others, meaning it retains our Editors’ Choice award for budget indoor security cameras.

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