Hands-On Review: Lorex Smart Outdoor Wi-Fi Security Camera

From initial setup and installation to first impressions, see how this Lorex home security camera performs.

Hands-On Review: Lorex Smart Outdoor Wi-Fi Security Camera

Lorex Smart Outdoor Wi-Fi Security Camera Specs & Features

  • Cost: $159.99 or 2/$299.99Lorex camera product image
  • 1080p HD video
  • Indoor/Outdoor – IP65 water resistant
  • Person and Vehicle Motion Detection
  • 2-Way Talk, Siren, Security Light
  • IP Night Vision Up to 50 Feet
  • Private Local Storage (32GB)
  • Wi-Fi Connection
  • Lorex Home App

 


A Few Things To Know Before We Begin

I have to say I was very excited to try out the Lorex Smart Outdoor Wi-Fi Security Camera. I’ve had a traditional monitored home security system for years, but don’t currently have any home security cameras. Recently, I’ve noticed a sharp uptick in outdoor cameras and doorbell cameras around the neighborhood and have been intrigued by the idea of adding some kind of video security to my home. 

This Lorex camera checked all the boxes for me: Wi-Fi connection, easy install, customizable setup and on-the-go app access to monitor activity. As you can see, I don’t need much.

In fact, this camera has a lot more powerful features that would serve a small business just as well as a single family home like mine. That’s part of what I liked about it – you can customize it for your needs. 

Before I dive into my review, here’s a few things to know about me and my home that will give some context to my observations and experiences with this Lorex camera. I live on a cul-de-sac in a very safe neighborhood (think very traditionally suburban). I am definitely not handy. As we all know, “do it yourself” (DIY) means different things to different people. For me, building IKEA furniture and assembling kids toys is my comfort zone. If a project requires much more than a basic power drill, I’m out. Luckily, the setup was not much more involved than hanging a shelf or picture on the wall. 

What I Want

While this camera can be used indoors, I was interested in setting it up outside on my front porch. Sure, knowing who is coming and going is helpful, but like I said, my neighborhood is pretty safe. If I’m being honest, I’m mostly concerned about keeping an eye on all the packages that get delivered weekly. (Yes we have an Amazon Prime problem). With our busy schedules, it’s common for packages to sit on our porch all day – maybe even longer. And with the rise in package theft, I definitely wanted to see what I could do to protect my home before the holiday season. Alright, let’s get to it.

What’s In The Box?

Lorex camera unboxed with accessories

The box is fairly small and pretty light (easily less than 5 lbs) – totally gift wrappable. When you open it up and take everything out, here’s what you get:

  • Wi-Fi Camera
  • Two mounting options (wall mount and tabletop stand/ceiling mount)
  • Memory card
  • Power cord (9.5ft) plus extension cable if you need it (10 ft)
  • Quick start guide

Initial Setup – 20 Minutes.

Ok, I have to say at first glance the quick start up guide was easy to follow and clearly laid out. I appreciated the color graphics, illustrations and clearly worded instructions. To start, Lorex has you download the Lorex Home app. From there, the app guides you through several basic steps to register and add your camera. I’ve included a few photos. The app is easy to follow, and easily connected with my home network. Really no trouble at all.

 

Screenshots from the Lorex app

 

My only misstep was more user error than anything. The app connects to its own Wi-Fi network to start. I thought it was a mistake and connected to my home Wi-Fi and quickly found out that wouldn’t work. Easy enough to start over. Lesson learned – trust the machine, it’s smarter than me.

Lorex mobile app screenshots from setup

Note: the camera must be plugged in during the setup process. Not a problem for me, but make sure you don’t try and set it up away from a power source.

Once you’re all connected, you’ll start to see images right away and can start testing some of the features. I’d recommend testing the siren indoors if you can (it’s crazy loud). Volume is a good quality in a siren, of course, but I got a concerned call from a neighbor when I tested it outside.

Installation – 1 Hour.

The actual task of mounting the camera won’t actually take an hour. Most of my time was spent scouting for the right location and deciding which mounting option to choose. Camera placement is obviously the most important step and because of the challenges of my front porch and some of the limitations of the Lorex camera, I ran into a few problems.

 

What’s Included?

Lorex gives you everything you need to properly install the camera including the required screws and drywall anchors and a mounting template to make sure you drill in the right spot. They also provide two mounting brackets depending on how you’re going to install it. You can mount the camera on a wall or use the tabletop/ceiling setup.

 

What Will You Need?

Screwdriver/cordless drill and possibly a ladder.

 

Power Source Concern

While this camera connects wirelessly to the home Wi-Fi network, it must be plugged into a power source to work. That was a significant problem for me and may be a deal-breaker for many homeowners. It was not easy to find a spot where the camera would cover my front porch and door, but also be close enough to an outlet without being obvious or an eyesore.

Hidden in the directions are these helpful tips:

  • “Install the camera where vandals cannot easily reach.”
  • “Secure cabling so that it is not exposed or easily cut.”

That sounds easy enough, but in reality, it could turn an easy DIY job into a much more involved project.

My house is brick, and the front porch doesn’t have any overhangs or other structures that are easy to drill into and mount a camera. My best option was to mount above my door in a window casing. Unfortunately there was no hiding the cord. As you can see, the only solution was to try and hide it as best I could, and feed it under the front door to an indoor outlet. This problem may not apply to many, but it’s important to think about where you want to install the camera and whether there’s a power source nearby. Here’s how it looked when it was set up.

Front door with camera in top left corner

Installation Tip

Once I decided on the right location, installation was easy. I used the ceiling mount and had no trouble at all. Pro Tip: if you can, test your placement before drilling in place. (I used duct tape to secure the camera first.) The mounting brackets pivot so you can adjust the camera view, but it would be a real pain to drill into place only to find out your camera isn’t hitting the area you want.

Monitoring Alerts and Customizing Features

Now I was basically all set up and the alerts started rolling in. Here’s what the app home screen looks like and some pics of my first alert videos.

Lorex notification examples

Tapping your homescreen image takes you immediately to a live video feed of your camera. There’s no delay or still images. Everything is in real-time HD video. With one touch, you can sound the alarm, use the two-way talk feature or turn on the warning light.

Even if you stopped there and didn’t do anything more to customize and take advantage of additional features, you’d have a very powerful home camera security system that would capture and probably deter most security risks. I really liked the “right-out-of-the-box” ability because I didn’t have to spend hours figuring out how to use it. I honestly just set it up and let it work. After a few days, I began to get a better feeling for what kind of notifications I wanted and how to use it better. One of the first things I decided to adjust was the sensitivity of my motion sensor. Why? Take a look.

Deer in the yard

Once you get a feel for what you need, customizing your motion detection settings and other features is super simple. Even without looking at the complete app instructions, basic setup is intuitive and easy to test. A few cool features I noticed right away were:

  • Video quality: During the day or night, the images were crystal clear and loaded quickly when called up.
  • Automatic alerts: I can’t stress enough how easy and cool this is. Without any setup, the app sends text alerts every time it detects motion. The camera can detect people or vehicles and alerts you via push notification anytime the camera senses movement. You can also adjust the sensitivity level and choose to have the security light or siren activate every time it recognizes motion.
  • SmartZone: Basically this allows you to set the specific area in your camera’s field of view for the motion detection. This actually turned out to be very helpful for me because the deer grazing in my front yard kept tripping the motion sensor. I was able to block the yard so only the walkway activated the sensor.
  • Live Video Timeline:  You can easily search history and play back recorded videos.

Other cool features I appreciate but just didn’t make sense for me include:

  • Home & Away: This setting will turn on/off motion notifications when you leave or enter the area.
  • Smart Home Connectivity: This Lorex camera is compatible with Amazon Alexa™, Google Assistant™, as well as Apple TV™* and Chromecast™

 

Video playback error

A Few Concerns

My only concern other than having to be connected to power at all times were the frequent playback error messages I’d get. There didn’t seem to be a connectivity reason, but the error would happen multiple times. Sometimes a file would work fine, and I’d pause it and the error would appear. If I tried to play again, it wouldn’t play at all. The same file may work later if I left the screen and came back – but there was no rhyme or reason to it. This could be a problem in a serious situation.

A smaller gripe concerns the time zone setting. For some reason, it defaulted to military time (or I selected it on initial setup and don’t know how to fix it.) No matter how I tried, I couldn’t get it to display time any other way. Not a major flaw, but frustrating.

Final Thoughts

The Lorex Smart Outdoor Wi-Fi Security Camera is marketed as a security camera, but that’s selling it a bit short. It’s really a powerful, self-contained security system. If you don’t have an issue plugging into a power source, dealing with an exposed cord, and monitoring the camera with your smartphone, this camera is a great option. With its intuitive app and simple installation setup (even for me), it’s easy to customize and use in a way that’s best for you.

Pros

  • Customized notification features
  • Easy installation and app set up

  • Scalable system with robust voice assistant support

Cons

  • Must be connected to power by cord

  • Military time display

  • Playback errors