Like many other brands, TP-Link is moving a bit away from its core business and into the connected home sector. On the menu for this test: Tapo C420 surveillance cameras!
The TP-Link Tapo C420S2 camera kit consists of two battery-powered, weatherproof wireless cameras. They can thus be installed outdoors without requiring a power supply or network. They are therefore accompanied by a hub, like many competing solutions.
This kit is offered at a price of 250 euros and competes with many already well-established models. It logically integrates with the rest of the Tapo range which already offers other references security cameras more classic.
Design and ergonomics
The Tapo C420S2 therefore consists of a hub and two identical cameras. The hub is essential for the operation of the cameras and it is with it that the dedicated application will exchange. It will thus serve as a gateway to the cameras and will manage all their operation.
Tapo C420 cameras
The cameras are no bigger than a can and thus offer a rather successful design, although a little imposing. These cameras are rather well supplied since they integrate on their front face 2 LED projectors and infrared lighting. In addition, there is also a motion sensor used to detect presence and trigger recordings.
The sensor is also accompanied by a microphone and a discreet speaker, located under the camera. This couple allows first of all a two-way communication between the application and the camera, but also to sound an alarm in case of detection.
The power supply for the C420 cameras is provided by a well thought-out removable battery. Indeed, it is the latter which integrates the micro-USB connectors used for charging. It is therefore not necessarily necessary to separate the camera from its support to charge it.
The installation of the cameras is facilitated by the use of a support to be screwed equipped with a ball joint to allow an adequate orientation. This support can be installed at your choice, at the back of the camera for installation on the wall or under the latter to place it on a piece of furniture for example. This judicious choice facilitates the installation of the cameras, both indoors and outdoors.
The hub necessary for the operation of the cameras bears the reference H200 in the TP-Link range. Particularly compact, it incorporates an RJ45 port for connection to the network as well as a micro-SD slot for storing recordings. For comparison, the latter is much more compact than a Philips Hue bridge.
Apart from managing the intelligence of the cameras, this hub is also equipped with a loudspeaker which, depending on the scenario, can be used as an alarm in the event of an intrusion or as a doorbell. Indeed, the C420 cameras and the hub integrate into the Tapo home automation suite and can therefore work in concert with the other products in the range.
Getting started with the hub and cameras is straightforward within the Tapo application. The adding process couldn’t be simpler and the hub was detected immediately by the mobile application. Once the hub has been added, all that remains is to add the cameras one by one.
As indicated earlier in this paper, the Tapo application is common to all the products in the range and it will thus be possible to make the different modules interact with each other within automations.
Basic features and recording
Once the cameras are installed and configured, you can access a relatively complete interface to interact with them. In particular, it is possible to launch a two-way communication to “talk” through the camera. The basic interface also authorizes the triggering of the capture of a photo or a video.
This same page also lets the user change the capture mode of the camera by activating, for example, the night mode (infrared) as well as the LED projectors. It is also from this page that the alarm and the confidential mode can be activated, which completely deactivates the capture of images and replaces the video stream with a black screen.
This privacy mode can only be activated automatically with a time slot or another Tapo device. It is, for example, not possible to use geolocation or activate it as soon as the user is present at home. This limitation is also in line with a general criticism of the Tapo solution which still lacks maturity for advanced features.
Tapo app offers many settings for C420 cameras. By accessing the dedicated menu, you can logically choose the room in which the camera is installed, consult the battery status or even manage the activation of the activity LED.
Without an additional subscription, it will be imperative to use a microSD card to be able to save videos and photos. TP-Link offers a subscription system allowing the backup of 30 days of events and some really dispensable additional features. Note also that advanced detection thanks to AI is integrated free of charge with the C420 cameras.
Obviously, and in order to relieve the battery of the cameras, it is impossible to record the images continuously. The capture will only be triggered when an event is detected or the user manually triggers the recording.
It’s hard to fault the motion detection that equips the Tapo C420 cameras. During our tests, the cameras triggered each time and no false positives were found. However, we were not able to test the detection of animals, but the recognition of humans proved to be very effective.
The sending of notifications can be adapted according to the needs of the user with personalized time slots. It is also possible to sound the alarm of the camera when it detects movement. Finally, motion detection can be configured in zones in order to monitor only a portion of the image.
Again, we regret some limitations of the application since we have not managed to find how to manage the activation or deactivation of alerts through an automation. The only solution is to switch the cameras to privacy mode to prevent them from generating alerts without manually disabling them.
TP-Link announces an average autonomy of 6 months for the C420 cameras. This announced autonomy was measured by considering 10 to 20 daily activations. Indeed, the cameras do not record continuously and are triggered only when motion is detected.
Our few weeks of intensive use logically do not allow us to decide on the real autonomy of these cameras. However, after a month of use, each of our two cameras still showed 75% battery, i.e. a theoretical autonomy of around 4 months. A very honorable measure, given that the cameras were heavily used for our tests.
For comparison, TP-Link’s solution does better than the camera Xiaomi’s Mi Wireless Outdoor passed through our hands in the past.
Tapo C420 cameras are equipped with a sensor capable of delivering 2K images. Broadcasting of the video stream will however depend on the quality of the link between the cameras and the hub. During our tests, this connection showed some signs of weakness, especially when it comes to crossing load-bearing walls. A point to consider if the cameras are to be installed far from the latter.
The quality of the images is very decent and it is possible to zoom while maintaining a suitable level of detail. In more difficult light conditions, the sensor still manages to deliver correct images, even without infrared lighting. Of course, once in complete darkness, infrared lighting will remain essential. The image then logically loses detail, but remains quite usable.
The projector has little interest in our opinion regarding the quality of the images. It certainly makes it possible to dispense with infrared lighting in certain cases (indoors), but it will, for example, aim to illuminate the area for the comfort of users while helping to “surprise” any intruders. It’s a welcome addition not found on all cameras of this genre.
TP-Link Tapo C420S2 Kit Price and Availability
The kit consisting of the hub and the two Tapo C420 cameras is available at the recommended price of 250 euros.
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TP-Link Tapo C420 review: our full review of these cameras
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