Annke Floodlight Security Camera (l41MV) Review

Introduction

QuellaReviews had the privilege of receiving an Annke model l41MV AI-based motion-activated floodlight security camera evaluation unit for our analysis and review.  We may, upon request from our readers, do a teardown of the unit in a future post.  In a world where physical security is becoming more and more important, this unit is about half the price of comparable floodlight cameras and has some added features not found in the top-of-the-line model.  This unit is flexible, stylish, functional, and delivers decent video quality (1080p) at a price that fits its functionality.  Today, there are plenty of 5mp and 4K security cameras available, but if the area you want to cover does not require higher definition video, we think this camera would be a good fit; with a few caveats listed below in the review.

Who is Annke?

First off, you may be asking the question “Who is Annke?”  Many of you may not have heard of the company in the rather crowded security camera space, yet they are becoming more known for their lower-cost devices that are quite feature rich.  From their website, it says, “ANNKE was established in 2014 and has been a global leader in the home & business security solution industry. Our mission is to deliver the best security solutions to help customers to secure their homes, businesses and stay connected with their [be]loved ones wherever and whenever.”. 

I like the mission and goals the company had laid out along with a number of their different security camera models and use-cases.  QuellaReviews has reviewed another of their indoor cameras earlier.

Why a PIR Floodlight security camera?

The second question you may be asking is. “Why would I want or need a security camera?”.  Unlike traditional security cameras, which are more designed to record both day and night without obvious detection that the device is there.  Instead, a floodlight security camera is there to mainly make a statement and let a person know they are being recorded as the bright light often is enough to scare away a potential intruder while providing a means of safety for people not intending to do harm.  If the floodlight does not scare away those with bad intentions, the loud (100bd) siren will help them make up their mind that it is best to leave as soon as possible.

Packaging and Shipping

Let us talk briefly about the packaging of the Annke floodlight security camera.  We would have to say that it was one of the better packaged devices we have seen based on a few other security camera manufactures previously reviewed.  You can tell that there was thought and planning when it comes to how the device will be protected during shipping and prior to use.  When we received the unit for review, one of the first things we did was to give it a good shake.  This is both to test its packaging and to listen for any rattling parts.  We can say that the product shipped quickly from one of the many Amazon warehouses here in the United States (US) so we did not have to wait long for it to arrive at our doorstep for review.

Opening the box and peering in, we were happily greeted with a smiling thank you message card. It is a nice touch when companies think of their customers and setting a good first impression.  We have to give the company kudos for thinking of this nice extra.  There is also a decent manual provided in both English and German translations included in the box as well.  Although there were a few slight grammar issues due to translation, overall the manual is informative and published on higher-weight glossy paper.  They did a good job of providing well drawn diagrams along with easy steps to follow alongside them, we think that nearly anyone would be able to read and understand the manual.

Speaking of the little touches that come with the Annke floodlight security camera, this one not only includes all the necessary hardware for installation it, it also includes two philips-head screwdrivers in the box for those who do not have many tools around the house.  These are not the best tools, but they will work in a pinch.  We have to say that we were surprised to find a strange metal Z-shaped object along with the other included hardware.  We soon discovered that this device is used to hold the camera in place when mounting it.  It was very nice that you can do the entire install without requiring an extra set of hands to hold the unit as you attach the wiring.  Here again we see the subtle touches that make one think that intentional planning went into this device.

Appearance

Let me turn your attention to the Annke floodlight security camera with regard to its appearance.  This section will talk about the look and feel of the camera itself.  In a later section we will discussion functionality, a summary of our findings and some pros and cons.

Solid Construction

We were surprised to discover that a good portion of the cameras mounting system along with the floodlight is made of a strong metal that feels rigid and something that can withstand weather extremes; and it could even withstand a few nocks or dings if people accidently hit it.  The unit felt heavy and weighty when we took it out of the box and during hanging, it was nice the company provided the metal hook to assist with installation.  Overall the construction was solid and was well thought out for a device that will be exposed to extreme weather and conditions.

Plastic Pieces

With that said, we have some concerns with the camera’s body and a few of the adjustment thumb screws used to tighten the angle of the floodlight and camera mounts.  These components are made of plastic and felt cheaper and have the potential of being the camera’s external weakness.  Our concern here is that we are not sure how long these pieces can withstand extreme temperature changes either with severe cold or hot before failing.  Long term exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation can cause plastic to become brittle and yellowed over time, we feel this may not only affect the appearance but functionality as well.  We would have gladly paid a bit more for the unit to have an all metal housing for everything exposed to the elements. 

Color Options

I did like that there are two color options when choosing your floodlight camera.  One can either select a white or a black unit based on where the camera will be installed.  Many homes have either white or black trim, so you can easily blend this floodlight camera or making it quite visible based on the color selected.  We have the white model which blends well with our install location.   These two options seem to meet the needs of a large portion of users, so there ar no additional colors available.

No Pivot Joints

Once the unit was mounted, we soon discovered that neither the camera nor the LED floodlight was mounted on a swivel “ball” joint allowing for easier placement of these parts.  They can only be moved up or down, but not side-to-side.  For our specific test installation, because it was a rather closed space, it made it impossible for us to point the camera or floodlight in direction preferred.  Just be aware of this when planning your install so you can select the proper place.  Having included a swivel joint with even slight left to right movement would have greatly improved our viewing and the ability to light up the given area we were monitoring.

Specifications

Moving on from the overall appearance of the camera and on to more interesting aspect of the device’s specifications.  In this section we would like to point out a few of the device’s key specifications for those who like numbers and want to better understand what they are receiving if they were to buy this Annke floodlight security camera. 

Outdoor Protection

This security camera and floodlight are rated at IP55, which is the standard Ingress Protection rating scale.  This standard deals with a system’s level of weatherproofing and its ability to withstand given number of solids (such as dust).  The first value (5 in this case) relates to how the camera will withstand solids.  The second (5 in this case) number in the standard relates to its water resistance.  An IP55 rating means that the unit does allow limited ingress of dust size particles without impacting the devices operation.  The second number relates to water ingress means that the device is protect against jets of water with limited ingress; again, not affecting the operation of the camera or floodlight.  Other similar devices we at QuellaReviews use day-to-day are often rated at IP66 or above proving dust-tight and water jet protection without any ingress of either.  Here is one area that a vendor can save some money as weather-tight enclosers are more expensive to manufacture and ensure a tight fit. 

The Annke floodlight security camera is designed to protect against extreme temperatures as well.  This camera is rated to withstand ranges between -4F (-20C) up to 120F (49C) degrees.  Although this seems like a decent range, we can say that we have lived in both the US Southwest deserts with temps reaching above 120F and also in the US Northeast where temperatures can dip to -20F or below.  Again, these are not the norm, but they could at times exceed this device’s rating.  As with the IP rating, we believe the vendor used parts that are a bit cheaper to keep the cost low and this decision may have impacted the operating temperature limitations.

Motion Detection (PIR)

Today, Passive InfraRed (PIR) sensors are put in just about every type of device from cameras to night lights.  These sensors are used to detect motion and trigger based on some event.  The PIR sensor used in the Annke Floodlight Security camera is able to detect movement up to thirty feet (9 meters) away from the device.  That is a decent distance if the object approaches the camera from the front, but not as good if they are coming from the side.  Annke did think of this scenario as the PIR sensor attached to the camera has a 180-degree angle of view.  So, unless someone is coming from behind, the PIR will pick them up in the rated distance.  We would have liked to have seen fifty feet or more distance but understand that such longer distances can be expensive and cause more false alerting in the long run.

HD 1080P Resolution

One of the most important security camera feature we look at is resolution.  Unlike those TV shows where a person can easily zoom in and enhance video footage without any issues, this does not work in the real world.  So, it is nice to have a 1080P camera for a camera like this.  A 1080P resolution provides 1920 pixels across and 1080 pixels down.  However, many security cameras today have 4mp or 5mp along with 4K sensors whereas this camera is about 2.1MPs. 

We think this is enough for a basic security camera needs and the floodlight does help to brighten the area so the need to have super high resolution has limited use cases.  One advantage is that this camera will require less network bandwidth then cameras with a higher resolution.  We would like to see future camera come with higher resolution sensors, but here again is one area where a company in the price point can shave a few dollars off the total cost of the unit.

Floodlight LED Array

The floodlight portion of the security camera has a bright array of five LEDs per pod with a 3×2 matrix of pods for a total of 30 total LEDs.  This floodlight provides the necessary illimitation needed when capturing an event.  The manufacture claims that the total number of LEDs produce around 2150 lumens of light which equals around 125 total watts of light which is plenty bright for this use.  Some might be asking about the color temperatures as we here at QuellaReviews like the warmer color LEDs.  This security camera comes with 5000K LEDs which are considered to be more in the “day white” spectrum; or a bit cooler than we like. 

Micro-SD and Cloud Storage Optional

This floodlight camera comes equipped with an optional micro-SD slot where a user can insert their own SD-card; one is not included.  We were a bit surprised to see that this camera does have a limitation of supporting a maximum of 64gb or below SD-cards.  For a security recording device, this seems rather small.  However, this does provide the user with about 320 minutes of recordings before it fills up the SD card; that value is calculated at 24mbps.  The unit is able to operate without an SD card installed if you are not intending to record events locally.  Once again it seems like there was a cost savings here by capping the maximum SD card size at 64mb or smaller. 

We here are not a fan of cloud storage solutions when it comes to our security camera footage, but there are some that are happy to leverage it because of the lower cost and easy setup.  Most security vendors have some cloud-based storage option available using a recurring subscription model and Annke is no different.  We believe their offering is around $5USD per month, but we could not locate the amount of storage this provides the end user.  If you like the ability to leverage cloud storage, note that Annke gives you that option, which is nice that it is not required for this device.  We will say that we had a difficult time locating details and pricing on the vendor’s website.  Making this information more easily accessible would be helpful.

For a security camera that runs on mains electricity, we would have like to have had the option to tie the device in with an existing NVR (Network Video Recorder) as we use one for our other security devices on the network.  Annke even has their own NVR systems which we would have like to have seen integration with them at least.  It seems like it would be a rather easy system to integrate yet due to a few other issues (discussed later in this review), it may be that this hardware is OEMed from another party.  

Built-In Siren

The siren is rated at 100db which is equivalent to an airliner taking off, a lawn mower, or jack hammer.  So, it is enough to scare aware an intruder when it is triggered.  We can say that we were a bit disappointed that this loud siren can only be activated manually from within the mobile application.  It is not something that can be set in the application to trigger when motion is detected.  So, be aware that the siren is a manual trigger only; at the time of this review.  Maybe this will be addressed in future firmware releases.  However, if you did receive an alert and noticed when reviewing the live footage that someone was attempting to break in, you have the ability to activate the siren which might call attention to the potential activity occurring. 

Wide-Angle Camera Lens

The camera comes equipped with a 127-degree field of view which is listed by the manufacture as being ultra-wide.  Although this is wider than some cameras that provide 90-degrees or even 70-degrees, we would not consider this to be ultra-wide.  Security cameras that deliver in the area of 170-degree of view would be more ultra-wide in our opinion.  This camera is really in the middle and it does provide a decent viewing angle.  Once again, we would think this is more for a cost savings decision as wider angle sensors are quite expensive. 

Indicator Light

The camera does have an indicator light showing operation and status. For us, we found it difficult to see this light when viewing in bright or direct sunlight.  Just be aware that you may need to instead follow the verbal prompts (as we did) when setting up the camera the first time.  Once setup, we did not find a need to look at this indicator light.  Nearly all other functions and status is available via the mobile application. 

AI Motion Detection

One of the special features this camera touts is its ability to recognize, using Artificial Intelligence (AI), humans while ignoring other events such as wild animals, dogs, wind-blown shrubs, etc.  The application gives one the ability to set the sensitivity to reduce false positives while also limiting the number of alerts for the things you might not care about; such as moving inanimate objects, etc.  We can say that we did not have much success with this feature when we tested it during our review.  We frequently saw the floodlight and camera trigger an event while there were no objects that should have set it off; especially humans.  We were running the latest firmware (v1.10.00), at the time of this review, and when checking, we were told it was the most up to date. 

We can say that with the device’s sensitivity set to “People Only”, it still had a number of false positives where the camera picked up some motion or activity that was not a human or a threat.  The only security cameras that are capable of pulling off this feature without issue incorporate some form of both optical and infrared technology.  Blending these two technologies allows a camera to truly determine a cold moving plant or tree branch from a human sneaking up in the dark.  Our hope is that future updates to the firmware will prevent false triggers.

Two-Way Audio

The security camera does come with a two-way audio option which allows the user to listen in while also being able to speak back through the camera unit itself.  Most security cameras have the ability to listen and record surrounding audio where more and more are beginning to provide the functionality of also speaking via the device.  This allows the user to not only communicate with people delivering package such as with UPS, mail, etc., but you can also let a potential intruder know that you have contacted the police and they are on their way.  It is a great deterrent feature, and not often found on security cameras at this price point.  

Functionality

Let us now turn to some of the functionality of the camera we discovered during our review process.  These are things that are less about specifications and more about implementation or setup details. 

Easy Install Hardware

Overall, we found the hardware easy to install when replacing an existing light mounted near the door we was planning on monitoring.  From start to finish it took us less than 45 minutes to remove the old light, install the new unit and perform the initial setup where we could begin seeing video streaming within the application.  For a system like this, we would say the installation and setup process were rather easy, but if you are not one who if comfortable around high voltage, we would recommend you have this device professionally installed.

In a space which is becoming crowded with solar and battery security cameras, we can say that we welcome this camera using mains power for both the floodlight and camera operations.  We are fans of both POE (Power Over Ethernet) and mains power security cameras overall here at QuellaReviews.  That is to say that with this floodlight camera you will not have to worry about replacing dead batteries or having cloudy days preventing solar charging again; one less thing to worry about. 

However, this does make the camera susceptible to attacks where the power to the facility is cut or there is a power outage.  More a technique one may see in a James Bond movie.  With any technology there are trade-offs and sacrifices due to something being cost prohibitive.  It would be nice if the unit came with a small battery backup in the floodlight housing to maintain power to the camera for a short period of time if there were a power outage.  Yet, we do understand that this would not be effective if a power failure occurred during the night as this device does not contain any Infrared LEDs (no night vision).   

Because this floodlight security camera is hardwired into the home’s mains voltage (120v in the US and double that in the UK), it is highly recommended by us and the manufacturer that you hire a professional if you are not familiar or comfortable working around mains voltage.  Doing so incorrectly can cause serious injury and even death.  You have been warned.

Software Confusing

A device’s software is just as important (if not more) than the hardware it operates.  It can often make or break already good hardware by enhancing the overall operation by making it feel seamless and tightly integrated.  For us, this is one area where we felt Annke failed our expectations.  We provided a review of another Annke product earlier and we already had the Annke mobile application installed on our mobile device.  However, this Annke floodlight security camera leverages a different application which does not make sense for a person who is looking at collapsing their many devices from a single vendor into one application.  Here with Annke, you will require two different applications if you have other products from the vendor along with this floodlight security camera. 

It was not difficult to locate the application in the app store for this system, but we can say that this application (camb) felt generic and more a shell of a program than it felt integrated and immersive to the Annke set of cameras.  Why not build the communications into a single tool, or wait to release it once it is available?  The application is not created by the vendor and that is why it does not feel like the original Annke application.  We found this to be an odd choice for the vendor to make and it seemed rushed or again another cost cutting option in the long run. 

Voice Prompt Setup

One thing we will say that we were surprised at when setting up the camera for the first time was that it had voice prompts.  This is something that again, we often see on higher priced devices, so having It here was a plus.  Prompts telling you that the device connected to Wi-Fi or was starting up was spoken in a pleasant voice and felt right.  Having such simple voice commands made the setup much easier than having to monitor the indicator lights or having to read the manual for next steps.  It was a nice feature to have. 

Reliable connectivity using the application

The camera and application provided reliable connectivity during our testing.  No real issues were observed.  We also made a few changes to the camera’s IP address via DHCP while testing and the application picked up the change and started working without any problems or having to reset the device.  Initially we did have some difficulty setting up the device and matching it with the application, but we think this was more an issue of our network setup and security devices and nothing to do with the camera or provided mobile application. 

Application Interface

The camera’s mobile application was functional, yet it lacked polish.  If you are looking for a rather simple tool to view the camera’s video, set some basic camera options, and the like, you will get it here in the mobile application’s tools.  It was rather a few simple clicks to open the camera’s live stream.  We believe the icons used were clear for their intended purpose and that nearly anyone would be able to figure them out without much fuss or trouble.  Within the application you can also enable the two-way communications, turn on the siren, take a snapshot (picture) or record a portion of video to the mobile device.  One can also manually turn on and off the LED floodlight while at home or on the other side of the globe. 

So, even though the device’s application was sparse and seems to lack finesse, all the necessary functionality was present, and it functioned as intended.  Here again, we will say that we think the application also shows some of the desire to reduce costs.  As stated above, we think for a company that wants people to be involved in their ecosystem, having more than one application to control your devices seems odd to us.  We would like to see this device integrated into the existing Annke mobile application and the system’s dependence on the “camb” mobile application discontinued in future releases. 

Running Updated Firmware

At the time of this review we tested the Annke security camera running firmware version 1.10.00 which the application told me was the latest.  We tried multiple times during our testing to see if there were any updates to the application or the camera and none were updated during this time.  This is a simple task of clicking on the firmware value and the mobile application will reach out and see if there are any updates. 

Push Notifications

The application allows you to receive push notification based on a few different alerts.  We can say that this also carried over to our smart watch as well.  It was a nice feature to be able to be alerted of different events quickly and quietly via one or more mobile devices.  We would like to see more configurability of notifications, yet this camera does provide the necessary alerts one would want to start with. 

AI Detection False Positives

We found the number of false positives (times the camera thought there was an event and there was not) to be higher than we have seen in other security cameras.  Even on the highest setting where it should only trigger on human objects detected, did not solve the issue.  For us, we think it will require some additional work on the AI portion of the camera to better determine what it thinks a human is.  We understand this is not an easy thing for a device like an optical camera to detect and distinguish a human from background movement. Correcting this may take the form of a firmware or software update down the road.  This is one area we feel the camera needed to shine better than it did as this is device is claimed to be an AI camera helping to prevent this from happening.

No Pan, Tilt, or Zoom (PTZ)

For those wondering, note that this security camera does not have the ability to pan, tilt, or zoom (PTZ) as some security cameras do.  It would be nice to have some fixed digital zoom capabilities at a minimum knowing that both pan and tilt adds substantial cost and complexity to an already decently priced security camera.  Maybe a future edition will give is some of the added features in exchange for a higher price.  In some instances, we would have liked to have the ability of having a wider field of view for instillations which required the camera to be mounted closer to the subject or in confined spaces.

No Infrared Night Vision

This lower cost floodlight camera does not contain any Infrared LEDs allowing for recording during dark environments.  There is no night vision apart from the PIR sensor (which is picked up by other night vision cameras) which is only used to detect motion and trigger an event.  This floodlight security camera depends on other sources of light or the triggered floodlight to illuminate nighttime activity.  This limitation makes it rather difficult to leverage the camera as a nighttime streaming tool without some form of secondary lighting; which the vendor recommends. 

Supports 2.4ghz and not 5ghz WiFi

Here again we believe was a cost savings decision for this security camera.  Today, the company makes it clear that they only support 2.4ghz frequency Wi-Fi instead of the more common, and in some places only, 5ghz frequency.  Thankfully we still have both frequencies supported on our network, so this was not an issue setting up this device.  Just be aware that the camera requires the lower frequency and if your home does not have this, you may need to purchase additional equipment to get things working. 

Odd Network Traffic

This may seem like a strange thing to include here in a review of a product.  However, there are many people who want to better understand what a given device is doing on their networks and it is rather important for something as important as a security device.  We often want to know what other communications a device is attempting and potentially where the camera’s video may be going outside of my network.  This may be a bit technical, so if you do not care or have the understanding of networking technologies, you can skip this section. 

The camera seems to be using some modified or unknown TCP and UDP protocols which do not conform to the RFC specifications.  In our test networks we drop all unknowing protocols and looking at our security logs, we can see that many packets from this camera were being discarded.  Additionally, we block communications with DNS requests unless they originated from our own internal DNS servers.  This camera tried to make requests to servers externally to our network and this traffic was denied.  The device should confirm to good implementations of the DHCP protocol and leverage the primary and secondary DNS servers the protocol hands it. 

We also found it odd that the camera not only tried to connect a given server to make DNS requests, but that same server also was being asked to communicate using NTP (Network Time Protocol) and POP3 (an email protocol).  Some of the traffic slow also included FTP (File Transfer Protocol) which may be used with leveraging the cloud storage option; which was not configured. These along with the unknown TCP and UDP traffic makes us question the design and implementation of good network protocols in this device.  Hopefully future firmware releases will correct these issues.    

Summary

For a floodlight security camera at this price point, the Annke solution is a decent product.  It is nice to see some features on this device that are not found on similar system at a higher price.  The video resolution is ok, but we would have liked to have seen a bit more in this day and age where security cameras are mostly in the 4mp and 5mp resolution.  We liked that the device is hard wired to mains voltage so no need of solar panels or batteries to worry about.  The camera is dependent on 2.4gz Wi-Fi, so we would have liked to have also seen an option of ethernet or 5ghz Wi-Fi.  The design was nicer than some floodlight security cameras we have seen, and a good portion of the unit is housed in metal.  We do have some concerns on the use of a few plastic parts used in key areas and if they will stand up to weather and use.  What we did like is that once the camera is installed and connected to the application, it really is a set it and forget it type of system.  It does not require constant tweaking or monitoring if you do not want too. 

Pros

  • Lower Cost
  • Good Video Footage
  • Decent PIR Angle of View
  • Sleek Design
  • Bright Floodlight
  • Local and Cloud Storage Options
  • Hardwired Install (no batteries)

Cons

  • Use of Plastic in some areas
  • Not Weather-Proof for very hot/cold locations
  • Two apps needed if already a user of Annke products
  • Detection False positives in highest setting
  • No pivot joint on camera or floodlight
  • Strange network behavior
  • No tie-in with an NVR system
  • No Ability for Static IP, view IP in app or MAC address
  • No night vision (IR LEDs), only floodlight

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