At first glance, Logitech’s new Circle 2 seems like a huge improvement over the original Circle. First, the Circle 2 is smaller. Second, whereas the original was indoor-only, the Circle 2 is indoor/outdoor. The field of view has increased from 135 degrees, to 180 degrees (this is both good & bad). Lastly, whereas the original’s battery typically lasted 3 hours (12 hours in “power save” mode), the wireless version of the Circle 2 claims “up to 3 months”. So far, the Circle 2 appears to be a huge improvement over the original…right? Well, read on.
SIDE NOTE: Regarding the wired version (such as I have), there is an optional battery pack, which (essentially) turns the wired model into the wireless model. The difference – purchase the wired version, plus the rechargeable battery, you end up spending $30 more than just purchasing the wireless version, but still end up with the same thing.
Let’s start with the “good” things. Setting up the Circle 2 is extremely simple, and only takes a few minutes. Installing the Android/iOS apps, and connecting to the Circle 2 is an equally simple process. The clarity of the night vision is, to be completely honest, fantastic. Last night, with the lights out, I was playing a few games of Backgammon before going to sleep (part of my usual nighttime “routine” which helps me become sleepy), and I viewed the recorded video the following day…everything was crystal-clear. I’ve tested the video & audio streaming quality while connected to the Wi-Fi (from another room), as well as through a cellular data connection. While connected to Wi-Fi, video up to the 1080p maximum is beautiful, albeit “warped” (remember the camera has a 180degree field of view). Connecting via cellular data wasn’t as spectacular, but only due to data transmission – 720p & 360p are excellent, but 1080p experienced occasional “freezes”. Lastly, there’s the optional accessories, including the aforementioned rechargeable battery, an outdoor mount, and a window mount, with (I’m assuming) more accessories on their way.
Now the “bad”…starting with those accessories. The battery pack adds $49, the window mount another $39, and the outdoor mount another $29. If you know your math, you can see how the overall costs quickly add up. Let’s say you want to mount one camera above your garage door, one mounted on the window facing your front door, and a third mounted inside the kitchen facing the back door…just purchasing three cameras (2 wireless, & 1 wired), an outdoor mount, and a window mount will set you back $645 (before taxes). For around that same price, you can purchase an 8-channel/4-camera DVR-based system, with the option to add up to an additional four cameras.
Next, there’s the audio quality, which is far too low to make it truly useable. On the receiving end, using my Bluetooth headset at full volume, while the audio quality was very good, I could barely hear anything my wife was saying. Moving to the camera’s side (Logitech touts the ability to remotely speak to the person/people being viewed, such as a person at the front door, when connected to the outdoor mount), the audio quality and volume coming from the camera’s speaker is downright horrible. As in testing the video quality (as viewed from my Android-based cell phone), we tested the audio in two sessions – one via Wi-Fi, the other via cellular data, both of which provided almost identical results (which clearly indicates the “problem” is with the Circle 2, and not “cellular data limitations”). On all three, with video resolution set at 1080p, audio was of reasonable volume, but quality was bad enough that my wife could barely understand what I was saying. Additionally, there was a lot of “static” (her words, not mine). Lowering the video quality to 720p increased the audio quality, and reduced the “static”, so that my wife could better understand me…but not by much. Further lowering the video quality to 360p produced no noticeable difference (compared to the 720p setting). When…for example…viewing, and talking with, a person at your front door, what good is it if you can barely hear what the person is saying, and the person on the other end can’t understand what you’re saying?
Finally, there’s Logitech’s “Circle Safe” service. It’s fantastic that they provide 256-bit AES dual-layer encryption. Unfortunately, they’re charging $10/mo (or $99/yr) PER CAMERA. If you have three cameras, that’s $30/mo (which equates to $360 annually) on the monthly plan, or $297/yr on the annual plan. Of course, signing up for Circle Safe isn’t required…but if you don’t sign up, you only have access to recorded video for 7 days…plus, at least as far as I’m aware, you don’t have the ability to download them, so, once 7 days has passed, you’ve lost that day’s video.
FINAL VERDICT: I truly wanted to like the Circle 2, as I’ve greatly enjoyed Logitech products for many years. I’ve used (and currently use) Logitech keyboards, mice, Harmony remotes, speakers, gamepads, etc…and I’ve never disliked any of them. Unfortunately, the Circle 2 is a “no-go” for me. While the viewed video quality (connected via Wi-Fi & cellular data) is excellent, the extremely poor audio quality & volume ruins any reason for considering a Circle 2. There are other single-camera systems, as well as multi-camera systems (2-4 cameras), that operate similarly to the Circle 2, albeit for a lower overall cost, and with better results. Moving up, there are numerous multi-camera DVR-based systems that are of similar (or better) quality for approximately the same price, or slightly more. Because of this, I cannot recommend the Logitech Circle 2…no matter how much I wanted to, prior to receiving it.
That being said…and here’s where I see the potential going…if Logitech were to take the technology behind the Circle 2 system, and package a multi-camera system, along with a DVR-based recording box (also refered to as “NVR”), then Logitech would have a huge winner. Imagine a packaging that included an Ethernet-connected DVR/NVR & 4 cameras (2 wireless, 2 wired), along with an outdoor mount & window mount…Logitech would not only have something to compete against the typical “security camera system”, but they’d have something better than other consumer-grade systems. Unfortunately, this isn’t that system.
Disclaimer: This product was provided free, or at reduced cost, for the purpose of reviewing the product. Nevertheless, the above review, be it positive, negative, or anywhere in-between, is a 100% honest review, and the price paid played absolutely no part in my review.