Tapo, TP-Link’s other smart home brand, has a new security camera. The Tapo Smart Wire-Free Security Camera System (Tapo C420S2) is an impressively inexpensive setup that includes two indoor/outdoor cameras and a hub for $200. The wireless cameras feature video resolution up to 2K, six months of battery life, full-color night vision, AI detection, and have a spotlight and siren built in. 

TP-Link’s original smart home brand, Kasa (which is its fewer-frills, more budget range), has even less expensive outdoor cameras, but those work solely over Wi-Fi. The difference here is that the Tapo C420S2 cameras use a proprietary, low-power wireless protocol to communicate with the hub, which helps improve connectivity and lengthen battery life. The hub can support up to four cameras.

The Tapo camera hub needs to be connected to Ethernet and has a micro-SD card for local storage. Image: TP-Link

This is similar to how most Eufy and Arlo camera systems work. In my experience, security cameras with hubs are more reliable — and do have better connectivity and longer battery life. They are also quite a bit more expensive, because of the extra hardware. But here Tapo has managed to beat even the low-cost Eufy, whose two-camera 2K security system costs $350.

The other advantage of a camera system connected to a hub is it opens up the possibility of compatibility with Apple Home, which doesn’t support stand-alone battery-powered cameras. Both Eufy and Arlo offer this, but despite having other HomeKit-compatible accessories, Tapo says its C420S2 cameras only work with Google Home and Amazon Alexa. 

That integration will let you live-stream footage from the cameras on an Echo Show or Google Nest Hub or on your TV using a Chromecast. 

Other features of the new cameras include free AI processing to send alerts when the camera sees humans, pets, vehicles, and packages (Arlo charges for this and Eufy only has people detection on its mid-tier cameras).

There’s also full-color night vision from a built-in Starlight sensor, or use the dual spotlights to illuminate what’s going bump in the night. Standard night vision, two-way audio, and a built-in siren and light alarm are also offered. The camera’s battery is removable for easier charging.

Tapo says the cameras can be used indoors — but they won’t exactly blend in. Image: TP-Link

The Tapo cameras support local recording to the hub with a removable microSD card (up to 256GB, sold separately). Without one, you’ll need to subscribe to Tapo Care for cloud storage. That starts at $3.49 a month for one camera and goes up to $11.99 a month for 10 cameras. That’s more expensive than Arlo’s cloud service, which covers all your cameras for $10 a month (although you’ll pay at least double for an Arlo camera upfront). Eufy doesn’t require a cloud plan to access recordings.

Tapo Care adds 30-days of motion-activated video history, rich notifications with snapshots, manual clip recording, and the option to share videos from the Tapo app. Tapo is currently offering the new camera system at a launch promo price of $149.99 (after a $50 on-site coupon) through November 30th at the TP-Link website and on Amazon.

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