The Swann Tracker Security Camera offers a wide field of view and automatically tracks motion, but the mobile app is glitchy

The Swann Tracker Security Camera offers a wide field of view and automatically tracks motion, but the mobile app is glitchy
Simon Hill/Business Insider

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  • The Swann Tracker Security Camera is a versatile device with an extremely wide 180-degree field of view, capable of completely covering large indoor areas.
  • Video quality is decent, at 1080p in full color, with a black and white night mode.
  • The Swann Tracker Security Camera can pan and zoom, and it automatically tracks movement.
  • At $79.99, the Swann Tracker Security Camera is quite expensive and there's no cloud storage, but it does come with a 32GB MicroSD card installed for local storage.
Table of Contents If you want the ability to check up on your home from your phone, then an indoor security camera is essential. You can get alerts when there's motion in view of your camera, jump in at any time to see a live view, and even have a two-way conversation. With so many good, affordable indoor security cameras to choose from nowadays, it's easier than ever to set one up in your home.
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The Swann Tracker Security Camera costs $79.99, which means it's far from your cheapest option, but there are some special features that make it worthy of consideration. Sure, it offers the usual 1080p color video, night vision, and two-way audio, but it also has remote pan and zoom controls, and the ability to automatically track motion.

It's easy to mount, or you can stick on a table or shelf, and it connects directly to your Wi-Fi router, though it does require a wall outlet to plug into. There's no cloud storage, but that also means there's no subscription, and it comes with a MicroSD card installed.

I tested the Swann Tracker Security Camera in my home to see how it measures up. I was impressed by the automatic tracking and the wide field of view, but I ran into some serious issues with Swann's app and there are some missing features that you'd expect to find.
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Specifications

  • 1080p resolution
  • 180-degree field of view
  • Night vision with infrared
  • Two-way audio
  • MicroSD storage up to 128GB (32GB included)
  • Custom zones
  • Automatic motion tracking
  • Pan and zoom control

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Design

The Swann Tracker Security Camera will cost you $79.99. In the box you'll find the camera, with a magnetic base, a 32GB MicroSD card installed, power adapter with cable, a wall mounting plate, and all the mounting screws and plugs you need to install it. There are even some theft deterrent stickers bearing the Swann Security logo that remind you this camera is from a traditional security company.

With a rounded, matte white, plastic case and a black face, the camera looks quite cute and unobtrusive. It sits on a stalk with a ball joint that slots into the base, allowing for a full range of movement for perfect positioning. It's ready to pop on a shelf, you can wall mount, or you can even stick it on a fridge since the base is magnetic. The limitation to placement is the need to plug it into a wall outlet, especially since the included power cable is only 5-feet long. The camera measures 2.44 by 1.42 by 4.33 inches and weighs 3.8 ounces. All the sensors and the camera lens are on the circular black face. There's a MicroSD card slot on the right side, which has a 32GB MicroSD card installed out of the box, and the power cable plugs into the Micro USB port on the back, which is also where you'll find the speaker.
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Simple setup

Security camera setup is standardized nowadays. Simply plug in the camera, download the Swann app for Android or iOS, create an account, and scan the QR code on the bottom of the camera to get it linked up. The Swann Tracker Security Camera connects directly to your Wi-Fi router, but requires a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network to connect to. I had it up and running within ten minutes.

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The mobile app

This is where things started to go wrong. There's no point in sugar coating this; the Swann Security app is terrible. It's confusingly laid out, extremely slow to load, randomly glitchy, and proved consistently hard to use during my two-week testing period. It is a new app, and Swann is working hard to update and improve it, but in its current state it is going to raise your blood pressure.

Every time you load it up, the app goes through the login screen and then loads up a live view of your camera. You've got tabs along the bottom for notifications, playback, live view, and settings. There's a hamburger menu at the top left that reveals even more options. You can also tap to expand the live view and get camera controls. This allows you to snap a photo, record a video, hold down the microphone icon to talk, sound the siren, use the pan and zoom controls, change the camera view, and dip into the settings.
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By default, the Swann Tracker Security Camera appears in the app with a dual pane view that shows a very wide, 180-degree view at the top, and a zoomed portion at the bottom. If there's any motion to track, the bottom zoomed portion will follow it automatically. This is the main selling point of the camera.

The 180-degree field of view inevitably introduces some distortion, but it's by the far the widest view I've seen in an indoor camera. If you want to cover as much of a room as possible without the need for a second camera, then you'll appreciate this. The zoomed in portion is a more regular format and you can use the controls in the app to digitally pan around and zoom in, which is a nice feature.

The Swann Tracker Security Camera comes with a 32GB MicroSD card installed, which offers plenty of local storage, though you can replace it with up to a 128GB card if you need more. Weirdly there's no cloud storage option at all with this camera, not even with a subscription.
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You can access your recorded videos through the mobile app, but you'll have to find them first. I expected they'd be on the playback tab or maybe under recordings, but no. Perhaps if I click through on the notification for each video alert, I thought, but they're not there either. Turns out you have to go into the camera settings, scroll down, and tap storage to find the timeline of recorded videos. This is far from user friendly.

I later discovered that the recordings option is only for manual recordings, but why my playback tab remains blank and doesn't list my videos is beyond me. Swann needs to work on this app.

Other features are scant, even compared to much cheaper indoor security cameras like the Wyze Cam V2 or the Amazon Blink Mini. You can change the sleep period between recordings and the sensitivity for motion detection, but that's about it. There's no custom zones option, person recognition, or sound detection. Notifications are either on or off.
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How well does it work?

The Swann Tracker Security Camera records 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution video in full color, but it uses a digital zoom system to track motion and enhance the subject of each video. Even with videos set to maximum quality, I found the resulting footage was grainy and compared poorly with other security cameras I've tested. It's also prone to blowing out light areas as there's no HDR support.

While the 180-degree field of view gives you a good wide angle on the room, it does also distort everything, so it's a little harder to make things out. The night vision works fine, but inevitably loses more detail. Part of the problem is the low frame rate. Swann doesn't mention a frame rate, but I found the videos I recorded were running at around 12 frames per second. On the plus side, the automatic tracking does work very well. I have several videos of my cat or children moving into view and the camera does a great job of focusing on the action. Place this camera in the middle of a large room, and it's likely going to do a good job of tracking any movement in there. The default sensitivity seems to be spot on and I didn't have any false positives during testing, which is impressive.
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Audio is reasonably clear, and the siren works well enough if you want to scare someone.

Both Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa work with the Swann Tracker Security Camera, and I was able to set up both, so I could view the live feed on an Echo Show with a simple voice command. There doesn't seem to be any IFTTT support.

I tested how the Swann Tracker Security Camera copes with being disconnected and reconnected to Wi-Fi and power and found that it was up and running again quickly in either circumstance.
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Cons to consider

Every security camera that you can review on your phone takes a few seconds to connect, but the Swann Tracker Security Camera often took an unacceptably long time. The frustrating thing is that sometimes it would connect within three seconds, but then other times it would take as long as ten seconds.

I found the lag very annoying and it's also pronounced enough to make carrying on a two-way conversation almost impossible. This lag also extends to the digital pan and zoom controls, which makes using them far less fun than it ought to be.

Glitches using the app were common and ranged from a complete refusal to connect to the camera until I restarted the app, to a failure to save settings that I had changed. I know that Swann is working to improve the app, but it is quite simply unacceptably bad in its current state.
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The bottom line

The Swann Tracker Security Camera is quite an unusual prospect. It features a nice design, it's easy to set up, and the automatic motion tracking is good. The onboard storage, and the fact you don't need a subscription, will also please some people.

Unfortunately, the quality of the video it produces compares poorly with the competition and the mobile app is hopelessly buggy. There's also an intermittent, but persistent, lag problem when connecting.

Should you buy it?
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No, not until Swann fixes the app.

Which model should you get? The Swann Tracker Security Camera costs $79.99. Swann also offers a Wireless 1080p Security Camera for $149.99, that offers more features and cloud storage. There's also a Swann Pan & Tilt camera for $99.99, with a motor for physical pan and tilt controls. If you're set on Swann, the Tracker may be the best value.
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What are your alternatives?

The incredibly cheap Wyze Cam V2, at just $19.99, offers good quality video, a much better mobile app, and more features. There's also the rotating Wyze Cam Pan at $29.99, which makes up for the relatively narrow 110-degree field of view with the ability to physically rotate.

The Amazon Blink Mini at $34.99 is faster to alert you to video events and offers better sound and video quality. Though it also requires a Sync Module 2 at $34.99 for local storage or you're looking at paying $3 per month or $30 per year for cloud storage.
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If you want the pinnacle of indoor security cameras, with person recognition, then the Google Nest Cam IQ Indoor is hard to beat, but it costs $300 for a camera with a subscription on top.

Pros: Wide 180-degree field of view, 1080p video, two-way audio, automatic tracking, 32GB MicroSD card for local storage included

Cons: Slow to connect, mobile app is confusing and glitchy, no cloud storage
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