MSI has always been known as a producer of “core” components – motherboards, videocards, and PC peripherals. This hasn’t stopped them from creating interesting products in the consumer space, notably MP3 players, routers, and even autonomous cleaning robots. One of those interesting things landed on my desk for review, and coincidentally (or not), it comes under the “SomeThings” umbrella of products. This is the Panocam 360 degree IP Camera.
Now there are “some things” (haha) that bears mentioning: the Panocam does not truly have a 360 degree coverage in the same sense as, for example, a Ricoh Theta. Instead, its lens enables it to cover everything in front of its half Coke-can, cylindrical body, even to the very edge, or side, of its lens. It’s an excellent way to cover a whole room once its been placed hard against a wall, or preferably, a ceiling. The Panocam is also relatively expensive compared to the number of IP cameras already available through dedicated CCTV manufacturers and installers.
Other than these two caveats, the Panocam constantly surprises with thoughtful touches and useful features for the security conscious, or the gadget aficionado. Let’s get on with exploring the tricks this device has behind its bulbous lens.
It’s all about connecting to each other after all – family, friends, house and work. The Panocam has typical IP camera connectivity – once connected to your home or office network, you can connect to it directly through an app and monitor what it sees. The unique thing about it is how you pair it with your phone in the first place; a tone similar to a 1990’s modem, but much less irritating, is used. Just put your phone near the device, press the single button near the indicator lights, and it pairs up with no added hassle. Up to two users can view the feed from the Panocam, although there seems to be no limit to the number of users you can register.
Images and video can be recorded in 1600 x 1600 resolution, onto a micro-SD card whose slot can be found at the rear portion of the camera, behind a cap attached with a standard sized tripod screw mount. The micro-USB port can also be found here.
The Panocam has the best coverage I’ve seen on a surveillance camera, which is no surprise. What’s surprising is the amount of detail preserved; while everything is distorted you can still recognize people walking by, their expressions to a certain extent, even text is legible from a few feet away. The SomeThings app used for connecting and monitoring with the panocam has been kept simple, with a foolproof interface; the main menu for example only lists Cameras, Media Library, and Settings, which are self explanatory. Within the Cameras menu, you can choose between cameras, whether to record a video or capture an image, and change orientation.
In low light, the Panocam suffers a big drop in image quality. Check our pics for examples.connection speed aside, the Panocam offers fast transmission of data evidenced in how quickly the picture updates while it is in use. For home or office use, in the absence of dedicated CCTV cameras, the Panocam delivers a high-resolution performance and a simple setup.
Pricing, Additional Features and Conclusion
A fun way to use the Panocam is to connect it to a powerbank and carry it around; you’re limited to the range of your WiFi signal, but this capability is undocumented and unique. Some additional security features include the ability to set detection limits (both movement and sound) that triggers a notification through the SomeThings app, or even direct to email, which is a swell way to keep updated when you’re away.
For an SRP of around P10500, the Panocam is premium in more ways than one. Its looks and feels well-made, with a satiny metal finish that makes it fit into a room like it belongs instead of a security device you’d be wary of. While not a replacement for a dedicated security system, the Panocam is an elegant, easy-to-use solution for anyone with a cellphone and a WiFi connection.