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TP-Link Tapo C420S2 Wireless Security Camera Review
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It doesn’t have a catchy name like the Nest Cam or the Swann Enforcer, but TP-Link’s newly-released Tapo C420S2 offers one of the best value home security camera starter kits we’ve seen. The price is right, the features are all there, it performs just as well as (if not better than) pricier competitors, and with no monthly cloud storage fees necessary, it makes for a very worthy option for security first-timers and those on a budget.
TP-Link Tapo C420S2 Wireless Security Camera price
Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.
If you walked into your local electronics or hardware store to look for a new security camera, you’d find that they tend to range in price between as little as $50 to in excess of $500. For a truly wireless, battery-powered camera, however, that range narrows to about $200 to $500 per camera.
The TP-Link Tapo C420S2 retails for $449.95 and comes as a two-camera pack with an included hub for secure local storage. Considering that means no pesky cloud storage fees (unless you desperately want the non-essential features that come with a Tapo Care subscription, which starts at $4.99 per month), you’re looking at one of the best value bundles on the market right now.
TP-Link Tapo C420S2 Wireless Security Camera design and setup
When you open the Tapo C420S2 box, you’ll find two black and white bullet-shaped cameras with two rechargeable battery packs, a charging cable and mounting hardware, and a small hub (about the size of a pack of post-it notes) with a power plug and ethernet cable.
Once the batteries are charged, they can be inserted into the cameras and, using the screws and brackets provided, can be mounted wherever you like, indoors or outdoors. Even with the batteries inserted, both cameras are very lightweight and easy to adjust.
The first thing that stood out to me about the Tapo C420S2 is how easy it was to set up. Once the hub was plugged in and connected to my router, getting started was as easy as opening the Tapo app and adding each camera – once you’ve selected the right model (C420), the app does all the rest for you, and in a matter of minutes, you’re all set. One thing to be aware of is that you’ll need to purchase an SD card separately (up to 256GB) in order for the hub to record your cameras’ footage locally.
TP-Link Tapo C420S2 Wireless Security Camera features and performance
A good security camera needs to be able to make out as much detail as possible, whether for anxious people like me to triple-check that they’ve locked the back door or for the more security-focused to be able to identify a potential intruder. Fortunately, the Tapo C420S2 offers 2K resolution, so the footage is crisp, clear, and smooth, thanks to its frame rate of up to 20fps. To extend battery life, I kept the settings at 720p resolution and 15fps, which still produced fantastic video quality, as you can see in the following clip of my dog attacking the Christmas tree while home alone.
Night vision, too, proved to be decent on its own but truly impressive with the inbuilt LEDs allowing for full colour.
The cameras feature two-way audio, and the sound quality transmitted both to and from the cameras is surprisingly good.
The only real downside to the cameras’ hardware is their field of view, which is a comparatively narrow 113°. To put that into perspective, the Nest Cam’s viewing angle is 130° while the Arlo Pro 4’s is a staggering 160°. In practice, though, it only makes a slight difference.
Other than the bare basics of being able to watch and record video and audio, the Tapo C420S2 packs a few extra features that push it into the same league as the likes of Nest and Arlo. Perhaps the most impressive of these features is the onboard AI motion detection, which labels each recorded event based on what exactly it recorded, be it a person, pet, car, or simply “motion”. These motion-detection events can also be delivered directly to your phone via real-time notifications if you so choose.
Tapo advertises the battery of the C420S2 at up to 180 days on a single charge. Perhaps I watched the live feed a bit too often, but there is no way I’m getting six months of battery life. I’ve been using both cameras consistently for about two and a half months now and they’re both at about 35% battery. With that in mind, I’d put the battery life at four months, maybe five if you’re a bit more conservative. That said, it’s still perfectly respectable, and the battery packs are admittedly very fast to charge. If Tapo ever gets around to offering a solar charging option, it would go a long way to addressing this minor issue.
As for the Tapo app, I found it to be easy to use and reliable, with live feeds that are very fast to load and multiple viewing options that allow you to observe both cameras’ feeds simultaneously. I already had another Tapo camera (the C200), and being able to keep track of my adventurous puppy while I was out of the house by watching all three at once (yes, I’m one of those dog owners) without flicking between different apps or screens was very convenient.
Sure, the battery life could be better, the field of view a little wider, and a solar charging option certainly wouldn’t go astray, but overall, the Tapo C420S2 is a total slam-dunk for those looking to protect their castle without shelling out thousands of dollars. It’s easy to set up, a breeze to use, and its performance is on par with many cameras twice its price, so it gets a big tick of approval from us here at SafeWise Australia.
Compare the best home security cameras
Field of view
Smart home compatibility
|Best overall||From $208.99||1440p (2K)||122°||Indoor/outdoor, battery and solar-powered||Alexa, Google||View on Amazon|
|Best budget||$57.80||1080p||360° horizontal|
|Indoor, wired||Alexa, Google||View on Amazon|
|Best outdoor||From $189||1080p||140°||Outdoor, battery-powered or wired||Alexa||View on Amazon|
|Best indoor||$279.99||1080p||130°||Indoor/outdoor, battery-powered||View on Amazon|
|Best for smart home||$249🔥||1440p (2K)||160°||Indoor/outdoor, battery-powered||Alexa, Apple, Google, IFTTT, SmartThings||View on Amazon|
|Best doorbell||$140||1080p||155°||Video doorbell, battery-powered||Alexa||View on Amazon|
Prices are accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.