Panasonic HomeHawk Window Home Monitoring Camera Review
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Outdoor security cameras like Arlo and Eufy are nice, but you need to remember to keep them charged. This usually involves getting out a ladder to retrieve the cameras every month or two and putting the cameras on the charger, then a few hours later getting back on the ladder to mount them again.
Panasonic has taken a different approach with the HomeHawk Window camera. While it’s considered an “outdoor” camera, it actually stays inside your house and “sticks” to your window via a suction cup. Since it’s right up against the glass, this prevents most “light leaks” and glare from indoors lights.
This also means that there is no battery to recharge as the camera connects directly to your AC outlet, and you don’t need to worry about the weather or someone walking by and grabbing the camera since it remains inside your home.
Most outdoor cameras rely on infrared sensors for motion detection, which doesn’t work through glass. The HomeHawk Window instead relies on on-device motion processing of the video feed to detect motion.
This can lead to false alarms, but thankfully Panasonic gives you two options that help increase the accuracy of the notifications:
- First, you can specify a specific area of the camera’s view to watch for motion. This allows you to focus the camera’s attention on the ground and not on the rustling leaves of the tree, for example.
- Second, the device can be set to alert you when it thinks it sees a person. I found this setting to be very accurate. I reached out to Panasonic to see if this “magic” happens on device or from “cloud processing” and was pleased to learn that all motion processing (including person detection) is done locally, on device.
Overall, I’ve been very happy with the motion detection system on the Panasonic HomeHawk Window camera. Even when setting a smaller detection area, I did receive some false alarms from the moving shadows on the ground from nearby trees, but the Person Detection feature has virtually eliminated these false alarms and has been very effective at detecting people.
- No monthly fees: You can’t upgrade to cloud storage even if you wanted to. Your only additional cost associated with this camera is for a Micro SD card (not included) to store the motion events. The storage size will determine approximately how much footage can be saved. The camera can be set to overwrite the oldest events once the card becomes full. The app allows you to save selected recordings to your phone’s photo library.
- 4 GB card: 4 hours
- 8 GB card: 9 hours
- 16 GB card: 18 hours
- 32 GB card: 36 hours
- 64 GB card: 72 hours
- Night Vision: Infrared LEDs do not work through glass, which most outdoor cameras would use to provide the B&W night vision. However, the Panasonic HomeHawk camera uses a high-sensitivity camera that can “see” as long as there is at least 0.2 lux of light available (which, Panasonic states is slightly above total darkness). It does work surprisingly well: below is a comparison photo between my iPhone X’s camera and the HomeHawk Window camera.
- Rapid Playback: This reminds me of the Logi Ciricle 2’s “Day Brief” feature. The camera can play a “rapid” playback of all the video clips of the day so you can see quick summary of what your camera detected.
- Local Processing: As mentioned earlier, all motion and person detection happens on the device, meaning that your video clips are not uploaded to a cloud server for processing. However, since push notifications contain a preview image, the screenshot would go through Apple or Google’s server to deliver the screenshot to your phone. And if you use the Alexa or Google Home feature to watch your camera, this would relay the camera’s video feed through Amazon or Google.
- No batteries to charge: Since the camera remains indoor and connected to an AC outlet, there’s no need to remember to charge a battery for the camera.
- Wide-angle view: The camera has a 150 degree view, enough to cover my entire back yard.
- 2-second pre-recording: The camera has a 2 second buffer to record what happens before the motion traction is triggered. This allows you to see the person’s approach to the area monitored by the camera.
There are some limitation to the camera that are important to note:
- No cloud storage: For some people, this is actually a benefit. However, theoretically, someone could smash your window and take the camera unit with your memory card. You would then have no access to the recordings.
- Night vision: While the night-time performance is very good, it may not pick up all motion events if the area is totally dark due to the lack of infrared lighting and infrared motion sensor. It would be better if there was a motion light nearby that would both (1) trigger the motion event and (2) provide lighting for the camera.
The Panasonic HomeHawk Window camera is a great solution for people who prefer not to store their security recordings "in the cloud" and for those who don't want to pay monthly fees. The local processing of motion events, customizable detection areas, and fast push notifications provide great piece-of-mind to those who are cloud-adverse.
- Excellent low light performance
- No batteries to charge
- Accurate motion detection
- May miss motion events in total darkness
- Micro SD card not included