Geeni offers simple security cams for a reasonable price, but will they get the job done?
If you’re wishing for affordable, reliable, well-designed home automation and security products, you may have to rub a magic lamp and ask a genie. All those qualities rarely show up together in the same products.
Or you could just try Geeni.
That was corny, but you get the idea. I’ve been testing security cameras for over a decade, and in all those years, I haven’t seen many cameras that are both affordable and high-quality. That’s a bit of a unicorn in this industry – but Geeni claims to be just that. Even though it seems too good to be true, I was interested to test some of the company’s most popular products.
Will these cameras be everything you wished for, or will you wish you’d gone with someone else? I’ll break everything down for you, but let’s first look at some pros and cons that jumped out.
Painting with broad strokes, Geeni looks pretty interesting. If you’re like me, however, your first question probably is, “Who exactly are these guys?”
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Not every smiling face is a friend, so despite Geeni’s logo of a smiling face, it can be hard to trust a company you can’t find lots of information about. The most prominent thing I know about Geeni as a company is that it’s owned by Merkury Innovations, a New York-based manufacturer of easy-to-use and affordable home tech.
At first, that made us a little wary. Companies like Ring and Arlo have pretty established brands with clear messaging about their histories, and they also offer exceptional products. I’m not saying you have to shake hands with the company’s CEO to feel comfortable buying from them, but when it comes to security equipment, some background information adds a bit of trust.
Affordable cameras promising the world from a company we’d never heard of? How will that go? I decided to pick up two of its most popular cameras — the Geeni Look indoor cam and the Freebird outdoor wireless cam — to see for myself.
Let’s start by saying Geeni pleasantly surprised me. Once I had the equipment up and running, my trepidation melted away. Are these perfect cameras? No. But they may be solid options for people looking to protect their homes (and pocketbooks).
The Geeni Look is a flexible little indoor camera, and I mean both of those words in the literal and figurative sense. It’s pretty tiny at only 4.5 inches tall, and its bendable neck makes it easy to position if you need to see a specific area.
At just $34.99, it’s pretty affordable for an indoor security camera, but as I learned from my go-round with the Wyze Cam v3 and testing the Blink Mini, even affordable cameras can do big things for home security. All three, including the Geeni Look, cost around $35 each. Given that price point, it’s understandable that there’s not a whole lot in the box.
It comes with the camera itself, a USB cord, a wall plug, and an adhesive button. It also comes with two little manuals that can help you through the setup process.
I was a little concerned that the camera itself felt very light. When you’ve handled as many electronics as I have, you start to get a sense of quality just from the weight of things. This one felt a little flimsy.
On the plus side, the black finish makes it unobtrusive, while the small frame makes it easier to hide in plain sight. Of course, if you do want to display it, it has that simple overall look that doesn’t clash with most home interiors. I’d say this is a versatile option, design-wise.
The setup process couldn’t have been easier. I’ve set up quite a few cameras in my day, and this one was done in minutes. Download the app, create an account, let the camera look at a QR code that showed up on the phone, and boom — done. It probably took you longer to read that sentence than it did to set up the camera and have it watching over my living room.
That said, you still have to keep a few things in mind; for instance, the Wi-Fi range. This will differ from one home to another, but you’ll want a good Wi-Fi reception where you place the camera. It will affect the camera’s streaming ability down the line.
If you have a dual-band network like I do, you should also make sure to connect your phone to the 2.4 GHz band before setting up the camera. Most phones use the 5 GHz band, but the camera requires a 2.4 GHz network. During the setup, the camera will retrieve Wi-Fi information from your phone, so if your phone is connected to a 5 GHz Wi-Fi, Geeni will fail to connect.
One of the first things I noticed about the Geeni Look is that the provided cord isn’t very long — just 40 inches — so I was going to be pretty limited in where I could place it if I didn’t want to dust off a bulky extension cord. This is one of the reasons I usually prefer wireless cameras.
Pro Tip: If you agree that wireless cameras are the way to go with your home security system, check out my roundup of the best battery-operated security cameras on the market. You can stick ’em anywhere and watch anything!
First things first: The Geeni Look’s picture quality is pretty outstanding for a camera that costs less than $40. It has 720p resolution, which is less than the industry standard of 1080p, but the sensor Geeni sticks into these things really makes the colors and contrast pop.
The 120-degree field of view felt a bit limited, but when positioned correctly, the Look will capture what you need it to, made easier by the flexible neck. At night, the IR sensor kicks in and you get some pretty crisp pictures of what’s prowling around. Hopefully it’s just the cat — even if it has creepy glowing eyes.
Day or night, the Geeni Look gets the job done to a satisfactory level. I certainly wasn’t blown away by it, but I also didn’t feel like I wasn’t getting my money’s worth. The camera, after all, is only $35.
With that in mind, let’s talk features.
Simply put, there aren’t any. There. Wasn’t that easy?
Jokes aside, this is a very simple camera with very limited functionality. The only thing you’ll get out of it is motion and sound detection, which in my testing was a little bit spotty. It picked up everything for the most part, but there were definitely moments it missed.
You won’t find the high-tech facial-recognition features I lauded in my review of Google Nest Cam with the Geeni, but you could also buy five Geeni Looks for the same price as a Nest.
The Geeni offers two-way talk, but it leaves something to be desired. It records audio just fine, but the speaker in the back seems like it’s made from a crushed-up soup can. Audio coming out of it is barely decipherable, so you may want to check out a Ring Stick Up Cam if you want a camera that’ll let you talk to the babysitter.
That’s about it for the Look, so on to our next camera.
I’m going to try to get through this section without making a Lynyrd Skynyrd joke, so bear with me. The Freebird is Geeni’s flagship outdoor wireless camera, and at $89.99, it’s about half the price of an Arlo Essentials cam. It takes ‘being wireless’ to a whole other level – it runs on battery so you don’t have to plug it in. So far, so good.
Similar to its diminutive counterpart, the Freebird doesn’t come with a whole lot in the box. There’s the unit itself, two mounting options — which I’ll talk about in just a second — a handful of hardware, a charger, and a manual you likely won’t have to look at.
The camera itself felt a little heftier than the Look, which was encouraging. Once I had it charged up, which took about four hours, I was ready to go install it. Something to note: Geeni says the Freebird will last for about three months on a full charge, but that depends entirely on how much activity it will be capturing. If you place it in a high-traffic area, you may be taking it down fairly frequently to give it more juice.
Setting up the Freebird was exactly as easy as setting up the Look. Since I already had the app downloaded, I just tapped “add new camera” and scanned the QR code again, and I was up and running.
FYI: Even though I was using an iPhone to test our Geeni products, they work just as well with Android devices. Geeni also plays well with Alexa and Google home.
Installation was almost as easy as getting the camera set up in the app. I picked the magnetic mount, so all it took was lining up two screws and sticking the magnet in the camera up to the metal bubble. Once attached, I could easily move the camera around to get it positioned just right, but the magnet was powerful enough that the camera stayed put throughout the duration of our testing period.
Of course, that also means someone could knock it over with a broomstick. If you want a more permanent setup, you can use the other mounting option included: a secure mount. I chose not to because I wanted the flexibility of the magnetic mount, but that’s something to keep in mind as an option.
Remember to mount outdoor security cameras a little above your head, since that’s where they’re designed to do the best. (For more information on that, you can check out our guide to security camera placement.)
Now that the Freebird is up and running, let’s have a look at what it’s looking at.
Similar to the Look, I was immediately impressed by the picture quality offered by the Freebird. Its resolution is ratcheted up a bit — this time it’s 1080p — and the color and contrast are really dialed in.
At night, the camera did incredibly well. It didn’t have color night vision like the Wyze Outdoor Cam V2 I reviewed, but it was more impressive than the night vision on the Blink Outdoor, a similarly priced, battery-powered outdoor camera from the Amazon-owned brand Blink. For starters, even though there were objects near the camera, the camera didn’t pick up as much glare as when I tested the Blink Outdoor.
As far as core functionality goes — that is, the ability to capture detail day or night — the Freebird passes muster. I wasn’t necessarily floored by the picture quality, but it’s definitely enough to get the job done.
Pro Tip: If you want some truly outstanding views, check out our review of Lorex cameras. The company offers a huge lineup of equipment, and many record in eye-popping 4K.
Of course, I set up the Freebird outside not just to enjoy a view of birds and squirrels playing in my backyard. I wanted it to catch motion and alert me so I’d know if there’s someone sneaking around – whether that someone is an intruder or a raccoon trying to get to my compost bin.
The Freebird felt a little more reliable than the Look. Its motion detection seemed to be slightly more accurate, and I didn’t feel like it was missing anything important. Just to make sure, though, I simulated some scenarios of someone trying to trespass. I tried running really fast, crawling close to the ground, and hiding behind objects – the Freebird got me everytime.
Are there any additional features to make this Freebird really sing?
Again, sadly, this well is dry. It was easily forgivable with the $35 Geeni Look, but the lack of features on the Freebird feels a little more glaring. Its two-way talk function was certainly better than the Look’s — which is basically nonfunctional — but it’s still not great.
I didn’t expect to see crazy AI-driven facial and package recognition in a camera that costs less than $100, but maybe an activity zone or something? A siren? Anything? This is the first time, in my opinion, that the Freebird really fell short.
I’d hate to end on a sour note though. One thing I will say on functionality — although maybe not necessarily a feature — is that the Freebird’s ability to connect to Wi-Fi was pretty astonishing. I installed the camera on the opposite side of my home from the Wi-Fi router, so I was definitely expecting some service interruptions. But they never happened. Will your experience be the same? Tough to say, but I’d bet you’ll be surprised too.
That’s all there is to say about the cameras. Overall, I was impressed but not bowled over. Before we wrap up, though, I want to talk about your storage options with Geeni. It’s an important consideration before purchasing.
Nearly every home security camera manufacturer I’ve reviewed has some sort of cloud storage option. So many, in fact, that we created a roundup of the best cloud storage packages available. You’re not going to see Geeni on that list, though, because it doesn’t offer one. Not yet, anyway.
It looks like Geeni is preparing to release some type of cloud storage plan, but it’s currently not “in stock,” whatever that means. The cameras can take snapshots and you can prompt them to record to your phone, but if you want to record motion activity when the camera triggers, you’ll need to purchase a micro SD card. Local storage may seem a little archaic, but it has its advantages — particularly if you’re concerned about your data living somewhere you don’t have control over.
With all that in mind, let’s crunch the numbers to see if Geeni is a good bet for protecting your home.
Geeni performed better than expected, but not by leaps and bounds. The cameras didn’t knock it out of the park in terms of features and flash, but when it comes to bang for your buck, they’re on point. The cameras won’t wow you, but they won’t disappoint either. Also keep in mind that these are only two models in a huge lineup of smart security equipment offered by the company. (More on that in our guide to Geeni’s equipment and prices.) If you’re looking for affordable cameras that will get the job done but not much else, Geeni may be the right brand for you.
Not exactly what you’re looking for? Check out our list of the best affordable home security cameras. There are a lot of options that won’t break the bank while keeping an eye on things for you.
No, Geeni is an affordable brand.
Geeni doesn’t offer cloud services; videos are stored locally.
Geeni is owned by Merkury Innovations.
Geeni cameras don’t have advanced features, but they’re solid when it comes to core functionality.
Yes, Geeni has a large lineup of home automation and security products.