Zmodo Camera Review

Affordable plug-and-play security cameras are tops in video quality, and perform well despite occasional tech hiccups.

7.3 / 10Our rating methodology (aka SecureScoreTM is a combination of our research, product testing, customer sentiment and several other factors.
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Travis Goodreau https://www.safehome.org/security-advisors/travis-goodreau/
7.3 SecureScore™
How We Review
How We Review
Customer Service
6.9
Value
8.1
Equipment
7.4
Features & Technology
6.8
Ease Of Use
7.2
SecureScore™
7.3

Before we begin with our hands-on review of Zmodo security cameras, we have a riddle for you.

What’s small, cute, and takes really good pictures?

Zmodo cameras on display

Other than yours truly, of course.

It’s Zmodo, the Shenzhen, China-based electronics powerhouse1 that offers crisp 1080p HD video, 65-foot night vision, motion alerts, and optional cloud recording in their affordable indoor and outdoor security cameras. They also make smart doorbell cameras and other innovative smart home products, including a light-camera combo for lamp posts, which sounds really cool to us!

For our review, we purchased two Zmodo cameras: the standard 1080p HD, plug-in, outdoor Wi-Fi camera Zmodo is known for, and the Sight 180 C, an indoor/outdoor model with a wide field of view and a slim design.

Zmodo security cameras

While these two look quite small and unassuming at first glance, we think you’ll see that there’s much more to these Zmodo cameras than meets the eye.

Stick around while we get to know Zmodo!

PROS
  • Low-cost cameras
  • Does not require a cloud storage plan
  • Clear 1080p video quality
  • Variety of indoor camera options
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 1-year warranty

CONS
  • Advanced features require a paid plan
  • Only two outdoor camera options
  • Some delay on wake time in app
  • No built-in siren
  • Two-Way Talk is not available on the 1080p cam

Unboxing Zmodo

First, we want to say that we always appreciate a handy instruction manual in the box when we get ready to review a camera. This one even has little screenshots next to each step so you can match the image to what you’re seeing on your phone.

We do need to note, though, that if you’re not good at folding a map, you might have a bit of trouble with this one.

But, we have more pressing matters to address. Like, for one, how easy it is to install these cameras! All we had to do was find a good spot, line up the camera so it’s fixed in exactly the position we wanted it, and – a few screws and a little elbow grease later – we were up and running.

Zmodo 1080p

We do have one word of caution, though. While we were installing our outdoor camera, we noticed that it’s very top-heavy; we knew we had to secure our camera very carefully to ensure it wouldn’t lose its position, or worse, fall and break.

We double- and triple-checked to make sure our camera was secure before we went back inside, just in case. And we recommend that you do the same.

Did You Know: DIY camera installation is usually easy, but it’s not for everyone. Brands like Vivint are usually installed and hardwired by professionals because they involve a bit more than camera installation. So if you desire a house full of security cameras but don’t feel confident doing the work yourself, you might want to consider a brand that offers professional installation.

After that, we turned to our next camera: the Sight 180 C. This camera immediately reminded us of a stripped-down doorbell camera, primarily because of its long, flat shape. Clearly, this camera was made with versatility in mind; the attached support stand is adjustable, and its size and weight make it easy to mount to a wall. And, if you want the option of moving your camera around the house, you can simply place the camera on a surface, on its support stand, without any mounting at all.

Zmodo Sight 180 C

With both cameras in place, we turned to Zmodo’s app to continue with the setup process.

Our Experience with Zmodo App

Ah, the app. We love having one centralized platform to view our cameras, and access all of their features. Keep in mind that setting up security cameras these days almost always requires downloading an app, and this was no different.

From there, we followed the prompts to set up each camera in the app’s dashboard.

Zmodo app device addition

This is where things got just a little clunky – for a minute.

The app told us that in order to set up our devices, we had to put in our Wi-Fi network login and password. Pretty easy, right?

Zmodo app Wi-Fi connection

Except that this process was a little different. When we accidentally put in the wrong Wi-Fi password the first time, the app moved to the next step – scanning the camera’s QR code2 – rather than prompting us to re-insert the password.

So, what we had, essentially, was a failure to communicate. This added several minutes to a pretty simple setup process. Of course, this doesn’t affect the day-to-day use of these cameras, but we still thought it was worth a mention. So word to the wise, take your time typing in your Wi-Fi password!

Once we discovered this little hiccup, we’ll admit, it made setting up the other camera much easier.

Then, once we saw that both camera displays were accessible from our app, we sat back and watched. It was time to see the world through Zmodo’s eyes!

Our Experience with Zmodo 1080p

Zmodo 1080p

If you’re like us, you might get to this step in the process and wonder: How does such a small, inexpensive camera like the Zmodo 1080p take such stunning pictures and videos?

Zmodo 1080p image quality

Indeed, we were blown away by the image and video quality this $34 camera produces. It harkens us back to another inexpensive yet well-performing camera in our review lineup: the Wyze Pan Cam, which at $30 presents another truly affordable option but also packs a punch in performance.

While not quite as impressive as our Zmodo in video quality, Wyze certainly holds up as a viable alternative.

So, if video quality is a priority for you – and most likely it is – you’ll be impressed with Zmodo. And, with that low price tag, it’s easy to justify buying a bundle of cameras for a fully monitored security camera experience. If that’s what you’re after, we think you’ll appreciate Zmodo’s 2-, 3-, or 4-pack kits. It surely makes the whole buying experience easier!

Here’s a full breakdown of Zmodo’s products and prices:

Zmodo CamerasCamera TypeKey FeaturesPrice
Sight 180Indoor1080p HD resolution, two-way talk, magnetic swivel base$79.99
Sight 180CIndoor180-degree viewing angle, two-way talk, night vision$79.00
Snap PTIndoor1080p HD, 360-degree pan & tilt, wireless charging pad$199.99
PivotIndoorTwo-way talk, built-in Bluetooth speaker, smart device hub$59.99
Pivot CloudIndoor1080p HD, 350-degree rotation, smart home hub$119.99
1080p Indoor/OutdoorIndoor & OutdoorMotion zones and alerts, 65 ft. night vision, DIY installation$39.99
Torch 360Outdoor1080p HD, light controls, 360-degree field of view$129.99
24-Channel SystemOutdoorN-Channel Security System$999.99+
Greet LiteVideo Doorbell720p HD resolution, motion-triggered recording$70.00

Our Experience with Sight 180 C

Zmodo indoor camera

We’ll get right to the point: This is one of the widest-angle camera lenses we’ve reviewed. The Sight 180 C has a 180-degree angle, which is about 50 degrees more than its most in-demand competitors. Ring’s Stick Up Camera, for instance, has a viewing angle of 130 degrees.

We like to call our Zmodo Sight 180 C our panoramic camera. Throughout our tests of the Sight 180 C, we noticed how much more activity this camera picked up than its similarly-priced peers; this was especially helpful when we were trying to keep an eye on our fast, troublemaking puppy darting across the first floor of our house while we were out running errands.

Zmodo Sight 180 C video quality

And, with all that coverage, it meant that we didn’t have to buy extra cameras to pick up what this one missed.

So if coverage is what you’re after, we think this is a great pick. Keep in mind, also, that user reviews of Sight 180 C bear this out; most users seem to love the extra coverage and have become lifelong customers because of it.

But like so many cameras we review, this one doesn’t come without some downsides.

First off, there’s no siren. Can you live with that? For indoors, we could. So this became a great, low-budget way for us to keep all the little ankle-biters in our home in check. We think we like it this way! However, it’s nice to have a siren on outdoor cameras, as it serves as an active crime deterrent. That’s one minor gripe we had about the Sight 180 C.

Night Vision

We’ve been wowed by that crystal-clear quality delivered by both of our Zmodo cams. But would we be similarly impressed by how they performed at night?

Short answer? Why, yes, we would.

Zmodo outdoor night vision

But not in the way you’d think.

You see, the quality of the night vision on these cameras could be better. We think that’s pretty evident in the photo above.

Our first thought was that the video quality on these cameras was akin to that of another inexpensive DIY camera, the Amazon-affiliated Blink XT2. We saw, for instance, a problem with glare; any light in this camera’s field of view produced a strong halo effect that rendered any objects at or around it virtually invisible.

And then there’s the textbook blurriness, which was to be expected. Tree branches blending in with the night sky doesn’t help either.

But, guess what? All of those things are pretty standard in cameras of this price point when it comes to night vision, so we were neither surprised nor disappointed.

That’s because there’s a lot that our Zmodo camera has that the aforementioned Blink camera does not. For one, there’s Night Vision Sensitivity, which helps us fine-tune alerts based on the sensitivity of the motion.

Zmodo app night vision sensitivity

But it doesn’t end there. Our Zmodo camera also distinguishes between objects. In addition to straight-up motion, our camera was able to tell us if said motion was a person, animal, or vehicle.

They call fancy little features like this “intelligent alerts.” And we intelligent, safety-minded people really like that!

Smart Home Integration

Look, she hasn’t learned to cook us dinner or clean our bathroom yet. But Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa3, can still learn a great deal about the devices in your home and allow you to use those devices hands-free. We wanted to check this out for ourselves, so we put it to work with our Zmodo cams.

So, here’s the thing. Using Alexa to control our Zmodo cameras is not as simple as using Alexa to control, say, a Ring Doorbell.

Zmodo Alexa app connection

That’s because Amazon owns Ring4, and Ring’s skill is embedded in our Amazon Echo Show.

Zmodo, clearly, is not owned by Amazon. So we had to do a little more legwork to get Alexa to recognize our third-party Zmodo cameras.

To do this, we went into our Amazon Alexa app in our phones and searched for Zmodo under Skills.

Then, we had to enter our Zmodo login and password.

And there it was! Not too difficult, but a little more time-consuming than Ring’s smart home experience.

Zmodo Alexa display

The cool thing was, we could just leave this display up for as long as we wanted. So any time we heard something that didn’t sound right, or we knew we’d be getting a delivery, we didn’t have to stop whatever else we were doing to check on it. This team of multitaskers was quite grateful!

Zmodo Subscriptions

Zmodo cloud plans

As we’ve been seeing more and more nowadays, subscription plans are becoming the way we’re all doing home security.

Zmodo’s menu of subscription plans is pretty standard for the industry: one basic plan for no charge, and a few upgrades that add a little pizzazz to our technology. For our purposes, we chose the premium plan, which gives us 7 days of free recording, among other features. That’s 7 more days than we had before, so we’ll take it!

Here’s a look at Zmodo’s subscription options:

Zmodo Cloud PlanBasic7-Day Plan30-Day Plan
Video History Lookback12 hours7 days continuous cloud recording30 days continuous cloud recording
Alert Clip StorageNo7 days30 days
Custom Motion ZonesNoYesYes
Video Editor & Time Lapse ClipsNoYesYes
Monthly PriceFree$4.99$9.99
Yearly PriceFree$49.90$99.90

Customer Service

Zmodo support

We found Zmodo’s customer service experience to be useful, yet inconsistent. They’ve got plenty of help for people having trouble with installation and troubleshooting for lots of different topics. But in the event that you can’t find answers to your questions through the support page, we were happy to find a customer service phone number that led us pretty quickly to an agent, who answered our questions thoroughly.

We’ve also heard from people whose customer service experience was less than stellar; some have complained that the agent they called wasn’t knowledgeable enough about cameras but could write a novella about Zmodo’s state-of-the-art Wi-Fi extender.

Not the ideal outcome when you call an electronics company, so we understand the disconnect. For us, however, the experience was hassle-free.

A Final Note on Zmodo

As we continued to test and explore our Zmodo Sight 180 C and 1080p security cameras, we came across something that we couldn’t quite categorize, or compare to anything else.

Within the app’s Cloud settings, there’s a page that looks like this:

Zmodo cloud

At first glance, it looks like just another camera dashboard.

But, take another sniff, and you’ll see that this page is actually a bunch of displays of animal rescues around the U.S. that are streaming their live camera feeds on Zmodo’s app, for some serious cuteness.

Even better: We learned that some of the pets we can see through these live feeds are available for adoption5. Other apps do this, but this is the first one we’ve seen in a security camera app. We love it!

Except we don’t entirely understand why this page just isn’t called “Pets” or “Devices in Action” or something similar, instead of “What is this page?” Can’t they just tell us what the page is?

But again, a minor gripe. After giving these cameras a good three-day run, we can say without hesitation that our Zmodo cameras deliver almost exactly what they promised, right up to that top-notch, crystal-clear video. So if you’re on the market for an affordable security camera that doesn’t skimp on features, we think Zmodo is definitely worth a consideration.

Zmodo camera pluged in

Zmodo FAQs

Do Zmodo cameras have artificial intelligence with their motion detection?

No, but they do have intelligent alerts to distinguish between people, animals, and vehicles when motion is detected. For a truly A.I.-driven experience, you might try Google Nest Cams, which goes a step further to recognize individual faces.

Do you have to pay for a subscription plan to use Zmodo’s cameras?

No, you can stick with Zmodo’s free option and skip the cloud storage plans (though the premium plan is only $4 per month). The free (basic) plan will save a maximum of 7 hours of video history.

How do I know my Wi-Fi signal is strong enough for Zmodo cameras to work correctly?

You might have obstacles interfering with your signal that are causing delays in the camera’s performance. For us, we experienced that delay once; it was a busy time of day with many devices running in our home at the same time, and one of our cameras didn’t load in time to see a car pull into our driveway. But if issues like that are occurring frequently, you might want to upgrade your home Wi-Fi speed, or consider one of Zmodo’s Wi-Fi extenders.

Do all of Zmodo’s cameras come with 1080p resolution?

No. Zmodo’s $41 indoor Dome camera, which is sold in a 2-pack, comes with 720p. It still captures plenty of activity, but the clarity definitely suffers.

Do Zmodo cameras have motion zones?

The Sight 180 C and the standard 1080p do not have motion zones, so you can’t block out certain areas of your camera view to avoid. You can, however, crop in on a certain spot in your view for closer investigation.

Do Zmodo cameras have infrared night vision?

Yes. All but Zmodo’s Torch 360 camera, which is meant for torch lights or lamp posts, have infrared night vision. So you’ll see footage in black and white, but a much clearer picture than standard night vision.

Citations
SafeHome only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Tong, S. Marketplace.org. Minnesota Public Radio. (2019, June 27). Shenzhen: birthplace to Huawei — plus several other Chinese tech behemoths. https://www.marketplace.org/2019/06/27/shenzhen-birthplace-huawei-chinese-tech-giants/

  2. Lyne, M. Search Engine Land. (2009, Oct. 15). What is a QR Code, And Why Do You Need One? https://searchengineland.com/what-is-a-qr-code-and-why-do-you-need-one-27588

  3. Rawes, E. and Wetzel, K. Digital Trends. (2020, Aug. 7). What is Alexa, Where Does She Come From, And How Does She Work? https://www.digitaltrends.com/home/what-is-amazons-alexa-and-what-can-it-do/

  4. Schleifer, T. and Del Rey, J. Vox. (2018, Feb. 27). Amazon is making its second-biggest acquisition ever — the doorbell company Ring. https://www.vox.com/2018/2/27/17059768/amazon-ring-acquisition-doorbell

  5. The Humane Society of the United States. (2020) Adopting from an animal shelter or rescue group. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/adopting-animal-shelter-or-rescue-group

Reviewed By
Travis Goodreau
Safety and Security Advisor
Travis is a retired Burglary Detective, having tallied 5,000+ burglary and theft cases throughout his career. He also served as an Arson Investigator, where he cracked the case of a serial arsonist, and made the arrest and prosecuted the would-be bomber of ABC-7 Studio in LA. We couldn’t be happier to have him as a Safety and Security Advisor. Learn more about Travis here
Written By
Jaime Fraze
Security Camera Expert
Jaime Fraze is an experienced digital editor in the tech, business and food spaces, having produced content for clients ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to fledgling nonprofits for more than 15 years. As a wife, mother and homeowner, she understands that buying home security products can be confusing and overwhelming. That’s why Jaime has constantly strived to ensure that every piece of content she produces has met SafeHome.org’s rigorous standards, and that her readers come away with the power to make better, smarter decisions. Learn more about Jaime here

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