Zosi’s pro-grade cameras are pretty spectacular, except for this strange behavior we observed at night.
If you’re a home security camera buff, you’ve probably heard of Zosi. The company has been around for about a decade. In those 10 or so years, they’ve produced a mammoth collection of pro-grade security cameras, second in sheer variety only to Lorex. Lorex happens to be one our top security camera picks this year, so that’s not bad company.
At the same time, picking your way through the forest of Zosi’s offerings isn’t easy. Right out the gate you’re going to run into PoE systems and NVR devices, wireless cameras, and wire-free cameras. This may just tempt you to click to the safety of a zero-fuss Ring system or a DIY SimpliSafe kit, two easy alternatives you can set up in under an hour.
My advice? Hold your horses. In this hands-on Zosi security system review, I’m going to focus on one of Zosi’s more affordable, no-headache options, the 5MP Wi-Fi Security Camera System. It’s the one I tested and probably most like the security systems you’re familiar with: cameras paired with a base station and an app.
Pro Tip: PoE sounds fancy but it actually just means Power over Ethernet. In other words, a PoE camera gets its juice when you plug it into your router or an ethernet outlet.
Check out more recommendations from the SafeHome team:
One thing I liked about my Zosi 5MP Wi-Fi security cameras was the relatively empty box: two cameras and a base station. No motion sensors, no entryway sensors. Zosi was going back to basics.
FYI: IP stands for Ingress Protection, or how well an electrical device stops things from entering (and destroying it). IP ratings are usually two numbers – the first is for solids, the second for liquids.1 Zosi’s IP66 rating means it keeps all dust out, and it can withstand powerful jets of water.
On the other hand, the glut of power adapters and ethernet cables reminded me that these cameras were going to need to be plugged in permanently; not necessarily into my router, but into the wall. Compared to my recent experience testing Eufy’s 3rd-gen eufyCams, where batteries lasted 180 days, I have to say that this seemed like a clumsy way of keeping watch over my home.
Despite all those cords, my Zosi cameras looked hearty with sturdy metal frames and a solid IP66 weather rating. If you’re going to be using your Zosis outside, however, just remember that you’ll need an electricity socket nearby.
As with all the top wireless security systems we’ve tested in these pages, I had to get my Zosi equipment online before I could use it. This meant downloading the Zosi Smart app.
One thing I’ll point out is that Zosi did ask me to share my location during setup. But because this wasn’t a monitored security system, where that information would have actually helped first responders get to me quicker in an emergency, I denied Zosi access.
Pairing my base station and two cameras took under three minutes. I started with the base station, then found my cameras on the app menu, scanned the QR codes, held them next to the station, and boom — I was connected.
Did You Know? Zosi’s 5MP Wi-Fi Security Camera System uses microSD cards in the cameras to record video locally. You can pair up to eight cameras with the base station and record up to 128 GB on each. If that’s not enough storage, you can always purchase more in the cloud.
My Zosi cameras were easy enough to mount. Three screws (apiece) and a 6mm drill bit was all I needed. But the viewing range wasn’t great — 70 to 75 degrees max. So I was basically monitoring the street in front of my house. If someone snuck up from the side, I’d be blind.
Considering that, if this was a permanent solution for my home, I’d also invest in a quality video doorbell, where the field of vision is a lot better. Ring doorbell cams clock in at 160 degrees, for example, while Lorex video doorbells give you up to 164.
I didn’t have any issues with Wi-Fi range because my cameras were pretty close to my router, but if you’re covering more property — say a garage, shed, or fence — Zosi’s cameras use HaLow™ Wi-Fi technology, so you’d be covered.
Pro Tip: The HaLow Wi-Fi standard uses sub-GHz frequencies to travel greater distances and penetrate solid obstacles that might stop regular 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies. HaLow Wi-Fi also uses less energy.
Here are Zosi’s three top-selling camera systems side by side. The advantage of the 3MP Wireless Security Camera System (center) is you don’t need electricity or ethernet, only batteries. But the trade-off is poorer video quality. I’ll have more to say about Zosi’s video quality down below when we get into using Zosi cameras on the day to day.
|4K PoE Security Camera System
|3MP Wireless Security Camera System
|5MP Wi-Fi Security Camera System
Note: Zosi’s PoE Security Camera System and 3MP Wireless Security Camera System come with NVRs, not a base station.
One thing I liked about Zosi is that each of their top camera systems comes with the same goodies: a two-way audio, spotlights, and an alarm. Kudos to Zosi for not crippling any of their hardware to bump me up into a more expensive price bracket.
Otherwise, if you’re on the fence between Zosi’s 4K PoE and 5MP systems, you’re probably not going to notice too much of a difference in image quality. The big difference is that the 4K PoE system requires ethernet for power. So again, if you’re mounting your Zosi cameras outside, this may be a job for Bob Villa.
In terms of pricing, Zosi’s cameras are firmly mid-range at about $40 to $50 a pop (including the cost of the NVR). You can dip lower with certain Lorex models, but Ring security cameras start at $59.99, and SimpliSafe’s ever-popular SimpiCams run $99 a piece. So Zosi’s pricing isn’t prohibitive.
Also don’t forget that by the time you get done building your SimpliSafe security system, you’ll likely have added on a few other gadgets, like motion, entryway, and CO sensors, driving up your bill. Check out our hands-on SimpliSafe review to see what those packages look like in action.
On balance, to my mind, the question with Zosi wasn’t so much price, as:
FYI: If you thought your home security system was a pain to wire, these five completely over-the-top celebrity security set-ups will put things into perspective.
My Zosi cameras didn’t disappoint. Daytime images were quite crisp, as you’d expect from 5MP cameras. Like most AI-enhanced security cameras, however, Zosi is still figuring out how to detect humans. The C308AHs could identify people pretty accurately, but facial recognition wasn’t an option yet. Practically speaking, that meant I couldn’t tag the kiddos and get alerts when they were at the front door. If you’re looking for advanced AI face recognition, check out Vivint security systems.
Zosi’s alarms are built right into their cameras. I could toggle mine on and off via the app. The Zosi alarm clocked in at 85 dBA, the bare minimum. From a distance, it sounded almost like a very loud version of a battery-powered fighter jet I bought my boy. The thing would go into “attack mode” in the middle of the night from within his toy box, and you’d cover your ears with a pillow until it stopped.
Zosi’s night vision had two modes: black and white, and color. Neither worked well for me. The actual picture quality wasn’t bad, but when the camera tried to track human movement, objects literally wavered like phantasms. The overall effect was kind of eerie, and not the kind of thing I’d want to be dealing with in the middle of the night when I was trying to identify a potential prowler on my property.
Pro Tip: Security cameras with night vision spray our yards with infrared light and then collect the light reflected from the objects it hits, letting us see in the dark.
Zosi takes a beating on Trustpilot, earning a mere 2.9 out of 5 stars. Generally, I take these scores with a grain of salt, especially with brands like Zosi, whose cameras aren’t all a walk in the park to set up. When installations go south, tempers usually go with them.
Personally, I breezed through my installation this time around. But I am aware that when dealing with non-U.S.-based manufacturers, customer support can be an issue, whether the culprit is time zones, language barriers, or just lackluster help.
I also know that when it comes to security cameras, a call with customer support is usually in the cards at some point. So if you want to play it safe, there’s no harm in sticking with a security company that gets stellar reviews like SimpliSafe or Cove. Cove security systems score a solid 4.6 on Trustpilot. They’re also a cinch to install. Check out my full Cove review, and read about a surprise emergency response in action!
Did You Know?Security systems without professional monitoring are cheaper because you don’t pay any monthly bills. On the other hand, when you’ve got a security situation on your property, you’re on your own.
Zosi’s 5MP Wi-Fi security cameras (C308AHs) are probably not going to be ideal for anything but the most basic front or backyard surveillance. In fact, I’d be tempted to only use these cameras indoors because they need power, and nighttime image quality wasn’t great.
On the other hand, I hesitate to recommend Zosi’s wired equipment because setting it up is going to stretch most of our DIY skills to the breaking point. Zosi equipment requires quasi-pro installations.
Considering all of that, if I was choosing for my home, I’d go with Zosi’s battery-operated cameras. The plus here is that solar charging is an option. Zosi’s solar panels only cost $24.99 a piece, FYI. The downside is that instead of a simple base station, Zosi’s completely wire-free cameras come with a network video recorder (NVR), so you’ll be graduating to a 7-Eleven-type CCTV set-up.
Sound like a headache? Then you may be better off with one of these five-star DIY home security systems.
In our tests, image quality was very good during the day, but we had issues at night. On the other hand, Wi-Fi range was excellent.
Zosi cameras aren’t too expensive. All of the models we looked at were between $40 and $50.
Zosi is a Chinese company.
No, not all of them. But if you choose a system that uses NVR, it comes bundled in with your package.
We think the battery-powered 3MP Wireless Security Camera System is the most practical of Zosi’s security systems for the average user.
International Electrotechnical Commission. IP ratings.
IoT Times. (2022, Mar 8). Wi-Fi HaLow: Designed for the Internet of Things.