Logitech’s Circle View is an OK security camera if you want to go all in with Apple

The $160 Logitech Circle View weatherproof security camera only supports Apple HomeKit, Siri and HomeKit Secure Video. There’s no Logitech app — and the company doesn’t have plans to add Alexa or Google Assistant into the mix. Like The camera performs well and has a sturdy weatherproof design for outside […]

The $160 Logitech Circle View weatherproof security camera only supports Apple HomeKit, Siri and HomeKit Secure Video. There’s no Logitech app — and the company doesn’t have plans to add Alexa or Google Assistant into the mix.

Like

  • The camera performs well and has a sturdy weatherproof design for outside use
  • Ask Siri to show your security camera and your phone will display the live feed

Don’t Like

  • It only works with Apple HomeKit and the iOS-only Home app
  • HomeKit Secure Video’s promised 10 days of free cloud storage isn’t actually free

It really is Apple or nothing with this one. 

For some folks, that’s just fine. Use Apple’s Home app on your iOS device of choice to set up your Circle View camera, to view its live feed and to adjust your settings. You can also enlist Siri to show the live video feed if you want to use voice commands.

It’s a huge bonus that HomeKit Secure Video includes 10 days of free cloud storage, but you have to set up a compatible Apple hub to enable that feature and it isn’t *really* free (I’ll go into more detail on this below). 

Overall, this is a decent camera, with plenty of features and solid performance. But it limits itself by only supporting Apple via the Home app. If you don’t mind those limitations, this might be a good option. Otherwise, look elsewhere. 

Read more: The best Apple HomeKit devices for 2020

Logitech’s new security camera

I like the design of the indoor/outdoor Circle View more than any of Logitech’s previous Circle cameras. The Circle View feels sturdy, it has a subtle black finish and the camera swivels and bends in pretty much any direction to accommodate your installation needs. For privacy, Logitech says you can rotate the camera down to ensure it won’t record, but you can also press the button on the back of the camera to turn off its audio and video capabilities quickly and easily. 

This camera comes with a 10-foot white power adapter that’s built into the back of the camera and a USB power supply. I’d prefer a black adapter to complement the camera’s design, but it’s fine. The Circle View camera must be connected to the adapter 24/7 — there’s no rechargeable battery option here.

The Circle View has 1080p HD live streaming, a 180-degree field of view, free 10-day cloud storage (with HomeKit Secure Video), motion detection, Siri voice capabilities and night vision. Everything is accessible through the Home app on iPhones and iPads with iOS/iPadOS 13.2 or newer. 

Initially setting up the camera is simple (the confusing part comes later). Plug in the camera, open your Home app and follow the prompts in the app to add a new accessory. For the Circle View camera, that mainly entailed scanning the QR code on the bottom of the camera — and voila. My Circle View camera began live streaming right away. 

In the settings, I enabled notifications and was able to get Siri to open the live feed for me with the command, “Siri, show my security camera.” Everything worked well. 

But there’s a catch. 

circleview2

The out-of-the-box features, like motion alerts, worked great. Setting up my Apple TV HD as a HomeKit hub was much more confusing. 


Screenshots by CNET

When you go into the settings section to enable cloud recording and some of the other HomeKit Secure Video features, you get a pop-up window that reads: “Home Hub Required: To change camera modes or set up recording, add an Apple TV (fourth generation or later) or HomePod to this home to act as a home hub.”

If you don’t already have one of these devices, you’ll have to buy one to access free cloud recording and camera modes. That makes this camera’s somewhat reasonable $160 price a little less reasonable… given that you have to already have — or buy — another piece of hardware to get seemingly straightforward security camera features to work. 

Requiring a HomeKit hub is a security measure that ties into frustrations that have existed since HomeKit was first announced in 2014. The Apple smart home platform has grown more slowly than Alexa and Google Assistant, with comparatively fewer third-party device integrations than its competitors and more complicated set up requirements. Others prefer its stricter privacy and security policies.

That’s ultimately a balance you have to weigh for yourself, but it would help if Apple made the HomeKit hub easier to pair.

In theory, it should work like this, copied straight from an Apple support page: 

  1. On your Apple TV, go to Settings > Users and Accounts and make sure that you’re signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID as your iOS device.
  2. After you sign in to iCloud, your Apple TV automatically sets itself up as a home hub. 

To see if your Apple TV is connected as a home hub, go to Settings on your Apple TV. Then go to Users and Accounts > iCloud and look under Home Hub.

It would be great if it really had been that easy, but those steps absolutely did not work. After checking to make sure my Apple TV was, in fact, compatible (it was), double-confirming that my software was up-to-date (also, yes) and logging in and out of iCloud on both my iPhone 8 Plus and my Apple TV HD, I still couldn’t get it to work. 

My Apple TV was also telling me I needed to enable AirPlay 2, but the steps I had been trying straight from the Apple TV instructions — making sure my phone was unlocked, that Bluetooth was enabled on my phone and then placing my phone near the Apple TV yielded no results — just the same screen on my Apple TV telling me to set up AirPlay 2. 

At this point, I caved in and called Apple customer service. Turns out, all of my iCloud stuff was fine and it was ultimately a simple fix to connect AirPlay 2. All I had to do was unplug my Apple TV for six seconds and try again and it connected immediately. 

But nowhere in any of the myriad support pages I read suggested that option. I would say that’s an anomaly, but HomeKit has caused us varied, but similarly frustrating issues, across the different HomeKit-compatible devices we’ve tested over the years. 

Once I got the HomeKit hub to work, my Apple TV appeared in the Home app above my Circle View camera and I had the option to enable cloud storage. However, tucked away on this Logitech Circle View product page is this cloud storage requirement: “A supported iCloud plan to store activity history – one camera on 200GB plan / up to 5 cameras on 2TB plan.”

Yes, if you’re like me and you don’t already pay for an upgraded iCloud storage plan, you’ll have to pay at least $3 per month for your camera to record. So it isn’t really free after all. Bummer.

circleview3

Wait, you have to pay for iCloud storage?


Screenshots by CNET

The Circle View belongs to Apple

The $160 Logitech Circle View is a good security camera that’s held back by the more confusing aspects of Apple’s HomeKit hub requirements. That said, I like the additional measures in place here in an effort to make your security camera more secure. 10 days of free cloud storage would be a major bonus, but if you don’t already have an upgraded iCloud storage plan, you still have to pay for it.

If you’re an Apple customer who already has a compatible Apple TV or HomePod and an upgraded iCloud plan, the indoor/outdoor Circle View might be a good choice. Everyone else should weigh the expense of buying the camera, a HomeKit hub device and an iCloud plan with their interest in having a HomeKit-enabled security camera. 

Rosa G. Rose

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