Modern smart cameras are an easy way to add a little extra security to your home thanks to convenient app controls, and just like much of the tech that we use today, they get better — and cheaper every year. The latest and greatest smart cameras can go completely wire-free for months at a time with rechargeable batteries, all while supplying ultra-high-definition 4K imagery, and even have live views summoned on-demand using just our voice.
However, one area that hasn't changed much over the years is how smart cameras perform at night or in the dark. The most popular cameras either rely on the classic black and white infrared view or offer limited color views with bulky integrated floodlight designs. One company that has taken a different approach to night vision is EZVIZ, which aims to provide a color view in the dark through a unique dual-lens camera system found in the C3X Outdoor Camera. I have been testing the C3X for the past few months, and while the color night vision is indeed superb, I am more impressed by just how much EZVIZ packs into a camera that is affordable and doesn't require a subscription.
EZVIZ C3X Outdoor Camera
Bottom line: The affordable EZVIZ C3X Outdoor Camera shines in the dark, thanks to a dual-lens system that serves up detailed, color imagery without an integrated spotlight. If you want the absolute best night vision available in a smart camera today, EZVIZ's C3X is the one to get.
- Affordable price
- Solid construction
- MicroSD card and NVR storage capabilities
- Excellent IR and color night vision
- Dated design
- Bulky plug may not fit in all outdoor outlets
- Does not work with HomeKit or Shortcuts
Shines at night
EZVIZ C3X Outdoor Camera review: What I like
Despite the affordable price tag and classic smart camera appearance, the EZVIZ C3X features a solid white metal chassis and mount that feels surprisingly premium in the hand. Combined with weather-resistant cables, connections and compartments, the C3X really seems like it is capable of living up to the IP67 rating outdoors year-round. The bullet-style frame has a large black front, highlighted by the dual-lens camera system that gives the C3X its headlining color night vision capabilities, 1080p HD image quality, and a 106-degree wide diagonal field of view.
Underneath the body of the C3X is a single compartment — accessible via screwdriver, which houses a microSD card slot, and a tiny reset button. It may irritate those that want to access the memory card often, but I love how EZVIZ put both components in a position that requires more than just reaching around the back to get to as I have seen with other cameras.
I also like how the camera's mount and a power/data lead comes attached right out of the box, simplifying installation, and again, keeping the whole package weather-resistant. The attached lead consists of a 12V barrel connector for power, and an ethernet port if Wi-Fi isn't your thing, which was a pleasant surprise. While the lead is rather short, EZVIZ includes a longer power extension cable in the box along with weather-proof covers for both, again showing just how thoughtful the whole package is.
Once installed, setting up the C3X was quick and easy with a simple QR code scanning process, with Wi-Fi details and settings all being configured in under five minutes. The EZVIZ app, available on both iOS and Android, features a clean interface, with loads of settings and options available behind a main camera overview screen. Tapping on the camera on the home screen takes you immediately to the live view which is convenient, and the app presents you with handy controls on both portrait and landscape orientation. Advanced features are available outside of the live view, with some highlights like the ability to establish motion detection zones, setting smart notifications, and assigning alarm tones.
With the low price, one would think that advanced features and recording would be locked behind a subscription, but I am happy to report that everything is available without a monthly fee. I love how EZVIZ's C3X lets you record events directly to a microSD card (not included) and compatible EZVIZ NVR's, both of which are becoming increasingly rare with the push towards the cloud. Of course, EZVIZ offers a subscription service called CloudPlay that provides cloud storage starting at $3.99 a month per camera, but again, it is completely optional, and it doesn't come with any extra special features that can only be performed in the cloud.
Continuing the theme of pleasant surprises, the C3X's image quality, in both day and night, is quite good. During the day, or indoors in good lighting, the C3X produces detailed images that allow you to easily make out what is going on within its view with little noise and motion tearing. I did find that colors seemed a little muted through the C3X, but for the most part, the C3X matches most 1080p cameras that I have tested, including those that are available at twice the cost.
Before I dive into night vision, I will be upfront and say that I was quite skeptical of EZVIZ's color night vision claims, especially without an integrated floodlight. I was fully prepared to see the feature as being nothing more than a nicety that wouldn't be useful with grainy image quality — but boy was I wrong. Whether it is black and white infrared night vision, or the dual-lens color night vision, the EZVIZ C3X produces the best night time visuals that I have seen to date in a smart camera.
The dual-lens night vision mode truly brings the area to life in color, a sight that is striking to see after being used to infrared views for years. The color view extends the entire camera view, instead of being limited to a small area like with a floodlight, and it really allows you to see details like variances in shades on a fence or within the grass. Color night vision also does not appear to affect framerate or motion in front of the camera, which again, is really impressive given the low price of the C3X. Even the standard infrared black and white view outperformed one of my go-to outdoor cameras, the Logitech Circle 2 which I have positioned in the same area, with a much sharper, and brighter, image.
Dated design, bulky plug
EZVIZ C3X Outdoor Camera review: What I don't like
While I love the solid construction and extra attention to weather-proofing, the C3X does have some hardware quirks. First, the dual Wi-Fi antennas that surround the C3X give the whole package a dated look when compared to modern smart cameras, and makes it stand out when installed outdoors. Plus, the external antennas do not hold their positions well, as even the smallest of bumps will cause them to fall over, defeating their purpose. Another is that the power brick for the camera is quite large, which may prevent it from being used with smaller outdoor outlet boxes without an extension cord.
Moving away from the hardware, like other apps from smart home accessory vendors, the EZVIZ app isn't the most intuitive. Firing up the camera's live view is quick and easy, but tracking down specific features requires a lot of trial and error as the main navigation buttons are not labeled, and settings are buried in different sections of the app. Just tracking down recordings may be a little confusing for some, as motion events are sent to a "messages" tab within the app, which is odd. This is especially true when compared to most other cameras that I have tested, which put motion events into a dedicated security or timeline area.
My final gripe with the C3X is that it doesn't support Apple's HomeKit. I would love to have the ability to pull up a live stream through my Apple TV or use the camera with other HomeKit accessories through automation, but alas, like tons of other smart devices, it isn't compatible. Now, it does work with Alexa, and Google Home devices which are great, but if you are deep into the Apple ecosystem and prefer everything under one roof as I do, it is a little frustrating.
There are tons of outdoor security cameras on the market these days with options spanning both wired and wire-free variants each with its unique designs and features. However, when it comes to night vision, many options rely on infrared that only produces a black and white view, most of which pale in comparison to the C3X.
The closest competitors for color night vision that I have tested include Arlo's Pro 3 Floodlight Camera and the eufyCam 2C, both of which sport integrated lights. The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera features a bulky design that stands out even more than the C3X, but it can be powered entirely through a rechargeable battery, and it can light up large areas with 3,000 lumens of brightness. The light enables color night vision, but image quality isn't as sharp and detailed as the C3X in the dark.
The eufyCam 2C has a smaller, more compact design and it runs on an internal rechargeable battery for up to six months. Obviously, battery life will take a hit with spotlight usage, and the integrated light is not very bright, so the overall reach of the camera is limited. The result is an image that is in color, but is grainer and doesn't cover an entire area like the C3X.
EZVIZ C3X Outdoor Camera review: Should you buy
You should buy this if ...
You want a camera that prioritizes night vision
The C3X produces some of the best nighttime visuals around thanks to the unique dual-lens setup that doesn't rely on a flood or spotlight. Whether it is the incredible color night vision capabilities or the extremely detailed IR black and white view, the C3X is perfect for monitoring dark areas.
You want a smart camera that works with app and voice controls
Setting up and managing the C3X camera takes place entirely through the EZVIZ app, putting the live feed and more just a few taps away. The camera also integrates with Alexa and Google Home devices allowing you to summon its view with voice controls.
You want a smart camera that records locally without a subscription
EZVIZ bucks the smart camera trends by allowing owners to record videos directly to a microSD card or NVR. This means that it can be used without a subscription, and without having to rely on the cloud to access your recordings.
You should not buy this if ...
You want a completely wireless experience
Although it is technically a "wireless" camera with Wi-Fi, the C3X still requires a wired power source as it does not include an onboard battery. The lack of a battery can limit placement options outdoors, and the included power supply is bulky and may not fit into enclosed or covered outlets.
You want a smart camera that blends into its surroundings
The C3X sports a white frame with a dual-antenna design that instantly calls attention to it — especially outdoors. This could be seen as a positive for some, but for those that prefer discreet security, it should be taken into consideration.
You want a HomeKit-enabled or Shortcuts compatible camera
The C3X does not support Apple's HomeKit so you will not be able to view the camera through the Home app or use it with other HomeKit accessories. The C3X also does not work with Siri Shortcuts, limiting voice assistant support to just Alexa and the Google Assistant.
If night time security is your highest priority for your home or business, then the EZVIZ C3X should be at the top of your list thanks to the dual-lens camera system. Even if night vision isn't a major factor, the lack of required subscription and local recording option makes the C3X an excellent choice for many. However, if deep iOS integration or completely wire-free operation is important to you, then you will be better off with one of the best HomeKit Cameras, or other smart camera options.
With incredible color night vision capabilities, local recording, smart app controls, and affordable price, the EZVIZ C3X Outdoor Camera has something for just about everyone. The C3X may not look the flashiest, or support iOS exclusive features like HomeKit or Shortcuts, but it makes up for its shortcomings with the best color night vision that I have seen in a camera with, or without, an integrated floodlight. Plus, the ability to use the camera without a required subscription while retaining all of its major features is refreshing in an age where the push for services is so strong. If you want the best night vision around or just a solid smart camera, then it's hard to go wrong with the C3X.
EZVIZ C3X Outdoor Camera
Bottom line: If night time security is the highest priority for your home, then the dual-lens EZVIZ C3X should be at the top of your list. The affordable C3X outshines all of its competitors at night with crisp, high definition color imagery, without the need for a bulky floodlight.
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