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Xiaomi is a very versatile company. We know of it as primarily a phone maker, but it does a lot of other things and does them well too. It makes power banks, earphones, fitness bands, tablets… hell! it even makes televisions.

Xiaoyi is a subsidiary of Xiaomi that makes cameras. Its two products that are vastly different from each other. One is an action camera touted to be the ‘GoPro killer’ while the other is one piece in the Smart Home whole. The latter is the camera I will be talking about here. You can buy one for yourself from Gearbest.com.

The Xiaoyi ‘Small Ants’ Smart Camera is an IP camera, which means you can hook it up to your WiFi and remotely monitor the feed from your phone. If you already think that’s cool just look at the list of features below:

  • 720p HD video capture
  • Built-in microphone and speaker, supports two-way remote dialogue
  • Automatically starts smart security model when you leave home
  • Observe the pictures and video whenever necessary
  • 4x digital zoom, every detail can be viewed on the screen
  • 110-degree wide-angle lens can capture everything even in a large room
  • Playback at any time, in addition to real-time viewing, it supports a micro SD(TF)
    memory card up to 32 GB to store videos
  • Perfect fit for Xiaomi AC router, you can record videos directly to the router’s 1TB hard drive
  • Cloud Video: Yes, supports local cloud (more secure)
  • Supported Protocols: IPV4, UDP, TCP, HTTP, RTP/RTSP, DHCP, P2P
  • Supported Wireless Standards: 802.11b/g/n

And like all other Xiaomi devices we have ever seen, this camera is also priced insanely low at USD $29.39.

Installation Experience:

My review unit from Gearbest arrived in a nice white box. As soon as I opened the box, I was greeted with the actual camera staring up at me. I removed it and found the charger and USB cable. Ready to get it working as soon as I could, I found the user guide inside the box and unfolded it. All the instructions were in Chinese. No kidding!

xiaoyi-camera-users-guide

All I could make out from that guide was that I needed some kind of app on my phone to make it work. Googling for the app I stumbled upon the miui forums. There I found the link to the site where I could get the app. The link loaded and again, Chinese. The whole page was in Chinese. I guessed at the download button and was lucky after a couple of tries. The app ‘XiaoYi Camera’ was now installed on my android. Thankfully the app was in English.

The instructions were pretty straightforward, but I could not make the camera connect to the app. After much googling and cursing, I found that my proxy network WiFi was the culprit. So I moved on to using a no proxy WiFi router. No dice. I searched some more and found that the camera is compatible with two more apps one of which is the ‘Mi Smart Home’ app. Installed this app and followed the instructions and in no time I was looking at myself staring at the camera with an ‘I beat you’ expression.

The camera set-up is a breeze once you know the right app and the right network it works with. I did not, so I struggled with it. I hope you are reading this review before getting caught in the struggle.

App for controlling Xiomi IP camera:
iPhone users can get the app here.
Android users can download the app from play store.

Usability

I tested it with the Mi Home Android app only. The app showed the feed in HD by default which was at a delay of 3 to 4 seconds. The quality of the feed depends on the speed of your internet connection. For me, it worked better in SD quality. The feed was clear and consistent and even the audio was not too shabby.

The camera has some neat features like the two-way remote dialog. Press the mic button on the app, speak into the phone and your voice comes out from the tiny speaker located on the back of the camera. The speaker is not too loud or clear but gets the work done. There are no other buttons on the camera save the tiny pinhole button to reset the camera while you are setting it up or moving it up across networks. The camera records only when it senses movements which conserves space on the storage device. This feature works as advertised. Sadly, No night mode capability.

xiaoyi-charger

It officially supports micro-SD cards of up to 32GB but some people on the forums claim to have used a 64GB one too. The cards need to be class 10 though. We tested with a 16GB card and faced no hiccups whatsoever. A card is required to update the firmware of the device so keep that in mind when you are buying this.

The Mi Home app is intended as an all-in-one smart home app. You can use it to setup other Mi/Yi devices and control them using it. The cool feature in the app is that if you buy more than one Yi Small Ants camera, you can tag them and watch their feed from the same screen by simply swiping across to the other one. Just set up a few cameras and you have your own CCTV network for surveillance right from your phone.

The base of the camera has screw holes to mount the camera on walls or anything vertical. If you want to keep it on a table or someplace horizontal, the base is sturdy and slip-proof and the neck can be tilted to a wide variety of degrees. The adapter cable is  about a meter and a half long which is long enough in case you don’t mount it too high on the wall.

Verdict

The camera is great value for money like all devices from Xiaomi. The video feed is clear and the wide-angle lens captures  a lot more of the scene. Once you have it setup, you will love this camera for the feature set it provides for the price.

Here are some more pictures of Xiaoyi Small Ants Camera:

Photographs by: Shivam Gupta