Logitech is unveiling a new security camera today called the Circle 2. Except the Circle 2 isn’t really one camera: it’s four different cameras in one (maybe more, depending on how you set it up). It’s meant to be wired and wireless, mounted to walls and windows, and used basically however you’d like. The only downside is that you’ll have to buy the right parts to transform it into the kind of camera you’re looking for — and there are a lot of different parts.
On its own, the Circle 2 is surprisingly small. It’s a little black disc with a 180-degree camera on one side and a smart connector on the back. The 180-degree camera is great, because it allows a single camera to monitor a ridiculously wide area. And the smart connector is what allows the camera to transform into a bunch of different shapes.
The Circle 2 isn’t meant to be used as just a tiny disc — in fact, it can’t be. It’s meant to be paired with a traditional wall mount, a battery mount, a window mount, or a plug mount that goes straight into an outlet. You’ll need at least attach one of them to power the thing.
At launch, Logitech will be selling two kits: one includes the camera and a wall mount and sells for $179.99. The other includes the camera and a battery mount and sells for $199.99. As accessories, it’ll also be selling a weatherproof extension cord, a window mount, a wall plug mount, and an extra battery; these range in price from $29.99 to $49.99. For the most part, you can mix and match the different mounts (though in one strange exception, the extra battery requires you to have purchased the camera’s battery kit first). On the plus side, the entire camera is weatherproof, so it can be used outside in any setup. The kits and accessories are supposed to begin shipping next month.
Overall, Logitech seems to have devised a smart system that opens up a lot of possibilities for buyers. One of the things Logitech says it saw with the original Circle camera was that customers had a lot of different ways they liked to use them, and its goal this time is to make it easier for customers to put the camera wherever they’d like. Logitech hints that more mounts could come over time as customers show interest in different uses of the camera.
The Circle 2’s shape-shifting is really the biggest new feature — the camera is otherwise about the same as its predecessor. Owners will be able to stream footage through the Logi Circle app and get notifications about activity. Unfortunately, some of the much more useful features require additional payment. You’ll need to subscribe to the $100-per-year, per-camera Circle Safe Premium service in order to get person detection or set activity zones. Otherwise, you’re stuck with much less useful notifications.
That kind of fee isn’t unique to Logitech — Nest also charges for person detection — but it makes cameras like these a much bigger investment if you’re using them for security. As a way to monitor your kids or a pet, though, you can probably skip out on extra payments.
Logitech has also set up Alexa support for the Circle 2; every camera has a built-in HomeKit chip, so they’ll work with Apple’s system, too. (Although, a caveat: apparently HomeKit doesn’t support battery-powered cameras, so the Circle 2 will only work with HomeKit when plugged into a wired power source.)
When the Circle 2 launches next month, it’ll face off against quite a few competitors vying to get inside your home. Netgear’s Arlo line of cameras has indoor and outdoor options, and it even recently added an option expressly designed for monitoring babies. Canary’s Flex camera takes a similar put-it-anywhere approach, with the ability for a single camera to work plugged or unplugged, indoors or out.
On top of those options, Nest just announced the Cam IQ, which shoots in 4K so that it can punch in on details. Nest even offers some of the smarts that Logitech is charging for — like person detection — for free. This should make it much cheaper if you’re looking primarily for a security camera, not a way to monitor your kids while they’re playing in the backyard.
Photography by Jacob Kastrenakes / The Verge