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TP-Link Tapo C320WS 2K security camera – big features, small price (test)

The TP-Link Tapo C320WS 2K packs a full set of features into a low price of $129 and has a few surprises that may make it ideal for your needs.

These surprises include a Starlight Color Night Vision sensor, an IP66 waterproof rating, connection via Ethernet or wired Wi-Fi, and up to 256GB of local micro-SD storage. There is also a 30-day premium subscription plan.

The only issue to be aware of is that it doesn’t have a battery – it requires power, so although you can mount it indoors or outdoors, you need to protect the socket block from severe weather.

The Tapo range from TP-Link

The range includes outdoor, pan/tilt and indoor security cameras. Most have microSD for local backup, two-way audio, siren privacy mode, motion detection, and notifications. They are all very inexpensive with a 2 year warranty.

C320WS Exterior
$129 but seen for $99
2560×[email protected], Starlight color night vision, motion/sound/light detection, up to 256GB MicroSD, IP66, Ethernet or Wi-Fi
C310 Outdoor $99 but seen for $79 2430×1296 @ 15 fps, advanced mono night vision, up to 128 GB, otherwise above
C210 Pan/tilt $69 2430×1296 @ 15 fps, advanced mono night vision, up to 128 GB, otherwise above
C200 pan/tilt $59 1920×[email protected] otherwise as above
C110 Interior $65 but seen for $55 2430×1296 @ 15 fps, advanced mono night vision, up to 256 GB, otherwise above
C100 Indoor $55 but seen for $49 1920×[email protected] otherwise as above

Australian review: TP-Link Tapo C320WS 2K security camera

Website Product page and support page, and manual
Price $129
Of CE retailers like Harvey Norman, Bing Lee, Officeworks and computer stores.
guarantee 36 months
Company TP-Link (Est 1996) is a private Chinese company. Products include broadband cable modems, wireless and mobile routers, range extenders, switches, IP cameras, powerline adapters, switches, print servers, media converters, wireless adapters , power banks, USB hubs and SMART home technology devices.
After TP-Link CyberShack News & Reviews

‘We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (exceeds expectations or is class leader) against most of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it’s good but doesn’t quite reach Exceed. items below. We sometimes give a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it’s good but doesn’t quite reach Exceed.

You can click on most images for enlargement.

First impression – bat wings – Pass+

You can’t help but notice the two bat wings – these are the Wi-Fi antenna and that’s why this has great external signal strength. According to our signal tester, these work up to 30 meters from a router through exterior walls or 60 meters from the site line. In fact, it worked where other Wi-Fi cameras couldn’t connect.

It has a hatch below for the micro-SD card (screwed) and a gimbal support with sockets for RJ-45 Ethernet and 9V//6A/5.4W power supply (3m cable). Too bad they don’t support POE (Power over Ethernet).

Setup – Pass+

The Tapo app for Android or iOS is for all Tapo products, and it’s reliable, easy to use, and has an acceptable privacy policy.

The only minor issue is that it tries to trick you into signing up for the Tapo Care premium storage plan (it comes with a 30-day trial). The prices are

  • 1 camera $4.99 per month/$48.99 per year
  • 2 cameras $8.99/$87.99
  • 3 cameras $12.99/$129.99
  • 10 cameras $16.49/$164.99

It’s your choice to pay for a subscription – just like almost every other security camera brand.

Editing – Passed

It has a gimbal mount and screws to the wall. A relatively short cable comes from the camera supporting Ethernet and power. The Catch-22 is that the power supply is not waterproof, must be well protected, and within 3m of the camera – you can’t just plug it into a power outlet exposed to the weather.

If you don’t have electricity nearby, you’ll need to consider 100% cordless options with a battery. These can be a pain in accessing the battery to be charged if they are mounted more than 1.8m above the ground. Solar panel devices are best for mounting out of the way.

Image Quality – Pass+

It’s a Starlight 4MP f/1.61 color vision day or night sensor and records in 2K (2560 x 1440), 1080p and 720p at 15fps. It will also automatically select the best speed based on Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections.

File sizes range from 256MB (720p) to 1GB (2K) per minute.

Images are crisp and you can read letters (such as license plates) from about 5m away.

It also has mono IR vision via an 850nm IR LED up to a claimed 30m (untested). Day and night image quality is very good.

In our tests, Ethernet easily supported 2K. Over Wi-Fi, 2K was possible at around 10m, 1080p at around 15m (from the router), then it dropped to 720p.

Sensitivity

Motion detection settings include

  • A sensitivity slider
  • Activity areas
  • Person detection*
  • Line crossing* – you define a boundary line in the camera’s field of view; if someone crosses that line in either direction, you get a notification.
  • Zone Intrusion* – create activity zones where the camera only searches and detects people (rather than animals).
  • Custom privacy zones* (zones the camera will not record)

Requires Tapo Care subscription to access AI detection features.

We have not tested Tapo Care features due to subscription requirement.

Notifications – Pass (subscription adds more)

  • Live view via app or from microSD – no subscription required.
  • Rich notifications with snapshots*

Audio – Pass(able)

It has full duplex audio (not half duplex push to talk). The quality of it depends on the strength of the Wi-Fi signal. If you access it remotely via a smartphone, the strength/speed/quality of the mobile data signal.

Every manufacturer claims great sound – don’t believe it.

best use

Due to the power issues, I would use it under well-protected eves, port coche, in garages, etc. It has antenna power for a long distance to the router.

CyberShack’s take – The TP-Link Tapo C320WS 2K Security Camera is too cheap

We probably wouldn’t have reviewed this if it weren’t for the $129 price tag (seen for $99). I mean (and with all due respect to Arlo), you’d have to spend $369 to get the Arlo Pro 4.2K Wire-Free Security Camera; for the most part, this el-cheapo will do the job.

It offers exceptional value, good reliability, great images and it does everything you need outside of the power challenge. Since it integrates with Google Home, you can mix and match cameras and brands.

Rating Explanation – TP-Link Tapo C320WS

Features: 80 – has everything you need and more, but needs a subscription to get it all

Value: 95 – need we say more

Performance: 90 – and that’s good compared to most other lower cost Wi-Fi cameras

Ease of use: 95 – The Tapo app is easy to use and has a foolproof setup

Design: 90 – Quirky bat wings but otherwise fine

The video is for the C210 – the same without the StarLight sensor

TP-Link Tapo C320WS 2K Security Camera

$129 but shop around

TP-Link Tapo C320WS 2K Security Camera

Features (no subscription)


8.0/10

Advantages

  • Low cost and high functionality
  • Excellent crisp 2K videos (subject to Wi-Fi strength)
  • Color night vision with LED spotlights is pretty good
  • Voice assistants (HomeKit and Matter coming soon)
  • MicroSD and paid cloud storage

The inconvenients

  • A few cool features require a subscription
  • The power supply is not waterproof (and it should be)
  • No POE (would have made it almost perfect)