Additional Features and Summary
Being able to watch from anywhere with an Internet connection is a handy option to have, yet there's more to the NC250 than live viewing alone, and TP-Link needs to do more to make its other features accessible to mainstream consumers.
When using the iOS app you could easily be fooled into thinking that the camera doesn't do anything else, but that's a failing of the software. As it turns out the NC250 can also detect motion or sound and send instant notifications via email or FTP, and if your WiFi coverage is sketchy, the device even has an option to serve as a WiFi extender.
These extras sadly aren't accessible by the mobile apps and instead need to be configured on the local network by pointing a web browser to the camera's IP address. This isn't nearly as user friendly, and though experienced users may appreciate the router-like administration page, there's a good chance novices will find it daunting.
Our time with the NC250 has left us feeling as though TP-Link is still playing catch-up with regards to the camera's software ecosystem. That early impression is reinforced by a lack of web browser compatibility. At the time of writing, Live View isn't available in modern browsers such as Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome, and works only via a TP-Link camera plugin that can be installed on top of Internet Explorer. Hardly ideal, and a HTML5-based viewer is long overdue.
Motion detection should be one of the NC250's easy-to-configure functions, however implementation leaves something to be desired. The feature can only be enabled via the web admin panel, and there's no option to trigger a video recording when motion is detected - the camera instead takes a series of still photos that are sent to a user-defined email address or uploaded to a specified FTP server.
Want to be notified of motion via email? You'll need to provide details for your mail provider's SMTP server, port and type of encryption. We don't imagine most consumers will have such information to hand, and even if you do, there's no option to have motion detection activated via a schedule. It's simply on or off, meaning your inbox is likely to be inundated whenever anybody's home.
What we have here is a problem that seems to impact many modern gadgets: there's such an emphasis on having apps that neither the app nor the native web interface is developed to its full potential. The iOS and Android apps need work, a Windows app doesn't exist, the admin panel isn't as user friendly as we'd hoped, and tplinkcloud.com - through which users can login to view their camera remotely - is similarly basic.