Akaso CS300 in the test: outdoor camera with solar panel

The Akaso CS300 offers everything you would expect from an outdoor cam for 95 euros – even a solar panel. That makes it the cheapest camera in this category. There is still a problem.

Night vision, full HD recordings, two-way audio, waterproof and with a motion sensor – this is standard with outdoor surveillance cameras, as our comparison test shows. The Akaso CS300 goes one step further and offers a solar panel for self-sufficient power supply in a bundle. So she faces the Ring Stick Up Cam (test report) for around 160 euros, which also relies on solar power. The big difference: the Akaso camera with panel costs just 95 euros. And yet it’s compatible with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant – more on that later. We tested whether the cheap outdoor cam was really worth it.

The Akaso CS300 is operated with a battery or solar panel

The camera requires the Akaso Smart app for commissioning. They are free for Android and iOS. After creating a user account – email address and password are sufficient – you can start setting up straight away. The Quick Start Guide, which is very well translated into German, helps when in doubt if something is unclear. Basically you just have to click on Add device, then on the options Security sensor and Security camera. The app then wants to know the WiFi and WiFi password and then displays a QR code that is held up in front of the camera. The setup is then complete.

However, three problems can arise: First, the Akaso CS300 makes no sound when you switch it on. The status LED on the front must flash red before the camera is ready to connect. Second, the app does not check whether the WiFi password is correct during setup. If this is wrong, the entire setup procedure starts all over again. Third, the camera only connects in the 2.4 GHz network. However, this is sometimes so busy that it can lead to a sluggish connection to the camera or even errors.

Akaso supplies an unusually large number of accessories for easy wall mounting of the camera and solar panel. There are three models to choose from – two for screwing, one for gluing. For the screw version, the camera also includes screws, dowels and a drill head; the latter is very unusual, but nice to see. However, as with the Heimvision HMD2 (test report), the dowels are of poor quality and should go straight into the plastic waste. The solar panel is equipped with an approximately two meter long micro USB cable. In most cases, the length will be sufficient to mount the panel in a sunny location.

The Akaso camera is equipped with a passive infrared sensor (PIR), loudspeaker, microphone and camera module with Full HD resolution, i.e. 19020 × 1080 pixels. Three infrared LEDs (IR) are used for night vision.

The app is the command center of the CS300. Here, users have access to basic functions such as alarm settings or adding the cam in smart homes with Alexa or Google Assistant. The latter makes it possible, for example, to activate the camera by voice command or to have the image displayed on a screen, such as an Echo Show (test report).

The basic functions determine whether the camera should display its image on the head, watermark the image or prevent the audio recording – this is particularly suitable if you are in the garden yourself and do not want it own voice is recorded. The other settings offer sharing camera access with friends and family and activating person recognition. This is helpful if the camera is to notice people and not animals or plants moving in the wind. The practical test shows: The detection works perfectly, the PIR sensor registers movements immediately. In our test run, ten out of ten were correct, but the neighboring cat did not trigger an alarm.

The camera is equipped with a 6,000 mAh battery. This is usually enough for a term of two to three months. Akaso calls 15 minutes of operation per day, which corresponds to around 15 triggered alarms. In our test run, around two to three percent of the battery was lost for 20 triggers – the manufacturer’s information is roughly correct.

It is not possible to hide or black out image areas. Accordingly, the camera is only suitable where it does not film a public space.

In daylight, the picture quality is satisfactory to sufficient. The sky is overexposed and shines completely white due to a lack of proper image dynamics. Trees, bushes etc. have mushy textures due to the lack of sharpness. The result is still sufficient for recognizing people – for example the face – but is significantly worse compared to the Eufycam 2c (test report) or Ring Stick Up Cam (test report). The image quality corresponds to cheaper competitors such as the home vision HMD2 (test report).

Pictures taken in daylight are neutral in color, but very washed out.

However, night shots are bright and rich in detail. A sufficient number of subtleties can still be seen even at a distance of ten meters, although textures tend to be mushy, as in the case of photos taken in daylight. The result is blurred facial features that make identification difficult – the person recognition of the camera still works.

Night shots are overexposed but usable. An IR LED would have done it instead of the three integrated ones.

Contrary to all expectations, the microphone and speaker cut a fine figure. The loudspeaker reproduces your own voice clearly and sufficiently loud at a distance of five meters, for example to speak to a postman. The same applies to the microphone in a different direction.

To save recordings, the manufacturer offers either a micro SD slot for cards up to a maximum of 128 GB that can be inserted directly into the camera, or its own cloud service. We strongly advise against the latter, because Akaso’s data protection declaration is subject to the law of the People’s Republic of China and in no way to the GDPR. If you entrust your videos to the cloud here, you also run the risk that the Chinese government, for example, will access them.

If you save your recordings at Akaso in the cloud, you must be aware that the data are subject to the laws of the People’s Republic of China and can be processed accordingly.

Saving recordings directly on a micro SD card is a little more secure, but it is not excluded that someone from the Far East is also recording. Too bad, because the Akaso CS300 would be a great camera for an extremely attractive price. So it is at best recommended for bird’s eye view.

For just 95 euros, the Akaso CS300 technically does almost everything right. The motion detection works perfectly, image and audio quality are sufficient to good, the night vision function is even very good and the combination of a large battery and solar panel make the camera a complete success.

With regard to data protection, the camera cannot be recommended. If you want to get involved in Chinese interest groups processing their own video recordings in case of doubt, you can look at the camera. For everyone else the rule is: stay away! If you are concerned about your own security and want to legally exploit corresponding recordings in case of doubt, you should look at alternatives. In our comparison test: We compared the corresponding models of outdoor cameras with batteries.