Ubiquiti’s G3 Instant was released earlier this year and has been very popular, selling out almost as soon as new stock comes in. But what is this UniFi camera actually like to use and what makes it so popular among home users?
Most importantly, the G3 Instant is extremely affordable. Businesses don’t choose UniFi cameras, preferring brands like Hikvision, Axis and Grundig, but home users love them and home users don’t always have hundreds of pounds to spare on a single camera.
What’s more, everyone can benefit from an additional security measure or two and the G3 Instant slashes the price of entry for anyone looking to add such a measure to their home.
For this low price, the camera offers very respectable picture quality. Sure, the picture is washed out and overexposed, but the camera is so small (it’s barely taller than a 9V battery) and lightweight it’s a wonder it can produce an image remotely close to this good.
What’s more, the infrared nighttime performance is great for the price. Combined with the wide field of view (the camera features a 133º wide-angle lens), users get remarkable visibility.
The camera also supports a couple of nice features.
Firstly, two-way audio. The performance isn’t brilliant (both the built-in microphone and speaker are tiny, after all), but it works and is a nice feature to have.
There’s also motion detection - great for conserving your WiFi bandwidth - with a couple of different configuration options to choose from.
Firstly, the camera is USB-C powered. Whilst you can use an 802.3af PoE/USB-C adapter (Ubiquiti manufacture these, but you’ll be buying one at additional cost), your ethernet cable will supply power alone - it won’t handle data transfer. All data transfer is done over WiFi.
This presents some problems (or an advantage, depending on how you see it). There’s a supplied mount for the camera, but if you mount this on the wall there’s no neat way of routing your cable; it’s going to dangle right down to the power outlet. If you’re willing to route the cable through the wall, you might as well spend a bit more for a Unifi G3 Flex so you can have a wired connection.
However, for the home user who wants a quick and easy solution via a camera they can just screw into the wall without worrying about how tidy it looks, the USB-C power is actually a benefit.
Then there’s the mount itself - it isn’t great, but for the price point it’s nice one was included.
The supplied mounting bracket gives about 30º of tilt in any given direction, which isn’t damning in itself, but it’s the mount is simplistically designed. You’re never going to be able to mount this camera in the corner of a room where two walls meet the ceiling for maximum visibility, for example, limiting positioning options.
You can argue in favour of the price point here again, as with any con on this list, but by now it should be clear that this isn’t a camera for serious businesses that need a permanent, set-and-forget security solution.
Since the camera is WiFi only, you have to wonder how it will affect a home user’s internet experience. The camera only records 1080p video, but uploading a video stream is always going to hog a significant portion of your bandwidth, affecting all those in homes without great data rates. This makes motion detection a must and, thankfully, the G3 Instant has it.
On the other hand, the presence of WiFi connectivity makes the camera a breeze to retrofit and it’s home users who want quick, easy setup who this camera is going to attract.
The G3 Instant has no weatherproofing or vandal proofing ratings. This means it’s an indoor-only camera. Since they’re inexpensive, you could try mounting one under a porch and see how long it lasts, but these are only guaranteed for indoor use.
This makes the G3 Instants of limited security use, depending on how much you really need to monitor within your own home. For remote observation, however, they can be useful (see below).
The G3 Instant doesn’t offer any zoom. For home users, this is unlikely to be a problem, but on the off chance you have a lot of land to monitor, bear in mind that you won’t get much range from this camera.
UniFi Protect Console Required
As a UniFi camera, you’re somewhat limited as to which surveillance software solution you use. UniFi Protect is the most obvious and fans of Ubiquiti are likely to look here first.
In addition to the camera, you’ll need the UniFi Protect console - without it, it will have nothing to record to. That means you’ll need to invest in a Cloud Key Gen2 Plus, a UDM Pro, or Ubiquiti’s NVR or NVR Pro.
Whilst this drives up the total cost of ownership, the Cloud Key Gen2+ is quite affordable and you’ll need an NVR solution no matter which brand of cameras you decide to use.
Notably, UniFi cameras can record to other solutions, including the popular Synology Surveillance Station, so consider these too.
Conclusion: Possible Use Cases
As you can tell by now (and from the price alone), the UniFi G3 Instant is no business-grade security solution - but in its defence, it never sets out to be. At such an affordable price, this camera is more or less a toy for tech heads and has some genuinely useful applications.
If you’re a home user or a small business that wants a cheap, easy remote monitoring solution, the G3 Instant is for you.
Whether it’s a coffee shop manager in the back office keeping an eye on how busy the shop floor is, or a home user keeping an expectant eye out for a package delivery, the G3 Instant is perfect. Just plug it in, adopt it with the mobile app and voilá.
Much cheaper than a ring doorbell, or even UniFi’s own doorbell product, if an extra eye is all you need somewhere, the G3 Instant is so affordable that it makes complete sense too grab some as soon as you see them in stock.
While the picture quality itself isn’t impressive, it’s more than acceptable for a camera at this price and, as mentioned, the wide FoV is nice and the IR performance is good for the price too.
Purchase your Ubiquiti UniFi G3 Instant from NetXL today or, for larger businesses looking for that permanent, reliable, set-and-forget security solution, read more about our stock of Grundig cameras.