Field Test: Moultrie Cellular Trail Cameras
The 7000i series delivers high-quality images into the palm of your hand — 24/7.
The advent of the trail camera, now decades old, forever changed the way we scout for game and hunt. Trail cameras give us the ability to constantly monitor our favorite spots, helping us determine when and where to hunt. And, equally important, they help us realize when and where not to hunt.
However, trail cameras are not without their drawbacks. Investing the time to slog out to remote hunt locations to change cards and download pictures can be labor intensive, resource draining and, potentially, a disturbance to deer in the area.
The new Moultrie Mobile XA7000i and XV7000i cellular cameras eliminate much of that hassle. They transmit remote trail camera images to a smart phone, tablet and/or computer, saving hunters time while leaving camera sites undisturbed.
The Moultrie Mobile XA7000i and XV7000i are stand-alone units, incorporating the camera and the modem that transmits the images in the same housing. The XA7000i works with AT&T wireless service, while the XV7000i is compatible with Verizon. The cameras come with a buckled tree strap for securing them to stationary mounting positions; batteries and memory card are not included.
Measuring 8x5x4 inches, the 7000i is injection molded of ABS, a UV-resistant thermoplastic, and film-dipped in non-reflective Moultrie White Bark camouflage. The build is surprisingly lightweight, and the housing is quite impact resistant—great for the rough-and-tumble use these cameras typically see.
An oversized, latching cover makes accessing the camera’s controls a snap, and it doubles as a weatherproof cover for the internals. The controls are foolproof and large enough to be easily operated with gloved hands in cold weather.
The 7000i features a high-resolution, 20-megapixel camera with a snappy 0.3-second trigger speed. The trigger sensor detects motion up to an impressive 80 feet, while 36 forward-facing infrared LED emitters provide enough flash to cover the distance. The 7000i also records 1080p video with audio.
The unit is powered by 12 non-rechargeable AA batteries. There are two buttons (“Connect Status” and “Format SD Card”), an on/off switch and four LED indicators (“Signal,” “Battery,” “SD Card,” and “Server”) midline, on the side of the camera. The Signal LED reports signal strength, the Battery LED reports battery strength, the SD Card LED reports card status (i.e., good or bad), and the Server reports on connection status.
Formatting the SD card in the field is accomplished by depressing the “Format SD Card” button. The 7000i accommodates SD cards up to 32 GB with the SD slot housed under the large latch.
A 1/4-20 threaded mount is provided on the aft end of the camera chassis for those who want to use an aftermarket tree mount or stand-alone tripod. A security loop is molded into the camera’s back panel, providing a place to run a cable and lock to safeguard against theft.
Signal strength and available service providers have always been the Achilles heel of cellular trail cameras and modems. The ability to access either the AT&T or Verizon network makes the 7000i versatile, as “dead” spots are limited with two provider options. Realize, however, the provider must be chosen at purchase; a single camera works with one provider, not both.
Users will appreciate the simplistic operation of the 7000i. Load the camera with batteries and an SD card, and then download the free Moultrie Mobile app to your phone. To activate the unit, scan the provided bar code (on a label on the battery tray) via a smart phone or manually enter the camera’s bar code information into the app. Next, select a data plan from the app menu.
Service plans range in price from a 4G Monitor Plan (100 images) costing $4.99 a month to a 4G Professional Plan (12,000 images) offered at $49.99 a month. There are no contracts, and no activation or cancellation fees. Once a plan is chosen, the camera is active and ready to install. A test shot is recommended to make sure the internal modem, camera and receiving device are synced.
During installation, users should pay particular attention to the Signal LED, which displays red, yellow or green to indicate signal strength. Green is good, meaning the unit is in an area with service strength adequate to upload images and interact with the app.
For the absent-minded who misplace printed instructions, they are printed on the inside of the unit in large text. The rudimentary, four-step setup is easy to follow and clearly written. A chart with the LED indicator menu and a troubleshooting guide is also provided.
The beauty of the Moultrie Mobile 7000i lies in its minimalistic camera design, quick connection and easy-to-use app. Once the camera is installed in the field, images are transmitted to the selected device via the preferred cellular provider.
Trail photos are stored on a cloud-based system and available anywhere, at any time. The app allows the user to sort images via several parameters, including moon phase, barometric pressure, temperature range, time and date, letting hunters pattern animals by a variety of variables.
I found the captured images to be car, clean and crisp. The camera transfers images seamlessly (I used my cell phone), making the remote connectivity transparent to the user. I appreciated being able to choose a data plan and not be charged a connection or disconnect fee.
The option of using either AT&T or Verizon, whether a subscriber or not, is fantastic and makes these cameras a treat to employ. Additionally, the ability to manage the camera from a remote device is priceless. Camera settings can be changed on the app, which transmits these commands to the camera. I also value the option to share images via text messaging or email, as sending an image via text to a hunting partner could not be easier.
For those with hunting properties several states away, the 7000i will further shine as it delivers images into the palm of the hand without the need for lengthy drives. Hunters can constantly monitor a location from hundreds of miles away.
The 7000i, with its all-in-one design, easy setup, remote controllability and reliable service, is a valuable hunting tool for those with limited time to spend fussing with trail cameras. The Moultrie Mobile XA7000i and XV7000i cameras have an MSRP of $179.99 and offer a three-year extended warranty when registered within 90 days of purchase.