Testing Wireless Trail Cameras
September 29, 2016
For years, cams that delivered images through the internet have been too expensive, too cumbersome or too difficult to set up. We got burned by ridiculous payment plans, octopus-like cables and instructions written by engineers for engineers.
But the allure of getting images sent from our favorite hunting spot directly and immediately to a phone brought us back. Wireless trail cameras have come a long way. Finally! Here are a few that delighted us.
HD AGGRESSOR | Bushnell
We are in love with a trail cam. The Aggressor was a breeze to set up. The phone app is extremely easy to navigate. At $399, the price is at or below most other remote trail cameras.
SETUP: We can't say enough about how easy it was to set up. We put batteries and a card into the camera. We registered the cam at bushnell.com, downloaded the app from iTunes and immediately were staring at a photo of me looking into the camera.
PLANS: Your first month is free. After that, you buy an AT&T data plan through Bushnell starting at $9 a month. But if you want high-resolution images, it's an additional 99 cents per image, $7.99 for 10 or $16.99 for 25, kind of steep.
APP: New photos load quickly and can be viewed in a grid or a list form. You can change the cam settings remotely, and, for example, change the resolution.
WHAT WE LIKED: Quick setup. Fun to use. Excellent photo quality.
WHAT WE'D CHANGE: High-resolution images are expensive. It would be good to have a second carrier choice.
SWEET SPOT: At first, the night photos in the no-glow Aggressor were overexposed. We used the remote app to dim the intensity to the level we wanted and this is the result.
GXW | Stealth Cam
SETUP: We had to call the company to figure out how to register the cam online. But other than that, setup of the GXW was relatively easy. You get your choice of an AT&T cam or a T-Mobile cam, which is good because where we set up, AT&T's signal was stronger.
PLANS: Currently, you'll buy a plan through AT&T or T-Mobile, so they set the price. We got an AT&T plan for about $10 a month, and have not even approached using all the data. You'll take your cam to carrier store, and they'll give you a SIM card to put in the cam. You'll type your username and password into the cam to get it registered and activated. According to Stealth, they are now including an AT&T SIM card with all cams.
APP: The app is easy to navigate, once you find your way around. Unique to the Stealth app, there is an option to upload all photos into your Google Drive so you can quickly share all images with friends.
WHAT WE LIKED: Carrier option is a very big deal. In addition, Stealth makes great cams all around, with high-quality images.
WHAT WE'D CHANGE: Not a big fan of typing in the username and password with the tiny cam buttons during the setup. The cam's $499 MSRP is rich, but the actual retail price is expected to be much lower.
SWEET SPOT: Stealth does not make a big deal about the trigger speed of its cams, but maybe they should. We have a bunch of photos showing deer just peaking into the trigger zone. That's likely a half-second trigger speed or less!
FIELD MODEM MV1 | Moultrie
Moultrie has taken a different tack with their new wireless system. Instead of buying a wireless trail camera, you buy a modem that is the size of a cam and attach it to any recent Moultrie trail cam. That's cool because you choose which cam you connect it to. That gives your budget some flex: you could monitor a feature-rich $300 Panoramic 180i or a sufficient $79 A20. The modem itself is $199.
SETUP: We got one of the first Field Modems in July 2016 and the website was still in the beta phase so it took a few calls to get everything flowing from the cam to the modem to my phone. After that, it was smooth sailing.
PLANS: Like the Stealth, you need to go to a Verizon store, or verizon.com, to buy a data plan. You'll then insert a SIM card into the modem to start uploading.
APP: The app has a pleasant, light appearance that lets you see a lot of data clearly and easily. There are several graphs that give you a visual presentation of the data usage by day and signal strength. There is no extra charge for high-resolution images. All photos come in lower resolution, but tap a button in the app to get the hi-res version. Keep in mind, however, hi-res uses a lot more data.
WHAT WE LIKED: Hooking the modem up to your choice of trail camera is innovative.
WHAT WE'D CHANGE: We mostly use the app, but the website is difficult to navigate. More carrier options would also be welcome.
SWEET SPOT: The details were impressive on the daytime photos from our M-888.