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Surveillance camera Imilab C21 : test/review

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Price Imilab C21
Imilab Home app
Day/night quality
Viewing angle
Test conclusion
Connected Objects

Surveillance camera Imilab C21 : test/review

Published on: 11-10-2021 / Modified: 18-10-2021

We live in an increasingly connected world where all sorts of objects have invaded our homes and the need for security has become a driving force for all sorts of surveillance cameras on the market. I bought my first camera more than 10 years ago and when I compare it to what is done now, it is clear that the manufacturers of this kind of product are aiming at an ever wider public with products that are increasingly simple and easier to use. This is the case with Imilab which produces simple and easy to use cameras to monitor your home.

I tested the Imilab C20 last year and will now test the Imilab C21. From the outside, the cameras look very similar but on the inside there are some changes. The Imilab C21 is able to shoot in 2.5k (2560x1440 resolution) and it is able to apply colour to night shots. The latter is a novelty as I haven't seen this kind of functionality on any other camera of this type.

Price Imilab C21

The Imilab C21 will be available from 11 October 2021 on Aliexpress for less than £50 (price may fluctuate depending on currency).
Check out the special launch offer, use the coupon DQGS63B9C21 on Aliexpress from the following link:
Imilab C21 / 49.99USD


imilab c21 test review avis recensione prueba opinion beoordeling 1

The Imilab C21 box contains the camera, a wall charger, a USB cable, a wall mount and a manual. The box is therefore very compact and the installation of this camera is accessible to all, just put it somewhere and plug it into a wall socket. The USB cable is longer than the previous version, measuring almost 2 metres, so the camera can be placed at a greater distance from the wall socket.


In order to use the Imilab C21 you will need to download the free Imilab Home application. This application will allow you to control and configure the camera. Here are the different steps:
1. Creating an Imilab account: the procedure is quite simple, you will receive a code by email or sms to validate your account, you do not have to give more information. The creation of an account allows you to secure access to your camera but it also allows you to manage several cameras from the same account.
2. Camera association: press the + button at the top right of the screen and choose the Imilab C21 among the available cameras.
3. Connection to the wifi network: I advise you to choose a 2.4Ghz frequency band because I had more difficulties to connect the camera in 5Ghz and anyway, I am not sure that the camera needs the bandwidth of the 5Ghz frequency. The 2.4Ghz has a longer range, so you can move the camera a bit further away from the wifi router.
4. Reset wifi: if the association is not done immediately (this was my case), you must reset the wifi on the camera. You have to insert a small pin in the reset button. To access this button, you have to move the eye of the camera upwards (by hand). By moving the camera in this way you will see the slot for inserting a memory card, the reset button is underneath.
And that's it, your camera should now be connected.


imilab c21 test review avis recensione prueba opinion beoordeling 5

Imilab is not revolutionizing the design of cameras with the Imilab C21, but the design is sleek enough to be placed in a home without having to hide it. The camera even looks nice and its size allows it to be placed just about anywhere. Just be careful not to put it on a piece of furniture that's too deep, as you'll mostly see the top of the furniture.

imilab c21 test review avis recensione prueba opinion beoordeling 7

The camera's eye is accompanied by an infrared light strong enough to distinguish objects and movements between 5 and 10 meters. The camera can make an almost complete turn on itself but the 105° aperture of the camera means there are no blind spots.

imilab c21 test review avis recensione prueba opinion beoordeling 6

The camera has a small speaker on the back that will allow the camera to produce sound either by talking into your phone's microphone or by the camera's system sounds that will tell you if for example the camera has lost the wifi signal.

The micro USB port allows the camera to be connected to a power source, it cannot be used to transfer files.

imilab c21 test review avis recensione prueba opinion beoordeling 12

If you push the eye of the camera upwards, you will find the slot to insert a mini SD card to store your videos. The use of an SD card is not mandatory, you can also opt for cloud storage offered by Imilab. Imilab offers two cloud storage solutions:
- 7-day video retention: 1.99USD/month or 12.99USD/year
- 30-day video retention: 4.99USD/month or 49.99USD/year

These offers are not very expensive but a micro SD card will always cost you less and you won't have retention problems. However, the cloud protects you from data loss, for example if the camera is destroyed by an intruder.

The camera can work without the cloud and without a memory card but it will not record video, it will just provide screenshots.

Imilab Home app

The Imilab Home app is fairly easy to use, the interface is clear enough that you don't have to search for directions. It is however very poorly translated, there is a mix of English, French and Chinese. This is often the case for Chinese products but fortunately it shouldn't prevent you from using it. The application allows you to control the camera live (with a slight latency). You can rotate the camera, listen to the noise in the room, take pictures, make videos, check alerts,... The application will also send notifications to your phone when motion is detected.

The big weakness of the application is that it cannot control the flow of notifications according to the time of day or according to an area in the room. The camera is either active or not, so you'll have to put it into hibernation when you're at home or you'll get lots of alerts. I would have liked to be able to configure the hours of surveillance or to define an area (e.g. a door, a window, etc.) that should detect movement. This kind of functionality exists on the Blink XT2 but this camera costs twice as much as the Imilab.


The Imilab C21 offers three types of detection:

Motion detection

This is the most classic mode where the camera is triggered by any type of motion and when I say any motion it can also be a significant change in brightness. The Imilab C21 is quite sensitive to movement but it is not fast enough to capture fast movements. If you walk past the camera quickly, it will detect movement but you probably won't see anything on the video.

People detection

The camera is able to distinguish between people and it is possible to set the camera to react only when it detects person movement. This detection works very well provided the person remains in the field of view for several seconds because as with motion detection, too much rapid movement will result in the camera being triggered but the rotation of the camera is not fast enough to ensure fast tracking.

If the camera is oriented to one side of your room and a noise occurs somewhere, it is able to trigger to start filming but it will not move to find the origin of the noise. The basic orientation of the camera will therefore determine whether or not you can film what caused the noise. The camera is able to detect a finger snap at 3m but it does not detect my son playing in the next room.

The camera is able to turn around and its wide angle of view allows you to monitor a fairly large area but as the motor that moves the camera is not fast enough, you will need to ensure that you orientate the camera correctly from the start. It will be able to move depending on what it detects but the original position is very important.

Day/night quality

I placed the camera in the shelf I use for my video projector tests, it is in front of my screen which reflects some of the infrared light generated by the camera.

Here is the scene with daylight:
Screenshot_20211009 142122_imilab Home

The image quality is quite good, the 2.5k resolution captures a good level of detail, it is possible to read the speaker's mark on the left and you can also read the title "Friends" on the DVD box at the bottom. The sharpness processing is a bit forced as the camera sees vertical marks on my screen when these marks do not actually exist. The quality is not comparable to a good camera but for a camera the result is quite good.

Here is the same scene without daylight (I blacked out the window and closed the doors)
Screenshot_20211009 142212_imilab Home

The infrared mode allows to recognize the places but the pixelization is important, it is not possible any more to read the brand of the speaker nor the title of the DVD box.

And then I activate the colour mode for night scenes:
Screenshot_20211009 142302_imilab Home

The colour mode is amazing because from the infrared illumination, the camera reconstructs the colours of the room and even if the colours are not all accurate, it gives the impression that the room is lit when it is not. The camera had moved slightly from the previous scene but I didn't change the lighting, yet the picture is of much better quality. The quality is still not comparable to the daytime shot but I find the result really interesting. I have other cameras that can see in the dark but I have never gotten such sharp images.

Viewing angle

The Imilab C21 has a viewing angle of just over 100° but its rotation does not allow you to see everything in 360°. Its weak point is below the horizon line because it cannot go very low, but it can go quite high. It is therefore necessary to find a placement where it is low enough or it must be placed upside down on a ceiling. Here is a short video demonstration.
youtube previewyoutube preview

I'd like to take this opportunity to mention the quality of the video. The video was taken in daylight and you can see that the camera is able to capture a lot of detail, distortion is visible but limited and colours are well saturated. The quality is again not comparable with the quality of a video taken with a smartphone but for a camera the quality is good enough to meet the expectations of a product of this type.

Test conclusion

There are many surveillance cameras available today, but under £50 you will find mostly poor quality products that work with poorly designed applications or produce poor quality video. Fortunately, this is not the case with the Imilab C21, which stands out in many respects.

The Imilab C21 has the usual design of surveillance cameras, there is nothing original here but the camera has a nice look that will allow it to fit into your home without having to hide it. Its eye is able to point in all directions with less coverage at the base, it will have to be placed low enough or attached to the ceiling to ensure maximum visual coverage.

The quality of the videos is well above average, the sharpness rendering is a bit forced but allows even small texts to be read at a distance of 2 meters. The image is good enough to recognise a face. The quality is not as good in night mode because the image is very noisy but Imilab uses a re-colouring process that mitigates this problem (see example above), I had never seen this feature before.

The Imilab C21 is able to detect motion and sound, it then records a video sequence to the memory card or to the cloud. If a crashing noise occurs near the camera, it will trigger fairly quickly but you need to make sure that the camera is monitoring the correct angle of your room as it will not search for the origin of the noise.

For around 50 euros, you have a fairly versatile and easy to use camera here.

- image quality
- re-colouring of night videos
- ease of use
- angle of vision
- sound and person detection (separately configurable)

- non-programmable surveillance (e.g. time of day, area in the room,...)
- limited vision below the horizon line, it is better to place it upside down
- the camera does not automatically scan its environment

Head of myself on this blog

I share my passions on my blog in my free time since 2006, I prefer that to watching nonsense on TV or on social networks. I work alone, I am undoubtedly one of the last survivors of the world of blogs and personal sites.

My speciality? Digital in all its forms. I have spent the last 25 years working for multinationals where I managed digital teams and generated revenues of over €500 million per year. I have expertise in telecoms, media, aviation, travel and tourism.
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