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Annke CZ400 security camera review: Power over Ethernet with a complex install

Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor
Annke CZ400 security camera review simple Power over Ethernet but a complex install and config zdnet

ANNKE CZ400 PoE IP Audio Security Camera

7.0 / 5

pros and cons

  • Works with PoE or DC 12V
  • Zones, lines, and area alerts
  • Manage through app or browser
  • Very difficult to install memory card
  • No Wi-Fi connection
  • Only Chrome browser manages camera effectively

The Annke CZ400 is a solid external security camera with a range of detection features and Power over Ethernet (PoE) to enable it to be situated almost anywhere. It will operate over DC 12V if you do not have PoE available.

The IP66 waterproof unit is relatively small at 15 inches x 4 inches and weighs 1.17 pounds.

The camera will pan 330 degrees and tilt 90 degrees to give a good range of coverage. Its 1/3-inch OmniVision progressive scan CMOS image sensor and 2.8mm to 12mm lens has 4x optical zoom and 16x digital zoom.

It will capture images up to 65 ft away in almost total darkness (0.005 lux) from its four LEDs and will alert you if someone crosses one of the pre-set areas and lines you add.

It will recognize humans, but not medium-sized dogs, and will record an event if someone crosses a virtual link, area, zone, or if an object is removed from a pre-set region. It also uses audio exception detection -- so, if it is unusually nosy, or quiet, you will receive an alert.

You can also configure sets of positions so you can set the camera to virtually patrol the areas it can see.

Inside the box, there is the camera, set of screws and wall-plugs, and a cable cover for the PoE cable. You need to connect the fine wired cables when the camera is initially set up: Pink cable is audio out, white cable is audio in, and black is audio ground. There is also a user guide in the box, too.

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Before turning the camera on, install a memory card of up to 256GB capacity. To insert the card, you need to prise open the camera housing slot with a screwdriver.

It does make an alarming noise when you do this -- as though you have broken one of the housing lugs. Once the cover has been removed, you also need to remove four screws that affix the clear dome to the camera to get to the memory card slot, which is situated on the motherboard.

This is certainly not a job for the faint-hearted or non-techy. The memory card slot is really difficult to find, and the user guide is of little help. If you have never seen a memory card slot on a motherboard, you will struggle to recognize it.

Annke CZ400 security camera review simple Power over Ethernet but a complex install and config zdnet
Eileen Brown

Then, you need to rebuild the camera by screwing the clear dome in place and then replacing the collar pushing till it clicks into place. This counter-intuitive way is such a faff,  and this complexity is not in all of the other security cameras I have tried.

The Annke CZ400 should be mounted to the ceiling, not the wall, to take advantage of the 330-degree panning feature. If the camera is mounted on a wall, there are blind spots in its viewing range.

You manage the camera through the simple Annke Vision app or a browser. Create an account, log in and connect the camera to the app. The app asks for a QR code. However, there is no QR code on the box, user guide, or camera.

In desperation, I pointed the app screen at the only thing I could find -- a bar code -- and successfully connected to the camera.

As I mentioned, this setup is not an intuitive process and is much more complex than other security cameras I have installed.

I then had to connect the camera to a router, which failed regularly. I gave up and moved to try a browser.

The user guide recommended that I installed the "SADP tool," which is in the download center. Once downloaded, I also needed to update the SADP tool to the latest version and then restart the PC. Sigh. It is not difficult to place the latest version of the tool on the website, is it?

In the Firefox browser, I logged in, again, downloaded a Firefox plug-in, and reopened the browser. I then had to reconfigure the camera in the browser. The browser certainly does seem to have far more controls than the app, and it is far easier to set zones.

Eileen Brown

It is impossible to control the camera effectively using the Firefox browser. Microsoft Edge grinds to a halt and will not connect to the camera at all. Fortunately, Google Chrome works really well.

Whilst I was waiting for the PC download, on the app, as part of setup prompts, I created an encryption password, which finally allowed me to connect the app to the camera. What a palaver. This is the most complicated setup I have had to endure when setting up a security camera.

The app itself has manual pan, tilt, and zoom controls -- but it is not Wi-Fi enabled. You must connect it to a network using an Ethernet cable if you are getting power through the 12V DC connection to manage it through the browser or app.

You can also connect the camera to local storage and a NAS system. You can set zones and lines in the app, but this is yet again counter-intuitive. The audio -- once connected -- works well.

At over $250 the Annke CZ400 is a pricey security camera, which takes time and is complex to configure. This is certainly not a plugin, connect and go-type camera like the Netvue, or Reolink range of cameras.

Take your time to install it, use the Google Chrome browser to configure the zones, and monitor your area through the app.

However, once you have spent time setting it up, and configuring the zones you require, the Annke CZ400 is a really good, solid camera that gives excellent coverage of your space -- without the need for mains power.