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Swann’s new MaxRanger4K AI-based security camera system uses a new type of WiFi with a range of hundreds of metres, if not thousands. 
The AI has taken one look at me, and decided I’m a car.
I know I’ve been putting on weight lately, and it definitely would be fair if it mistook me for a Harley Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle, or something. But a car? Really?
Still, it’s astonishing that the AI has formed any opinion about me at all, given where I’m reporting to you from.
The Swann MaxRanger4K security camera uses a new type of WiFi for long, long range connections. 
I’m in the back paddock of Digital Life Labs By The Mountain, a place where we normally review AI lawnmowers, but where we’ve chosen to review Swann’s new MaxRanger4K AI-based security camera system, for reasons that will be apparent presently.
The camera system consists of a base station you connect to your home or office network via an Ethernet cable, and up to eight solar-powered security cameras which feed back to the base station using an emerging Wi-Fi technology known as “HaLow” (aka 802.11ah).

Halow currently  holds the record for the longest-range Wi-Fi on the market. Earlier this year, Morse Micro (a Sydney-based startup focusing on HaLow-based IoT products) managed to make a 1 megabit-per-second video call using HaLow at a distance of 3 kilometres.

Yep, you read that right. 3 kilometres. For Wi-Fi. Normally, you’re lucky to get a signal from your living room to your study over Wi-Fi.

Reliable connection at 600 metres

Now, despite the “MaxRanger” in the name, Swann isn’t claiming anything near that range for its MaxRanger4K security cameras. Perhaps because the cameras transmit crystal-clear, 4K videos that likely require more bandwidth than the video call in the Morse Micro test, Swann advertises the cameras will be able to reliably connect back to their base station from a distance of around 600 metres, just one fifth the distance.
Still, even 600 metres leaves other Wi-Fi systems for dead. Here in the back paddock of Digital Life Labs By The Mountain, we barely get a regular (ie non HaLow) Wi-Fi signal at all, even using a powerful mesh network that’s daisy-chained as close to the edge of the paddock as we can get electricity.
The topography, which includes a steep climb down a small cliff to get to the paddock, just isn’t very Wi-Fi friendly. I’m sure our fancy mesh network is zipping around above my head somewhere, but down here in the paddock, I get bupkis.
And yet, without even so much as a single mesh repeater station, the MaxRanger4K is working properly.
Despite only being 56 metres from the base station, the camera is showing just one bar of Wi-Fi signal strength out of a possible five, but there’s another building between the base station and the camera, as well as dense foliage and that cliff preventing a line-of-sight connection, so one bar doesn’t seem so bad.
Frankly, it’s a miracle we’re getting any connection at all. It’s very impressive.
Sure, the AI image recognition in the Swann system mistakes me for a car once in a while (around one time in 50), but it’s still feeding the alerts back to the base station, and from the base station out over the internet to the Swann Security app on my phone, and, well, an alert is an alert.
Car or person, I still know when something is prowling around, and that’s all you really need from your security system, right?
Solar power means you’ll never have to take the camera down to charge it, unlike many cameras on the market. 
Though, actually, the MaxRanger4K does have other features you might need, too.

Solar power, local storage

Each camera is solar-powered, which we now regard as an absolute must-have feature for outside cameras, having struggled and failed to keep regular rechargeable cameras in operation over the years.
And the MaxRanger4K system has local storage of alerts and video footage, which we regard as close to a must-have, too. Where Google’s cameras cynically delete their security recordings after just three hours, the Swann system will hold onto its recording indefinitely, courtesy of a 64MB micro-SD card in the base station that stores everything.
The system will start to rotate through its recordings should the card fill up, presumably deleting the oldest recordings first to make room for new ones, but that’s a limit we haven’t come close to hitting in our week-long review. (Swann estimates you’ll get 6 months of storage on the card).
In any event, you can always replace the micro-SD card for a bigger one, and if that’s not enough there’s also a USB port on the back of the base station for adding up to 4 terabytes of more storage if you need.
It’s almost like Swann has been in this game for a while (it was founded in Melbourne in 1987) and has figured out a thing or two that the likes of Google and Amazon would do well to emulate.
Here’s another thing Swann has figured out: put a battery in the base station, so that even when the power gets cut, the system still records!
As luck would have it, we had a number of power outages in the mountain retreat while we were testing the MaxRanger4K, and, as advertised, the system kept working.
The base station connects to your home or office network to send alerts over the internet to your phone, and if that network goes down during a power outage as ours did, you obviously won’t get any alerts on your phone till the power comes back up.
But when the power does come back, all the recordings will be there, waiting for you without so much as a hiccup. You can even connect the base station up to your TV if you want (yet another feature in the system, though this time it’s anything but a must-have), to look at all your live feeds and recordings in all their 4K glory on the big screen.
Which according to the AI is a must-have for viewing my huge arse.
Likes: Sharp videos. Very long range Wi-Fi. Solar powered camera. Battery backup on base station. Works well with no monthly fees. Decent app.
Dislikes: Doesn’t integrate easily with home automation.
Price: Two-camera kit with base station: $950. Four-camera kit: $1700. Extra cameras: $400 each
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John Davidson is an award-winning columnist, reviewer, and senior writer based in Sydney and in the Digital Life Laboratories, from where he writes about personal technology. Connect with John on Twitter. Email John at jdavidson@afr.com