I recently tested out Smarthome's Wireless Security IP Camera. This compact video camera can be set on a table or shelf or even mounted to a wall and controlled from your web browser or an INSTEON smartphone app.
Installation didn't take more than 30 minutes, but could have been quicker if it did a better job of identifying the wireless AP.
It has a resolution of 640×480, and night vision up to 26 ft, and I wasn't expecting the clarity in either day or night mode to be as good as it was. I thought it would be more grainy, and the infrared night vision is surprisingly clear. The video comes in at 30 fps and wasn't so choppy to be annoying, although not quite TV-smooth.
The pan (300°) and tilt (120°) are quite smooth, and if you position the camera at the edge of a room, you can get pretty good coverage. What's missing is a zoom feature, but I didn't find myself really wanting or needing it.
I set up this camera in my daughter's room so we could see some of her bedtime shenanigans without popping our head around the door where she could spot us and turn up the manipulation dial! The other extremely useful feature was the motion-activated email alerts. Think of it as a remote babysitter for when you're in another room. Of course, there are a dozen other uses – security camera for your office, know when people come and go, etc.
I also punched a hole in my router's firewall and was able to access the camera's web interface over the Internet. It's password protected, otherwise I would not have allowed access, although there isn't much damage an attacker could do if they gained access to the camera's web page.
Here's what's cool about the camera:
- Wireless – must-have in this day and age. No running wires. Also makes it easily portable.
- Pan & tilt
- Night vision
- Motion-activated email alerts – takes a snapshot and sends you 1 or more jpeg photos.
- Android & iOS apps (when using Smartlinc or Houselinc)
- Built-in microphone – yup, you can hear what's going on too, although it does require some pesky browser plug-ins. Hopefully, they'll HTML5 this soon.
- Built-in speaker – even better, talk to the people (or your pets!) within earshot of the camera.
Where I thought the camera fell short or needs improvement:
- Web interface – yes, it's great that every network-connected device today comes with a web interface for administration and control, but they consistently tend to appear like an afterthought with poorly designed interfaces and lacking help. For the most part, the web interface for the camera was easy to use, but there were options that weren't obvious.
- Lower bandwidth option – for when you either don't need that much clarity or don't have the bandwidth, it would be nice to have a button to drop the bandwidth requirements.
- Zoom – as mentioned, this is a nice-to-have.
It comes in either black or white and only runs $100. Smarthome also has an outdoor version that is only $20 more with a modified set of features, and in addition they carry a whole range of IP cameras from other vendors as well.
All in all, I thought it was a pretty good value for what it offered, and to think I spent over $120 for a much more basic baby monitor!
(Disclaimer: Gizmos for Geeks received a complimentary review copy of this product.)