Review: Dropcam video monitoring camera; no tools, no programming, no fuss
Dropcam can be mounted to a wall or the camera can stand on it's own - as long as it's near a power source.
Published Friday, December 20, 2013 4:48PM EST
If you want to set up a home monitoring camera but don’t want to run wiring or waste time configuring a system, there’s a product now available to Canadians that makes video surveillance simple.
Dropcam is a small, cellphone-sized video monitoring camera that can rest on its stand or be mounted to a wall. It draws power from a USB cable plugged into a wall outlet and transmits video wirelessly to the cloud over a WiFi Internet connection.
I tried out Dropcam Pro, while a simpler Dropcam model also exists.
Optically, the Pro’s camera captures surprisingly sharp images for something just designed to keep tabs on your home, kids or outdoor scenery.
This is largely thanks to the six-element glass lens system (compared to plastic lenses) with a 130-degree field of view to capture 720p HD video.
Dropcam also says the image sensor is twice as large as the one found in the company’s previous Dropcam HD camera, which helps in low-light conditions. There are eight infrared LEDs to improve night vision surveillance.
Now, here’s how Dropcam is smart.
Video is uploaded using what they say is bank-level encryption to the cloud. From any device with a web connection (or the iPhone/Android apps) you can log in to see the live video, and use the camera’s microphone and speaker to have a remote conversation.
Dropcam also detects when there’s motion or an unusual sound, sending you a push notification on your iPhone or an email to alert you that something is going on. From there, a quick check of the video stream will let you know if it was just the mailman opening the mailbox, or perhaps something more sinister.
Users can zoom in to take a closer look at what’s being captured, pause the playback and snip out clips as .MP4 files
Since video is in the cloud, you can pay for a recording subscription to be able to go back and see what’s going on. A seven-day storage period is $99/year, while $299 will buy 30 days of archival space for your video.
Downsides? Dropcam Pro is on the pricey side at $219.99 and the subscription model is an extra cost, but few cameras in this segment are this easy to use. It would also be nice to have a battery-powered option as well, if a camera needs to be placed away from a power source.
If you want to keep tabs on pets, people or potential burglars, Dropcam Pro is a solid easy-to-use option.