A couple of years ago I bought my first house. My wife and I have spent the time since renovating it – our original goal was to renovate it in 3 months. 18 months later and we’re still going.
Apart from obvious things like redecorating – one of my focuses has been improving security. We actually live in a pretty low crime area – but coming from London I’m a bit paranoid about this sort of thing. Paranoia, combined with my geeky tendencies, means I am in the market for an external wifi security camera that lets me watch the outside of my house from either my laptop or iPod/ iPhone.
I’ve looked at reviews and have been considering a couple of different models – and then a couple of weeks ago I was sent a press release for a new camera – so I figured I’d ask for a review camera so I could try it out for myself. In the interest of openness – I haven’t paid for this camera, but I have been asked to give it back – so this as fair a review of the camera as I can give.
Wifi Security Camera
So – the camera is a UCam247. They bill themselves as being easy to install and use, easier than the average IP camera in fact. Having not used other cameras I can’t compare them directly – but I can say that I found it very easy to get up and running initially.
To start with I hooked it up with a cable direct to my internet hub, and I was able to watch the camera through a free app I installed on the iPhone. To connect the phone to the app I just had to scan a tiny QR code (a genuine worthwhile use of QR codes – finally!) and I was up and running – it really was super quick and easy to get going.
However I want to put the camera just outside my front door, and there’s no cables there – so I needed to test the wireless functionality. Unfortunately – out of the box – it isn’t clear how to set up the camera wirelessly. There’s little documentation in the box and what there is focuses on the wired setup. The website is equally sparse – and what documentation I could find wasn’t very comprehensive. From what I can tell the first thing I had to do was log into an online control panel (with the camera wired in) – and then set the wireless properties – I would then have to connect to the wireless network, select some security settings – and off I go. Unfortunately the security settings the camera supported did not support the way my wireless hub was configured – and I didn’t want to start changing things for the review and as such I was unable to get the wireless camera to work. I am sure with a bit more time and fiddling I would be able to get it up and running – but I am not so sure it would be that straightforward for the average consumer. I think some improved documentation would go a long way to easing things here.
One of the key things I wanted to use is the night vision mode. This switches on automatically when it’s dark. Since I was reviewing the camera I couldn’t try it properly outside – I’d have to get power to the camera, and screw it to the wall – so I tested it indoors. I know it’s not the same – but the night vision test looked really good. I could see everything as clearly as if it was day despite there being no light on. Having only seen this sort of thing on the tv in the past I didn’t know what to expect so I was pleasantly surprised with the results.
Cost – I found this quite interesting – the camera costs £170 and can be purchased from sites like Amazon. However you can also get competing cameras for half the price. I asked them why there was such a disparity in price – and was told that the main reason is that competing cameras are harder to set up. Considering the trouble I had with the installation I’m not sure that’s a valid argument.
So – all in all – the camera itself was really nicely made, and if you can connect it up with cables then it’s super easy to get up and running. However if you want to make use of the wireless functionality you may run into problems and it’s less recommended – with some technical skills this shouldn’t be an issue though. The price however is the biggest sticking point for me – however complicated the other cameras are to set up or use – I think it would be hard for me to justify paying twice the amount when compared to other models that appear to have the same functionality.