Home video surveillance is rarely fun or easy to deal with. High-end systems typically require heavy integration, and even consumer do-it-yourself camera setups can be frustrating to get going. But the latest HD video camera from Dropcam and its associated cloud-based DVR service and mobile apps are easy to set up and a joy to use.
Dropcam has been in operation since 2009, but the latest versions of its home surveillance cameras are a big step forward in both form and functionality. Let’s start with the Dropcam HD Wi-Fi Video Monitoring Camera itself, which records 720p video and provides two-way audio functionality. Oh, and it looks good, too. Just as important, set up is a breeze. Users need only plug the camera into their computer, select their local Wi-Fi network and personalize the name of the video feed.
The new Dropcam product has a pretty powerful night-vision camera, which automatically switches on whenever a room becomes dark. It also has two-way audio, enabling users to hear what’s happening in a room and actually respond if they want to. There’s a digital zoom function that can be used to pinpoint certain parts of a room to focus on. And users don’t need to hook the camera into a computer or network-attached storage to record: All the video is uploaded via Wi-Fi into the cloud. The cloud-based DVR records up to 30 days worth of video, which users can log in to and watch at any time.
In fact, the real beauty of Dropcam is its cloud-based DVR and mobile applications, which give its users constant access to video footage of their homes from nearly any mobile device on the go. In addition to browser-based web viewing, Dropcam has released mobile apps for iPhone and iPad, (s AAPL) as well as Android(s GOOG) mobile phones and tablets. Through those apps, Dropcam users can watch live or recorded video, or receive push notifications when motion or audio is detected by the camera.
If there’s one downside to Dropcam, it’s that the camera might be too sensitive to motion — frequently I received notifications from my empty apartment only to watch those events and find a whole lot of nothing going on. The whole thing, especially when combined with a pretty powerful night vision camera, led to a Paranormal Activity-type feeling that my tiny little studio was haunted.
The Dropcam HD Wi-Fi Video Monitoring Camera costs $149 and is now available for pre-order from www.dropcam.com, with shipment beginning later this month. For users that wish to record video, plans with moment-by-moment HD video capture start at $9.95 per month.