Home Security & Baby Monitors
Netgear Arlo Security System
In most instances, the presence of a mains cable restricts the number of locations one can position a security the camera. Well here comes a game changer, one that uses batteries instead of the mains. A battery-powered security system like this has many advantages, most notably the wherewithal to site the camera pretty much anywhere or move the camera to a completely different location whenever the need arises. Just be sure the camera is within 300 feet of the supplied wi-fi base station.
Unlike other security camera products that stream live video continuously, Arlo spends most of its time in stand-by mode awaiting a movement to trigger a recording which is then saved to Arlo’s free seven-day Cloud storage. This massively saves on battery usage and goes a long way to ensuring that the batteries hold their charge for the stated four to six months. Rather cleverly, as soon as you tap the play button on the Arlo smartphone app (Android and iOS), the camera wakes up allowing full live streaming just like any other camera system. The weather proof camera itself (yes, you can put this one outside in the rain) is beautifully designed and small enough to blend in with its surroundings. It offers acceptably sharp HD 720p streaming with pinch zoom facilities, automatic night vision (that tends to switch to infrared earlier than others on test) and a nice wide 110˚ field of view.
One of the most annoying aspects of household security camera systems is that they can tend to bombard the user with emails and phone notifications whenever a movement is triggered. Some cameras have trigger zones that can be programmed to ignore areas where pets pass though, for instance. The Arlo doesn’t have trigger zones yet so it’s advisable to follow the company’s advice and mount the camera around seven feet up and at a 45˚ or 90˚ angle of the area you wish to cover. The camera’s motion sensor is designed to work best with side to side motion but be sure to set the sensitivity to very low or you will receive a bombardment of notifications every time the movement sensor is triggered. As with any home security camera system, sensor experimentation is all part of the process.
Arlo is available in five different bundles. The single camera package is ample for a small flat but if you’re in a house consider either a two, three, four of five camera bundle. Each package comes complete with a wi-fi base station (for plugging into a router), four long-life (but pricy) Lithium CR123 batteries for each camera and a surplus of magnetic wall mounts. The camera and mounting system is ingenious and far and away the best designed on the market. Simply place the camera against the ball-shaped mount and the camera’s powerful magnet snaps on in any position you like. The camera is also designed to sit upright should you prefer to site it on a shelf.
Arlo’s app is well designed but a bit confusing. It basically allows instant access to live HD 720p streaming, a library of recordings and a selection of individual camera modes where users can set motion detection sensitivities and customise various rules; a similar design has also been applied to the web browser portal. Crucially, set up via smartphone is incredibly easy – just follow the onscreen instructions and you’ll be watching the dog destroy the house in less time than it takes to say, ‘Jeez Mary, Rowdy’s just ripped the stuffing out the sofa and now he’s got his head stuck in the cat flap’.
This home security camera has one of the prettiest designs on the market and it’s cleverer than most too. But it’s also complicated to understand and the confusing app doesn’t help matters. The Welcome is one of the only cameras to feature face recognition which means it shouldn’t send off an email or text alert every time it spots something moving in front of its sensor. This is a particularly appealing facet but try as we might, we just couldn’t get our heads round the app. Also, there are far too many customizing options available. The Netatmo shoots at 1080p resolution which is extremely good. It’s also compatible with iOS and Android devices, including the Apple Watch. But if you’re a bit of a technophobe, we’d advise giving this one a miss.
Nest has pulled out all the stops and designed an all-metal camera and a versatile magnetic mount that oozes quality. Really, if you’re a fan of metal work you’ll adore this model. Even the mains plug is an Apple-like work of art. Just as well, then, that it does a pretty good job at watching the home. The Nest’s 30fps, 1080p live stream has the best picture quality of any other in the roundup. It really is pin sharp and has a wide 130˚ field of view, so top marks there. Set up is performed via the free app (Android and iOS) and the whole process is a breeze. Nest records continuously but without a subscription to Nest Aware (£8 per month for 10 days of recording), you’ll only be able to see recorded video from the past couple of hours.
This extra cost is likely to put many prospective users off the Nest system but before you leave this review, consider first the bonus firmware update the camera receives when a subscription is arranged. Aside from gaining the ability to spot smaller things and recognise human faces it will even tell the difference between a tree moving outside and an intruder breaking in. This doesn’t add a great deal of extra usability, granted, but it does mean you’ll receive fewer false notifications. And that’s generally a good thing. Pinch and zoom control, two-way voice communication and both sound and motion detection complete a very well designed and reasonably-priced security package.
YCam Home Monitor HD
Y-Cam’s Home Monitor HD was, at one time, the most instinctive and comprehensively equipped IP camera system on the market but that is no longer the case when compared against today’s smartphone setup procedures. Despite being easy enough, the setup process still involves a PC or Mac and an Ethernet cable. That said, once done, everything is accessible via the Home Monitor smartphone app (iOS and Android) and any internet browser.
The Home Monitor HD comes with a fairly broad compliment of features. Its 109˚ wide-angle lens captures the scene in decent 720p HD and switches automatically to infrared when plunged into total darkness. There’s little chance of you missing an event as the system constantly monitors the situation using both motion and sound sensors. If it detects movement, its Smart Buffer system kicks in, the entire event is recorded along with a few seconds of footage on either side and the user receives an email notification. Recorded clips are available free of charge for up to seven days via the Home Monitor mobile app or any computer browser. Despite its design shortcomings, the Home Monitor HD remains a solid choice for fuss-free home monitoring.
I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It’s easy. Just click “Edit Text” or double click me and you can start adding your own content and make changes to the font. Feel free to drag and drop me anywhere you like on your page. I’m a great place for you to tell a story and let your users know a little more about you.
iON the Home
iON muscles in with a basic package that’s reasonably priced for what it offers. Like most of today’s security cameras, installation is performed via any iOS or Android device and it couldn’t be any easier. The camera itself has a commendably wide 120˚ field of view and its 720p image resolution is perfectly good enough for easy face detection. The ability to turn off the camera’s LED light so it doesn’t blink at an intruder is another major plus.
However, despite being equipped with both motion and sound detection – including the ability to adjust trigger zones in the app – the system sadly doesn’t support email alerts. According to the iON website, the camera is supposed to offer in-app notification alerts but this writer received only a few and at irregular intervals. And that, unfortunately, spoils what would have been a great little security product.
The Samsung SmartCam is a synch to set up. Simply launch the free SmartCam app (Android and IOS) and follow the on-screen instructions. Image quality is excellent (up to 1080p) and its adjustable field of view (from 62˚ to 128˚) can be considered a bonus. Unlike the other models here, all event recordings are immediately ported to the user’s private YouTube or Picassa accounts for easy reference. However, beware that incorrectly programmed motion detection zones will initiate a surfeit of video recordings that will soon get on your wick. SmartCam comes with an articulating shelf stand-cum wall mount. It’s an attractive enough camera but it’s not in the design league of the Nest or Arlo. The camera also comes with auto night vision and bi-directional audio for two-way communication. It’s an excellent and very reasonably priced system, no question, but read up on the Arlo and Nest products first before making a decision.
The UCam247 is a doddle to install using the free UCam247Live app (IOS and Android) but the browser-based installation procedure needs improvement. The UCam247 offers many of the same functions as other security systems, including night vision, adjustable motion detection zones and access to live streaming and MicroSD recordings via a browser or mobile app. It also sports a wide field of view and excellent 720p image quality. However, any in-depth preference adjustments like recording quality, card formatting, motion detection and email and text alerts need to be done using the browser, which is a bit clunky and PC like. The UCam247 uses the same fiddly mounting bracket as the Home Monitor HD – both camera manufacturers could do with sourcing a better one.
UCam247 Security Camera
Routers, modems and wi-fi networks are unnecessarily complicated beasts, so it’s always a pleasure to use a device that does all the technical stuff in the background. The SmartCam is amazingly easy to set up; simply launch the free SmartCam app (Android and IOS) and follow the on-screen instructions. Image quality isn’t as crisp as the Home Monitor or UCam247 but it’s perfectly acceptable. However, the camera’s field of view is much narrower than its competitors, which might be a problem if placed in a confined area like a storeroom. Unlike the other models here, all event recordings are immediately ported to the user’s private YouTube or Picassa accounts for easy viewing. The SmartCam may be the cheapest on test but it performs exceptionally well, is easy to use and it’s equipped with the best stand-cum-mounting bracket of the bunch.
Samsung SNH-1011N SmartCam
The advent of the baby monitor has brought with it a sense of freedom for jittery parents in constant worry that their little precious might be tangled up in bedding or in the process of attempting a free-fall leap from the cot. Well here comes Withings – French arbiters of elegantly designed wireless products – with a baby watcher that also serves as a security monitor and air-quality sensor. The Withings Home is a doddle to set up and works seamlessly with any iOS device (an Android version is in the pipe). Simply plug the unit in (no Ethernet cable required at any stage), download the Withings Home app, locate your broadband router on the list, type in your wi-fi password and that’s it. In true Withings fashion, a great deal of thought has gone into the design of the Home and, as a consequence, it looks nothing like other camera monitors on the market. In fact, it doesn’t look like a camera at all – we’d say it more accurately resembles an atomiser or a fancy electronic candle.
From a sprog-monitoring point of view, the Home can be set to trigger on both noise and motion and will stream HD footage to any iOS device while recording events to the Cloud for later perusal (Withings is currently offering seven free days of recording while the Home is still in Beta phase). Other baby-related functions include infrared night vision and the wherewithal to talk to the child via the camera’s speaker or even play a lullaby. These very same features (lullaby not withstanding) can also be applied to home security. Simply site the Home in a suitable place and its HD camera will capture crisp 1080 footage at 30fps and stream it to any iOS device with almost zero latency. What’s more, the camera has arguably the widest angle on the market (135˚) and can easily be zoomed and panned using the app’s pinch controls.
Unfortunately, the app’s interface isn’t very clear when it comes to viewing recordings since most events appear as time-lapse while only a small handful of them are actual real-time videos. True, it’s fun watching a whole day’s filming compressed into a minute or so but this is of no use if you’re trying to nail the perpetrator who waltzed in and nicked all your belongings. The Home is a fabulous piece of kit, no question, but Withings needs to improve the recordings portal and add a selection of camera zones – nothing a new firmware update wouldn’t cure.
Withings Home Security & Baby Monitor
Y-Cam is justly renowned for its doddlesome IP home security cameras so it’s good to see they’ve ventured into toddlerland with an iPhone/iPad-operated baby monitor. The BabyPing is easy to set up and works seamlessly with any IOS device, even remaining on in the background while you check your FaceBook page. The camera streams clear audio and crisp, wide-screen 640x480 HD images – in both full colour and infrared black and white – directly to your device over 3G, 4G or wi-fi. It’ll also send you alerts when there’s a noise in the room. Cool kit.
The Samsung SEW-3037 baby monitor has an interference-free range of around 300 metres and features pan and tilt – handy for parents of twins – a two-way talk-back function and 2x zoom. The whole shebang is controlled back at Parent HQ via a pocket-sized 3.5-inch TFT LCD colour monitor. Picture quality on the parent monitor isn’t exactly HD but it’s clear enough, even in black-and-white night vision mode. The Samsung also has some pretty neat features like ‘Vox’ mode which switches off the screen if no significant sound is heard. As soon as baby starts wailing, the screen switches on again. You can connect up to four cameras at a time and make like MI5 while you monitor several different rooms in turn. Go on, put the kettle on. Looks like you need a rest.
Samsung SEW-3037 Baby Monitor
This digital baby minder comes with a shedload of features to keep parents comfortably content while nipper visits the land of nod. The EyeOn is a doddle to connect. Start by downloading the Mydlink Baby Camera Monitor app (iOS and Android) and follow the wizard’s onscreen instructions. The app’s intuitive interface allows users to receive live streaming from the unit’s 720p camera (it switches over to black-and-white infrared when the lights are off) and record images and video to the unit’s MicroSD card (sold separately). Parents can also play up to five different lullabies through the unit’s built-in speaker and even have alerts sent to their mobile device should the temperature in the room drop below a preset range of, say, -50˚C.
And should little squidge wake up screaming and your phone starts emitting weird noises, there’s no need to jump out of your seat spilling TV dinner all over your pants because you can just reach for said phone, hit the two-way audio button and reassure little precious that you will be along as soon as the results of ‘Britain's Got Talent’ are announced. The app also allows you to take a closer look at what the nipper’s up to by using the pinch and zoom facility. ‘Oh no Marge, she’s spinning her head around again and projectile vomiting all over the room. Quick, call the Vicar.’ The EyeOn is also portable so you can link it to the unit’s built-in wi-fi network and even run it all using a separate USB power pack; handy for campers.