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Keep watch: 5 cloud security cameras for your home

Robert L. Mitchell | June 26, 2013
If you want to make sure nobody's making off with your valuables — or that your dog isn't chewing up the furniture — try one of these cloud-based cameras

The mobile apps have full access to the configuration options as well as live streaming and playback of stored video at Dropcam.com. On the iPad you can view up to four camera streams on screen at the same time — a feature not offered in the portal or other mobile apps. Dropcam does not currently support location-based services in the iPad or Android apps.

Bottom line
The Dropcam HD is the standout among the Wi-Fi offerings for its simplicity and ease of use. The portal and apps were reliable and easy to configure, image quality was clear and crisp, and the Dropcam HD was the only camera to support location-based activation/deactivation tied to an iPhone.

If you need recording and playback capability, however, Dropcam's $9.95/mo. service is the most expensive in the group.

Logitech Alert 750n Indoor Master System
The Logitech Alert 750n ($300) is the only cloud security camera among the ones I tested that doesn't wirelessly connect the camera to your home router. Instead, Logitech streams data from the camera to its power supply, through your household electrical wiring and into a base station that then connects directly to your router by way of an Ethernet cable.

Logitech Alert 750n

While that may sound complicated, it means that there's no fiddling around with finicky Wi-Fi connections, range limitations and interference issues when connecting the camera back to your router.

The 750n Indoor Master System includes the camera and power supply, and a second power supply block/base unit that plugs into an Ethernet jack in your router. A word of warning: The power supply blocks, at 3.0 x 4.0 x 1.5 in., are major space hogs on a power supply strip.

Setup was a breeze using a pictorial step-by-step installation sheet, and images remarkably crisp and clear — among the most stable, smoothest images rendered of all cameras tested. I suspect that this is due not just to fact that the default resolution of the camera is 960 x 720, but because Logitech has eliminated Wi-Fi from the connectivity equation.

Viewing the video
While video can be viewed through the Alert.logitech.com Web portal, to record and view stored video clips you need to use Alert Commander, an included program for Windows or Mac that also lets you view up to six video streams on a single screen. Users of the free Logitech Alert Android and iPhone apps can view live video, take a photo and save the image to the camera's included 2GB SD card. The software only offers alert-based recording — you can't click a button to record on demand.

Setting up alerts with Alert Commander was easy. The install wizard asks for your email address and uses that to send alerts. It also specifically asks for the email address so it can send text alerts to your mobile phone. To use this you need to know the email address format your carrier requires for emailing yourself a text message (For my Galaxy Nexus Verizon phone, for example, the format is phonenumber@vtext.com).

 

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