It simply works. And in this day and age when so much hype is used to sell products, it is quite refreshing to work with a product that does indeed work straight out of the box. The new SpotCam Monitoring Camera (as it is described on the box) is an ideal home-use Wi-Fi security camera. Weighing in at less than 7-ounces and with a 110° field of view, the best feature of this camera has to be how simple it was to go from box to viewing video on your smartphone. In our case, that was less than 12 minutes.
SpotCam takes a unique approach to setup and configure that is very clever and allows for quick and easy implementation. This is a Wi-Fi (wireless) IP-camera that has no Ethernet connector. You simply connect the (supplied 10-foot) power adapter to the unit and it’s on. The only other user-interactive element on the camera is a switch to change the mode of the camera from wireless access point to wireless client (more on this below).
“Well, then how do I connect to it and see my video,” you now ask yourself. By pointing a web-browser to http://www.myspotcam.com and clicking on the “ADD SPOTCAM” link at the top right of the webpage.
This walks you through the process of creating your personal SpotCam account and using your computer to “connect” to the camera the way you would connect to a wireless network to get out to the Internet. Now your computer is communicating with the camera and getting all the individual camera credentials it needs to know that this camera is your camera (and your camera only).
The process than asks you to slide that switch on the camera to the CLIENT (from the Access Point [AP]) position and now your wireless network sees your camera as a client and the video is pushed up to the “cloud.” Because the camera is not connected into your home network as a computer (or other surveillance camera) it is not “seen” by hackers who ping your home network looking for ways in.
You will want to keep the SpotCam nearby (unobstructed from) your wireless router so that the SpotCam can keep a solid connection to the Internet.
The only way to see the video is to use your smartphone, tablet, iOS App, Android App, or your computer’s web browser to log into your SpotCam account, select your camera, and then view your streaming video. The whole configuration process (can you really call that a “setup” process?) took us less than 12 minutes from opening the box to seeing video on our iPhone. And we were not rushing.
As far as the camera’s video quality, it is a 720p ( 1280 x 720 ) at 30 frames-per-second (fps) and delivered a good video image. Lighting is important and this camera provides day/night capability where it will automatically switch to black and white mode in low-light conditions to keep the 30fps 720p quality video. This is a nice feature when using the camera as a baby monitor in a dark room.
SpotCam has incredible low light sensitivity being able to fo as low as 0 lux with the built-in infrared (IR) illumination.
- Color: 0.2 lux at F1.8
- B/W: 0.05 lux at F1.8
MySpotCam has a recently introduced zoom feature that can be accessed in the browser via the Maginfying glass scale just below the streaming video. On an iOS device the screen can be pinched and zoomed with two fingers.
Using the MySpotCam.com control panel, you can configure the camera to send an email to alert you whenever the camera detects motion, sound, and/or goes offline. You can also adjust the motion sensitivity and a motion mask as well as the sound sensitivity. These are High, Normal, and Low settings and we would have preferred to see a “slider bar” option to give us more granular control of these settings.
When you do get the email alert, you are told which camera detected which kind of alert at what time and a snapshot of the image is included in the email. A nice way to see that it’s just the kids home from school.
Two Way Audio
You will be surprised how many times you will use the two-way microphone option, which is a feature you find on some higher end video management systems. One way audio is common and this is a very nice touch for this solution.
As with all things being about social media, you can make your video feed ‘public’ and allow others to view your camera feed. You can also configure the account to also include others that you specifically invite to log in and see your video feed.
Maybe if you are a small business and wanting to showcase your establishment, you could use this feature. Otherwise, you might want to think twice on whom you invite to view your camera feeds. But the feature is there if you want to share your video.
Your Wireless Network
SpotCam has really thought through this configuration and use model. Even as the SpotCam streams video in H.264 format, you can also adjust the high-definition (720p) video down to standard-definition (480p) video if you notice that your wireless network becomes sluggish.
This is something we noticed quickly with our setup as our other systems were not as responsive when interacting with the Internet. We are now yearning for a higher speed wireless network.
Your SpotCam cloud account comes with free 24-hour cloud storage. If you wish to upgrade that retention, SpotCam gives you 3-day, 7-day, and 30-day storage options as shown below.
- 3-day recording $3.95/month $39/year
- 7-day recording $5.95/month $59/year
- 30-day recording $19.95/month $199/year
The vendor is currently offering a 50% discount off the cloud storage pricing for any additional SpotCams you add to your account.
OK, We’re impressed. What’s the catch?
Having been in the computer industry for over 30 years now, I know that no product is perfect. However, the SpotCam is one of the few products I’ve come across in a very long time that I was as impressed with after using it for a couple of days as I was reading the datasheet.
There are a couple of items I would like to see improved. As you can see from the screen shot below, the ‘blooming effect’ when there is a bright light source in the room says to me that this unit doesn’t have wide dynamic range (WDR). A typical room’s lighting probably will not be an issue for most people.
This product is from Taiwan and there are a number of grammatical English items in the (barely needed) quick-start guide, MySpotCam.com website, and configuration tool that could be cleaned up. But I guess that’s a nit.
The Apple iPhone app was easy to download from the Apple App Store, however the iPad app is not available until mid February. We did not test on Android devices.
If you are looking for a good quality home wi-fi security camera to keep an eye on things then you owe it to yourself to check out the SpotCam. At US$149.00 MSRP it is competitive with many of the “baby monitors” you can buy at Wal-Mart or Target.
This camera gets SecurityHive’s highest recommendations. It really is easy to setup. It’s easy to use. It’s good quality video. It simply works. And these days, that is saying a lot.Source: myspotcam.com