If you are looking for a very easy to setup and use wireless network security camera for your home, get this camera. It will make a good baby cam as well. For the details, read on. You can also watch and hear this review in greater details in the review video.
I have been using network security camera for the last ten years. I used them in the office for security, and used it at home for security when I travel, as a baby cam when my kids were little. I have always used expensive professional grade camera made by Axis. These are camera that you will see used in department store and other professional locations.
The cheap home grade cameras like the Foscam never appeal to me. Their video quality is too low. Their software too buggy. They have no customer support. For example, one of my Axis camera had a problem and I spend hours with their real technical support person, and they ended up replacing my faulty camera.
So why do I switched to dropcam pro?
Cost vs Performance tradeoff
The good Axis cameras are very expensive. Compare to the dropcam pro, with a very good video quality (1080p HD) and a good optical lens with a wide field of vision, the drop cam pro, at $200, is a very good price. A equivalent Axis would have cost $300 (Axis M1034-W) and up.
Packaging and Physical Quality
The dropcam pro packaging reminds me of a well designed and packaged Apple product. The camera and the base comes in a mostly metal body. The base is weighted enough I have no problem just placing it on a shelf for one of my location. The enclosed USB cable is thick and flexible. The camera comes with a plastic mounting base and a set of mounting anchor and screws that can be used to mount the camera onto a dry wall. The only thing I find bad about the camera is that the supplied drywall anchor is terrible. They have problem gripping my drywall. I would use regular anchors that you can find from a home improvement store.
The video quality is very good. You can see it in the video review, towards the end. Or take a look at some of the live demo featured on the drop cam website. The camera has a very wide field of vision. This means you can see a lot of the room(s) that you are monitoring with just one camera mounted on the side. The night vision of the camera is amazing. Again you can see it on their demos or in my review.
Remote Access, motion detection and Recording
The software and the cloud service is where the dropcam really shines. Their free iPhone and iPad apps let you connect to any of your camera to view live feed, view recorded activities earlier, and to change the settings on the cameras. It has nice touches like the app will update the camera displays periodically (think animated GIF) when you are viewing all your cameras in the app. You have to click on a specific camera to stream actual content.
The camera has good motion detection. When it detects motion or light changes, it has the option of sending a notification to my mobile app(s) and email me. It has schedule capability to switch the camera and/or activity notification on and off by time. All the settings can be changed remotely.
You can assign names to activities. I assume that you program the software to recognize different activities in different location of the monitored areas so that the notification are named. If not set, all the notifications are called "unnamed activities". I have not tried the named activity feature yet.
Setup and Installation
The setup process for the camera is quick and easy. When I first open the package, I notice the camera is powered by a micro USB port and cable. I thought that was strange until I realized that the installation software is *inside* the camera. You plug the camera, using the included USB cable, into your computer. The installation software shows up as a disk image (for my Mac) and you can run the installation right from it. No need to download installer, or pop in CD's.
Are there any Issues? The first is the bad mounting anchor. The second is that, for a few times, it takes the camera a long time to reboot after I change settings. One time I gave up and just powered the camera off and on.
This is a great camera. I use it to monitor the house when we are away. I travel a lot so I use it to check on the family. We are past that phase now, but it can be a great baby cam. Highly recommended.
Full Video Review
Note: A shout out to my 9 year old. He filmed me and then edited this entire review - completely self taught, using a HD handicam and iMovie.