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How to Keep an Eye on Things When You're Not There
September 28, 2009 3:00 PM (Monday) Author: andrewWhether you want to keep an eye on your pet, your aging parents, your kids, your vacation home, your boat, or whatever else you feel needs watching, the internet is now the best way to do it.
You can buy security systems of all types and prices including PC or Mac-based systems that can use just about any camera hooked up to a computer. For this roundup, we picked a handful of wireless cameras that make it easy to watch and listen to what's happening anyplace that you are not.
Yes, the Panasonic BL-C131A camera costs more than most good point and shoot digital cameras, but it's a quality web camera that gets good reviews and has a lot of useful features including a microphone and thermal sensor that can detect when a human or animal enters the room. You can also make it pan and tilt remotely. Set it up to talk to your router, use their free service to create a personal web address like mycamera.viewnetcam.com and then you or anyone you give permission to, can view your camera's live images on the Internet. It costs around $250.
Sharx Security VIPcella-IR SCNC2607
Users say the Sharx Security VIPcella-IR SCNC2607 camera may not be the easiest to set up especially when you read comments like, “you need to configure some things in your router.” However, users also say it has a very good installation guide and once you get it working, it does a good job of sending video directly to a browser on your computer or phone without going through a service. It includes features like motion detection, a microphone, email alerts, and even infrared night vision which could come in handy when trying to see what’s going on in the dark. It’s a little on the expensive side at $399 (on sale now on Amazon for $300) but it does have all the right features. If you don’t need the night vision feature you can get the less expensive, Sharx SCNC2606 for around $225 but for $75 we say go for the night vision.
Cisco WVC210 (formerly a Linksys product)
When you see the Cisco WVC210 you may want to say, “open the pod bay doors,” but seriously, for $250 this wireless web cam has some nice features including one that most other cameras don’t have which is audio out (you need an external speaker). Imagine being able to tell Spotty to get off the couch, or say "hi" to the kids. The Cisco WVC210 offers remote pan and tilt and email alerts with attached video when it detects motion. Users say it does a good job but has a few quirks like occasional lost connections, a noisy motor, and overly sensitive motion detector, not to mention the fact that the software doesn’t work with Windows Vista and you need to use an ActiveX control to listen to the audio with Internet Explorer (which actually isn’t that big of a deal).
TRENDnet Wireless Internet Camera Server (TV-IP110W)
The Trendnet TV-IP110W wireless webcam doesn't get the highest ratings and there are many comments saying it's not the easiest device to get working but at a little over $100, the price is reasonable and once you do get it working users say it has pretty good image quality and useful features like motion detection and email alerts.
Some reviewers rave about the Linksys (now Cisco) WVC54GCA camera while others don't have a lot of good things to say about it. If you’re in the group that makes it through the setup procedure to get it working you will have what one reviewer called an “adequate,” camera for keeping an eye on things. You can buy the Linksys WVC54GCA for under $100.
Coming Soon the D-Link DSC-1130
D-Link, the company known for routers and other quality communication gear is about to release a wireless network camera and companion “portal,” that sounds like it may make setting up and watching the remote camera real simple. You access the video from the camera on your browser via a user account on mydlink.com. The DCS-1130 will have an MSRP of $219.99 but you should be able to find it for less.
Wireless Baby Monitors
These video and audio monitors work on a limited range and are meant to be used within a house. They can be used to watch older people too. The Summer Infant Best View Handheld Monitor has a 2.5 inch screen and costs around $150. Safety 1st High-Def Monitor costs around $230 but offers a higher resolution display. The Securityman PalmWatch III offers night vision, gets high marks from reviewers and only costs around $100.
Novelty Web Cams
The WowWee Rovio Wi-Fi Enabled Robotic WebCam costs about $230 but should be lots of fun to use. You move this three-wheeled little bugger around your house via an Internet connection. You can make it go to preset waypoints or self-dock in its charging station. It even has a built-in LED headlight.
Spykee Spy WiFi Robot
The Spykee Spy WiFi robot comes as a kit that you put together. Once it’s up and running, you control it remotely, watch and listen to what’s going on around it, and even speak through it. You can even use it with Skype. Spykee lists for around $250 but you can find it online for a lot less.
Point Your Wireless Webcam at Retrevo
Whether you’re looking for the tools to watch your cat sleeping at your home or you need help deciding what netbook to buy, Retrevo has reviews and manuals for the latest gear and gadgets including digital cameras, GPS, laptops, HDTV, and more.