IT, New Media & Software

Wednesday, 19 October 2016 14:45

Home Surveillance Camera Review

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Home security

Home surveillance is an integral part of any home as you cannot be around to protect your family or property 24 hours a day. Consider a few factors before chosing which solution is best for you.

One of the best options available on the market these days is an internet protocol camera also know as a wireless camera or IP camera.IP cameras or digital video cameras send data by means of your wireless network to your smartphone or browser. CCTV or closed-circuit television security has become dated compared to IP cameras which offer live streaming video, movement notifications, have high definition image quality and do not require as many cables and are easy to install. Some wireless cameras also offer two way audio.

We have done some research into a variety of home security cameras for you so if your wanting to upgrade your system, we have a few things you should consider. Modern technology allows you to upgrade to a fully smart home, utilising home automation systems. Home automation systems are platforms that allow you to control garage doors, thermostats, garage doors, smart locks and lighting controls.

For DIY enthusiasts, IP cameras are an ideal way to go for you to monitor your home. From checking on pets while they are left on their own to keeping an eye on children or the elderly or to viewing staff you will be able to see that all is well. If your wanting a comprehensive monitoring home security system, then add window sensors and door sensors. Sometimes a hidden camera or nanny cam is used to monitor what is happening without the knowledge of the person being watched.

In essence an IP camera is a webcam that allows you to stream live video data via the internet which is then sent to an application on your smartphone / smart device, tablet or computer (internet browser). Different IP camera brands offer different functions so you will need to figure out which is the most suitable for you. Most IP cameras connect to your wireless network and send the data. They only need to be placed at a power outlet and simply plug in. This is handy as the camera can then be moved around and no ‘hard wiring’ as such is required.

The second option of IP camera is the wired option which transfers video by means of ethernet cable. The connection is more stable and likely to be slightly faster than that of the wireless IP camera however you will need to run cabling to the camera.

The cameras often have a wide viewing angle and can be placed at one end of a room and due to the angle you will be able to see most of the room that is being surveyed. There is an option to chose between fixed cameras or cameras that can pan, tilt or rotate.

Another consideration is where the cameras will be placed. Outdoor cameras have a specific housing that is weatherproof which keeps the lens and working parts safe from harsh weather conditions.

It is advisable to always select a camera that is no less than 720p in video resolution. You would not want to go below that as the picture quality will be compromised. The cameras should be able to record footage in full colour.

When testing a range of cameras, we assessed the video quality, during the day and at night. We also tested the cameras for audio quality. Frame rate, field of view, digital zoom, motion detection and sound detection were also factors that we took into consideration. We tested on a poster board which had a printed phrase in the same style as an eye chart. Most of the cameras we tested allowed us to read the top 3 lines however a few, namely the Flir FX and Nest Cam Indoor allowed us to read the top four lines. The Y-Cam had very good clarity however we found that it also had a 17 second delay whenever movement was detected. A slow response time like this is not good enough if your trying to catch someone in the act.

Night vision capabilities were tested without any ambient light supplied. In pure darkness, most of the IP cameras we ran tests on were able to show us what was going on. With a range of invisible infra red lights or LED’s most of the cameras could illuminate the room sufficiently. The Belkin Netcam supplied the best picture in utter darkness. That being said none of the cameras could show the lettering on our poster board.

Cameras that have a higher frame rate are able to produce smoother video (30 fps is almost seamless). Another factor to take into consideration is your internet speed and connection as this can also affect the video.

The D-Link DCS-2630L has 180 degrees viewing angle and is the widest field of view of all the cameras we tested. An average of about 100 or more degrees is the norm. The Y-Cam had the narrowest field of vision only covering 87 degrees (or 80 degrees horizontally). Digital zoom is an important factor if you need to have a closer look of the scene.The Samsung SmartCAM HD Pro could magnify 10x the original size. On average the cameras tested at 8x but it is important to note that even a 3x zoom will give you a close-up of someones face.

All of the cameras we tested had the capacity to record on motion detection. This is important as it can save space on your micro SD card as well as time when you have to go back on recorded footage. It is important to chose an IP camera that is user friendly and offers customer support if you do find your battling.

Verdict and Recommendation

The best IP camera we tested was the Simplicam which had excellent video quality day and night and was easy to use and had a stable wifi connection. Available on www.wantitall.co.za

Nest Cam indoor camera had a very clear HD video and offered 130 degree viewing angle. It is the only camera we reviewed that has its own home automation system. Available on www.nestcam.co.za

Most cost effective choice is the Foscam C2 which we found to be one of the least expensive cameras offering good visual quality and ease of use. Available at www.foscam.co.za

If your using your camera for home security or as a way to keep an eye on your children, pets, elderly or staff, you need to chose the option that best suits your lifestyle.

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