Review: UCam247-HDO, The Outdoor HD Wireless CCTV Camera

ucam247-hdo-1

We featured UCam247’s impressive indoor camera back in our July round up of Top 5 Security Gadgets and this time we’ve got “hands on” with the company’s new outdoor camera, the UCam247-HDO.

You can immediately tell from the camera’s build quality that the HDO is designed to survive our ever changing British weather. Indeed, the company has ensured it meets the I67 standard, meaning that it’s “totally protected” against dust ingress as well as the effect of “immersion between 15cm and 1m” – which should be enough even on a very wet day! In terms of operating temperature, the device can work between -20c and 60c.

In addition to its physical strengths, the UCam247-HDO packs a serious amount of tech. The camera records at a resolution of 1280×720 (lower resolutions also available) and supports MJPEG, MPEG4 and H.264 compression. While high resolution is obviously an important factor when buying a CCTV camera – the other thing to consider is frame rate. On this front, the HDO provides an impressive 30fps even when at full resolution.

The camera’s viewing angles are 50 degrees horizontally and 40 degrees vertically and its lens has a fixed focal length of 4.3mm. The HDO comes with built-in night vision which automatically activates at low light and provides a maximum range of 15 metres as well as an electret condenser microphone for sound recording. On top of all this, the HDO features a multi-zone motion sensor, which can send alerts via email as well as the ability to record to the built in micro SD card or your NAS/computer.

At this stage you might be feeling slightly bamboozled by all the features, but don’t worry as UCam247’s key selling point is that they should be “plug and play”. Indeed, the company prides itself on what they refer to as their “unique 3 step install system” – which involves no complicated port forwarding or DDNS setting up. We tested out this by getting the company to send us a review unit to play with.

You can see us unboxing and setting up the UCam247-HDO in this video:

To get setup you simply plug your camera in to the mains and connect it to your router using the supplied cable. Then download the free and add your camera using the supplied ID and pass code. At this stage, you could call it a day – but the majority of users will want to go to Advanced Settings to connect the camera to a WiFi network. Once you’ve done this, you can place your camera wherever you have WiFi coverage (and a power socket).

Slightly bulky plugs/cable
Slightly bulky plugs/cable

Our only small gripe relates to the camera’s cable which you can’t detach. This means that those wishing to mount the camera on a wall (with the power running back inside) will be forced to drill a relatively large hole due to the Y shaped plastic housing as well as the relative bulky shape of ethernet plug (see pic above).

That being said, the UCam247-HDO does exactly what it says on the tin. The setup was very easy and the picture quality was excellent. The HDO is currently available for around £160 which, when you consider features such as built-in SD card and email alerts, makes it a “steal” – if you excuse our pun! For more info visit www.ucam247.com

Swann Security: Keep an electronic eye on your property this holiday season

When you head off on holiday, do you have nagging doubts – have you turned off the iron, did you lock the door; did you leave a tap running? And do you worry about whether your home or office will be safe while you’re off soaking up the sun?

Swann-Cams

Along with fitting a burglar alarm, you could think about setting up another level of home security that could help you relax and enjoy that well-deserved break.

Plug and play security cameras can offer another layer of home security – and Swann Security, which has often featured on this site with its solidly made, easy-to-set-up security cameras, has come up with another raft of products just in time for the holiday season.

The Pro-660 Super Wide-Gale Secretly Camera ahs been designed to cover a wider area than the average camera – really useful for covering wider area- perhaps the back of the house, or maybe a side alley that you otherwise couldn’t monitor without leaving blind spots.

Swann has also introduced the Pro-670 Professional All Purpose Security Camera, which has a “Super HAD” high-res video sensor , allowing you to keep a continuous eye out for any suspicious activity. The powerful infrared night vision operates up to 80m, which is great for long driveways, alleyways and long hallways.

Finally, the Pro-680 Ultimate Optical Zoom Security Camera is the top-of-the-range device, which Swann says promises to deliver crystal cellar images, so that should the worst happen, you may be able to identify culprits – a long way from those blurry, grainy images we are familiar with.

The cameras come with the cable needed to connect to a TV or DVR.

And the price of this extra security? Surprisingly low actually. Prices range from £119.99 for the wide-angle camera, to £149.99 for the Ultimate zoom model.

More details from www.swann.com

Jabbakam community IP camera review

Much as I loved the rich feature set of the TP-Link Wireless Surveillance Camera I recently reviewed here, setting it up was far from simple. Whilst a war-weary Linux veteran such as myself is happy configuring files or mucking about with settings it feel down on my timeless, “If I gave this to my Mum would she be able to use it” criteria.

Jabbakam

Passing the Mum test with flying colours however, is the Jabbakam, community security IP camera. And at £59.99 it passes the “would I buy this for my Mum” test as well. The new camera has been specifically designed to work immediately following connection to the Internet and literally almost works straight out of the box. Connect the Jabbakam to your router and a power souce and it’s ready to roll. Whilst lacking the power and flexibility of other IP cameras we’ve looked at, the Jabbakam is pre-configured to take full advantage of the features that the cloud based Jabbakam service provides. In particular, the camera is activated by movement, recording events and sending alerts via email or sms when appropriate. There’s even a specially commissioned delightful set of cartoons from Yumi Sakugawa to hold your hand through both installation and the whole Jabbakam concept.

But what is the Jabbakam concept? What sets it apart from other IP cameras (delightful cartoons aside)? Well according to James Wickes, creator of Jabbakam:

Jabbakam succeeds where other IP-based camera services have failed, and the new camera’s price point ensures that anyone who wants to monitor something they value can do so easily. Networks are about inclusion, and the camera’s affordability will ensure that even more people can now benefit from joining Jabbakam.

When logged into Jabbakam, users can see footage from their IP cameras from anywhere in the world. Jabbakam users can view recorded footage remotely via their web browser, laptop, smartphone or PDA. Sadly live footage requires Flash, but you can view recorded footage on almost any modern device, which is amazing. You can set your camera to alert you, receiving emails or text messages when there is any unexpected activity in front of their cameras.

Jabbakam is a natural progression from Neighbourhood Watch, in that, using your own cameras you can keep watch over the things that are important to you, or by linking them with neighbour’s cameras, you can form a neighbourhood watch networks. Private networks can be created by people who share the same interests, and public camera networks can be created that can be accessed by anyone. Access to camera footage is granted by the network owner. Jabbakam networks can be public, private or completely hidden from view.

The Jabbakam starter kit is £59.95 and the basic package is £5.95 a month to store images online for up to 14 days.

TP-LINK Wireless Pan/Tilt Surveillance Camera review

More and more our houses are filled with shiny gadgets, some of which have even featured on these very pages. Why not keep them safe with another shiny gadget – the feature packed TP-LINK Wireless Pan/Tilt Surveillance Camera?

TP-Link-IP-Cam

With the funky new droid-esque TP-LINK Wireless Pan/Tilt Surveillance Camera, you can keep a close watch on an entire room from your PC or 3G mobile phone, giving you a sense of security (or rampant paranoia) round-the-clock. The high-quality camera conveniently pans and tilts automatically, capturing vibrant colour images without colour distortion in the day and recording clear video at night. Intelligent recording and remote alerts to your 3G mobile phone or laptop help provide a degree of peace of mind.

Installation however, was a minor pain. Despite the ability to watch live feeds of your iPhone, setting up with Wireless Surveillance Camera on your iMac is a bit more of a headache. The installation files are all *.exe only and it’s a bit of a pain getting the camera up and running without a PC on hand. Even with Parallels or VM Ware it’s still a bit of a struggle getting the software to respond to the camera. I’m sure everything works magically using a conventional PC. You can of course, circumvent this installation process by finding your camera’s IP address and logging in using the default password (it’s amazing how helpful Google can be). From here, configuring everything via the online interface if relatively painless. The interface is a dowdy, but security is a serious business and I’m guessing the design team had other priorities.

Priorities such as cramming the Wireless Surveillance Camera with advanced features to facilitate surveillance such as wireless video streaming and 2-way audio transmission. The Wireless Surveillance Camera is suitable for the home, office, and even commercial settings such as a warehouse or a supermarket. When mounted on the ceiling or wall, the 354° horizontal pan, 125° vertical tilt, and 10x digital zoom assure complete room monitoring. Furthermore, the camera’s live video can be accessed from nearly anywhere via the Internet, such as your laptop, tablet, or 3G mobile devices. The motion sensors work as advertised and you can also set the camera up to patrol the area at set intervals.

The TP-LINK Wireless Pan/Tilt Surveillance Camera is out now from here.

Wired for sound and vision: Swann DVR4-2000 Security Recording System

Milton Keynes: birthplace of the famous concrete cows, the location for Cliff Richard’s promo video for Wired for Sound, and home to Swann Security, a global leader in plug n play security monitoring devices.

So what is Swann offering us this time? Well, there’s not a roller skate or Walkman in sight, but you do have the ability to monitor your home or office from your smartphone or iPhone, so you can have peace of mind wherever you are, as long as you have your phone with you.

DVR4-2000

The DVR4-2000 Security Recording System comes with two cameras and a digital video recorder with a 500GB hard drive. It is possible to purchase two more cameras to add to the system if you need them.

The PNP-150 cameras look very similar to the Y-Cam Bullet camera that we featured recently. They have a weather-resistant casing, and night vision offering coverage of up to 30ft/9m in the dark.

The system can record continuously in H.264 quality for 30 days, or can be set to record on motion detection or ‘set & forget’ to save hard drive space. Recording can also be saved to a PC via USB.

Download the free APlayer app from the App Store for live streaming on a 3G iPhone or connect to the TV for instant live viewing. Software also allows you to view images online.

The DVR4-2000 is now available for £399.99 from selected PC World and Currys stores.

That’s about 100 quid more than the price tage on one Y-Cam Bullet, so not bad price-wise for an extra camera. The difference is, of course, that the Bullet can be connected via a wireless network, which allows for greater flexibility. However, if it is important for you to have cameras trained on two locations the DVR4-2000 offers a good-value option, and it is possible to buy wireless cameras if you really need them.