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

Top 5 Security Gadgets

UCam-247

Whether you’re going on holiday, sending your son or daughter away to university for the first time or simply concerned about your possessions being stolen, you most probably have some sort of security worry nagging away at the back of your mind. Fortunately whatever your fears there’s almost certainly a gadget to address them, here are five of the best.

UCam247 IP Camera

The UCam247 range of IP cameras connect directly to your home router so there’s no need for a computer to be switched on for them to operate. This also means that they can be accessed from anywhere via dedicated iPhone and Android apps. The cameras can be set up via the apps too so you don’t really need a computer at all.

Images are captured in high definition and there are a range of features including motion detection, night vision and automatic email alerts. The cameras come in indoor and outdoor versions making them suitable for a wide range of security tasks as well as being a useful way of monitoring a baby or a pet. Prices start from £110 for an indoor version, visit UCam247 for more details.

PacSafe

Pacsafe StuffSafe

Ideal for gap year students, festival goers and travellers of all kinds, the StuffSafe is an 80 litre waterproof bag. What makes it special is the stainless-steel eXomesh that’s wrapped around the outside. This is slash proof, snatch proof and tamper proof, for safety in transit it can be locked closed or locked to something else for security. When you arrive at your destination it can be fastened to something immovable making it perfect for protecting your valuables in hotel rooms and hostels.

The StuffSafe costs £81 from Cotswold Outdoor

LifeLock

LifeLock

If you’re worried about the security of a room, whether you’re a business traveller in a hotel, a student in university accommodation or just generally paranoid, the LifeLock might be the answer. This award-winning gadget can lock any door in seconds without the use of tools, yet can be taken off afterwards without leaving a mark. No codes or keys are needed so it can be easily removed in emergencies. The device has an integral LCD clock and also includes a built-in torch so you can fit it in the dark.

Peace of mind in your room costs £35.94 from LifeLock

Fake-TV

Fake TV

Burglars tend to be opportunists so they’ll be put off if they think there’s someone at home. As an alternative to having your lights on a timer when you’re away from home, the Fake TV reproduces the flickering light patterns of a television set. It gives out the same amount of light as a 27-inch LCD TV and a sensor turns it on automatically as it gets dark, the device can be set to stay on for four or seven hours before shutting off.

Fake TV uses less power than a standard lamp and costs £34.95 from Gizoo

Kensington-Proximo

Kensington Proximo

It’s reckoned that a smartphone is stolen or lost every 3.5 seconds, which is pretty annoying if it happens to be yours. The Proximo sensor tag is paired with your smartphone and will alert you when it strays out of range. You can also attach a sensor to your keys to ensure that you can always find them too.

The starter kit with a sensor and a key fob costs £49.99 and extra sensors are available at £19.99 each from Kensington. It’s currently iPhone only but an Android version is on the way.

C5 Childs Tracker Watch: Forget big brother, big mother is watching you

Tracker-Watch

When children are little, it’s reasonably easy to keep your eye on them – you can attach them to a strap on both your wrists, strap them in a buggy, or hold on to their reins. Once they’re bigger, Take2Teq is offering a new solution in the form of the C5 Childs GSM GPS Tracker Positioning Watch Phone.

When your kids are older, how do you know where they are? Sure, you might keep an eye on them, but if you take them to festivals (a more and more popular pastime in the summer for families), or for days out, what happens if you get separated? And if they are at secondary school and have a journey to make, and after school clubs to go to, how can you keep track of where they are?

That’s where the GPS GSM Tracker Phone Watch comes in. The phone allows parents to keep track of their child using a smartphone. The makers say that the watch not only offers the child a discrete way to send an instant alert should they be in trouble but also to make and receive calls to up to four set numbers.

This makes it a good in-between product for anyone who doesn’t want their child to have a mobile phone – for whatever reason –while offering them a communication device to use in event of problems.

The phone watch has a SIM card and parents can locate their child using the ‘On Demand GPS location’ function. This will send the GP co-ordinates of the child to the pre-set mobile phone numbers – you might choose parents, childminder and best friend’s parent, for instance.

A total of six waypoints can be inputted, showing entry and exit time from the waypoints, which are sent to the guardian numbers.

There is also an intelligence voice monitoring function, which lets parents covertly dial into the watch and listen in, although this sounds a bit too big brother for my liking.

If you’re out shopping, or at a theme park, for instance, there is a bluetooth tethering function, which sends an alert message if the pairing or connection drops out, which happens when the phone and watch are more than 10m apart.

The watch also acts as an MP3 player and comes in a number of colours. It costs £74.40 from www.take2teq.com.

Home Automation Future and Present: WiFi Lightbulbs, Speakers and Doorlocks

Philips-Hue

Are you ready for robotic lawnmowers, rechargeable cars and intelligent fridges? Well, we’re not quite there yet. But our homes are a lot smarter than they’ve ever been before, and with the rise of home automation systems they’re only going to get smarter.

An automated home is all about saving your time; It’s about the energy savings you will see by regulating the operation of lights, water, heating and security; it’s about peace of mind of being able to lock the door from anywhere in the world; it’s about being able to have your favourite radio station and the lights turned on before you even reach the door. Basically, the benefits of an automated home are only limited by your imagination, and how deep your pockets are.

Sonos-Family

As you’d probably expect a fully automated home automation system, where all the functionality of home is completely unified into one system isn’t cheap. But the doesn’t mean us mere mortals can’t get pimp our homes with cheaper off-the-shelf technology.

Here’s a quick run-down of some clever home automated tech that we’ve come across over the last few months, there’s everything from clever lights to intelligent audio systems and even a futuristic door bell.

Doorbot

DoorBot is a doorbell with a difference; it connects to your home Wi-Fi and has an in-built camera. The doorbell also has speakers built in, so you can answer the call and speak to the person at the door, meaning that you can tell a courier to deliver a parcel round the back or a friend to come and join you in the back garden.
The system runs on a simple app that you can log into on a smartphone or tablet, with iPhone, iPad and Android compatibility.

The doorbell itself can be connected to your Wi-Fi network so it can communicate with your smartphone or tablet, and it will last for a year from a set of 4 AA batteries.

One awesome feature is compatibility with Lockitron. For those unfamiliar, Lockitron is a smart door lock that can be fitted to any door in your house, allowing you to remotely unlock it using a smartphone. With the DoorBot app you can tap a Lockitron button – if you have such a system built in to your home – after receiving the video call from somebody at your door, and remotely unlock it for them.

Find out more at Doorbot

Philips Hue: LED Wi-Fi Light Bulbs

Philip’s new LED Wi-Fi light bulbs could be the end of the lightswitch – and could herald the start of having to hunt for your mobile every time you want to switch the lights on.

Their new Wi-Fi LED Hue bulbs plug straight into a normal screw light socket, then there’s a control box that plugs into your broadband connection. The bulbs can then be controlled via a simple iPhone or iPad app, where you can choose the colours, program scenes, and fully automate your lighting all from within the app.

The app for Philips’ hue also features expert LightRecipes the firm claims can improve people’s lives, with four pre-programmed lighting settings based on Philips’ research around the biological effects that lighting has on the body.

These scenarios adjust bulbs to the optimum shade and brightness of white light to help you relax, read, concentrate or energise.

The firm is also developed advanced software for the system using a phone’s GPS sensors to automatically turn on the lights as you approaches your home, and turn them off again when you leave.

Find out more at Meet Hue

Sonos Multi-Room Music System

Sonos is one the world’s leading manufacturers of low-cost multi-room home audio. With either their PLAY:3 or PLAY:5 system you can daisy chain multiple speakers across your home and enjoy all your music streamed wirelessly from your computer, or from a plethora of radio stations and streaming services like Spotify and Deezer.

Once the speakers are in place, you can control them all from a simple PC desktop or Mac application. There’s also the option to use their free controller app on an iOS or Android devices – or, alternatively, Sonos offers their own touchscreen controller.

It really is as simple as that. Sonos also offers a range of accessories to take your Sonos system to the next level, including a new Soundbar for TVs, and a new sub for true audiophiles.

Find out more at Sonos

Parentsaround: Keep an eye on your kids online

One of the big worries for parents is what their children are doing online – what they’re viewing, who they’re talking to and so on.

Once your kids hit a certain age, even with the best will in the world it’s hard to watch them every second, which is why a new multi-device parental control system has been introduced.

Parentaround

Parentsaround lets parents supervise their children’s use of smartphones, PCs and Android tablets remotely via their own computer or smartphone.

The system, which is being shown at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this month works with Windows and Android. Monitoring is carried out using parentsaround.com’s administration console. Parenst are able to track each child’s connection, filter internet use, control what time of day their children use devices and – the ultimate veto – disconnect the device from the internet!

The parental-control solution features Rapid Host Validation, an technology developed by Parentsaround that allows efficient internet filtering by analysing both words and images, as well as categorising websites.

The makers, French company Parentsaround, say that Parentsaround.com is quick to download and easy to install, as it only takes 10 seconds. The software is available from the company’s secure  internet portal and from the Google Play Store.

There is also a support forum for parents on the website www.parentsaround.com. Users can use the service free for a month, and then a subscription applies. A single licence equips 10 PC and Android devices, which can be located at different addresses. The ZEN subscription costs €2.99 a month and can be cancelled at any time using the admin control, and the ECO subscription is €29 a year and is payable in full when the order is placed.

Parentsaround is also being sold as a control solution to mobile-telecoms operators who would like to offer this service to their customers.

Let the Right One In… An end to cold callers?

Hands up who isn’t fed up of door to door cold callers. At best a mildly irritating nuisance, and at worst a form of psychological bullying that can intimidate many people, door to door cold callers are one of the banes of modern life. In fact, I’m sad to report that complaints to Citizens Advice about such unwanted callers have reached a record high between January and September this year. Now an invention originally conceived by a 13-year old schoolboy could be set to come to the rescue of many phone weary folk the world over…

SmartBel

Called the Smartbel, the device links your doorbell with either your landline or mobile phone which means you can talk to people first before you answer the door. The gadget operates with a sim card and technology that currently exists in a standard mobile phone.

Retailing at £129.99 from Fireco, along with free 12 months of airtime, the Smartbel could well revolutionise the way we open our door, and put an end once and for all to uninvited strangers making door to door calls. Should you be awaiting the delivery of a parcel and you can’t get to the door, you can also explain to them where they should leave the package. Most handy, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Not only can you use the device for your home, but the Smartbel can also be implemented at businesses and leisure organisations who do not have a traders intercom to screen visitors.

For further information on the Smartbel intelligent doorbell and how to get yoru hands on the technology, visit www.smartbel.co.uk .

 

HD PoE Outdoor Cloud Camera: Providing reassurance to the security paranoid!

When high levels of unemployment raises its ugly head an increase in crime usually follows. This depressing scenario can certainly be related to Britain at present, as according to the British Crime Survey report, in 2011 domestic burglaries were up 14%. As police warn homeowners to step up security due to the increasing number of house robberies across the country, demand for surveillance and security gadgets are naturally also on the rise.

DCS-2310L

For those who are tittering on the paranoid side concerning the safety of your home, you may be interested in the HD PoE Outdoor Cloud Camera (DCS-2310L), D-Link’s first home IP surveillance camera for outside use.

Coming equipped with mydlink Cloud Services, users are able to access live video feeds and manage their surveillance camera from smartphone, computer, Android or tablet running iOS that is connected to the internet.

Where the peripherals specialists, D-Link’s latest network-connected camera stands out over similar surveillance cameras that are designed to be used with power-over-Ethernet (PoE) connections, or just other surveillance cameras for that matter, is the fact that the camera includes an integrated camera and speaker allowing for half-duplex communication between the viewer and the viewed. In possessing two-way communication, the DCS-2310L is undoubtedly a great asset as an entry system.

This highly sophisticated surveillance camera records images in High Definition and up to 720dpi video clarity, as well as exploiting infra-red technology, which enables clear images to be produced even when there is no or little light available. Automatic PIR motion-sensing technology means that the HD PoE Outdoor Cloud Camera catches every movement and alerts the homeowner to such movements, regardless of the time of day – could perhaps be a little annoying being alerted to a cat stalking the outside of your house in the middle of the night but hey, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

If you are worried that the camera may suffice from working in the case of internet connection failure, the DCS-2310L posses local storage and/or back-up in case of network failure.

The DCS-2310L can be installed in any location and is able, D-Link assure us, to withstand all outdoor environments – reassuring given the Arctic conditions Britain is experiencing at present!

This ultra-sophisticated surveillance camera is available to purchase now and costs £246 and could be a reassuring but albeit expensive Christmas present for those bordering on the security conscious/paranoid.

IT’S MINE: Protect prized possessions

We’re bombarded with tips designed to help prevent us getting into sticky situations. No matter how hard we try, however, we’re all at risk of petty theft, bag snatching and similar crimes, especially in big cities. IT’S MINE TECHNOLOGY is a new start-up that arms consumers with another technology-based defense against crime and gives people the power to protect their valuables.

It's-Mine

The Mission

IT’S MINE TECHNOLOGY aims to help you on two levels: carrying around an item tagged with the IT’S MINE logo helps deter would-be thieves, while the technology makes it more likely that you’ll retrieve your belongings even if they are stolen.

Collaborating with the police, the country’s lost property departments and now insurance companies, IT’S MINE products are designed to reunite owners with lost or stolen belongings as soon as possible using tracking and microchip methods.

How it Works

IT’S MINE TECHNOLOGY offers a variety of personal safety products, ranging from smart RFID microchips the size of a teardrop, to multi-functional personal tracking devices that enable you to track the movements of your lost or stolen items in real-time.

The company offer security tools for a number of items, ranging from handbags, musical instruments and valuable antiques, which work without devaluing the items or affecting their performance.

The Benefits

We’re used to microchipping pets, but handbags, antiques and musical instruments? When you think about how valuable these items can be, however, investing in a chip makes sense.

Even if the face value of your handbag itself is low, the kind of things you carry around each day inside it – house keys, important letters, wallet with money, cards and personal identification – make it one of the most valuable items you could lose.

According to IT’S MINE TECHNOLOGY, the benefits of investing in security include potentially reduced payments on your insurance premiums and a higher return rate for lost items. Not only will the police be able to identify your bag if it’s stolen, but other agencies will be able to identify you as the bag’s owner if it is returned.

Out of the 32,000 lost bags handed into London Transport lost property office last year, two thirds of those were never returned as officers couldn’t identify the owners. IT’S MINE aims to drastically reduce these figures and give owners a higher chance of being reunited with their property.

How it Works

The IT’S MINE microchips and applicators can be used with any item that’s soft enough for the applicator to penetrate, including rucksacks, handbags, suitcases, coats and even bike saddles. Virtually impossible to view with the naked eye, the chip can also be specially installed into hard surfaces too.

Once your chip is installed, register your unique 15-digit number at Immobilise. Simply alert the website if your item is lost of stolen, and the site will immediately update a national register and notify police around the country.

As well as offering bag chips and tags, IT’S MINE TECHNOLOGY have collaborated with handbag designer Jobeeny to create an exclusive range of purses, clutches and handbags that come ready-chipped with a security tag and the IT’S MINE TECHNOLOGY logo.

The microchip technology is available from the IT’S MINE TECHNOLOGY website as a single microchip and applicator (£12.99), a double microchip and applicator (£22.99) and as a ‘bag of chips’ (from £11.99).