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

CineLite: Great Mobile Tracking Shots

CineLite-Slider

A great dolly shot is an essential weapon in a cinematographer’s arsenal and Vacion brings this range of movement to mobile videography with the CineLite camera slider.

Much like the full-size sliders used by video professionals, the CineLite allows for incredibly smooth tracking shots. Fitted with self-lubricating Drylin bearings, using the slider felt comparable to shooting on much larger (and considerably more expensive) systems.

CineLite sliders are drilled and tapped so it’s easy to fit to a standard tripod – I attached mine to a Gorrilapod at all sorts of crazy angles. Each rail is supplied with a moulded foot at each end so you can also just lie them flat on surfaces for stable shots. The slider uses a hard anodised rail using a 5mm wide runner with a 30mm pitch.

A mobile phone mount for the slider is included that fits most “normal” sized smartphones – if you’ve gone the phablet route you will struggle here. The clamp is very firm and held my iPhone 5 tightly – even with a case, Olloclip lens and Blue Mikey attached.

Out of the box the slider is 500mm, although you can order custom rail lengths if you need a little extra. This is longer than the most obvious rival for this product, Glidetrack’s Mobislyder (which clocks in at 430 mm). The look and feel is also a bit more professional/duller than the Mobislyder depending on how you view these things. The somber greys and blacks aren’t as fun and playful as the Mobilslyder’s bright green design but the construction feels much more solid and reliable. More importantly the camera grip is much more solid than the Mobislyder so minor wobbles don’t creep into your shots (the whole point of having a stable dolly system in the first place).

If you’re getting creative with your mobile photography it’s definitely one to look out for.

CineLite is out now from Vacion for £125

Swivl for iPhone – Get Yourself in the Movies

swivl-iphone-motion-sensor

It’s not easy to capture yourself on a video camera – and if you want to film yourself – or others – practicing your dance moves maybe, or just have a hands-free video call, there’s a nifty accessory made for you.

Swivl, say the makers, is like having your own personal cameraman (or woman). This is a rotating bases, designed to be used with and iPhone, which can enable it to capture video and take snaps while you stay hands-free.

The Swivl works thanks to a sensor that tracks movement and tells the intelligent base how to rotate or tilt to capture all the action. It also doubles up as an iOS digital microphone, so that you grab sound as well.

The Swivl can be used to take panoramic shots, conduct FaceTime chats and to help you multitask. Use it at parties and you’ll capture some interesting footage as the night goes on! hop it on the kitchen table and you can chat to a friend via FaceTime while you get on with cooking dinner.

The Swivl is compatible with iPhone 4, 4S and 5, iPod Touch (4th and 5th generations) and iPad Mini and costs £179.99 from Find Me a Gift

Pivothead: Putting video cameras in the shades

Pivothead

Have you ever had that daydream you are being followed by hidden cameras capturing every chance encounter, documenting every time you cross paths with your future partner or gathering evidence in case you suffer a stumble worthy of a hidden camera show payout? Just me?

Either way, quirky tech brand Pivothead promises to revolutionise the chore of manually recording your world by concealing a powerful full 1080p HD camera atop a stealth set of shades permanently poised to document every glimpse. If you’re more into stills, an integrated 8MP Sony CMOS camera helps you capture magic moments in a snap.

Albeit a little bizarre, there’s no arguing that having a device running on record / operating a camera incognito and totally hands-free has its appeal. Regardless of how technology is shrinking, holding a video camera aloft – completely wobble-free – remains an art in itself.

With 17 women’s and men’s styles including new-launch Moab and Recon half-rim frames, camouflage designs, interchangeable lenses, professional sports and outdoor ranges, law enforcement-standard specs and extreme athletics goggles, there are plenty of Pivotheads to ensure you can remain low-key while your “high-performance imaging eyewear” takes it all in.

The manufacturer proclaims “true point-of-view” (POV) recording, with the camera sunken into the bridge of your specs to catch your target right between the eyes. The full 1080HD video records in MP4 format at 30 frames per second – more than adequate for capturing those Disney parades, or trailing your favourite celebrity while keeping your reputation in check or keeping tabs your mates / other half / the kids while you look on all aloof and seemingly blasé.

An 8GB internal memory stores up to one hour of footage, meaning your video masterpiece shouldn’t fail you at a cliff-hanger moment. If you’re not one to sit back and wait for the action to happen, get to grips with Pivothead’s custom settings including four focus options and six time-lapse settings. Quirky idea, perhaps, but if you’re mad on home movies or always too slow to grab the camera, these video shades do have their charms. Just don’t ask us how to accessorise them come winter.

Sony Handycam NEX-VG900E: First full frame flix

Like two titans inching themselves inexorably nearer to each other, the ever diminishing gulf between consumer handycams and 35mm DSLRs takes another giant leap closer with the release of the Sony Handycam NEX-VG900E. DSLRs have had the capability of recording high definition video for some time now, but conversely, the same cannot be said of  handycam stills which have long been sneered at by any half decent photographer.

Sony-Handycam-NEX

It seems though the Sony Handycam NEX-VG900E may well lay that particular ghost to rest as this is a full frame 35 mm handycam with interchangeable lenses capable of shooting full-frame 24.0 effective megapixel still photos, with all the quality you’d expect from a pro-class DSLR camera. It is Sony’s very first 35mm sensor handycam and not unsurprisingly, it’s getting the full star treatment.

Sony has clearly decided that image quality will be the deciding factor between all the various media available and whilst the price tag may be hefty at around £3,000, you are getting a product fully capable of shooting cinematic quality usually reserved for the much more expensive professional camera sector.

This is a camera that can capture 1080p files at 50, 25 or 24 frames per second with a resolution of 24.3 effective megapixels courtesy of the Exmor CMOS sensor which is perhaps some 40 times larger than the sensors found in typical consumer camcorders.  As per Sony’s other VG camcorders in the series, it’s fully compatible with full frame A-mount lenses via the supplied  LA-EA3 adaptor, as well as a growing list of E-mount lenses too. Whilst this is ostensibly a full frame camera, it switches automatically to APS-C mode when an E-mount or A-mount DT lens is attached in order to cater for cameras with a smaller APS-C image sensor.

Too add to the array of built in professional features, there’s a capsule spatial array microphone set into the top featuring four omnidirectional capsules that can be switched for stereo or 5.1 surround sound recording.

The NEX-VG900E is a perfect example of how the lines between high quality still and video photography are becoming ever more blurred.

Vidioh: The magic of video hits direct marketing

It’s really hard to grab people’s attention these days. You’re probably a little distracted reading this. I know I am. If I asked what the advert on the side of this page was, would you know without looking? I wouldn’t, even though it pays for my sandwiches. Marketing bods are always on the lookout for fresh and interesting ways to grab people’s attention – but as we’ve seen people are harder and harder to reach. Well Vidioh have brought an eye-catching new tool to the UK direct mail market.

Vidioh

How? Well they’ve combined the power of high resolution video with the targeted personalisation of direct mail. The Vidioh screens are the latest ultra-thin LCD screen technology, which can be built into just about any traditional marketing media, including brochures, direct mail pieces, point of sale and invitations.

Prototypes of the Vidioh have been floating around since November 2011 but they’ve now launched a variety of cards each with an embedded video screen. I remember when a video screen was a modern marvel (I grew up without a TV). Now they are literally sending them out in the mail. This is the first time that a fully customisable video capability has been embedded in a card to be used as a marketing tool for businesses. And one day regular Joes.

Nothing looks worse than poorly shot video footage, something Tim & Eric have made a career of. To prevent video cards from going viral for the wrong reasons, Vidioh also has its own in-house video production studios to create content on behalf of companies and the capability to design and brand the video brochures. Or if they are confident, companies can provide existing artwork and video content to be incorporated into their bespoke direct mail.

“Vidioh exploits the power of the moving image with the precision of direct mail,” said Russell Lawley Gibbs, director at Vidioh, “so you can deliver highly impactful marketing campaigns that get your message in front of key customers in a way that is powerful and easy to assimilate. The LCD screens are primed to auto start when opened in order to instantly deliver your message”.

Vidioh cards have a capacity of between 512MB and 4GB, storing 45 mins – 8 hours of video, so you could really go to town with what you send people. Or send them a full length version of The Town. The screen is a 480p x 272p, 4.3″ touch screen, with twin stereo speakers and you can get 2 hours run time off each card. They can even be recharged.

Prices start at £35 for a single card, but volume discounts are available on request. That should hopefully come down to the point where they can be useful for the regular consumer. Imagine being able to send out mass wedding invitations. Or Valentines Cards if you are some sort of polyamourous Lothario.

Vidioh is available direct from Enigma Marketing Services.

Multimedia multitasker – Nero 11

If you want to do anything with multimedia files, whether it’s editing MP3 files, create slideshows, edit video, receiver data from damaged discs and loads more, Nero software seems to be able to do it all. Long gone are the days when all it did was burn data to CDs (although you can still do that too!)

This is version 11 so what’s new since its last outing?

Nero-11

Well, there is a LIVEBackup feature, which offers automatic, continuous backup with one click, plus there is an Express Editing mode. This allows you to use a simple storyboard, rather than a multitrack timeline, so that you can cobble together basic projects simply and easily There are also some advanced features such as 3D effects and picture-in-picture overlays.

Photographers can create personalised photo books, cards and calendars and then order online using Nero Kwik Media, should they wish.

File conversion and sharing offerings are also greatly improved – Nero Recode allows you to convert media from most file formats and then output it to almost any other device. Social networking is catered for as there are tools for sharing to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and of course for burning to DVD and Blu-ray.

Mobile devices are becoming more and more vital nowadays, so it’s nice to see the ability to sync media between PC and Android using either USB or Wi-Fi.

Martin Stein, senior vice president of global products, said:

“Nero 11 helps you do more with your photos, videos and music faster. It is the only software you need to access and organise your photos, videos and music across all of your devices; create impressive videos and slideshows; optimise videos for your iPad or smartphone; back it all up securely with just one click; and share your memories with friends and family on an online social network, Blu-ray disc or photo book.”

The software is compatible with Windows 7/Vista/XP and costs £69.99 (Nero 11 Platinum £89.99).

Get closer to the action with Sony’s DCR-SX21E and DCR-SR21E Handycams

Sony’s two new standard definition Handycams are the perfect tool for anyone who can’t get close enough to the action they want to film – both boast a huge 67x extended zoom.

Sony-Handycam

While the Handycam DCR-SX21E records onto Sony’s own Memory Stick or SD card (which you’ll have to buy separately), the DCR-SR21E can store up to 61 hours of Standard Definition video on its 80GB built-in hard disk drive. Useful when you’re out and about on holiday, as you don’t need to cart around spare discs or tapes.

Both video cams have a 57x optical zoom, which is pretty decent, but add on that 67x extended zoom and you’re heading into new, close-up, territory. Of course, our first thought when seeing zoom at this sort of multiplication is that your movies are going to look as though you’ve been shooting them while standing on a tea tray balancing on a tennis ball – but Sony suggests its SteadyShot image stabilisation will help to keep everything nice and steady. We shall have to wait and see as the Handycams will not be available until early September.

The video cams also feature a number of useful features to help make shooting video easier – Face Detection, plus 18 different scene settings to automatically get the correct settings for the recording conditions.

Each has a flip-out 6.7cm (2.7in) Clear Photo LCD, next to which sits a joystick that can be used to change menus and settings. The cameras have an onboard LED video light, and an Auto mode will automatically turn on the light when it gets dark.

Your movies can be transferred straight to a portable external hard disk – Sony suggests its new 500GB HD-PG5UB hard disk drive, the DCR-SX21E/SR21E, which is lightweight and can fit in a pocket.

There is no news on pricing yet – keep an eye open at www.sony-europe.com