As long time readers of this blog will know, I was robbed a few years back. But I had a camera that sent me e-mail alerts when it happened. Thus I was able to call the cops. Though they didn’t get there in time to catch the criminals, the camera gave them something to work with in terms of the images of the scumbags who broke in.
Since then I’ve always been on the look out for a new Internet accessible camera that is easy to set up and use. Previously, I’ve had to go through a fair amount of work to set up a camera, and the ones that I’ve used have worked but they were far from user friendly. Not to mention the fact that I have had to get a static IP address and open port 80 on my router to make the camera accessible to me remotely. If you’re an IT Nerd like me, that may not be a big deal. But the average consumer isn’t going to do that.
Enter the Belkin NETCAM HD.
This camera is easy to set up as long as you have a smart phone and it is easy to use. Let’s start with the setup:
- Plug in the NETCAM HD and flip the switch at the back of the camera to the setup position.
- Download and install the NETCAM app for iOS or Android onto your smartphone or tablet.
- Go into the WiFi settings on your smartphone or tablet and choose the NETCAM network. Then start the NETCAM app and follow the instructions including creating a unique username and password for reasons that I will explain in a bit.
- When prompted, pick the WiFi network that you want to use and enter the password associated with it along with an e-mail address.
- Wait as it does its magic.
- Flip the switch at the back of the camera to camera mode when you’re told to.
- Done. Declare victory and have a beer.
At this point you have a camera that you can access inside and outside your home either on your smartphone or via either the app on your phone or tablet or via the NETCAM web page. Either way, you can use the app or the webpage to view or control multiple NETCAM devices. You don’t have to configure a thing on your router to make this camera accessible from outside your home. The only thing I note is that you may have to try to connect to it a couple of times before you see a picture. Not the biggest deal in the world, but something you should be aware of. In any case, this means that your home network is more secure because you don’t have to open ports to make the camera accessible from outside your network, and a non-technical user can make this work. Another thing to note, the smartphone app as well as the webpage which is a Belkin webpage are secured by the password and username that you entered earlier.
The NETCAM HD does 720P video and my tests indicate it was generally sharp. I say generally because the video quality that you see is adaptive depending on your bandwidth. So you will get better quality if you have a good connection to the Internet and to your phone or tablet. You can alter the settings to set it to the quality levels that you want, but I would not bother. It works best when it’s set to automatic. Another item to mention is that the video is jerky unless you have a lot of upstream bandwidth available to the camera. Unless you need absolutely perfect video, this may not be a factor. The other thing to note is that it has e-mail alerts if it detects motion. Unlike other cameras where you have to define areas where the camera needs to look for motion, the NETCAM HD will simply look for motion in the entire field of vision. The net result is that enabling this feature is as simple as flipping the feature to on using the NETCAM app. Any notifications in terms of motion are sent to e-mail address that you entered during the set up process. But it can be changed later, but only from the NETCAM webpage. The pictures that were e-mailed were very sharp and clear. Though I will note that it takes roughly five minutes from the time that motion is detected to the time you get the e-mail. I’m guessing that it has to do with the fact that the camera has to talk to the Belkin server and the server then has to take a couple of images from the camera and package them up into an e-mail to send to you. The NETCAM HD has night vision capabilities via a ring of IR lights that are around the lens. While the effectiveness of IR is going to vary from room to room, I found it to be very effective in my condo. I should also note that the night vision is set to br automatically turned on and off depending on the light levels. Finally, the camera has built in two way audio. I could use the NETCAM app to turn on the microphone and listen into what is going on at home. I could also turn on the speaker and via my iPhone 5 I could talk via the camera. That might be handy to scare away an intruder or talk to your spouse.
In terms of mounting the camera, it comes with all the hardware you need so that you can put it on the roof, or anywhere else you want to put it.
My bottom line? If you want an easy to set up camera for security purposes or just to keep an eye on your cat or dog, you need to look at the Belkin NETCAM HD. It is extremely easy to set up and use and the video quality in both normal and night usage is great. Check it out at your local Belkin retailer or Belkin.com.