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Keep watch: 5 cloud security cameras for your home

Robert L. Mitchell | June 26, 2013
If you want to make sure nobody's making off with your valuables — or that your dog isn't chewing up the furniture — try one of these cloud-based cameras

Bottom line
VueZone, the only battery-powered wireless camera in the group, is the way to go if you want a completely wireless setup. I was disappointed that the camera included in the basic starter package doesn't support night vision; if that's a requirement, you'll have to spend an extra $130 to buy the VZCN2060, an otherwise virtually identical camera. But Netgear's premium service also offers the best features for storing, finding, arranging and uploading and downloading the video clips you've recorded in the cloud.

Samsung SNH-1011 IP SmartCam
The Samsung SNH-1011n IP SmartCam (about $145) is similar to the D-Link DCS-932L in both looks and features; the freshly redesigned Samsungsmartcam.com Web portal, however, is much more streamlined than D-Link's portal.

Samsung SNH-1011 IP SmartCam

In addition, Samsung's camera supports the more efficient H.264 compression standard and is capable of audio streaming and alerts. The SmartCam can't save snapshots and video clips to your local computer and doesn't offer a cloud storage service. But it can automatically upload video clips to your YouTube account, which is just as good — and that service is free.

Samsung offers apps for Android devices and iPhones; personal computers access the SmartCam portal using a browser and plug-in. Image quality varied with the level of connectivity but was about on par with the D-Link 932L.

As with D-Link's cameras, you create a user account for the portal, install the browser plug-in and create a security code for each camera you're using (you can configure the portal and mobile apps to remember each camera's password).

The main portal window lets you select a SmartCam camera and view the live feed. Controls include a sound mute button; low-, mid- and high-speed network settings; brightness, microphone sensitivity and speaker volume sliders; a toggle button for night vision (off/on) and buttons to flip the image left/right or up/down.

An Event Alarm screen shows event recordings on a timeline. Hover over a date and it shows the number of alerts; click it and the portal displays thumbnails of each clip or image. You then click on a thumbnail to launch an event viewer that either plays the 30-second clip or displays the full-size image.

The portal has a separate setup screen from which you can configure motion- or sound-activated alerts and upload captured video clips and images to YouTube and Picasa, respectively. It can send alerts to the SmartCam mobile apps and the monitoring portal; to your Twitter account as direct messages; and to your Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or other Web-based email accounts. You need to have a Google account to store alert images/video clips and to send email alerts, which can include a still image and a link to motion-activated 30-second video clips.

 

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