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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

Dropcam HD
In my case, it worked right off the bat — which was a relief after the hoops I had to jump through getting some of the other cameras configured and working properly.

The Dropcam HD's 720p images were crisp and clear — among the best in the group. It was the only camera I tested with location-based activation. If you have an iPhone, you can configure the camera to turn on when you leave the house (with the phone) and turn off when you return — very cool. Unfortunately, this feature is only supported for iOS.

Dropcam's basic, free portal service allows for viewing of live video streams. But if you want to record and play back video you'll need to subscribe to Dropcam's Pro service ($9.95/mo.), which saves the last seven days of recording activity, or Pro HD, which saves a sliding 30-day window of recordings for $29.95/mo. The package includes a 14-day trial subscription to the Pro service.

The MyDropcams Web portal offers a clean and easy-to-use interface. It includes a MyDropcams page for viewing each camera's video stream and a MyClips page, available to Pro subscribers, for playing back scheduled or motion-activated recordings. Recorded video can be emailed, downloaded or uploaded to Facebook or YouTube. There's also a "Make Clip" button that will capture video on demand, assuming you subscribe to Dropcam's Pro or Pro HD service.

When I used the MyDropcams Web portal to view the videos, I found the 1280 x 720 streaming images to be clean and clear. Controls for mute, pause and full-screen mode overlay the image.

Other controls include a "talk" button that works in half-duplex mode. (As with a walkie-talkie, you can listen or transmit but you can't do both at the same time). The portal will store up to three hours of video clips for you in the My Clips area for Pro and Pro HD subscribers. Video clips are listed in chronological order and are not sortable or searchable. A snapshot feature is only offered in the iPad app.

The Dropcam portal includes both a timeline of video recordings and a MyClips area where you can view thumbnails to visually scan for the event you're looking for.

A variety of settings
Under Settings you can enable night vision, set motion- or sound-activation alerts, configure a 2x digital zoom feature and share the camera's video stream with others. Alerts can be sent to any email address as well as to any Android or iOS device running the free Dropcam app. In addition to alerting you when the camera detects sound or motion, Dropcam can let you know when the camera goes offline — a nice touch. You can quickly turn alerts on and off using a toggle button. There's also an option to remotely turn off the camera.


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