on May 15, 2013
After several months of self-education, trial and error, my conclusion is that we home owners don't realize what IP cameras are good at and more importantly, what they are not. All of the marketing right now indicates that this is the way to go, easy-peezy, set up the camera on your wireless network (as a computer systems design engineer, easy for me, perhaps not for others, I don't know about that point), and bingo, you can record, see your camera(s) with your smartphones or over the web on any computer with your username/password you set. What could be simpler? No wires, no mess.
Oops, hang on, there is indeed one cable at minimum, the power cable. And this camera is not 5V as is written in the description, it is 12V @ 1Amp (12Watts... if you're thinking solar panel & battery setup like I was, it's not going to be cheap). But at least it has audio, mic and speaker, right? No, it provides mic and speaker connections and leaves you to figure out how to make that happen, without any specs for either, I might add.
But for me, what hit me in the face once I started running my experiments with this camera, and this goes for any IP camera, is that if you simply put it on your wireless network and want it to be viewable all the time and recordable just some of the time, such as with motion, you are eating up your wireless bandwidth. Think about all of the ways you currently use your wireless bandwidth at your home, e.g. wireless gaming, watching streaming movies, making Skype calls, using a wireless server, etc, etc, etc. Well, then prepare to eat up a big chunk of that wireless connectivity with your new streaming camera.
Plus, this specific camera is just standard display, meaning in networking terms, the image is going to only be sharp enough to make out faces or whatnot from about 10 feet or so distance, regardless that the infrared lights can let the camera "see" much farther. Those farther images are blocky & blurry.
On top of that, those images are not "real time" even if you have nothing else using your wireless network. I put up a stop watch and moved my hand in front of the camera. With nothing else on my wireless network, my waving hand showed on the screen 20 seconds later. With a movie streaming on my network and my better half using her laptop, my waving hand showed up on the screen between 1 minute to 1:30 later. If you were watching your camera to see if someone was about to bash in your front door, well, my experiments indicate that they would have bashed in the door and grabbed you before it would ever show up on your screen.
When I dug deeper into how professionals recommend IP cameras be setup, they recommend using ethernet wiring, not doing it wirelessly, that the cameras' ethernet cables go into a network switch that is also hooked up to a dedicated pc for live watching and/or recording. All of the bandwidth used is on this sub-network. So that little set-up is "real time" and the feed coming from it onto the internet is, yeah, delayed, but they are expecting you to only watch the delayed feed if you're watching via smartphone away from home, so it' just for you to be able to call the police.
And get this, they expect you to only want to do selective recording and that's how they are not going to eat up a huge amount of bandwidth per camera, e.g. if there's motion, oh, but you won't catch the motion that happened that triggered the camera to come on because that takes some time, only what happens after that. Sounds like how my simple game cameras work.
Okay, so, think about not wanting a blocky, choppy image. Want something better? Then in the IP world, you have to go to an IP camera of higher megapixels. But guess what... the higher the megapixels, the more bandwidth the camera eats up to transfer the images.
Bottom line, I am going to keep this camera for another application. But for home security, nope, I decided to go with High Def wired cameras, much cheaper for a whole setup of cameras and dvr, can watch them in real-time, zoom them, get audio, set up recordings, etc, and not anymore difficult than an IP camera because, hey, you gotta run power to those IP cameras anyway, it's not like they are really wireless, lol... and yeah, I can see my wired cameras via the internet just the same.
on June 30, 2012
The Camera hardware:
This thing is built like a brick $#@%house! The upper casing feels like a solid block of aluminum. Lots of IR LEDs. Evidently, the lens is replaceable. The base 6mm lens doesn't provide for the widest view angle. I'm tempted to upgrade to a 2.5mm lens but for the hassle of having to install the lens in situ.
The Mounting hardware:
Respectable. Provided robust enough metal bracket, three wood screws, and an adjustable arm. I'm pleased with how easy the arm was to adjust and tighten. The included allen wrench saved me another trip to the garage.
The image is sharp! But I found the colors a bit faded. I understand that the IR-cutoff is supposed to be automatic.
Getting the camera on your local network can be a little tricky. I had to go to my DHCP server to find the IP address assigned to the camera. Having the camera default to port 81 for HTTP? I don't get it. Port 80 is the *standard* HTTP port. This just causes more confusion. In particular, connecting to an encrypted home wireless network was the most confusing part. Read on.
The web UI is mediocre at best. In particular, the UI provides poor user feedback. While setting up the wifi, I couldn't tell if the camera couldn't see the network or failed to authenticate. This caused me at least an hour of agony.
Mini Encrypted Wifi HOWTO:
I spent at least an hour googling to find the necessary instructions. First, once you've connected to the camera's web UI, on the wireless setup screen, you may need "Scan" as many as 4 different times in order to detect your network (assuming it's broadcasting its name/SSID). Once you've found your network, click on it to set up the configuration. Now hit the "Set" button and let the camera reboot. THIS IS WHERE THE CONFUSION BEGINS. After the reboot, *unplug the camera*, unplug the ethernet cable, then plug the camera back in. After about 30 seconds, your camera should have rebooted and should now be on the wireless network.
Beyond the low quality Web UI and the setup experience (lost one star here) overall, it's a solid camera.
on September 12, 2012
The Agasio M105I was a roll of the dice for me. My house sits back a fairly long lane and the garage/driveway side of the house has no windows. So, there's no easy way to tell if a vehicle has pulled down the driveway or if there is someone snooping around (I live in a rural area where most of the houses are empty during the day and the neighbors are just close enough to have you constantly wondering if the idling vehicle is next door or parked in your driveway).
I wanted a camera that I could view remotely that had good resolution, night-vision capability and a fairly decent software package. This camera fits the bill with an outdoor rated enclosure, both wireless and wired ethernet network support and a decent web interface.
It does have modest PC-based software support for recording movement and centralized viewing, but it's a bit of a hack (although it does a decent job of pretending to be a Foscam device). I've tinkered with ZoneMinder as a camera manager with this unit and, while I have had it working a couple of times, it tends to be on the flaky side. I might spend some additional time with this software as I am a "Windows-free" user...
The built-in web interface is spartan, but functional with support for motion detection (I have it linked to my Gmail account, so that I get images emailed to that account whenever it detects motion above a certain threshold). It also has dynamic DNS support if you want to point a web browser at it or monitor it with remote software. The ethernet connection also supports direct to DSL connections with PPoE support.
Wireless performance is pretty decent, if sluggish. My "G" access point is in my house at the opposite end from the camera and the camera itself is mounted on a detached garage about 40 feet from the house. Even at this distance, I get fairly smooth video when on my internal network and good refresh rates when viewing the camera on my 4G mobile phone. However, any additional cameras that I might add to the network will be hardwired to cut down on latency and the amount of traffic on my WLAN.
An issue of concern for me is that the login credentials for the camera are not encrypted and passed as plain text. This is, largely, a non-issue when you are not exposing the camera to the internet, but this is the expected use in a home-owner's or small/remote location. It's not a deal-breaker for most folks, but be aware as it does present an attack vector for your network.
Another small gripe is the uber-cheesy mount. In order to mount the camera on a vertical plane and point the camera at a 90deg angle to that plane, you have to add a spacer (like a block of wood) or replace the mount with a more substantial mount. Fortunately, the camera uses a standard mounting foot and screw, so nearly any standard mount should work.
While this device doesn't hold a candle to the high-end HD IP cameras that I use at work, at less than $100 with shipping, there is little to complain about.