Top critical review
2,220 people found this helpful
Uses ~60GB of Bandwidth Each Month
on July 25, 2012
My review is focus on one aspect so as not to be too long, but still useful. **Please note the updates at the end**
The Dropcam is a very good, very easy to use device. Many of the top rated reviews here do an excellent job of listing the pros and cons. Also, the firmware has been updated since many of the negative reviews were posted, so there have been subtle improvements (not enough) with motion detection, and also the iOS and Android apps are now easy and great.
The best use case of this camera, by far, is indoor remote surveillance of a kids room, a family room, or a workplace.
Here's the real, overpowering negative about the device for me: it uses about 60GB of upload data capacity each month. The camera transmits its HD video feed to the DropCam cloud servers ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. The cloud service is what makes the user experience so easy, and what allows you to view your camera from multiple places, phones, tablets, all with just a userID and password. It's good in that you don't have to learn about firewalls, IP port forwarding and such just to make it work. But, that also means that it sends enormous amounts of video of a room with nothing at all happening in it. If your ISP has a quota or a limit to how much you can send per month, this camera WILL DEFINITELY USE A LARGE PORTION. In Canada and with some US ISPs, the limit is 50GB...i.e. less than this camera sends!
- Lots of ISPs offer a quota of 250GB, so this camera won't put most US customers over their limit. Just know that this will soak up a good portion of your allotment.
- Each additional camera will add to the bandwidth you use.
- Consider that you are also downloading the video feed from your ISP, so if you are in the same place as the camera viewing it, it doubles the bandwidth used. Yep, that's right, your video goes up to the cloud server, then back down to you.
- FYI, the upload rate is about 200 Kbps
- The camera does use excellent compression, so the HD video is as compact as it can be in 2012.
- If you have anything less than awesome Internet service, the camera will slow down your uploads of other stuff, like photos, attachments, etc. Upload speed is always much slower than download on consumer Internet service, and that's what this camera uses.
So, take this important point into consideration. It may still be a great product for you, but you need to know the costs. For me, I planned on using this at a lake house with slow Internet, so it doesn't work for me. I'll have to find another use for it.
****Update, September 2012
The camera has just received a software update that lets you switch between SD mode and HD mode. All DropCams that are turned on and connected to the Internet will get the update automatically. The standard definition mode uses half the bandwidth of the HD mode. Overall, there is a big improvement regarding the problem I cited in my original review. The update has other benefits in motion detection, etc.
As for me, the 30GB a month is still too much, so I will continue to use the available software switch to turn the camera on and off, and only enable it when I want to watch.
****Update, May 2014
Dropcam keeps on adding features that improve the camera. This is the upside of a cloud service. They can update features on the cloud, and then you get them, even on your older Dropcam. Lately, they've added ACTIVITY RECOGNITION, which is really great. This means that their servers storing your video can recognize certain patterns that tend to occur on your camera, and then distinguish those patterns going forward. An example would be a camera pointed at a front door with the street in the background. The Dropcam cloud might identify cars moving on the street as one activity, and a person walking up to the door as another, and a person walking away from the door as a third. You can then go into the web site, name the activities, and then set up alerts and search on each individual activity. Thus, you could quickly find all instances of somebody walking up to your door, or get a notification each time it happens. Or you could wonder "What time did the kids leave" and then filter only by people walking away from the door. Good stuff.