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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
The Good, The Bad, and The Missing
, November 24, 2010
The really impressive feature of the Alert system is that it can be up and running minutes after unpacking. The software installs quickly, the cameras simply plug in to outlets, and there is nothing to configure or customize beyond that to start viewing images from the camera. Likewise, the web browser application and mobile app are simple to install and launch. The outdoor cameras will probably require a little more mounting time, but that is to be expected with any type of security camera installation.
No Technical Knowledge Required
Unlike some of the other IP camera options available, the Alert cameras require no technical prowess with things like port forwarding, SMTP configurations, or other router security options. The cameras simply plug in, and the signal is sent ethernet-over-power to the router adapter. I tested several outlets in my home, and they all worked without problems.
The video resolution at ~900x700 is very good. Stationary objects are exceptionally clear.
Support for mobile devices
A nice feature is the mobile app to view live feeds of the cameras on devices like the iPhone and Droid. It works very well with very minimal delay. I use this feature on the iPhone, and it streams perfectly on 3G.
Although it is only digital, the zoom feature is a nice option and easy to use.
Custom motion detection
The ability to "paint" motion detection areas on the camera's view is a great feature for outdoor cameras where there may be a lot of traffic in the background, or tree movement that will set off the motion detector all the time.
ADDED 12/15/2011: I have been using the indoor and outdoor cameras for over a year now, and I must say that the reliability of the cameras themselves is first-rate. I have not had any issues with lost signals over the ethernet connections or problems with the SD cards. All video records perfectly, and the outdoor camera still looks new. Remote viewing through the connection to the Logitech website could be improved some, as this is routinely slow or down.
Broken Out of the Box
Unfortunately, my outdoor camera was broken out of the box. The camera was not communicating at all with the SD card inside the camera, and therefore not recording anything to the computer hard drive either. I was disappointed that there was no alert to indicate that there was a problem with the SD card. The only indication of the problem was a red exclamation point over the SD icon on the storage section within Settings, which is not readily noticeable. Hovering the mouse over the icon displays the message "SD Card Problem", but there is no other information about the problem. I had to return the defective camera, and thanks to Amazon's quick replacement service, I had a working unit within a couple days. It seems that are a number of reported problems with SD card communication. This is clearly an area that needs improvement from both a quality testing standpoint as well as software diagnostics.
Night Vision Movement and Frame Rates
It appears that the video frame rate degrades quite a bit when IR night vision is activated. There have been comments that the frame rate is as low as 5fps. I believe that is about right. Trying to make out anything moving is very difficult unless the subject is very close. During the day, the frame rate of 15fps is generally acceptable, but still creates blur in moving subjects. These cameras would be awesome with something like 30fps at this resolution.
No Options for Alternate Streaming
Although using Logitech's website for video feeds is easy and convenient, not everyone is tech illiterate, and this product would be much more attractive if the feeds could be easily configured to stream through any server, like other products such as the Foscam IP cameras. The Logitech site was down for many hours within the first week I had the camera, and it was very frustrating not being able to remotely view the camera. Reliability is key in a security camera, and I would rather be able to configure my own access than worry about a site that has already proven to be unreliable. Since the camera is configured with a local IP address, I know it can be accessed with other software, but it should have alternative setup options available out of the box.
I understand Logitech's incentive to create a revenue stream with so-called "premium" services. However, giving the consumer the simple functions to watch recorded video and control the camera settings remotely is not very premium, and once again gives this product a bad taste for the tech savvy consumer. There are many ways to remote to a home PC and control all the features with the installed Commander software, so paying $80 per year for this feature really is just for those who don't want to leave their PC on all day, but would have to leave the router on anyway for this work.
Although the software is fairly simple in functionality, I was surprised how many little glitches existed. For instance, when expanding the Advanced sections of some of the Settings screens, the text is cutoff and doesn't display fully in the window, and there is no ability to scroll that area. Another problem is that if you disconnect one of the cameras from the system, you then cannot remove that camera from the list. This could be really annoying for someone who has to deal with a broken camera that cannot be recognized again. They will never be able to remove the camera from the list. There was clearly very little quality or usability testing done on much the software.
Motion Detection Spotty
The logic incorporated into the motion detection and recording seems to have some glitches. There are times when motion is detected and recording begins, but then recording stops and does not continue even though motion starts a few seconds later. It is almost as if the camera waits for a certain amount of time before starting to record again after a previous recording. This has led to major movement in the subject field not being recorded, and is definitely something in the software/firmware that needs to be fixed. There are also times where the start of the recording is delayed, and a subject moving through the motion detection area is filmed just going out of sight, even though other times the motion is detected and recorded just as the subject is entering the area. There is a sensitivity adjustment for each camera, but changing this one way or another has not improved the detection/recording spottiness.
UPDATED 12/15/2011: After using the camera for over a year now, Logitech has done a pretty good job of improving motion capture. There are far less lost activities, and captures start just prior to the movement entering frame instead of when the movement is going out of frame.
Live Remote View Times Out
The downside of streaming the video with the remote viewers through the Logitech site is that they do not want it streaming constantly, and their software will time out after a few minutes. Although this is understandable from their perspective, it is annoying for those of us who want to monitor constantly. I like to monitor audio, and leave the browser window open in the background to do so. I would like to not have to switch to that window constantly to restart the connection.
No Audio for Mobile Devices
I was disappointed to realize that the mobile app did not support audio. It seems like such a simple feature to add considering it is supported in the browser app.
UPDATED 12/15/2011: The latest iPhone version of the mobile app now supports audio.
For the price of these cameras, it would seem like mechanical tilt and pan features could be incorporated. The $80 Foscam indoor camera can tilt/pan. Without pan, it will take more cameras to cover the same area.
No Two-Way Audio
Again, a simple feature that less expensive cameras include.
No Multi-Camera Remote/Mobile View
The browser and mobile apps only allow viewing one camera at a time, unlike the desktop Commander software.
No Resolution or Frame Rate Adjustments
I would like to see settings for less resolution at higher frame rates like some other cameras.
Overall, the Logitech Alert system is a decent enough product, and for the non-technical consumer provides a simple way to install a video security system in the home. There are better options out there, but these require a lot more knowledge about technical setup, and also may require dedicated computer hardware to support. The Alert cameras are very good quality, and the software is easy to understand and configure. What this product lacks is maturity in the software/firmware, and quality testing before leaving the factory. Hopefully, future versions will improve upon these flaws and provide a truly 5 star product - for now, I'll keep it a 3.
UPDATED 12/15/2011: I decided to upgrade the rating to 4 stars based on the improvements made by Logitech over the past year. I would still like to see more custom options in the software, and the ability to remote view directly without using 3rd party software.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Card not worth buying, and no support
, September 1, 2005
I bought this card about 8 months ago. The company refused the rebate and Amazon had to cover the $50. I discovered that the card has a bad spot, but now there is nothing I can do about it because the company apparently does not stand behind their product and wishes to remain more anonymous than anything. Not a bargain compared to similar cards like Kingston Elite.