Top critical review
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Foscam "HD" camera gets better with updates but still unreliable
on January 3, 2013
6/13/2013 UPDATED entire review based on latest firmware update 188.8.131.52
1. Video Performance is excellent due to using h264 compression. Even when on wireless and running at 720p @ 30fps I get smooth motion
2. Web User Interface. Excellent! Very fast and easy to use and most importantly clean looking. You can toggle IR on/off.
3. Colors appear accurate
4. Excellent coverage for built in IRs.
5. Wireless signal is excellent. I am about 20 feet away with several walls on the way from the router and get strong signal. There has been numerous issues with WiFi disconnection in earlier builds, but this should be addressed in .12. It also depends on the router that you are using and I have not had disconnect issues with Netgear R6300.
6. Built in speaker is a nice feature to have, but see cons
7. Lens angle is good at ~70 degrees, I rarely us PT feature in cameras, so extra degrees always nice to have, but extra angle come with slight distortion at the edges.
8. Image masking is working well
9. Works in IE/Chrome very well after downloading browser extensions.
10. Setup was straightforward
11. Works well with IPCamViewer for Android. Most functions can be controlled via app.
12. You can upgrade lens on this camera. Although it will void warranty.
13. Able to set default position after restart with the firmware update
14. Using IPCamViewer for Android app and it supports all camera functions needed.
15. RTSP stream is now available after firmware .11.
I CAN DEAL WITH IT:
1. Most important thing on any camera is the image quality and I really had high hopes for this one. Prior to the firmware update (2/1/13) I was highly disappointed with the image quality but Foscam has listened to the feedback and addressed IQ starting with firmware .10. It's not a groundbreaking improvement but for the price of this camera it's decent
2. Expected from the specs, but lens is not bright enough (F2.4 aperture) for night time viewing through the window without IRs. My Zavio F3206 with F1.8 aperture can handle this much better. Obviously if you do turn IRs on the camera and try to see through the window you won't be able to see anything at all. The workaround for me was to buy external IRs (about ten bucks) and put them outside the window. (UPDATE: You can upgrade lens yourself)
3. Limited video settings (can't do custom exposures) so not much image control other then color, brightness, sharpness.
4. 2 LEDs in the back camera that you can't turn off. I had to put a black tape over it.
5. Manual focus ring a bit difficult to turn and because there is latency on the displayed image it will take a few tries to get the picture perfectly in focus
6. Zoom up/down (should be called Zoom in/out) is a bit difficult to use. You have to right click on the image and then select zoom in/out and there is no control over how much you can zoom. So you have to click 52 times (yes I counted) if you want to zoom in all the way in and again 52 times to zoom all the way out. It should really be a slider on the left where all other image control settings.
7. Can't seem to purge the log it creates which is in just couple of days already at 14 pages. Clear/Reset button would've helped.
8. Issues with sending motion detection emails, it works a bit better in latest update, but still needs work
10. Update .10 Added mjpeg stream via url, unfortunately it's limited to VGA@15 fps.
11. Camera will not work in mobile browsers (iPad, iPhone, etc...). You have to utilized apps for that.
12. Camera is actually larger then most other PT cameras and I really don't like the design.
13. Can't control volume on speaker or microphone
OH THE HORROR:
1. Prepare to deal with the firmware issues. There are a lot of features that are either incomplete or don't work as advertised, before buying this camera visit Foscam forum to read the feedback. I am personally sticking with the camera in hopes that Foscam will address all major issues in future updates
2. As of firmware update .12 & .13 camera doesn't work with hidden wireless SSID. It appears it worked in .10 update
3. Camera occasionally locks up
MY IP CAM BACKGROUND: I've been testing various "HD" (at least 1MP) IP cameras over the years from brands such as Axis, Trendnet, Edimax, Zavio, Dlink and Zyxel, but stayed away from Foscam mainly because it had low resolution sensor and awful looking web interface. Foscam changed this with the introduction of FI9821W. Overall this is an ok entry to "HD" PT camera for the price.
SETUP: Setup itself is not much different then any other IP camera on the market. If you never done this before probably best to contact technical support to save you from frustration, but if you setup IP cameras in the past it should be no brainier. First connect the camera to the router using the Ethernet cable, insert the included CD in your PC and use the search tool to get the IP address and Port of the camera. Double clicked on the IP address found with the search tool which will open up a browser. You will need to install plugin/extension/activex control (depending on the browser) before you can see live image. Login with admin account. The rest of the settings needs to be customized to your preference and if you don't know what you are doing again I would suggest to get in touch with the technical support. At the very least you could go to wireless settings and connect to your wireless network.
CONCLUSION: I think this camera will deserve a solid 4 when they finally address most of the issues. When I bought this camera I couldn't find anything else for the price with the feature and extra resolution and Foscam has been consistently releasing firmware update that addressed some of the concerns, including image quality.
Review based on firmware 184.108.40.206
Other cameras that I use:
My current favorite camera is Zavio F3206. It has bright lens and full 1080p resolution, doesn't have IRs though or PT, but picture and bright wide angle lens make up for it. Also, I use Edimax 7110PTn & 3115n. First one is PT camera like this one, colors are not that great, but has been a solid camera for baby monitoring and cheap 3115 is actually pretty decent one too for day light indoor monitoring. Dericam H502W is a good alternative but image quality a bit lower then on FI9821.