on November 16, 2010
If you have never interfaced with your router's software before (and you are not brave!) then this might not be for you. It is not hard to set up. You plug in its AC adapter and plug it into your router. Follow the instructions and wow.
The picture is wonderful. The motion alarm is fantastic. We placed on of these inside our barn across the street from our home, about 350 feet away. We added an $80. antenna to our router from Hawking, also available on Amazon, and poof! I can now see what all the sqwak is at 2AM in my barn with out walking all the way out there! Wow, wow, wow. The pan and tilt features are really nice. We setup another at our front door, and three "out door" styles around the outside of the property. I don't know how long this black "indoor" will last in the extreme temps and humitity of our barn and front porch, but that is not Foscam's problem. I will update at the end of the winter, or sooner if they die during winter!
4/3/11 Well they made it through the winter. We have been able to review motion detection alarm triggered video clips that were saved on our pc. We have been able to remote pan across the barn to see who is making all the racket and why. It is lovely to know who has been on your porch while you were sleeping! The cameras are wonderful. the there is an antenna you can get on amazon that will extend you wireless cababilities. We view the inside and outside of our barn across the street. These are great.
on January 14, 2011
Where to start...
Well I'll open with.. I'm IMPRESSED! I opted to get the white version of the FI8918W just because it was cheaper than the black version and was identical other than the color. I was first concerned because I got two camera's and the first one was "loose" it seemed (camera from the base). The second seems to be identical so this must just be the way these camera's are. I hooked this up directly to my router as per the instructions and tried to determine a standard ip address without having to use the included software. I wasn't able to so then used the mini-disc on my windows 7 PC. The computer prompted for reboot which I did before I noticed the icon on the desktop. When it rebooted I double clicked the icon and after a brief moment it displayed the ip address of the camera. Note: I'm also using zone alarm and it requested access to 255.255.255.255:10000, which I allowed and it displayed the camera.
When I double clicked the ip address displayed in the software window I was taken to ie which then I put in the user id: admin and for the PW. I don't know if I'm just lucky because I've had so many lessons with my other IP cameras, but this one was very easy (outside trying to figure out why the wireless config wasn't working as expected). One of the other things I was really impressed with was the ease of setting up the wireless. I "scanned" for wireless sources, found mine, clicked it and nearly all the fields were prefilled. I only had to input my security key. Now... The issue I had. I'm currently running 4 different cameras, x2 different Linksys camera's and a trendnet. Those all when setup kept their ip address. This Foscam uses a different one. So after you have it setup I'd recommend re-running their ip software and finding the new ip address after you have removed the cat5 cable. This took me about an hour to figure out.
My camera background:
I started out with x2 Linksys wvc54gca. These were my basis for learning about the IP camera's, the router work required to open the ports and more especially multiple camera's on the same router and how to accomplish that. After moving from the lower 48 to Alaska, we wanted a pan tilt zoom (PTZ) camera and opted for the Linksys WVC210. This camera is a very nice unit, but after getting the new Foscam night PTZ camera, I feel like I wasted a significant amount of money on this one unit, when I believe the Foscam FI8918W is easily a better buy. We also have the Trendnet tv-ip422w and compared to this new Foscam camera, the video is absolutely SUBPAR to the Foscam.
While this is a review about the Foscam FI8918W I want the readers to know and appreciate what this camera does. The Linksys WVC54GCA works perfectly in IE and Firefox (Safari as well). The WVC210 will NOT, repeat NOT work with IE. There is an active X that is required and Cisco must have an issue with Microsoft or something because I cannot force my computer to accept the active X. You can ONLY view this in Fire Fox (FF) or Safari (if I remember correctly), but FF is what we use to view it. These Foscam's work in: IE8, FF and FF on Mac OS-X (Snow Leopard). I haven't tried Safari, but our needs were met in that realm.
Mobile browsing: Both of the Linksys cam's were visible on our iPhone/iTouch. We have now ditched the iPhone (junk) and went with the Samsung captivate (android) and had the same experience. The Trendnet and Foscam units were not viewable on either of our phones. This was an initial HUGE issue, but I've found that on both the itunes and android app store there is an app (android has a free version, apple doesn't) called "IP Cam Viewer" by Robert Chou (android lite version works for free and has a banner at the top). If you use this program use "Add IP" in the settings to add your DNS address you established and go from there. This app also allows "swipe to pan" option.. NICE!!
In setting up, I mentioned that I have multiple camera's. I've resorted to using multiple different port's such as: myipcam,dot,com:1111 and the next is: myipcam,dot,com:1112, and: myipcam,dot,com:1113, etc. You will establish this in your individual camera settings and your router config.
I know my setup was based on historical config's I've done with other camera's so I was aware of some of the pitfalls. But I believe these cameras were the easiest to setup. The camera's software/firmware is a little "hokey" and could be improved I believe, but It has everything it needs to have (that I could determine) so I can't fault the firmware (admin) settings/options about that. The actual web GUI (interface) was pretty nice, especially compared to the other camera's I have. I didn't try the multiple setup and accessing them through the internet because one of the two cameras we received will be kept a little more "private" and may have access to part of our bedroom from its location.
The camera is very quiet. I found myself enjoying that with the movement options you can hold down the arrow (on the screen) and the camera will move until you unclick it.
The status LED, which can be turned off, is located on the back. I appreciate that as well.
The only thing I found a little annoying was the IR bulbs are a little too visible. We have one of these in the kids' bedroom and the red glow (obvious) always attracts attention. This is visible even when the IR is turned "off" in the settings.
The package included everything I believe a normal user would require/desire. Camera, base (movable/adjustable which is a nice touch), antenna, screws and anchor, cat5 cable and the power cord.
On the audio, I didn't try/use the included option. I'm sorry that a review of that feature cannot be included. With the amount of camera's we are running we can't support the additional bandwith requirements.
The only problem I experienced was the wireless being a different IP address vs. the wired IP address. I've never experienced this before, but was a simple fix by using the supplied software.
I wish I could provide a link so others could see how impressive these CAM's are. But I won't ;) Had I known how great a value these cameras would be I would have purchased at least a couple more, with the possibility of enough to replace / supplement all of our Linksys/Trendnet cam's. I'm leaving for a yearlong military deployment in 10 days so the ease in setup/config was a HUGE help and success on the part of this company. At this point I'd have no issue recommending these to anybody who is looking for an excellent camera. The day time image is excellent, the night vision (as with everything) is less grand, but the IR bulbs completely illuminate our 12x35' room with plenty of light to spare. These camera's are all usable on Win XP (laptop), Win Vista (laptop), Win 7 (PC) (Both with IE 8 and Fire Fox) and Mac OS-X (Snow Leopard) on a Macbook Pro and IMac , ipod Touch and Samsung Captivate (Android) WHEN using the app: ipcam viewer by Robert Chou (free on Android).
I really hope this review helps some other potential buyers as I had a ton of questions, to which few (if any) were answered by other reviews.
on March 1, 2011
There are a ton of well-written reviews for this camera (also check out the other versions, e.g. FI8918W White,FI8905W) that give an excellent sense of its many strengths, minor weaknesses, as well as tips for setting up IP cameras in general. I won't rehash the basics, but I will give a brief overview of my setup. Then I'll make a comment on security, and finally go through some of the ways you can extend this camera's capabilities. This last section is where the Foscam truly shines, in my opinion. After all, if I just wanted a no-hassle cam/DVR, I could get something more basic (but much more expensive) off the shelf at Costco or through a residential security company.
If you have any questions, just comment on this review. I'm happy to respond.
The setup process was very standard for any sort of web-enabled device. It'll take a bit longer if you've never gone through the steps before, but once you do it, you'll know how to set up a whole slew of similar devices (e.g. home webserver, media servers, etc.). There are literally hundreds of great tutorials on all of these topics around the web, so if any step or terminology is confusing, just google it and you'll find a bunch of good links. (i.e. don't get deterred by reviews that say "bad instruction manual" or "bad customer service", since you won't need either if you have the whole internet and the power of google at your fingertips). Anyway, here is the rough outline of the setup process for me:
1. Connected Foscam via LAN cable, checked "DHCP clients" list on router (I have a MacBook Pro and an Airport Extreme router) to get local Foscam IP, and then typed this into my web browser to get to the Foscam web interface. Alternatively, use the little utility included with the Foscam to get to the same place.
2. Added a new login/password, deleted admin login, and set up wifi access in the Foscam settings. Then disconnected from LAN and moved Foscam to the desired location. Plug it back in and now it's working via wireless.
3. Went into my router's settings and assigned a static IP to the Foscam's wifi MAC address (note: this MAC is different from the ethernet MAC). This is done with "DHCP Reservations" on the Airport, but of course the exact label will vary by router. Now the Foscam web interface will always be accessible at the same local address within my home network.
4. To get external access outside of my home network, I went into my router's "Port Forwarding" settings and forwarded some external port to port 80 at the static local IP of the Foscam.
5. Since I have a residential internet provider, my external IP is dynamic, which means it could potentially change. To get around this, signup for a free dyndns account. Then just use the updater client on the Foscam, itself, or one of many others that are available for free for mac, windows, and linux.
This is a bit confusing since the Foscam advertises "encryption". The part that IS secure is the Foscam's communication to/from your router via wifi. This is very good, and considering how easy it is to snoop traffic over an unprotected or WEP-protected wifi (there are even NYTimes articles describing the basics!), I would consider this a mandatory feature of any IP cam. While this is excellent to have, if you choose to make your Foscam web interface accessible from the outside internet (i.e. you did port forwarding), then this connection is public and completely unencrypted. Firstly, this means you should immediately add a new user in the Foscam settings and then delete the admin login. Even once this step is done, it means that there will be no little "lock" symbol in your browser indicating SSL encryption, and your new login/password and video stream will still be sent in the clear. This doesn't bother everyone, but if it does, you can use a computer on your home network to set up a VPN or SSH tunnel (easier) to make the connection encrypted (or just disable external access completely if you don't need this feature). At any rate, it's good to be aware of this limitation at least.
- Misc information on advanced features - There is a lot of useful information about these Foscams, including some more advanced topics, scattered around on various blogs and forums. Here are a couple (I'm sure google will find even more): gadgetvictims dot com, forum dot networkwebcams dot com, networkcamerareviews dot com.
- mangocam dot com - Free online storage for your cam stream. What's the point of having a security camera if the crooks steal all your computers with the footage!? This site just popped up with a free public beta, so it's definitely worth checking out. Sort of like the built-in FTP/email features taken to a whole new level.
- Smartphone apps - A neat way to check in on your cams remotely (but see important security note, above). IP Cam Viewer Lite works great for Android, and other reviews mention other apps for iPhone, etc.
- ZoneMinder - The holy grail for getting the most out of your cam. This is a free and open-source web application for managing your cam feeds. It is sort of like mangocam, but you install it yourself on your own webserver, and it does a whole lot more. For instance, you can define different motion detection "zones" in the image. Maybe zone #1 is the whole image, zone #2 is just a doorway, and zone #3 is a tree that is always moving in the wind. Then you can define all sorts of complex filters, like 1) Record a section of video footage when there is any motion in zone #1, excluding zone #3, or 2) Record a section of video footage when there is any motion in zone #2, but only during work hours on weekdays; then automatically send some still screenshots to my email and upload a movie of the event to some off-site server. Wow...the options are truly endless! With just this program, some $200 linux boxes, and some Foscams, you could start a business setting up surveillance systems for people!
on March 13, 2011
I'll make this short and to the point. I'm using this camera with OS X 10.6.6 and it works... to an extent. The camera has a lot of features for the money. Unfortunately, however, to take advantage of all those features you really need to use Internet Explorer as most features require ActiveX. The ability to link up multiple cameras, to hear sound from the internal mic, and setup per user accounts are all really nice features, but can only be taken advantage of via Internet Explorer and ActiveX.
About the only thing you can do with this camera in a non-IE browser is view video, which works well and serves my purpose as I just want to monitor my 2 yr old daughter at night in her bedroom. It's really ashame though that in this era of multiple browsers that a majority of this camera's features are hampered by its dependency on Internet Explorer/ActiveX.
on November 11, 2010
This is a decent IP camera with enough features for most first time users. I was able to configure and use the camera without having to load any of the included software without any trouble, but an average person might have trouble getting every feature working. If you don't know what DNS or FTP means, you are one of these people.
If you are planning on just sitting this on a window sill and pointing it outside as a 24/7 security camera, think again. It works fine in the daytime, but interior reflections on the window glass make it less useful at night. The IR LEDs reflect back off the window and effectively blind the camera.
Image quality is typical of a low-cost CMOS sensor. Color accuracy and saturation is poor, but adequate for most uses.
It also has several shutter speed settings....a 60hz speed for night/low light, a 50hz speed for medium lighting, and a slow shutter speed for outdoor use. While the camera is able to automatically adjust sensor sensitivity a bit to compensate for changes in lighting, it doesn't have an automatic shutter speed setting. This means that if you have the shutter speed set on the "Outdoor" setting, it works great on a sunny day, but at night is far too dark to be useful. You'd have to manually switch shutter speeds every day if you were using it as an unattended security camera. Leaving it on 60hz setting and trying to view an outside scene just results in a white video image...the sunlight totally overwhelms the sensor unless you use the "outdoor" setting.
The motion detection feature is excellent. You can have the camera automatically email you a sequence of still photos everytime it detects motion. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this worked. You can specify up to 5 individual recipients.
It is also capable of uploading the same still images to an FTP server if you wish to archive them for review later. A date/time stamp on the image would have been a nice addition but isn't a feature.
I did not try the audio features, thus cannot say if they are improved over the old camera. If you are looking to integrate this camera into your DIY home security system, you should purchase the previous model (FI8908W) as this new one doesn't have the RS485 port anymore.
Bottom line, whether you want to use this camera to monitor an interior room, or an outside scene, it's a good entry level camera. Just don't expect it to be able to do both without manually making some adjustments for one or the other.
on August 19, 2011
I'm a techie. I build my own computers and I work as a Project Manager on a software development team. People ask me for help when their computers don't work. But it took me 2-3 hours to get this camera working correctly.
Once I got it working, it as been OK. Most of the features work as advertised, and this camera has a lot of features for the price. I have been able to view video feed on Chrome 13, FF4, IE9-32bit, on my blackberry 9300 and on my ipod touch 3G. The audio is a bit quirky - louder on FF & Chrome; quieter on IE. I've never gotten audio to work on a mobile device.
Definitely read through the manufacture's support website and google for other common support issues before purchasing.
Here are a few lessons learned that might help others out during the setup process:
- if your camera doesn't appear in the setup tool on the first try, right click the screen and select Refresh
- doesn't appear to work well on gigabit Ethernet (try plugging it into a 100MB connection if connection issues)
- works fine on Win7-64bit running IE9-32bit, Firefox4, Chrome13
- The firmware updates are downloaded in an RAR file format, which is like a zip, but requires a special tool to decompress ([...])
- doesn't appear to work well on IE9-64bit (no picture)
on May 2, 2012
We purchased this camera so we could monitor our home while on vacation. I was shocked when I set up port forwarding and discovered not only did the camera have no security but it opened a really large security hole in my home Wi-Fi.
When you connect to the camera over the internet via port forwarding you get a log in prompt of course, but it isn't secure, not even SSL, so the user id and password you enter is sent over the internet as clear text. Easy as pie for some nefarious type to grab, and if all they managed to grab is your user id the camera will help them out by allowing an unlimited number of tries on the password. To test if it would ever lock me out I entered my user id and incorrect passwords 50 times, on the 51st try I entered the correct password and it let me in. There certainly doesn't appear to be a limit.
The two things to take away from this:
1. Your user id and password is sent over the internet as clear text so it would be easy to capture.
2. Someone can just keep trying different user ids and passwords seemingly forever until they're successful.
So what's the big deal, you might say. If the camera is only pointing at my backyard or front door what do I care if someone else looks through it?
The big deal is, once someone is into your camera all they have to do is click on "Device Management", "Wireless LAN Setting" and there is all the info about your Wi-Fi network. In plain text with no attempt to hide it whatsoever is your Wi-Fi name, type of encryption, and password. With that info they're now into your home network, able to watch your activity on the internet, watch you log into your bank, and likely able to browse your computer. Might just as well unlock your front door and leave it open.
My goal in buying this camera was to increase my home's security while on vacation but it actually decreases it. I'll be sending it back as the security implications are just too large to overcome.
A bit about me:
- Software Engineer for past 5 years
- System Administrator for 15 years before that
- Electronics technician for 20 years before that.
on June 10, 2011
My wife and I have a brand new baby on the way. My portion of getting the baby's room ready was to take care of the tech side of things. My first task was to get our baby monitor situation squared away. After looking at our choices I decided that an actual security camera was the best decision rather than a branded baby monitor. Why? Many baby monitors can be tapped because their broadcasts are unencrypted. Their video systems only connect to a single handheld device with a puny 2 inch screen. Most baby monitor cameras are fixed, and can only see in a single direction. Monitoring systems branded as baby cameras cost well over $100 once you start to include any decent features.
Enter the Foscam FI8918W. The microphone is GREAT. I would strongly recommend adding a cheap external speaker if you need that function. The built in speaker doesn't work well, but adding a cheap $5 speaker works wonders. Unlike dedicated baby monitor systems you can watch from anywhere in the world by attaching your camera to your wireless network at home. I admit that setting it up takes moderate understanding of your home network. If you are an absolute beginner at such things I doubt that you'd be able to do it with ease, but a geeky friend should be able to do it in a few minutes. When you are done your camera system will have an ID & password secure web address. Not only that but you can pan and tilt to look all around the room remotely.
To make things even better you can buy an app for BOTH iOS and Android called "IP Camera Viewer" by Robert Chou (on iTunes the developer name is NibblesnBits). The app is only a few dollars on both iOS and Android. My wife has an iPad and iPhone which are Apple iOS devices. I have a Motorola Xoom and HTC Thunderbolt (Android devices). I can view our baby cam and listen in remotely on all devices using the app which gives me a nice big image to watch the baby with,. Not only that, I also have the ability to fully control the camera motions.
The build quality is great on this camera. The black camera that I have is covered in a rubberized, soft touch shell. The camera also delivers a GREAT night image in a totally dark room using it's IR system.
The instructions aren't in perfect english but are clear enough that I was able to get it all done. I would rate my technical skills in the high-moderate range and I was able to get it set up. I did it all in just over an hour and a half from opening the box, to connecting it to my home wifi network (encrypted), to gaining internet access, and finally connecting all apps on all mobile devices. I learned a lot about my home network setup in the process, and never felt absolutely stumped. I did have to pause a few times and troubleshoot (hit and miss) to get it right. Even if you aren't TOTALLY confident in your skills I honestly think the average person can get it up and running. Don't be shy.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS SYSTEM.
I'll try to include images of it in action. I hope this write up helps you!
on February 19, 2011
I bought the camera for one reason: to keep an eye on my place while I'm at work. We were notified of a slight increase in criminal activity in the area, and I have a lot of expensive things at my place. I have insurance, but wanted to have something else keeping an eye on things while I was at work. This camera seemed to offer everything I was looking for. And yes, it does have a lot of cool features. You can connect it wirelessly, so all it needs is power. You can have it drop snapshots of camera activity out to an FTP share for later review. You can even tilt and pan the camera using the web interface. It features scheduled observation, so you can detect motion and snap shots during certain hours. IR mode allows you to see even in dark rooms. You can have it email you with any motion detected. On paper it sounds like a dream. Unfortunately, most of these features are a bit of a pain due to what I can only describe as clear, blatant oversights on the part of FOSCAM.
First, the motion detection. It's a cluster. The problem is that what it sees as "motion" is not really motion all the time. When I think motion I think of a physical object at a certain position ending up at a different position within one second of the previous position; in other words, if I took a ball and threw it, that's motion. If I open blinds, the blinds move, but nothing else does. The camera picks up light changes as motion. That's irritating, because I have high windows where the sun will shine through trees, causing natural shadows that the camera can't seem to ignore. Thus I get blasted with upwards of 100 or so emails, each containing about 10 shots, of nothing but light shifts. There is a "Sensibility"(sic) setting in the camera which I can only assume should have been "Sensitivity", but dropping this down to even 1 doesn't seem to make a difference.
Where that really becomes a problem is file storage. Because it doesn't store video shots of detected motion and instead takes snapshots, your FTP share will fill up rather quickly with individual, false hits. I suppose there's nothing that can be done about this, but it's extremely frustrating that the camera cannot apparently determine three-dimensional objects vs. light shifts. I just deleted over 7,000 JPGs.
Randomly, the camera will just lockup and require unplugging to get it back up and running. Then it needs to go through its axial calibration again and you will lose some of your settings. No real explanation for this, it will just stop responding.
The web interface offered does let you pan and tilt the camera. It also lets you enable or disable IR mode; of course, during the day IR mode is somewhat pointless, but you can do it. The problem with the web interface is the scheduling. It wants you to click individual squares for each hour - you can't just say "Every week day from 8AM to 8PM". You have to go to the 24 hour grid and click each individual square that corresponds to an hour. You then have to do that same step for each day. So Wednesday 1pm, Tuesday 1pm, Monday 1pm, Sunday 1pm, Saturday 1pm, Friday 1pm, Thursday 1pm....then do it all over again for 2pm, 3pm, etc. until you're finished. Mercy on your soul if you want the camera to monitor motion for 8 hours every week day.
Ultimately, it gets the job done, and it's a fine camera in terms of quality and IR capabilities. I just wish that they would get smarter with the basic technology. The web interface could certainly use some rewriting.
on October 28, 2011
I should have paid closer attention to the other review that warns about the importer -- Foscam, not providing technical or any warranty support. My camera broke after a little over a month and I have no recourse. The company will not provide any service or support for products that are purchased other than directly from them -- so DON'T BUY through AMAZON since you have no warranty at all beyond Amazon's 30 day return policy.
This was shocking to me as I've never had such a problem with Amazon or any manufacturer.
What a waste of money.