on October 1, 2012
Update3: I see some user comments about why bother with using powerline when you can simply use Power-over-ethernet (PoE) with 750n.
Since I use virtually all types of camera security systems including mobile camere security, I learn to appreciate the +/-s of each type of cameras using each of the different transport mediums. You are essentially making trade offs between the real-world physical properties of each of the solutions including SW, HW and firmware product tradeoffs.
Some user(s) comment on why bother using powerline when you can use PoE. I agree, if you have a choice to choose PoE which is essentially connecting ethernet cables from Camera to Ethernet Switch. However, depending on the physical characteristics of your deployment environment, PoE may not be practical depending on if you are in a IT lab, Corp Office, Residential Office, or Home.
In a Corp office, IT lab, or within a single room or short distances, running cables is relatively easy compare to a residential office or a multi-story residential structure where you may have solid walls, ceilings..etc. There are no easy way to run ethernet cables except to drill holes, or lay them on the floor or stapled them along walls and ceilings which is astheically unappealing to most users.
When it is physically difficult to pull cables, you will need to use either Wireless (air as the transport medium) or Powerline (existing structure's electrical wiring). Each solution has their +/-s. I use all combinations to secure all types of structures from single story to multi-story, Corp office IT labs, or residences. Typically, as the distance becomes further and there is no easy to pull cables due to cost or physical barriers. Wirless or Powerline are the next logical solutions.
Specific to the 750n Solution, the biggest attraction for me is Alert Commander Desktop App, Alert Commander Web Site, and Mobile App. I believe Logitech has the most polish solution, but not necessarily the most reliable because it is a more complex implementation than fix-wire and wireless solutions.
The 750n/700n implementation requires not only a desktop application, this application must commuicate with the Powerline Adapter (HomePlug) Firmware programmed into it, and also the camera firmware. Wired and wireless camersa do not have to deal with the HomePlug firmware, one less component to deal with.
That's why wired and wireless cameras I find do not have the camera discovery issues that the Logitech 750n Solution presents. It would be a none issue if they can do enough compatibility testing between the Alert Commander SW, HomePlug Firmware/HW(EMI filtering) and the Camera Firmware. All these issues on top of getting video streams to their website and mobile app. Overall, I'm very pleased with Logitech solution, but I still have significant reservations as decribed below.
The issue that I am facing now is if I want to add more cameras, the Alert Commander sees the Homeplugs, but cannot discover the camera because, the camers is not requesting a DHCP IP address. This I can see clearly comparing the recently purchased 750n and 700n cameras vs. my existing 750ns. This means the 750 solution is not easily scalable (not always easy to add new components) if the versions of SW, Firmware and HW are too far apart, or just have incompatibility issues depending on when they spin their latest SW updates into their production cycles. Of course, I'm sure other solutions may have similar incompatibility issues, but the Homeplug adds one more component to the critical path which could make it a more fragile solution to some users, specifically in discovering or recovering lost cameras or connections. I don't blame them for getting piss off as I did, but I worked with their engineering/QA to get my network reliability issues resolved. However, the incompatibility issue that I am now facing is a much more tougher problem to solve due to the number of combinations..ie permutations possible between the different component versions.
Update2: Why I like the Alert Commander the best, and giving it back a 4 star
Since my original comments, I am giving credit to Logitech for having a 5 Star responsive customer support. Their Sr. QA Mgr has contacted me and is working with me to help resolve my network reliability issues which I will give now a 3 star instead of 1 star as I now have a better understanding of how to recover my cameras. In order to help other potential users of 750n and other security camera products I like to explain my experiences with different types of security camera systems and their features that are important for my needs (each user has their own needs), but hopefully my needs will cover most of others needs.
I am currently deploying 3 types of security camera systems to monitor different office locations, each type uses different transport medium, and have their +/-s:
Wired - I am using GE PTZ cameras and their Netview SW. Wired systems are much more reliable connectivity wise since they are fixed wires/ethernet cables..etc. The obvious drawback is they are fixed and hard wired. They are more costly to installed especially if you have multiple floors and/or in a residence. You basically have to drill holes..pull wires..etc unless it is commercial then you can pull cables above the ceiling panels.
Wireless - I am using FOSCAM PTZ wirelss cameras and their IP Camera SW, but I also purchased Blue IRIS SW to control manage my wireless cameras.
The advanage with wireless is you don't have the hard wired issues and can place them in locations that maybe more difficult and costly to install.
Of course with wireless, you are subject to atmospheric conditions.
Powerline - I am using Logitech 750 indoor and now outdoor cameras with Alert Commander. In my opinion, Powerline is a transport medium between Fixed Wire and Wireless. You are basically using existing electrical wiring systems which is great. No ethernet cables to pull, and in theory more reliable than wireless since it is fix wired, but via electrical outlets.
The drawback is if you have electrical devices in those circuits that can generate EMI events...motors, fans, generators..etc. If you have a relatively clean EMI event location Logitech 750n will likely work flawlessly for you, but if you have multiple floors and not so cleam circuits, then you may likely run into the issues that myself and a number of other users have encountered (though they may not fully understand why they have those issues).
With this said, I have some recommendations that can help users recover their cameras, but not always guarantee depending on your circuit situation.
Recommendation: If you have control of your own IP Gateway that contains the DHCP server. When you loose connectivity, reset or flush your DHCP server which will then flush the DHCP cache that contains device IP addresses, and their physical MAC address. Do this in addition to resetting 750N camera(poke the needle hole with a paper clip or needle to reset camera), unplug and plug all adpaters. This will ensure all previous IP address leases to be renewed. I've seen this work like charm 9 out of 10 times. The other 10% of the time, there is still an issue with Logitech recovery algorithm likely in the form of "State Machines" built into the adapters, and the SW recovery process with the Alert Commander SW not synching the Camera IP and MAC address properly. I am working with Logitech to get this figure out so I can relaibly use 750n and Alert Commander myself.
The flushing of the DHCP cache or resetting the DHCP server is unique to the router/gateway that each user uses. If you are using DHCP directly from ISP, then you won't need to deal with this step as the ISP will likely issue a new IP anyway when the camera looks for a IP address.
So, why do I want to use the 750n with Alert Commander. It is for the following important reasons compare to other IP camera systems:
1. Ability to create multiple detection zones and fit them to any size - I can create different detection zones move them around and size them as I see fit, and trigger alerts off of those zones. This the most powerful feature of any security system besides simply recording everything it sees in my opinion. This is very useful to me since I don't want to see 100s of email alerts for every movement around my office locations. I only want to see alerts whem sensitive locations of the offices are touched or entered into. I'm sure each user can think of many reasons why they only want to be alerted when a specific location is breached within the camera view and alert you for everything. You don't always want to be alerted everytime anything moves on the screen.
The other software that I am using is Blue IRIS, Netview, IP Camera..etc all have motion detection and alerts, but they detect every movement, or example in the case of Blue IRIS, it's a screen centered square box that you can resize, but not relocate, or create mutiple box zones. I don't use email alerts with the other systems anymore, though they are always recording. I am using Alert Commander for email alerts with snap-shots instead.
2. Richer UI Experience - I like the more intuitive look & feel of Alert Commander. Having worked on User Interface deigns and testing. I appreciate a high quality UI which I believe Alert Commander has over the other SW that I am using. It's just more efficient to use.
3. Visually see and dynamically resize alert amd motion storage - This is another critical feature. I can easily see and resize the storage that I need. All the other SW require that I hard-code/manually entered the storage values. I cam always do this, but I really like the storage resizing feature of Alert Commander which is done on the fly.
With all above said, I am giving 750n back a 4 star. I would give it a 5 if it is more network reliable which I believe Logitech need to seriously tackle if they want to beat the competition and dominate this market.
Update1: Why I am giving 750n a 1 star
I have the cameras working for a week now at the only site that I have these cameras working. Last night I could not connect to the Alert Website. This morning I was able to, but my 2 remaining cameras could not be found. The site tells me I should remove my cameras. I know it's not a good idea, but I did it any way. I now can no longer can see any of my cameras on the website which now defeats the primary reason for my purchase of these cameras using the Alert Website. I am dropping from 2 stars down to 1 star. This is unacceptable for Logitech to have such a fragile network product. I can only say that I am disappointed with Logitech. I have used many of their products over the years. This is my worst experience with their products and overall the worst with any network products that I have experienced so far. Good luck to other users with this product.
I am writing this review out of shear fustration and extreme disappointment with Logitech having purchased 6 x 750n cameras to enhance existing video monitoring of 3 different sites which already have fixed wired IP Network video monitoring. I am also not an average user. I have many years of designing, building and testing data center IP networks with all types of devices. I would have simply prefer to have the cameras working rather then to write this very negative review.
There are 2 key issues that I have with the 750n (but I have to assume same for the other models as well) they are 1) Electro-magnetic interference (EMI) which causes the lost of connectivity between Alert Commander Software and the Cameras 2) Recovery of the IP connectivty between Alert Commander and the cameras once the EMI event goes away. I will keep my explanations simple, but before I share my fustrations, I will first highlight the positives.
I managed to install 750ns into 2 of the 3 sites. The installations went very smoothly, and everything worked nicely as advertised. I was very happy.
Now the negatives, I was very happy until all of sudden in one the locations, Alert Commander could no longer detect the cameras. The first time this happen I went plugging/unplugging adapters, resetting the cameras (poking the pin-hole behind the camera). I did this several times and still no cameras detected even though I had the deep purple light which indicated the camera saw the Alert Commander and the internet. After wasting couple of hours on my weekend going up/down several flights of stairs I decided to give Logitech Tech Support a try. I spent another 3 hrs on the phone until my phone battery went almost dead, and I decided not to continue the call (tech support was nice and patient though). It went from bad to worse. Now I had no more deep purple lights, just plain green lights indicating only power. The problem was way beyond tech support. They could only tell you the same thing that you could do yourself, unplug/plug, reset, reinstall Alert Commander..etc. I asked the TS guy if he knew where the IP addresses of the cameras were stored at by the Alert Commander, I was doubtful he knew, but I asked anyway, and he didn't have a clue. The key is having the ability to edit the Camera IP addresses and the associated physical device address (MAC address). If I could edit this info, I could ensure Alert Commander connect with the Cameras, but the Network SW design was meant to be dummy proof which makes it very dumb when something goes wrong. The inability to assign/edit static IPs is a significant weakness here due to the software design.
Since I still have 2 cameras available and not yet installed at the 3rd site, I decided to install a new camera. The installation went smoothly. However, even after I remove the old Alert Commander software install, I had to locate the Windows Registry Keys and remove them with the Registry Editor so the new Alert Commander install does not go automatically into the Alert Commander screen bypassing the initial install steps.
I was happy again, until the same thing happened. This time I was able to observe what caused the lost connectivity. I turned on a ceiling fan. When I turned it off, the deep purple lights came back on. So, I thought I should get my cameras back when I turned off my ceiling fan. Unfortunately not, I had purple lights, but cameras could not be found. Same thing all over again.
Except this time, I happened to be monitoring and testing traffic on my network with 3 network troubleshooting tools. I was using 1) Wireshark which analyzes network traffic 2) IP Address/TCP Port scanner to detect what devices were on the network 3) DHCP monitor on my router to see which IP addresses were assigned to devices coming onto the network requesting an IP address.
I will keep it simple as I can and get to the point.
The fact that turning on the ceiling fan caused lost connectivity, it tells me there is very poor EMI filtering by the Power Adapters.
Worse than that, the inability for the Alert Commander and the cameras to recover. I was able to observe the actual network communications between the cameras, router/gateway (which hosts the DHCP server that assigns the dynamic IP addresses) and the Alert Commander on my computer.
The crux of the bad network software design is the following:
Alert commander during the initial install detects IP and MAC address of the cameras. I have to assume it hides it somewhere in it's system files so users can't get to them (we should be able to though). Because, we don't know the IP addresses, we are blinded when it comes to troubleshooting. Because I have my network troubleshooting tools, I knew the initial IP addresses of the cameras assigned by DHCP. After the EMI event was over, I can see the cameras requesting new IP addresses from the DHCP server, but the Alert Commander is broadcasting the old IP addresses on the network asking the cameras to respond to it's request to establish connectivity. The cameras never responded to Alert Commander's broadcast requests, and just keeps asking for new IP addresses from the DHCP server (also want to add the DHCP requests coming from the cameras were labeled by the DHCP server as not understandable). This explains why the Alert Commander was never able to detect the cameras. There is no way to edit the camera IP address in the camera itself or the Alert Commander so they can match up the expected IP addresses that was previously assigned by DHCP. I am now totally screwed.
The Logitech Tech Support was nice, but totally lacked the skills and tools to troubleshoot at this level. This requires the Logitech network engineers to figure it out if they had done proper negative network testing by injecting errors such as EMI interference tests.
I am keeping the 2 cameras that are working in the one site, but have returned 3 of the cameras, and keeping one spare. My concern is if for some reason I experienced a power outage or some sort of EMI interference, I may repeat the same BS again in the one site that has the working 750ns. I am now purchasing FOSCAM wireless/wired cameras instead to avoid this EMI and lost connectivity issue. I have no association with FOSCAM, but they are wireless cameras, and not using the power outlets for communications so not subject to EMI interference.
I assume for users who do not have EMI issues in their homes or networks, the 750n will work fine, but once you loose connectivity due to some sort of EMI event. You may loose the cameras, and unable to detect them again if they go into this bad software loop state.
I wish these cameras would just work. I do like the Alert Commander software features, and the centralized website to view the cameras when you can connect to their site. I like Logitech, but very disappointed with this poor network software design. Hopefully, they will improve and fix these issues with their next camera versions.