$119 (requires an additional accessory which is sold separately)
This is the cheapest of the cameras in this shoot-out, and accordingly, the most basic.
But it needs the Aztech Homeplug, sold separately, to work. If you do not have that accessory, the camera and an Aztech 500Mbps Homeplug HL117E is available for $149.
While this accessory seems unnecessary, the camera uses powerline communications technology, meaning that it connects using power sockets. If you have a big home or a weak router, you can position the camera anywhere near a power socket, without having to worry about a weak wireless signal.
Setting up the camera is simple, as the Homeplug connects by Ethernet cable to the router and plugs directly into a power socket.
The camera, too, plugs into a power socket and pairs automatically with the Homeplug when you press the camera's connect button.
Follow the instructions to complete the configuration.
The camera has a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. It pans 270 degrees and surveys a wide area. Although it can tilt up to 75 degrees upwards, it cannot tilt downwards, which limits the view.
Infrared LEDs provide night vision, which works well but only within a 5m range. The mobile app's snapshot feature will save images to an album inside the app, which can be in the phone's gallery or attached to an e-mail.
Some settings, including video resolution, video quality and video frequency, can be adjusted via the mobile app. But it cannot record as the camera lacks an SD card slot.
To record, one must use the PC. This also offers more features and settings. Motion detection can be set to sound an alarm, take a snapshot, record a clip or send notifications to an FTP server or e-mail server.
You can set the camera to run automatically using its schedule recording feature.
The camera uses a Mjpeg format, an older compression standard that is not as good at saving bandwidth. In this aspect, it is behind the other cameras.
On the mobile app, I got disconnected a few times for no apparent reason. Although this was annoying, I was able to reconnect immediately. At the highest resolution, colours were full but the low frame rate made the video jerky. It also lacks audio - a huge disadvantage.
Switching to a lower resolution (320 x 240 or 160 x 120) provides higher frame rates for less choppy video but also makes them more blurred and less detailed. The camera responded more quickly, via the PC, to pan and tilt commands, but the frame rate was unchanged.
If all you need is a cheap camera to keep an eye on your home, this will do well enough. But the low frame rate and lack of two-way communication limit the camera to basic monitoring.
Type: Pan and tilt
Video resolution: 640 x 480 pixels (up to 7 frames per second)
Connectivity: Ethernet port (Homeplug)
Recording medium: PC
Viewing angle: 270 degrees (horizontal), 75 degrees (vertical)
Night vision: Yes
Two-way communication: No
WPS connectivity: Yes
Mobile app: Available in Android and iOS, free
This article was first published on June 25, 2014.
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