Price: $199 for the 1080p Camera, live viewing included
An additional $9.95-29.95/month for optional cloud recording service
Hardware/iOS Integration Rating:
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Bottom Line: The updated Dropcam Pro camera resolved all of our issues with the previous camera and added much more to the mix. Better recording, enhanced 8x zoom, iOS setup, and higher resolution 1080p video.
Very Highly Recommended.
I looked at the earlier version of Dropcam a few months ago and loved it. This update fixes all of the issues I had with the previous version and adds in a whole new slew of great features.
Dropcam is an indoor network connected video camera that is generally used for security concerns. I have used Dropcam for about six months to keep track of our dog while not at home and find it invaluable. Even though 99.9% of the time our dog is sleeping when we look in, the piece of mind that having a camera pointed at him that we can view anytime and anywhere is immeasurable. But, perhaps we are the dog guardian version of helicopter parents to our little fur child?
iOS-based setup means that this updated Dropcam Pro was even easier to set up than the previous models. While it can be done with a computer, it is even quicker to do without a computer, using just an iPhone or iPad. Using Bluetooth on an iOS device and the free Dropcam App, a new camera can be set up in about a minute. Specify the wireless network for Dropcamp to use, sign in to a Dropcam account, give the camera a name, and the app will find the nearby camera and configure it. Boom, it's on the network.
The Dropcam app is the the main interface into the Dropcam. It allows viewing of Dropcams the user has on their account and other public cameras over the home network or the Internet when away from home. It is also smart enough to alert users when there is motion (of a settable threshold) viewable on the camera. The app is also smart enough to turn the camera on when leaving home and off when returning.
These features are great for securing a home and when away and awaiting kids to return home. The new camera and the update to the iOS app also allow up to 8x zoom in on the live image. When zoomed, the image can be enhanced by clicking a button to make the image sharper. This was a sorely missed feature in previous versions.
With the optional cloud video recorder service (CVR), which is $9.95 per month for a 7 day archive or $29.95 per month for a 30 day archive, every second the camera is online is archived available to view from the app or from the Dropcam website. This could be invaluable to catch thieves. While the CVR service is a recurring cost, viewing live video of the camera is included with purchase of the camera.
It should be noted that by default the cameras are kept private. Dropcam claims bank level security keeps recorded video footage from the eyes of would be peeping Toms. Though if the camera should be set up as public, that can be done via the Dropcam site. Via the site it is possible to either share the camera to select people or even to make it public for all to view.
The Dropcam Pro camera hardware, while looking similar to the previous version, is an upgrade in many ways. The upgrade of the optics from front to back make the image amazingly clear. A six element lens and a much larger sensor allow this camera to pull in more light from a wider angle of view, which adds up to a clearer picture. The output of the camera is up to 1080p, though most users will probably be zoomed in to part of the field of view most of the time.
Small tweaks also make this camera shine. Now in all black, this camera will be easier to blend into home surroundings so that it isn't as noticable. One of my issues with the previous model was that the camera was held in the bracket with just friction. This model alleviates that by adding tabs that securely snap the camera into the bracket. Still removable, but now it won't accidentally be removed.
The camera also includes dual band Wifi allowing it to communicate over the faster 5Ghz 802.11n in addition to the usual 802.11b/g. Still included with the Dropcam is the excellent automatic night vision mode with IR LEDs hidden behind the front bezel of the camera that come on to illuminate the scene when needed.
Dropcam - the future center of home automation? When speaking with Greg Duffy, CEO of Dropcam before this review, he gave us an interesting look into the future plans of Dropcam and home automation and monitoring. While there are a number of technologies right now employed to allow home automation devices to communicate, that is rapidly switching to Bluetooth Low Energy (or Bluetooth LE or BLE). With a Dropcam Pro in a home, it can function as what is essentially a Bluetooth bridge to the Internet. This provides Dropcam with a huge opportunity to become the home automation communication center and bridge to a whole slew of new features. Mr. Duffy suggested we stay tuned as they are already in talks with a number of companies about opportunities in this area. He reckons this will make Dropcamp future proof.
For a network accessible camera that works with iOS, there isn't a better option than Dropcam Pro. The cloud recording, 1080p wide angle lens, the enhanced zoom, and the easy iOS-based setup all add up to a nearly perfect product. The Dropcam Pro camera can be found in retailers like Amazon and also sold direct via the Dropcam site.