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Dropcam HD Wi-Fi Wireless Video Monitoring Camera
Author: Jason Kohrs
Manufacturer: Dropcam
Source: Dropcam
Comment or Question: Post Here
Page: 5 of 7 [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ]
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November 24, 2013

In Use (continued):

Web Browser (continued):

And finally, we get to see a picture of what the Dropcam HD can see. I'll explain why this scene was chosen in the next paragraph, but the image below should be looked at mostly to see how the Dropcam website lets you interact with the camera. You have some drop down menus in the icons at the top, while you have some more features below the image. You can see a time scale which is useful for seeing when the camera was online/offline, as well as when any events have occured. The light blue highlighting of the timeline in the 9:45PM area indicates that the camera has been online for that period. Bars extending up from here represent different kinds of events based on the coloring... the grey bar is an example of one of these.

Review Image

The scene in this sample image isn't very interesting (it is nearly impossible to keep the kids play area organized / tidy) but it helps with the comparison to two IP cameras to compare the image quality with the lights on and in total darkness. The two images below are obviously from the Dropcam. I am definitely impressed with the image quality with the lights on. The colors are well reproduced, the image is very sharp, and the field of view is the best I have experienced with this type of product. With the lights off, the performance of the Dropcam is less impressive. The IR lighting is not as strong as on my other IP cameras, and the image quality is what I would call 'muddy'. Have a look at the below right image for details.

Review Image Review Image

This same scene was used in a previous review comparing two IP cameras, and we will revisit those images now. In the year since that review, the clutter has changed a bit, but the lighting is the same and the general layout of the room is unchanged. The first two links show the scene as captured by the Foscam FI8918, while the second two links show the generic APM-J011-WS.

Foscam FI8918 Lights On | Foscam FI8918 Lights Off

The Foscam FI8918 camera has a narrower field of view, a lower resolution (640x480), and the colors aren't reproduced very accurately. The image is sharp with the lights on, and while not perfect with the lights out I would say it is better than the Dropcam's. The IR lighting is much stronger on this camera so you get better contrast and the night vision is far more useful.

generic APM-J011-WS Lights On | generic APM-J011-WS Lights Off

The generic APM-J011-WS has an even narrower field of view than the Foscam unit, but it renders the colors better (though not as well as the Dropcam). The sharpness of this unit is also somewhere between the Foscam and the Dropcam. The IR performance on the generic camera is similar to the Foscam, making it much better than the Dropcam.

One other note on the Dropcam IR is that there is a significant delay before they come on. With the two other IP cameras, the sensor which automatically turns the IR lighting on when necessary, does so in a fraction of a second. With the Dropcam, there is a consistent delay of about 6 seconds between the time the room lights went out and the IR lights came on. Without much effort, it is easy to avoid detection by turning out the room lights and walking past the camera during this window of opportunity. I first discovered it by accident during testing... I walked across the room to turn out the room lights (which was all captured by the Dropcam), but the return walk to my desk was completely missed as the camera recorded a pitch black screen. I was already back at my desk typing on my keyboard before it started 'seeing' again. While this lag may be trivial to the typical usage of this camera, it could be exploited to avoid detection. Additionally, you can set the IR lighting to stay on / off all the time and eliminate the automatic switching feature.

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