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

In Use (continued):

Android App:

I installed the Android app from Dropcam on a 4" phone and a 7" tablet, and both of them worked well with the camera. In this section we will take a look at some screenshots taken from the 7" tablet which features a resolution of 1280x800.

The first two screens show some of the settings available in the app, where the list is not as complete as when you access the camera via a browser. The below left image shows the screen where you could select from your Dropcams (our one unit was presently offline), as well as select some options from the drop down menu on the right. The below right image shows what you get when you click the App Settings button, and as you can see all you can really do is turn HD streaming on or off (off then streams in SD mode). This option controls how you download the stream from the Dropcam cloud service... so even if you are uploading in HD, you can then select to receive it on your Android device in HD, or you can save some bandwidth and download it in SD mode.

While speaking of these two modes, it is a good time to discuss the bandwidth required to run a Dropcam... According to Dropcam based information, if you leave your Dropcam on all the time (the only way to get reliable monitoring), you can choose between uploading in HD or SD mode. In HD mode you should expect to consume about 60GB per month per camera in upload traffic. Switching to SD mode gets you down aroun 30GB/month. This is only for upload, and even if you are then viewing your camera on the same local network, this requires a roundtrip to the cloud service and additional bandwidth. I would assume you won't be watching all the time, but 30GB or 60GB would be the minimum per month. I presently have 4 more traditional IP cameras on my home network that record to a NAS device when triggered for motion detection. If I were to have 4 Dropcams - set to HD mode of course - I would be looking at 240GB in upload each month. I plan to add 2 more cameras soon, which would bump this to 360GB/month before I even start using the Internet for things like streaming music, movies, web browsing, etc. People on bandwidth constrained plans may have an issue using Dropcams, due to low upload speeds or having a monthly bandwidth cap.

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The next screen shows the Activities tab in the Android App, where you can see a reverse chronological listing of all triggered events. The thumbnails on the left are actually animated and provide a preview of each scene. In this set we see that my kids initially didn't notice the Dropcam was moved to their other play area, but within a few minutes they did and they swooped in to investigate.

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Even though the Dropcam is intended for indoor use, I moved it outside for 24 hours that were forecast to be clear and mild. The image quality in this level of light is great, and it does very well to capture fine detail near and far. The Dropcam literature mentions keeping the camera out of direct sunlight, and based on some of the sunspots and color streaks I saw in other captures, I can understand that. But, the hot pink glow shown in the images below had me confused. I honestly thought something was on fire when I first saw it. The below left image shows the full scene, while the below right image zooms in close on this (imaginary) radioactive fireball.

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To see the two images above as shown at the tablet's full resolution (1280x800), click the following two links: first and second.

I had been hoping to capture footage of a bear, fox, deer, or even a turkey by leaving this on over night, but sadly nothing wandered by. Or if it did, not close enough to be picked up by the rather weak IR night vision. There were plenty of moths attracted to it, which makes me wonder if they can see IR light.

I only have one complaint about the picture quality from the Dropcam, and examples can be seen in most sample images provided on this page. There is a bit of a fish eye effect which distorts vertical straight lines. For example, the trees in the above outdoor images do not curve as shown, and from the activities preview image above it would appear that my sliding door is extremely warped.

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