There seems to be more and more camera gadgets popping up that have a home security or monitoring slant to them. Wowwee’s Rovio and Meccano’s Spykee being two of these spy-type gadgets that have been mentioned quite a lot recently. They are both wheeled robots with built in webcams that can be controlled simply from a web browser. The main issue I find with these, if you are thinking about remote home surveillance, is that the cameras that are built-in to them have poor image quality and low frame rates. Also unlike professional CCTV type networks, that are placed up high to get the best viewing angle, these don’t really offer that being on the ground giving you a cats eye view. One other issue is power, these robots run on batteries which really don’t give you much monitoring time.
Here is an alternative home security camera that is less gimmick and more function.
Panasonic BL-C131 Network IP Camera
The Panasonic BL-C131 is a network remote monitoring IP camera. Essentially it is a wireless camera which you can access and control (pan and tilt) via a web browser. When looking at other IP cameras in this price range you will find it hard to find a camera with the smooth image quality, build and features that this one has.
Features of BL-C131
- Wireless LAN (802.11b/802.11g)
- Ethernet (10Base-T/100Base-TX)
- Wireless Security (SSID, WEP (64/128/152 bit), WPA-PSK (TKIP), WPA2-PSK (AES))
- Simultaneous MPEG-4 and JPEG (30 frames per second at 640 x 480)
- IPv4/IPv6 Dual Stack
- Built-in Microphone
- Built-in Human / Motion Detection Sensor
- Privacy Mode
- Remote Pan and Tilt Control
- 10x Digital Zoom Function
- Multi-camera Capability
- Color Night View Mode (3.00 lux)
- Cell Phone Monitoring
I have this camera and use it remotely a fair bit and love it – you have the option of plugging it in an Ethernet port but essentially with Wireless LAN built-in you can place it anywhere in a house and just plug in the power and that’s it (the power adaptor has a nice long lead so you can easily be placed high somewhere like on top of a fridge, wardrobe or a window sill etc).
The software that comes built-in does pretty much all you would need as well as being able to email you or upload to an ftp site either as images or video from either a constant stream, motion detection or scheduled trigger events.
There has recently been a new release of firmware (3.50R00) for the device and it is always nice to see new functionality and improvements added on an already solid build.