As part of our coverage of home automation and security devices that work with Mac OS X and iOS devices, there have been quite a few Wi-Fi cameras that we've looked at. The latest is from security device manufacturer Swann, and it's the ADS-450 Wi-Fi Network Camera (US$129.99). This device uses a Wi-Fi connection to beam VGA-quality (640 x 480) color video at up to 30 frames per second to a cloud storage service, where you can monitor your home or office from your Mac, PC, and iOS or Android tablet or smartphone.
Like most similar products that have been reviewed on TUAW, the ADS-450 can be mounted on flat surfaces, attached to a wall, or hung from a ceiling. It provides audio as well, so you can use it to spy on employees or your kids. The camera is a lightweight white plastic device that weighs in at 2.6 ounces, and it features power and Ethernet ports on the back as well as a ball joint for adjusting the camera angle. Full mounting hardware is included in the box. The front of the camera has the typical wide-angle lens surrounded by IR lighting for night viewing.
The camera is actually quite attractive as these things go, with a silver tint bezel around the front of the case that's approximately 3.75" high x 2.5" wide. And like all of these security cameras, it also comes with a power pack with a long cable, since you may want to mount the camera at a distance away from the plug.
Small manuals printed in both English and Spanish are included for setup and troubleshooting. Swann should be commended for the manual -- it's one of the most well-written I've seen for any product of this type.
I was concerned that the setup might require an Ethernet connection due to the port on the back of the ADS-450, but that is not the case. Instead, you power on the camera and set it to a local Wi-Fi configuration mode by flipping a switch. On an iPhone or iPad, you connect to the camera's network by selecting it from the Wi-Fi settings. Once your device is connected, you launch the free SwannSmart app and you're asked if you wish to set up the camera. The gallery below shows the simple process that's used to set up the camera.
After that's done, you sign into the free Swann account and can view your cameras at any time. If you wish to record the video that you're viewing or take a still photo, there are buttons at the bottom of the screen for those functions.
By default the camera is set to 320 x 240 resolution. When I attempted to change the resolution to 640 x 480, I was unable to connect until I turned down the "quality" of the image and shut off audio. After that point, it worked fine at the higher resolution.
Many of these security cameras have some sort of way to notify you if motion is detected in the field of view of the camera, and the ADS-450 is no different. The camera uses a proprietary subscription SwannSmart service ($59 per year) to do the motion detection off site and send out your notifications.
If you have more than one camera, you can switch between them easily in the SwannSmart app. The company thoughtfully provided four test cameras to watch, so I enjoyed seeing cats at play at the Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority.
As mentioned, you can also monitor your cameras from Mac or PC; that's done through the SwannSmart.com website.
Having reviewed a ton of these network cameras, I have to say that this is one of the better units I've tested. Setup is fast and easy, the device can be connected via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, the mount is flexible enough for wall, desktop, or ceiling attachment, and the app works well for viewing the video. Like most of the IR-equipped cameras, the color quality isn't the best -- the only exception I've seen so far is Logitech's pricy Alert camera, which is really the Ferrari of network cameras. Other than that, the hardware and software are well done.
- Reasonably priced, and the monitoring service is also quite inexpensive in comparison to that provided by other companies
- Easy setup
- Good mounting options
- Can be connected via Wi-Fi or Ethernet
- Excellent user manual
- Free app is nicely implemented
- Color quality is a little off (this is true of many IR-equipped cameras)
- Had issues connecting to camera at highest resolution and picture quality
Who is it for?
- Anyone who would like to monitor one or more wireless cameras over an iOS app or on a PC
Our policy here at TUAW is to always give away or return test equipment, and that means that a TUAW reader out there is going to pick up this Swann ADS-450 Wi-Fi camera for free. Here are the rules for the giveaway:
- Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
- To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
- The entry must be made before January 10, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.
- You may enter only once.
- One winner will be selected and will receive a Swann SwannSmart ADS-450 Wi-Fi Network Camera valued at $129.99
- Click Here for complete Official Rules.