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May 30th 2014 1:55 pm

Dropcam Pro – First Impressions

So I've been thinking about getting a camera to keep an eye on my dog (and house) while I'm out. I had previously had my eye on the Logitech HD Pro C920 (www.engadget.com­/products­/logitech­/hd­-pro­/c920/), but after talking with a friend and seeing how easy it was for her to get the Dropcam up and running I decided to pull the cord. It also helps that I had an Amazon gift card from a massive CoinStar redemption that covered more than half the cost of the camera.

The setup process couldn't have been easier. I plugged it into the Mac Mini media center I have set up in my living room, and an install icon appeared on my desktop.

Double-click, create an account, give it my WiFi SSID/password and we're done. Unplug from the computer, and hook it into the wall outlet that comes in the box.

Set it up on one of the speakers next to my TV and that was it.

Cloud storage
The cloud storage offering they have is pretty cool, and thankfully they give a 14 day free trial with new customers. It's 99/yr for 7 days of footage storage which is nice, but it would be cool if I could set it up to just store everything in my Dropbox account. But I guess that's a small price to pay for the convenience of their entire interface (which is very nice).

The HD quality of the camera is pretty good, though it gets a bit spotty as you zoom in.

But they give you a function to enhance the video which seems to just play with the levels a bit.

The downside, if you want to consider it one, however, with using this enhance functionality is that it effects the saved video that's in their cloud storage.

The night vision quality seems to be top notch as well, though I'm not looking forward to the heart attack one of these days when while reviewing overnight night vision footage I spot a ghost.

Activity detection alerts are something I'm still a bit iffy on. While sitting on the couch last night, barely any movement from the dog or I would trigger it and I'd get an email alert, and a notification from the Android app.

I've also been getting a lot of alerts today from feeding and taking the dog out, to the dog getting up from a nap to walk around. So I hope it ends up learning who I am, who the dog is, and us moving around the house is okay.

That said, it's kind of neat to see the activity detection in action.

They make it dead simple to share clips. Took me less than 30 seconds to create this with their iMovie-like timeline viewer.


And they also give you easy links to post it to Twitter, Facebook, upload to YouTube, or even download the mp4. Pretty cool.

Android App
The Android app is pretty nice. It lets you do pretty much everything you can do on Dropcam.com (view your camera, see the actiivty feed, update settings, use the 2-way microphone). I had the opportunity to mess with the dog while I was in the kitchen and he was in the living room by tapping on my phone mic and him hearing me tap in the living room via the Dropcam speaker.

He was nonplussed.

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I was asked to set one up for someone at work today and, as cool as the features are, I have to admit I was a little creeped out by the abuse potential for this thing. I could never see myself putting one in my house full-time, mainly because I would have to take their word for it that the mic is muted. It would be handy, though, to keep one in a drawer and only use it to monitor the house when we go on vacation.
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