Network-based security cameras can help parents and homeowners keep a Web-based eye on things while away.
Technophile: Eyes in the sky for peace of mind at home
The package Like most modern network surveillance cameras, the Dropcam Echo is small enough to have been considered a "spy camera" 10 years ago. Less than 10 centimetres tall, the white cam rests on a tiny mount and the entire package weighs less than 95 grams.
The set-up The Dropcam Echo comes with two mounting brackets and a C-clamp, allowing it to be attached at odd angles to almost any surface. Once you plug the ethernet cable to your router for the one-time software set-up through the internet, the camera can then operate "wirelessly", although it still needs to be plugged into a wall somewhere for power.
The features The camera's cloud-based services let users monitor their home from any spot on the globe that has internet access. The "Echo" version provides audio reception as well. It's motion-detection feature bookmarks any activity, meaning users can simply click on a yellow dot to see any recorded activity. It can also stream live video to iPhones and iPads.
The package The TV-IP110W boasts a tiny 10cm profile, although it weighs in at a solid 257 grams. It comes with a single mounting kit and a three-year warranty.
The set-up After initial set-up, the TV-IP110W can work without being tethered to a computer, but will need to be plugged into a power source. Most settings, including encryption, brightness, contrast and frame rate, can be adjusted through the included software.
The features TrendNet software features include video recording of up to 30 frames per second, motion detection and time-stamp capabilities. It can even notify users by e-mail if it detects any activity. However, it offers no panning capabilities and its optical zoom is of limited usefulness.
Withings Smart Baby Monitor
The package The Withings Smart Baby Monitor, scheduled to be available for sale in the autumn, opens up like a jewellery box to reveal a web cam designed to keep a watchful eye on newborns (though it can be used for other purposes as well).
The set-up Since the Smart Baby Monitor is not yet on the market, few set-up details are known. However, it will probably offer an app in the iTunes store that will let iOS devices interact remotely with the camera base station.
The features The Withings monitor is designed, perhaps more than any other security cam, to work with iPhones and iPads. It will allow users to monitor live streaming three-megapixel video via 3G, and its detection software will send users push notifications whenever its microphone detects any disturbance. The microphone will also let parents "soothe" their child by humming or singing to them remotely, though a disembodied voice may prove to be a rather unsettling sensation for a newborn. It will also feature night-vision powers, and sensors that will be able to detect room temperature and even humidity.