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Camera Review: EZVIZ Mini Security Camera

by Johnny R - on Jan 13th 2016 - No Comments

EZVIZ MIN Camera Review

The first thought I had when handed the box for the EZVIZ Mini camera was “this reminds me of a (Nest)Dropcam”. I bring this up not to malign a product before I’ve given it a fair shot but because I think the best way to review this camera is by comparing and contrasting it against a well known, preexisting option. Also, it really seems like the Nest product is being intentionally emulated (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

Since the first thing you encounter is the packaging and your first impressions affect the subsequent perceptions, (more…)

Bluecherry – VMS that works on all platforms

by Bjorn Hovd - on Oct 12th 2015 - 1 Comment

An issue with many VMS platforms and camera vendors is that they are very Microsoft Windows focused. You can only install any server components on Windows boxes, if you use a browser to connect and view cameras and videos you can only do so with Internet Explorer. Well, just like the most interesting man in the world (from the Dos XX commercials) I do not always use Internet Explorer, but when I do I use it to download Chrome.

The other day I was looking at open source Motion video monitoring, when in my search I came across Bluecherry. BlueCherry runs on Ubuntu, which is of course free, and it also has very active development, making it a very good server platform.

The install of BlueCherry on a minimal Ubuntu server image was very quick and easy, and once it was done I could launch any browser (IE, FireFox, Chrome) and setup and view my cameras. (more…)

Gadget Review: Nest Protect Smart Smoke Detector

by Johnny R - on May 21st 2015 - No Comments

Nest Protect review

Product Features –

  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detection
  • Wireless access and control (mobile app and browser)
  • Motion detecting ‘pathlight’ capability
  • Specific voice messages instead of generic tones
  • Pre-alarm notification for rising levels of smoke or CO
  • Device illumination using different colors for different notifications

 

Unboxing nest protect

Initial setup experience 

With the Protect product, Nest continues delivering sleek and well thought out packaging that actually facilitates the setup process. While it’s tough to hype a cardboard cube, it’s examples like the inclusion and presentation of wire nuts. Rather than a plastic baggie bouncing around the in box, the items are presented (more…)

Camera Review: Advidia A-54-OD Dome

by Johnny R - on May 20th 2015 - No Comments

 

The New Advidia A54 OD Security Camera

The Hardware

The ADVIDIA A-54-OD is nice and sleek with a darkened dome to protect/hide the camera. Once you remove the dome cover, you’ll find an easy-to-access set of controls and ports. In addition to the PoE network port, you’ll find a slot for a micro-sd card, ports for incoming and outgoing alarm signals, ports for audio in and out and even a port for outputting the video feed directly from the camera. The direct video output is a very handy solution for situations where you need to troubleshoot a camera at the actual unit (aka- one person job). Another minor but appreciated addition to the box was a protective sleeve that screws into the camera body to protect the network cable and port. Out of the box, you get the camera, protective cable sleeve, small CD with camera finder and user guide, disc with Video Insight VMS application, short network cable, external monitor adapter cable, mounting kit and an allen wrench for opening/closing the dome cover. Pretty much everything you need minus the PoE injector and screwdriver are provided.

The Advidia A-54-OD camera  advertises the following hardware feature set: (more…)

Camera Review: Advidia B-5360 – 360° Dome Camera

by Bjorn Hovd - on Mar 17th 2015 - No Comments

Advidia-B-5360-IP-camera

The ADVIDIA B-5360 360 5MP Dome camera is powered over the CAT5 cable, using a Power Over Ethernet (POE) switch, it is a POE class 1 device so it only requires 4W the Switch port, but if you are running IP phones over POE and other cameras, you may want to check the spec of the switch so that it can support all your POE devices.  In case you don’t have POE switch you can use a POE injector to power the camera.  Next to the data/power cable there is a 3.5mm microphone jack if you want to capture audio. The fish eye lens has a fixed focal length and aperture of f1.19 mm / F2.0.   The image sensor is a 1/3.2″ Progressive Scan CMOS sensor.

The technical specs of a camera are important, but I find that it is the software and the device interface usability that makes the big difference when looking at a camera. The quick start guide got me connected to the camera quickly and I could start looking at the management interface for the camera.   In the quick start guide it states to use Microsoft IE for full feature support.  Not being a big fan of IE I tried Fire Fox and Chrome and I could not use all the features of the camera using those browsers.  I also tried connecting with Safari from my Ipad, and with Chrome from my android phone, and neither was working , so it looks like I will have to monitor and manage it from my Windows PC. The web based interface is pretty basic and at times feels a little sluggish when making updates to the settings.  You can adjust settings, zoom in and out, get the video in full screen, take a snapshot, turn on or off a mini fish eye view, talk to the camera (since the camera do not have a speaker, I am not sure how that will work), adjust the volume for the audio captured from the camera microphone (if you have it installed), and select from three different views.

Advidia_B-5360_web_configurator_header

The different views you can set up is ePTZ , Panorama, and Fisheye view.   ePTZ  is a virtual pan tilt and zoom, and since it is a fixed lens camera, you are panning, tilting zooming the fish eye view.  The way you do this is by clicking with the mouse in the picture and drag it to a different angle and then clicking again, it is not the most easy way to navigating around in the picture, more often than not I ended up sideways or upside down from what I wanted to see.  The Panorama view is taking a cross section of the fish eye view (more…)

Dropcam Pro Security Camera Examined

by Johnny R - on Nov 28th 2014 - No Comments

dropcam-Pro

Initial setup experience 

It’s clear from the moment I started unpacking the dropcam that the setup process had been given significant attention. I know that handsome packaging doesn’t automatically equal a good product/experience but it’s at least a positive indicator that the experience I’m about to have with the product will be a good one.

Getting things going happened in (literally) a few easy steps. I positioned the tiny camera unit into the metal stand and connected the microUSB power cable to the bottom of the camera. I then plugged the other end of the cable into my PC and followed the clear instructions to complete both the camera (wifi connection) and Dropcam account setup (I signed up for the basic CVR plan as well). I say clear because I’ve tinkered with other cameras/vendors and found this experience to be vastly superior to the previous products. Earlier offerings from other vendors felt like the products were intended for an enthusiast that was willing to tackle a learning curve to use the product. The Dropcam had the feel of something customized for the unfamiliar or “regular consumers”. A subset of the usual features for an IP cam but those features have been honed. My benchmark was my next door neighbor. He’s retired (to set your expectations for generation) and couldn’t setup/maintain the Foscams we put in his kitchen if his life depended on it. He tackled the entire setup of the Dropcam by himself with no issues.

From the time I took the camera out of the box till the time that I had a feed coming through the mobile app was a little less than 10 min. (more…)

Camera Review: Advidia B-210 2MP Mini PTZ

by Bjorn Hovd - on Nov 13th 2014 - No Comments

Advidia_B-210

In this review of the ADVIDIA B-210 2MP Mini PTZ we will review setup, physical install, camera performance, and image quality in day and night conditions.

In the box there is a quick installation guide, a hex screwdriver, screws, a drill template for mounting the camera, and cable grommet.  The camera can be powered either by external 12 volt power source or Power Over Ethernet.

Camera Setup

Following the quick start guide it was easy to setup and connect to the camera.  The onboard software is pretty much the same as with the ADVIDIA B-5360 which we reviewed earlier, so if you want more detail on the camera’s onboard software see the ADVIDIA B-5360 review which cover that in more detail. (more…)