Net­works

★★★★★ £59 • From www.lambda-tek.com

Computer Shopper - - CON­TENTS - David Lud­low

Cre­ative’s Live! Cam IP SmartHD is a de­cent se­cu­rity cam­era, espe­cially with cloud storage, but it’s a bit ba­sic com­pared to its com­peti­tors

VERDICT

A cheap se­cu­rity cam­era, but the app is fid­dly and you don’t get much con­trol

MANY OF THE se­cu­rity cam­eras we’ve re­viewed re­cently have been packed full of smart fea­tures, but they’ve had high prices to match. Cre­ative’s Live! Cam IP SmartHD is a sim­pler cam­era that’s avail­able for un­der £60, mak­ing it seem a more at­trac­tive choice if you just need ba­sic mon­i­tor­ing.

The Live! Cam IP SmartHD has a 720p res­o­lu­tion, rather than Full HD, but that’s not nec­es­sar­ily a prob­lem. At this res­o­lu­tion, there’s still enough de­tail to work out what’s go­ing on and dis­tin­guish the peo­ple you recog­nise from those you don’t. It also has a choice of mi­croSD card record­ing (up to 32GB cards are sup­ported, which gives around 100 hours of record­ing time) and paid-for cloud storage, giv­ing a good deal of flex­i­bil­ity.

Un­box­ing the cam­era, we were pleas­antly sur­prised to find build qual­ity bet­ter than the price would sug­gest. Cre­ative has used a simple plas­tic body, but it feels tough enough. The cam­era is per­ma­nently at­tached to a stand via a ball mount, which gives a great deal of flex­i­bil­ity in po­si­tion­ing. A metal wall bracket that at­taches mag­net­i­cally is also sup­plied for easy wall mount­ing.

LOS­ING CON­TROL

Pow­er­ing on the cam­era fires up a syn­thetic voice that prompts you to con­fig­ure it. It’s a unique touch, but the voice is rather an­noy­ing and pipes up at in­op­por­tune mo­ments, such as when the Wi-Fi con­nec­tion drops.

A big­ger prob­lem is how ba­sic the Live! Cam IP Smart HD is. Rather than be­ing able to set mo­tion-de­tec­tion zones, the cam­era can mon­i­tor the en­tire pic­ture only. This makes it far more likely that you’ll end up with false pos­i­tives, as you can’t con­cen­trate the cam­era on ar­eas of in­ter­est.

There’s only ba­sic con­trol over the mo­tion de­tec­tion sen­si­tiv­ity, too, with Low, Medium and High options. You can turn off mo­tion de­tec­tion com­pletely, too, al­though the op­tion is con­fus­ingly named Close.

Mo­tion-de­tec­tion no­ti­fi­ca­tions come to your smart­phone, but se­lect­ing one doesn’t play the match­ing clip, it just takes you to the list of no­ti­fi­ca­tions in the app. Se­lect­ing any no­ti­fi­ca­tion here starts play­ing the match­ing video clip. At least, it does if you’ve signed up for a cloud ac­count. If you only have an SD card in­serted, the cam­era just prompts you to sign up for a cloud ac­count.

For SD card users, the only way around this is to go into the cam­era’s video feed, hit the his­tory but­ton and then se­lect the SD card op­tion at the top. You then get a time­line show­ing you mo­tion de­tec­tion events as red lines and any other record­ing as blue lines. Try­ing to scrub through the time­line to se­lect the spe­cific event you want is ex­tremely fid­dly, not helped by the fact that it’s easy to jump to a point in the fu­ture, whereby you’re met with a black screen.

NIGHT’S WATCH

Us­ing the cloud ac­count gives the added ad­van­tage that you get 10 days of 24/7 video storage. Pack­ages cost $6.99 (£5) for 30 days of cloud ac­cess, $42 (£33) for 180 days and $82 (£64) for 360 days. Sign­ing up doesn’t get you a sub­scrip­tion, so you need to re­mem­ber to re­new your pack­age if you want to con­tinue with the cloud ser­vice.

As the cloud storage al­lows for con­tin­u­ous record­ing, should your home be en­tered by a crim­i­nal, it means you’ve got all the footage be­fore and af­ter a mo­tion de­tec­tion event has been set. As a backup you can also set a sched­ule for the cam­era to record to SD card per­ma­nently, us­ing the oddly named ‘SD card plan man­age­ment’ op­tion. Im­age qual­ity is ac­cept­able. Faces are easy enough to work out, but finer de­tail gets blurred. At night the IR LEDs turn on, let­ting the cam­era shoot in dark­ness. Im­age qual­ity suf­fers as a re­sult, and most de­tails were blurred out of the pic­ture. It’s a shame that there’s no ge­olo­ca­tion to turn the cam­era on and off au­to­mat­i­cally. There’s also no IFTTT chan­nel to let you im­ple­ment your ver­sion of this or con­trol other smart home de­vices when the Live! Cam IP SmartHD de­tects move­ment. At any point you can man­u­ally choose to take a snap­shot or video, record­ing di­rectly to your mo­bile de­vice. You should also be able to down­load clips from cloud storage, al­though this fea­ture didn’t work on our test phone and re­fused to con­nect.

NOISE MAKER

Cre­ative has built in sound de­tec­tion, too, with the cam­era set to no­tify you if it hears any loud noises. At the de­fault set­tings, we found that the con­stant stream of no­ti­fi­ca­tions was in­cred­i­bly an­noy­ing, re­gard­less of whether sen­si­tiv­ity was set to Low, Medium or High. You can dis­able sound de­tec­tion by se­lect­ing the Close op­tion.

With the cam­era’s built-in speaker and mi­cro­phone, you can have a two-way chat with any­one in your house. This could be use­ful to re­as­sure a pet, or to warn a would-be thief that the po­lice are on the way.

If you just want a simple video feed, the Cre­ative Live! Cam IP SmartHD is a cheap way to get one. How­ever, the re­stric­tive app, lim­ited con­trol over mo­tion de­tec­tion, and fid­dly com­bi­na­tion of mi­croSD and cloud storage make this a frus­trat­ing cam­era to use for mon­i­tor­ing. We rec­om­mend spend­ing more on the Nest Cam In­door, which has a far bet­ter app and the best cloud storage ser­vice.

⬆ Im­age qual­ity on the Live! Cam IP SmartHD is ac­cept­able

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.