Sunday, May 8, 2011

<b><b>Dropcam watches what you can't</b></b>

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Who's watching your kids and pets while you were out and about today?

  • The Dropcam can send live video to a remote device.


    The Dropcam can send live video to a remote device.


The Dropcam can send live video to a remote device.

It could be you if you had the new Dropcam video camera set up to keep an eye on your property.

The Dropcam is a small webcam that captures live video and distributes it to a remote computer or handheld device. You could be handicapping the next race while monitoring your iPhone to watch rabbits ravage your garden.

The camera is easy to set up. You start by connecting it by cable to your home router and entering an activation code at Dropcam's website. Once the camera is linked to your network, you can unplug the cable and let it operate on Wi-Fi.

The next step is finding a place to put the camera. There's no option to run the camera on batteries, so it has to be parked near a power source. It's also not designed for outdoor use.

The Dropcam comes in two models: a basic version that captures only video for $199, and the Dropcam Echo that also has audio for $279.

Images captured by the Dropcam are stored online where you can see them from a computer or a smart phone. The video image is fairly clean but it would be better if you could manually set the focus or zoom level.

There's an option to send a link to your friends, or you can see the video on portable devices by installing free Dropcam apps for iPhone or Android. The camera also can be configured to send you an email or text message alert when the it sees movement or, if you have the Echo, when it hears sounds.

Those features are included in the price of the camera, which is available at

Two upgrade plans that make the cameras appealing for security applications will store video for later review. Dropcam will store seven days of video for $8.95 a month or 30 days for $24.95.

I set up the camera on my front porch and pointed it toward the street. After a day of intermittent monitoring, from my desktop computer at work and from my Android phone, I arrived at this conclusion: that my neighborhood is really boring.

I have the feed posted on my blog,, so you can check out the action (or inaction) for yourself. You can also watch a time-lapse video that a Dropcam user recorded of his dog making mischief while he was away.


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