• Our Belkin NetCam HD review: I Can See Clearly


    I have a bit of a confession, as the father of a newborn and a toddler Iím a bit obsessed with IP cameras. I actually have 7 of them deployed around the house. All of them have WiFi, night vision, microphones, some support 2-way audio, a couple can pan and tilt plus a few have megapixel sensors.

    When I want to take a break from working, I love being able to tune in and watch my kids - theyíre young enough that this isnít creepy (yet).

    Which brings us to the Belkinís NetCam HD. Itís an IP camera with a megapixel sensor, night vision and a built-in microphone.


    The camera itself has a nice look to it. Itís got this Apple-ish minimalist look to it. It definitely doesnít look geeky like some other IP cameras do.



    On the back the minimalist theme continues. Thereís just a power connector and a switch which you need to set it up. Thereís no Ethernet, speaker out, USB port, MicroSD or GPIO out on the back.



    The base allows a lot of vertical movement which is useful if you plan on mounting the NetCam (screws and anchors are included). You can also twist the camera around horizontally. The NetCam is attached to the stand but it appears that you can remove it with a small wrench. Iím assuming you can attach the NetCam to a tripod if you remove the stand. Just remember, the tripod mount is on the BACK as opposed to the BOTTOM like most tripod mounts. I have other IP cameras like this and I actually use a Gorilla Pod when I want to put them somewhere temporary.

    The power cord measures an impressive 10ft, this really gives you a lot of flexibility regarding where you want to put it. Some of my other cameras come with 5ft cables which makes placing them very tricky.

    I love how flexible IP cameras are; I watch them using my computers, my tablets and my smartphones. The problem with them is that theyíre not easy to setup if you donít know what youíre doing. My older ones donít support WPS (WiFi protected setup). This is what itís like when I get a new one:


    1. I have to connect them to them via Ethernet
    2. Log into my router or use another program (like Fing on Android) to figure out the IP address
    3. Configure the camera settings (username, password, time and date) including inputting my WiFi networkís information
    4. Sign up for a direct DNS service
    5. Configure my router so that I can connect to it when Iím out of the house
    6. Disconnect it from my Ethernet and hope that it connects to my WiFi network
    7. Configure my various apps so that I can view my cameras


    If I donít have a router handy I would have to connect to it via Ethernet, assign my computer a static IP address, connect to it and then follow the steps I just outlined.

    Further, I have to check my camera manufacturerís website periodically to make sure their firmware is up-to-date in case there are security flaws to fix.

    While I donít mind doing this much work to get my cameras working, most people arenít willing to or have the knowledge to jump through this many hoops. Hereís where the Belkin Netcam HD comes in. This is how you set it up:


    1. Download the Belkin Netcam App
    2. Turn on a switch on the back
    3. Connect to it using your iPhone or Android phoneís WiFi setting
    4. Enter in your WiFi networkís password
    5. Pick a username/password


    Setup is really easy and it doesnít require you to log into your router or do any configuration to your camera beyond choosing the username and password. You donít have to configure your apps, sign up for direct DNS, etc. The hardest part is going to your phoneís WiFi menu. I could get used to this.

    The problem with the NetCam is that if you are an advanced user you might want more options. Since thereís almost nothing to set up, Iím not sure how to get it working with my Android (IP Cam Viewer Pro) and iOS (LiveCams Pro) IP camera apps nor can I get it working with iSpy on my desktop or view them from a desktop browser.

    *EDIT* I just found out that you can view the camera from your browser by going to https://netcam.belkin.com/. You can also change certain camera settings here like whether night mode should be auto, on or off plus you can flip or rotate the image here, adjust video resolution and compression settings and setup motion detection.

    Since I canít view the NetCam using my apps I have to use Belkinís app which is inconvenient. You end up trading a lot of flexibility for ease of use.

    I did find instructions on how to connect to it with iSpy (not from Belkin). Apparently some users are able to connect to the NetCam via IP using the username/password of admin/admin (Iím not joking). I tried doing this and while it does accept the user/pass combination, the video doesnít work.

    Even if I did get it work thereís no way to assign it an IP address and port - though you could reserve it an IP address via DHCP on your router.

    While I like the simple setup I wish there was a switch on the back that activated an advanced mode where Iíd have more control over the setup.



    Image quality is decent but the camera switches to night mode (black and white) much sooner than my other IP cameras do. Thereís no setting in the app manually choose day mode.

    Night mode range is okay. The range isnít as good as my Trendnet TV-IP672WI (a fairly recent model) but itís better than my Trendnet TV-IP422W (an older one).

    The microphone is decent - it doesnít pick up lots of static like some of my other cameras do.

    I tried the app on both Apple (iPhone 5) and Android (HTC One). Both apps are more or less the same. The app doesnít have a lot of options. You can activate the microphone to listen in, capture an image or record the video. Iím disappointed that thereís no zoom feature. Iíd also like to see an option to show the current time. If the video feed drops out I sometimes canít tell because thereís no time stamp.

    Iím very annoyed that the app only lets one person watch at a time. That means both my wife and I canít watch simultaneously from our phones/tablets which for me, is one of the main reasons I use IP cameras and not baby monitors that have cameras attached on them.

    Looking around NetCam HD's are around $110 which is a decent price for a megapixel camera with a microphone and night vision.

    Overall itís a decent camera if you want something really easy to setup and use. However, if youíre a power user youíll probably want to look for something with more options.


    Pros:

    • Easy to setup
    • Good image quality
    • Really long power cord
    • A fair price for a megapixel IP camera


    Cons:

    • Doesnít work with other apps (at least I couldnít get it to work)
    • Prefers to stay in night mode
    • Doesnít always connect
    • Only one person can watch at a time
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Our Belkin NetCam HD review: I Can See Clearly started by howard View original post
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. rajax's Avatar
      rajax -
      Not being able to have multiple people viewing at same time is a deal breaker for me. I have no idea how/why that would be an issue for this device. Lame. I'll probably just keep adding to my trendnet cameras, with a megapixel one at some point.
    1. Donkey's Avatar
      Donkey -
      Technology has changed a lot in this area since my kids were little. The one I had was terrible and had black and white display that looked like a little tv, very hard to get a decent picture. Yours is a far cry from what it used to be.
    1. MonkeyK's Avatar
      MonkeyK -
      Howard, based on your IP cam obsession, which ones to you consider the best these days? I have a $90 Foscam that has been fun as a door monitor, but the newer Trendnet that you listed looks incredible.
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Quote Originally Posted by MonkeyK View Post
      Howard, based on your IP cam obsession, which ones to you consider the best these days? I have a $90 Foscam that has been fun as a door monitor, but the newer Trendnet that you listed looks incredible.
      I've only tried Trendnet ones:

      TV-IP312W - discontinued, image quality isn't very good, microphone is not great but adequate. I have it mounted over a crib
      TV-IP422W - discontinued, image quality isn't very good, night range isn't very good, can move around, wider angle than TV-IP312W, have one mounted underneath a TV, another mounted in a different room
      TV-IP672WI - current, megapixel, excellent image quality, very, very good night vision range, microphone is pretty good, excellent but expensive (I paid $150 CAN). I have one mounted in my toddler's room and the other in the hallway (did I mention range is excellent?)
      TV-IP551WI - current, VGA but very good quality, night vision range is good, microphone is absolute sh*t - it's completely useless because there's so much static so it's best for viewing and not listening. Very cheap (I got mine for $50 CAN)
    1. rajax's Avatar
      rajax -
      I have two TV-IP551WI and can confirm that the audio is as terrible as howard says. They are solid and reliable though. I had some stability issues when I first got them but it turns out my router was faulty and the cameras were fine. I'm looking to get a megapixel version at some point to put over my baby's crib and will stick with the trendnet brand.
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Quote Originally Posted by rajax View Post
      I have two TV-IP551WI and can confirm that the audio is as terrible as howard says. They are solid and reliable though. I had some stability issues when I first got them but it turns out my router was faulty and the cameras were fine. I'm looking to get a megapixel version at some point to put over my baby's crib and will stick with the trendnet brand.
      Yeah to elaborate further, the audio is so bad I had to circumvent the swear filter. There's so much static that I can't 'listen in' as the static would drive me crazy. The TV-IP672WI is excellent. I see you're in Canada. They go on sale for $99.99 at Dell during their 'days of dell deals' every now and then.

      I also noticed the TV-IP651WI (moving version of the 551W) is on sale for $79 at Canada Computers right now. I'm really tempted to pick one up but not if the audio is as bad as the 551.
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Forgot to add one thing, if you're going to watch using a computer the Trendnet cameras work best with Internet Explorer. Many of the controls work best with Active X which means you'll need a Windows 7 computer or older. Internet Explorer on Windows 8 doesn't support Active X...

      If you have a PTZ model like the 672 you can just point where you want to go and the camera will move. If you don't use IE you'll need to move it using the arrow keys. This isn't such a big deal if you setup presets (like door, window, bed) but if you want to move it free-form a lot IE is the way to go.
    1. MonkeyK's Avatar
      MonkeyK -
      Cool. Thanks for the recommendation!
    1. jhonpeter03's Avatar
      jhonpeter03 -
      Really awesome!! I got baby at home while I am in office and I hope this would help me to keep my eye on my baby as well from office.
    1. rajax's Avatar
      rajax -
      Thanks for the feedback on the TV-IP672WI Howard. I don't think I've ever seen it at the $100 level (they list it near $400). I'd grab the TV-IP572WI (megapixel without PTZ) if it came down to ~$90. Can you wall mount the IP672WI?