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:
- I have to connect them to them via Ethernet
- Log into my router or use another program (like Fing on Android) to figure out the IP address
- Configure the camera settings (username, password, time and date) including inputting my WiFi networkís information
- Sign up for a direct DNS service
- Configure my router so that I can connect to it when Iím out of the house
- Disconnect it from my Ethernet and hope that it connects to my WiFi network
- 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:
- Download the Belkin Netcam App
- Turn on a switch on the back
- Connect to it using your iPhone or Android phoneís WiFi setting
- Enter in your WiFi networkís password
- 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.
- Easy to setup
- Good image quality
- Really long power cord
- A fair price for a megapixel IP camera
- 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