An effective digital camera security system uses a combination of hardware and software. While a good IP camera is a versatile option, it isn't much use without a way to keep tabs on whatever it's pointed at. Many IP camera manufacturers are now offering a service over the web where you can register your camera, then log in to remotely configure it and check its output. The EyeSpy247 HDSD is one such camera.
Most offer this service for free, but the approach taken with the EyeSpy247 HDSD is slightly different. A free account with 20MB storage space lets you view a live feed from the camera and is enough storage for a few still videos, which is what most other manufacturers offer. But if you pay £24.99 a year, you get 512MB of storage to record video on the company's servers, something which you would normally have to find yourself. The first year is free, however.
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The EyeSpy247 HDSD is rectangular, about 100mm wide, and made from white plastic. It supports 802.11n wireless networks, so can be used anywhere near a power socket and within range of a network. The name is derived from its ability to record 720p high-definition video. The microSD slot on the side is just one way it can store such recorded video.
Despite the HD label, video quality isn't a huge improvement over a non-HD camera, at least at its default settings. Increasing the bitrate in the camera's on-board software made an improvement, but also meant far larger file sizes for any recordings (and therefore more bandwidth and storage).
Remember, the HD label on a security camera may sound impressive, but 1280x720 pixels means a resolution of less than 1 megapixel. A 1990s digital still camera, or your mobile phone, can record at higher resolutions than an HD IP camera such as the EyeSpy247 HDSD.
With the software included with the EyeSpy247 HDSD camera, you can schedule recordings, set up motion and audio detection, and adjust how your local disk space is used when recording video. The software can be used to monitor up to nine cameras at once and individual schedules can be set up for each.
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Not everything works so well though. The EyeSpy247 HDSD's zoom function is most useless, since it's digital rather than true optical, and the pan and tilt buttons are only supported by a different camera (the EyeSpy247PTZ).
The on-board software can be used to register the camera with EyeSpy247's web service with one click, but only if your router fully supports UPnP to open the necessary ports. Ours didn't so we made a call to EyeSpy247's technical support for some advice, and were told to manually forward the correct port in our router's software for it to register correctly.
Once you've got it working, the web-based service can be used as your sole means of recording images and video, although 512MB of storage can only store around five hours of video.??There's also two-way audio, support for dynamic DNS services, email notifications, and a browser plug-in that makes it straightforward to choose a storage destination over your network. Access to the camera can be controlled with a list of users, set as either viewers or operators, and SMS alerts (which cost 12p each) can be set up on the EyeSpy247 website.