The affordability of wireless IP cameras, along with fast home broadband and mobile network connections, means anyone can now keep a watchful eye over something of value, such as a home or business, without the need to install a CCTV system.
See: more reviews of IP and webcams.
But so far many IP cameras have been marred by cumbersome software, browser incompatibility and plug-in requirements, which makes configuring and using them more than a simple chore.
This neatly sidesteps the issues we’ve encountered with both camera software and browser interfaces, since you don’t need to even switch on a computer to use the camera.
On first use, the UCam247i must be connected to a router with the short ethernet cable that comes in the box. With the ‘P2PCam264’ app installed on an iPad, a quick press of the Add Camera button listed the camera’s serial number and IP address, which it automatically discovered on the network. Another tap and the app displayed a screen where we gave the camera a custom name, and entered the default security password. A further tap took us to a live view, complete with audio.
It took less than two minutes from opening the box to monitoring the camera. If the camera isn’t picked up instantly, the app lets you scan in a QR code or enter its serial number manually.
There are more advanced options on another screen. You can configure the UCam247i to record to a microSD card, adjust its video quality, change the administration password, configure motion detection and connect to a wireless network.
Since all settings are saved directly on the camera, once you choose a wireless network and enter its security details, you can unplug the camera from the router and place it anywhere you like within range of the router.
This didn’t work immediately, with the camera listed as offline, until we reset the router. After that we had no problems connecting, although the app crashed very occasionally when viewing live video.
EyeSpy247 assured us this was an incompatibility with iOS 6, which should be fixed shortly. The Android version worked fine though, and was just as easy to use. Either way, a brief restart of the app fixed the issue.
The picture quality is good, especially when the quality is set to maximum. Pointing the camera out of a window during the day gave excellent results, and the night vision capability provided plenty of detail from a darkened room.
Zooming within the camera view is accomplished with a quick pinch of the screen, and scrolling around by dragging with a finger. Note that there is no mechanical pan, tilt or zoom – this is digital zoom and panning.
For people without an Android or iOS device, the UCam247i can still be configured directly from a web page, as with other IP cameras.
There are some settings on this page which you can’t find in the app. This includes the ability to create extra users, check detailed network information, and add the details of a dynamic DNS service (such as dyndns.org) which makes remote monitoring easier.
We’d prefer it if more of these settings were included in the mobile app, in order that there be no need to ever log into the device’s web page on a PC.
The UCam247i isn’t as advanced as other cameras in EyeSpy247’s range. For example it doesn’t support a cloud-based recording service. But its ease of use and simplicity makes it a good alternative to a baby monitor, or for keeping a watchful eye on elderly relatives. We’d hesitate to say it could replace a CCTV system for business security though.