The Dropcam Pro has rapidly become one of the best selling in home surveillance cameras on the market. Providing a live feed via WI-FI onto a cloud based recording medium, this device is a clever and a capable nanny camera with its simple installation and operation. In fact is much more than that. With high quality image reproduction, audio capability and mobile monitoring options within a very clean and stylish design this camera makes its mark.
The Dropcam Pro is an improved version of the original Dropcam HD, now sold as simply Dropcam. The improvements are mostly internal as the physical appearance is largely the same. The body or ‘puck’ is slightly thicker than it’s predecessor.
The use of a high quality image sensor with a glass lens now providing 130 degrees of vision. Though the video resolution is maintained at 720p, the image sensor is capable of capturing more, enabling a very high image quality for this class of camera. The software allows for up to 8x zoom with image enhancement to allow the image to refocus, returning the image quality, which in itself is actually quite impressive. Dropcam reports that the image sensor is quite large, capable of capturing more pixels and better low level light capture.
One of the features lacking is any form of on board recording via SD card like many of its peers. The system has been configured for this camera to only record to the cloud. All live streaming is also done via the cloud, so a fairly robust high speed data plan is required for your home internet to run a number of these cameras. All video data is sent off site to the cloud storage location for live viewing.
If you want to enable recorded video, a subscription style plan is an optional extra. For $9.99 per month or $99 per year, an automatic 7 day continuous recording is available on the cloud. The next level of recorded footage plan provides 30 days of continuous video recording for $29.99 per month or $200 per year. These prices are for the first camera only, as each subsequent camera can be recorded at a 50% discount.
This option will not suit everyone, it has to be said that this can be regarded as a security measure in itself. It allows for a reduced amount of hardware in the home and footage cannot be stolen by thieves that raid your home.
Live monitoring is available on almost all devices from Android, iOS, apple and PC. The Android and iOS apps provide a very good interface for utilising the functions of the camera.
Setting Up Dropcam Pro
Setting up the camera really couldn’t be any easier.
There are a couple of options;
- Plug the Dropcam into your PC via USB. The camera will appear as a storage device. Open the installer on the camera and set up your router password.
- Power up the camera with the included 10 foot micro USB cord, then pair your phone via Bluetooth. Open the installer and set up the router settings.
The included software is for both Apple and PC, allowing the full manipulation of the cameras functionality. For your mobile devices just go to the Google Play Store or Apple App Store for the relevant apps for your device.
Software upgrades from the original Dropcam has allowed this version to learn your activities. This will allow you to manually designate which activities to ignore as part of the notification system. This system could allow the camera to ignore the pets in the field of view when the alert system is active. The camera is also able to recognise, and turns on and off the alerts as you leave and return to the room. A camera trained on the front door, effectively would be turning on and of the security surveillance automatically.
Further Development and Possibilities
As I mentioned above the camera also has a version of Bluetooth. Bluetooth LE (Low Energy – Previously marketed as Bluetooth Smart) is used for the inter connection and communication with other devices. Potentially creating a whole security / monitoring system around the camera.
Dropcam is a company started by a couple of software engineers in San Francisco, California in 2009. In a relatively short period of time they went from providers of software for a camera company, to providers of a unique high quality in home cameras for the domestic market. Google’s Nest Labs have reportedly bought Dropcam in June 2014. Nest Labs’ Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector have since been made compatible with the camera, providing incidence alerts to the cameras operational alerts.
- Very pretty, and well built unit.
- Very easy set up and deployment.
- Excellent mobility.
- Excellent picture quality.
- Well designed mobile device apps.
- Designed for future connectivity.
- Fairly high price tag.
- No on board or local recording ability.
- Subscription based recording fee.
The Dropcam Pro is a very clever and to a degree future proof indoor camera with the available interactive connect-ability via Bluetooth LE. Its cloud recording is both capable and secure. For the minimalist home owner, the camera creates a small and stylish pose. There are also a number of aftermarket mounting units available if the current stand doesn’t meet your requirements. Support and the shear simplicity of the set up and execution of this camera more than makes it a success. For me personally, the lack of on board or local recording capability coupled with the subscription based recording makes it a bit too much of an ongoing expense.
Set Up – Easy
Operation – 5 Star
Cost Effectiveness – 3 Star