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Dropcam was one of the smart home indie hits of 2013 when the Dropcam Pro arrived, helping spark a rise in home monitoring. That attracted the attention of Google, and its smart home division Nest quickly acquired Dropcam.
Since then, not everyone has been delighted with the results of the big company’s handling of the acquisition, and the resulting Nestcam products arriving on the market. That has opened up opportunities for the many rivals out there to push their own products and try and improve on Dropcam’s weaknesses and Google’s slow evolution of the product.
In this piece we take a look at credible rivals in the form of the EZVIZ Mini 720p, the Arlo System from Netgear and the Amcrest ProHD, all of which offer something different that may benefit your setup.
Contents (Jump to)
EZVIZ Mini 720p
- 720p HD: The new EZVIZ arrived late last year and is the latest in a long of camera products from the Zmodo company. It features a 720p high definition camera with eight times digital zoom plus audio.
- Wide Lens: With a 115 degree lens, it provides wide and night vision to monitor a room or outside your home 24 hours a day.
- Motion Detection: As part of the package, it can send motion detection alerts to your smartphone.
- Local Storage: While you can install a microSD card for local mass storage, while events can be encrypted and saved to the cloud for later retrieval, for up to 7 days peace of mind.
- Uses Mains Power: Despite being badged as wireless, it requires mains power, so you will need to install it near a socket. You can either screw it into place or use the magnetic base to stick it somewhere metal.
- WiFi Communication: It does communicate wirelessly, using 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band for reasonable range around most homes. It connects to the router and can then send data and alerts to your phone.
Pros and Cons to Consider
- Pro – Well Rounded: If it installs and works well, then the EZVIZ produces a solid image both during day and light, and will send alerts (including false positives) to your iOS 6 or Android 4 device.
- Pro – Cloud Subscription Optional: If you want to pay for cloud storage, then their subscriptions are par for the course.
- Con – Some Users Report Network Setup Issues: We say “if”, as some users report network setup problems, issues with SD cards, so be prepared for some speed bumps.
- Con – Not Stealthy: One rather glaring weakness with this product is that the on LED light is very powerful, which is rather annoying if you plan to use this as an unobtrusive security camera, and there is no way to turn it off, beyond taping over it (with extra thick or layers of tape).
- Con – Outdated Web Access: Another issue is that it doesn’t seem to work on modern browsers, making web access somewhat problematic.
Arlo Smart Home Security System
- Multiple Camera Kits Available: Arlo comes to us from Netgear, and offers multiple cameras and a dedicated base unit to increase your coverage and security, Arlo ships kits of 2,3, 4 or more cameras.
- Good for Indoor/Outdoor Use: Its cameras are perfect for indoor and outdoor use for extra flexibility.
- Wire Free: They are also wire free, so you can install them literally anywhere without obvious giveaways. To power all these units there is the company’s own Arlo base station, a secure Wi-Fi box that works with its own cameras and needs to be connected to a home router.
- Can Set Rule Triggers: Unlike most units, you can create rule triggers to send you alerts, depending on time and activity. You can name each camera and view alerts on an iOS or Android app.
- Paid Accounts for Extra Storage: Paid for Premium and Elite accounts allow you to use more cameras and store images for later use, such as evidence, or if your cameras just happen to catch an interesting event.
Pros and Cons
- Pro – Not Dependent on Mains Power: Being battery powered you can position the Arlo cameras pretty much anywhere.
- Pro – Wide Field of View: Its 130 degree field of view and multi camera support means you can cover all around a property or the rooms inside, with enough cameras.
- Pro – Easy to Mount: The magnetic mounts make them easy to install inside or out, or you can bolt them into place. Just remember to make them easy to access when it comes time to change the batteries. Depending on use that can be four to six months, or longer with careful timing management.
- Con – Only Responds to Motion Activation: The main concern, especially for businesses or people with lots of activity, is that the device is motion activated. So it won’t record constantly to help build up a pattern of events, you’ll only see the activity plus however long you set it to record after for.
- Con – Still Dependent on Power (if it goes out): Also, if the power goes out, the router will go down and your battery powered cameras become useless.
- Added Mobility: The Amcrest adds a little mobility to the typically fixed point of view that most cameras offer.
- Full HD: With a Full HD 1080P video stream and 30 frames per second recording to microSD Card, it is certainly a top performer.
- Remote Control: Using the remote pan and tilt, plus a smart digital zoom, you have finer control with this camera and can monitor larger spaces or outdoors if you install it inside near a window, for better coverage.
- Accessible Via Mobile or Browser: With good browser support, you can access the footage from any mobile device or PC and keep an eye with events stored to the cloud.
Pros and Cons of the Amcrest
- Pro – Initial Free Cloud Storage: The Amcrest provides four hours of free cloud storage before driving you to its subscription services, which might be good if you’re a home a lot.
- Pro – Can Remotely Monitor Quickly: The key advantage is the ability to peer around a room or outside and see what’s going on and track the action as far as possible.
- Pro – Other Storage Options Available: As well as cloud storage, you can also record to Amcrest’s own digital video storage for local copies, or any network video recorder device.
- Pro – Full Motion Detection and HD: It features the usual motion detection options and with full HD should provide awesome quality footage in day or night conditions.That might help you decide if something or someone is being suspicious or not.
- Pro – High Customer Ratings: The Amcrest also has very high user ratings and loyalty suggesting a solid product that is easy to install and use, unlike some of its competitors which seem to lack that customer focus.
Comparison – At a Glance
|Color options||White||Black or White||Black or White||Black
|Audio||Recording option||No||Microphone and speaker||Microphone and speaker|
|Lens||115 degrees, night vision||130 degrees, night vision||90 degrees, plus pan and tilt, night vision||130 degrees, night vision|
|Cloud subscriptions||$4.99 a month, $49.99 a year for the 7-day plan
$9.99 a month or $99.99 a year for the 30-day plan
|$9.99 a month or $99.99 a year for the 30-day plan up to 10 cameras
$14.99 a month or $149.99 a year for the 60-day plan for 15 cameras
|$6 for 7 days storage
$10 for 14 days storage
$15 for 30 days storage
|$100 a year for 10 day backup
$300 a year for 30 day backup
|Retail Price||(check here)||(check here)||(check here)||(check here)|
Overall Recommendation – How to Choose?
Dropcam (now Nest Cam) has quite a few issues, such as a dependence on mains power and its singular status, these can be navigated around by picking up one of its rival products, but which one you choose will need to reflect your circumstances and video requirements.
These options provide a range of budgets and security coverage depending on what you need and one should definitely be right for your home.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!