D-Link Omna home security camera review

Home security is more important than ever, but so is general home surveillance. Need to know if the kids got home on time? If the gardener got the lawn cut or not, or if strangers have been creeping round the house?  Continue reading “D-Link Omna home security camera review”

Ring Stick Up Camera Review

If you’ve ever wanted to watch over your property, you know security systems can be complicated and expensive. But things are simplified with the arrival of the Ring Stick Up Camera. Continue reading “Ring Stick Up Camera Review”

Vimtag P1 Smart HD camera review

img_4605Home security cameras are becoming more popular, both because they’re coming down drastically in price, and because the quality of video is improving dramatically, not to mention the user interfaces are much easier to operate.

Families are using in-home cameras for watching kids and teens, for keeping an eye on the house while out of town, or for policing workers and tradespeople.

I’ve tested several cameras, and I can tell you I’ve seen it all when it comes to ease of use; some cameras I’ve needed an engineering degree to operate and set up, while others have been pretty simple.

The Vimtag P1 Smart Cloud home security camera definitely falls into the easy category. It’s super simple to set up, easy to use, and the video picture is crisp, clear HD, and there’s even a two-way audio talkback function.

Vimtag P1 Smart Cloud home security camera features

-Hi-def video recording with 4x Digital Zoom
-Crisp hi-fidelity sound with 360 degree audio pickup and two-way voice functionality
-Multi-user mobile functionality
-Fully controllable pan and tilt functionality for near complete inhouse coverage
-Advanced Night-Vision Technology
-Wireless data storage via Vimtag Cloud Storage box (sold separately)
-Motion triggered push notifications (with wireless sensors, sold separately)

Setting up the Vimtag P1img_4986

Vimtag touts the camera’s “foolproof plug and play setup for installation in under three minutes,” according to the company website, and I found this was bang-on. The camera is literally plug-and-play simple; the part that will take the longest is downloading the app and setting up an account.

The app is easy to use and navigate through, and you can easily move the camera by touching the screen in the app. You get 360 degrees of movement from side to side and the pan and tilt functions are similarly broad, so you can see just about anywhere in the room where the camera has been placed.

Great HD video

The HD video from this camera is outstanding; there’s not a hint of graininess or blur, so you know you’ll have a crystal clear view of whatever you need to see. And if you need images or video to provide to police in case of a break in of theft, rest assured you’ll be able to share sharp, detailled images. The cameras is so good, I was playing with it, and took a great selfie! Not your everyday use, but it’s one way to show you the great video quality.

d38d26b2-a51a-4fcd-8abf-b347d2dabe0cCloud & Recording not built in

The camera doesn’t record footage and store it to the cloud unless you purchase an extra storage device.That S1 Cloud box is an additional $150, so unless you want to add this feature, you’re left with only live view capabilities.

You can take short videos and snap still photos from the camera app interface, but unless you happen to catch something live, your surveillance capability is limited.

 

The camera is $129 from Vimtag or on Amazon.

Spy on your pets? Watch over your kids? Record intruders? New Myfox camera can do it

IMG_7768 Personal use cameras are becoming much more popular. From dash-cams in cars, to smaller home security cameras, it’s now easier than ever to monitor your environment for security, safety, curiosity, or to keep an eye on pets or children.

That’s the premise of the Myfox home security camera. This device is described as a “high performance home security camera remotely controlled by a smartphone app and is the only camera with a motorized, mechanical shutter to guarantee total privacy.”

Hands On with MyfoxIMG_7772

The camera is a very unique shape.  It’s just a bit bigger than a standard size hockey puck. The lens is in the side edge of the device, and features a sliding shutter that can open and close over the lens when you want it. The camera comes out of the box with a very long USB cord for power, which is a great unexpected plus, allowing the camera to be placed anywhere, at a good distance from any power source.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of this review on Best Buy’s Plug in blog.

For more awesome tech news, click here!

Presence App turns old smartphone or tablet into a wifi video surveillance system: Review

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.28.57 AMHome security systems can be expensive, cumbersome, and pain to install. However I’m happy to report that I’ve recently been testing several home security options where installation is quick and easy (read my review of the Ring video doorbell), and operation of the systems is a snap.

The free Presence app is one of those. Presence turns your spare, unused, or out of date smart phones or tablets into wireless video monitors. How? You plug them into a power source, prop them up in a room you may want to keep an eye on and they connect to Wi-Fi. From there, you use the presence app on another phone to remotely access the video feed. You can watch what’s going on in your home, garage, or business, either obviously, or surreptitiously. The presence app has a neat feature where you can dim the screen, but the app stays running in the background, so no one will know it’s watching. Great if you need to use it as a nanny cam or similar.

Features

IMG_6011Presence has a few interesting features. For one, you can load multiple cameras into your stream, meaning you can have as many eyes as you need. You can control the camera functions remotely from pretty much anywhere in the world you can get access to the Internet; whether on another smart device, or on a desktop.  The app also allows motion detection recording, meaning if it detects anything moving in your home, it will start making a movie of it, and you can even set how long it should record for, and the time between recordings, so repeated emotions can be eliminated  as any source of concern.  You can also adjust the sensitivity of the motion recording, and the Presence app also gives you access to your smart phone or tablet microphone, meaning you can hear what’s going on inside your home as well.There’s also an option to creat your own customized rules for using the app.

Presence also has an interesting/creepy feature called Twitter auto sharing. When enabled, Presence will automatically post motion detection videos or  thumbnail photos to your Twitter account on your behalf. Presents says “it’s a great way to share interesting moments with the world while building a following”. I think the potential for posting stuff you don’t want for the world to see is enormous and terrifying. But that’s just me. You maybe wondering how presence makes any money by giving away the service for free. I know I was. Presence actually also offers more traditional security and home safety devices, as a bundle from its website. Those devices can integrate with the Wi-Fi cameras from your old smart devices giving you a full spectrum home security system.

Privacy Concerns

Presents addresses any security or privacy concerns in its privacy policy. If you’re wondering what happens to any video that’s recorded in your home, here’s the answer.

“1.4 Digital Video Our Presence application includes a feature which allows you to use a smartphone or tablet as a video monitoring device. Videos, Audio, and Images are captured locally and automatically by your device when triggered by motion or audio detection events, sent over a secure channel to our server, and then immediately encrypted while being securely stored in our servers for future playback via streaming. Video, Audio, and Images may be archived even if they do not appear in your account interface. Each video has time and date information as well as unique identifier to link it to your account and device. Video and audio is stored in common video file formats such as MOV or MP4 but may change as needed for efficiency or to adapt to emerging standards. Images are typically stored in .jpg format. Unless you select a different permissions or sharing level, then by default all your content is privately stored encrypted on disk using AES-128 encryption, to prevent anyone but you or anyone you’ve given access to your account from accessing it.”

Now, is there some chance your camera could be hacked remotely? We’ve seen that happen with several baby monitors recently (read more here). I’ve gotten in touch with the folks at Presence, and here are their answers to my two most burning questions, straight from President & CTO David Moss:

Erin: What measures are there in place to prevent an unauthorized person hacking into my video feed?

David: “Presence implements a much more advanced method of security than standard IP cameras.  First, your username and password is require to gain access to any camera or device in your Presence account.  Next, cameras will not begin streaming content until they receive a command from our cloud servers to start streaming.  All communications to and from the cloud (including the command to initiate streaming) are encrypted with 2048-bit SSL, and delivered to the device over a channel that is bi-directionally authenticated with a cryptographic token.  This level of communication is more secure than a banking website.  The biggest security risk is divulging your own password to someone else, or selecting a weak password.”

Erin: Would there be any way for, say, a Presence employee to surf people’s video feeds at will?  i.e. is there any potential for my video feed to be viewed by anyone other than myself, and those I choose to authorize?

David: “No – your video streams and video feeds are accessible only by you.  In fact, we architected the cloud server FabrUX which powers Presence (read more), to prevent everyone, including our own employees, from being able to access users’ video feeds or motion detection videos.  Motion detection videos are stored in the cloud encrypted with AES-128, using the same methods used in banking websites to store credit card information.  Because of the level of security we’ve implemented, all of us here at People Power Company (creators of Presence) are comfortable having Presence cameras throughout our own homes.”

The Verdict

I like this app a lot. It has great functionality, excellent options, and seems like something I’m definitely going to have set up next time I’m away from home. For now, Presence will be watching the dog while I’m at work. The app gets 4 1/2 out of five stars from reviews on the Apple App Store. You can also get more info from the Presence website.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.28.44 AM

3 Minute Video Review: Ring HD Video Doorbell

You might wonder why you’d need a video doorbell.  After all, old fashioned doorbells work fine, and then there’s really old school: knocking.

You might be surprised at how versatile and handy the Ring Video Doorbell is.  Combine that with how absolutely fast and easy it is to set up and you’re ready to start screening visitors in less than 10 minutes!

Watch my 2 minute Video review to see what the Ring can do for you.


No time for TV? Read my blog review of Ring here.

Review: Ring Video Doorbell

ring doorbell

I may have found one of the easiest, simplest, and most straightforward gadgets on the market these days.

Watch my 3 minute VIDEO review of the Ring below

I recently had a chance to test out a Ring video doorbell. A coworker had tipped me off to the product, as he’d just ordered two, and was in love. After testing out numerous gadgets recently that connect to Wi-Fi, and require you to have an account, and do your own installation, I was a bit apprehensive about this one. I’ve found a lot of new gadget releases to be quite time-consuming, tedious, and buggy to set up. Not so with the Ring. I was blown away, and minutes after downloading the app, my account was set up and ready to go. Then it was onto installation.
IMG_4760I love that the Ring video doorbell comes in a kit complete with absolutely everything you need to install it yourself, including screws, screwdriver, and a tiny little level. That was absolutely brilliant, as I was not looking forward to have to rifle through my husband’s tools to find what I needed.
I watched the video they have at the ready for you on their app to get an idea of what to expect with installation. The video was short, and easy to follow, and made the installation seem super easy, which it was. In less than 10 minutes, I had an account set up and the video doorbell affixed to the front of my house already to go. I pressed the button to test it out, and it worked perfectly from the first try.
How it Works:ring graphic
When pushed, the doorbell will send an alert to your smart phone, and show you who is at your door. From there, you can decide if you want to engage in conversation with them, or ignore. The HD video picture is super crisp and clear and gives you a very good view of who is there. A recent new addition by Ring, cloud storage, also means that you can get access to images of who rang your doorbell, even if you aren’t by your phone to monitor the alert.
The audio interaction between yourself and your visitor is also quite handy, meaning you can accept and authorize a package delivery to your front door, even if you are miles away at work. Similarly, you could instruct a florist to drop your bouquet off at a neighbors house if you won’t be home for several hours. Ring also adds, “built-in motion sensors detect any activity on your property and trigger instant mobile alerts, giving you peace of mind when you’re away.”
You might be wondering how you avoid having your fancy new expensive video doorbell stolen. Good question, so was I. The Ring doorbell comes with special security screws, which require a specialized tiny screwdriver. Without the tiny screwdriver to free the unit, the video doorbell is securely bolted to your wall, and a thief cannot just run off with it.
 IMG_4774
The Verdict:
I’ve had the doorbell for a couple months now, and I already think it’s a really great invention. Primarily, I love how easy and user-friendly it is. Even non-tech savvy folks will have an easy time getting this product up and running.
The Ring video doorbell sells for $199 at Best Buy and Amazon.ca