We reviewed the original Dropcam a few years back. Since then, Dropcam has become our go to system for keeping an eye on our property while we’re away from home. As a matter of fact, we have tried out several other competing Wi-Fi video monitoring cameras since then, but none come close to Dropcam for its reliability and ease of use. Last year, Dropcam introduced their Dropcam HD. The new Dropcam HD improves upon its predecessor with night vision, 720p HD video, audio alerts, and two-way audio.
Setting up the Dropcam HD is super simple. First you’ll have to plug it in to your computer via USB for the initial set up. A USB cable is included in the box. But after that first initial set up, the Dropcam HD will work independently from your computer, as a standalone camera that streams footage over your home Wi-Fi network.
The Dropcam HD offers several improvements over its predecessor, including the ability to record and stream in 720p HD video. In comparison to our first generation Dropcam camera, the quality of the footage coming from the Dropcam HD is actually not all that much better. But that is also a testament to what a good camera the original Dropcam is. Fortunately, the Dropcam HD does produce much less of a streaming delay than the original does.
Some other new features on the Dropcam HD include night vision and audio. Nightvision on the Dropcam HD is really good. So no matter how dark the room gets, you’ll be able to vividly see what is going on. Audio alerts also work well. The mic on the Dropcam HD is able to get very sensitive and can pick up all sorts of sounds. As a matter of fact, most users will probably want to set the audio alert sensitivity to low, lest they get constant activity alerts. As for the two-way audio function, we were excited to test this one out, but found the experience to be wonky, as we often had difficulty hearing the person at the other end, and they had difficulty hearing us clearly. Lets just say, it’s hardly a Skype-like experience.
The same motion alerts that we have come to know and rely on the original Dropcam have been carried over to the Dropcam HD. Like with audio alerts, you can receive motion alerts via email or as push alerts on your mobile phone. Likewise, you can also tweak the sensitivity setting for motion alerts,
The new Dropcam also has a zoom function which can be accessed from the Dropcam online interface. Speaking of the online interface, you can log onto Dropcam’s web site to get a live feed of what your Dropcam or Dropcams are seeing. The Dropcam user interface is super simple to navigate.
Dropcam currently offers a free basic service, which includes live viewing 24.7 is free, and that includes free email and mobile alerts. For $9.99 a month you can opt to get a DVR function which records up to 7 days of recorded video for you to access in the cloud. This DVR feature lets you quickly see past video and events on a time line. It also lets you save video clips. Of course, there is a lot of value in this option, since it lets you go back in time and see what you missed. Of-course, there is also a massive benefit of having your footage stored in the cloud – it’s more secure, and you don’t have to worry about cluttering your home with hard drives.
In addition to their website, Dropcam has a free iPhone, Android and iPad app that you can use for live viewing. But in particular we’re smitten with the iPad app which lets you view 4 Dropcams at once! We currently have 3 Dropcams connected to our account, one of which is the new Dropcam HD, which is why we have really come to appreciate the Dropcam iPad app so much.
And while most people will use Dropcam privately to keep an eye on their kids, or their property, Dropcam also has easy sharing features. You can easily share a video via email, or on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Fancy, making your own public puppy cam web page? You can also broadcast your Dropcam video publicly.
We can’t emphasize how reliable and easy to use the Dropcam HD is. The Dropcam HD also addresses most of the complaints we had about the original Dropcam, with improved video quality, the addition of audio, and nightvision features. We also appreciate that Dropcam has kept the service backwards compatible, so you can still use your old Dropcam in your Dropcam account. Despite the wonky two-way audio feature, and the fact that the system does still produce a slight lag while streaming, Dropcam HD is still a super DIY home monitoring product. We would have to argue that it must be the easiest to use, most reliable wireless video monitor you can find. you can pick up the Dropcam HD for $149.95 on Amazon.
The Good: Night-vision works really well, super easy to set up and use, super intuitive user interface with DVR function, activity alerts work well iPad app has support for 4 cameras at once, great video quality, reliable live feed, app still has support for older drop cams, mounting options, no service fee for basic package
The Bad: Two-way audio is wonky, still produces a slight lag / delay when streaming, can’t be powered via battery so it needs to be plugged in