It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Dropcam. The service offers a crazy simple way to set up and use a video monitoring system, which can all be accessed in the cloud from a web browser or your phone. Now Dropcam has introduced a new camera to their camera line up, the Dropcam Pro. The Dropcam Pro is an HD camera just like the Dropcam HD, but it brings with it several new premium features, including better image quality.
Externally, the new Dropcam Pro looks just like the Dropcam HD, except that the company has painted it black so that it can more easily blend in on a shelf and what not. The included USB cable remains white so that it can blend in seamlessly when it’s running along most walls. But it’s under the hood where the Dropcam Pro sports all of its real improvements. That includes a six-element, all-glass lens, and a larger image sensor that offers 3x sharper video during the day and 7x better performance in low-light conditions and at night. It also packs in a 130 degree field of view and 8x zoom.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that the picture quality that the Dropcam HD is very good and will suffice for most. The Dropcam Pro on the other hand is really for those who want to take things to the next level with a wider field of view, enhanced zoom, and even better image quality. That said, when comparing a video feed side by side, the Dropcam Pro’s video feed looks noticeably more true-to-life with more accurate colors.
But what really impressed us is Dropcam’s new zoom and enhance feature. This feature lets you pinch-to-zoom on an area in the room you’re watching and zoom in on it. But what is the good of zooming in on something if the video becomes all pixelated and degraded? That is where Dropcam’s enhance feature comes in. Just like in the movies, Dropcam’s software is able to clean up the zoomed in area to make it sharper and improve its visibility. In practice, the enhanced feature works quite well, and helps identify zoomed in objects. Is your 8 year old really stealing a cookie from the cookie jar? Now you can find out exactly which cookie he took. The enhance feature is also available on the $149 Dropcam, but that Dropcam camera only offers 4x zoom.
Look ma, no computer required – even for set up! Dropcam has always worked independently of a computer, but until now it has required a computer for its initial set up process. Now Dropcam has made this process even more efficient by allowing you to set up the Dropcam Pro directly from an iPhone or iPad when using the Dropcam app.
One of our biggest complaints about the Dropcam HD was that the 2 way talk function wasn’t reliable. Fortunately, the Dropcam Pro and subsequent Dropcam software updates have addressed this. To that effect, the new Dropcam Pro sports an improved microphone with double the sampling rate, along with a new speaker for sound that is louder and clearer. We tested the mic and the new Dropcam Pro is indeed louder than the HD. Viewers behind the Dropcam said they could hear us, and we could hear them. The only catch? Both parties can not speak at the same time, so the system isn’t a replacement for a video chat, but it has definitely been improved and will be sufficient for reminding your dog, or kids, that you’re watching.
Dropcam Pro also packs in dual band Wi-Fi with support for both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks, which helps ensure that it operates with better wireless connectivity and that it is also future proof. The company has also thrown Bluetooth LE into the device. The built in Bluetooth LE is what makes the mobile set up process possible. In addition, the inclusion of the low powered Bluetooth LE standard in Dropcam Pro gives the device potential to grow as a central product in your home. To that effect, Dropcam has plans to have the Dropcam Pro interact with other devices over Bluetooth LE. For example, the Dropcam Pro could potentially be used to interact with a door sensor, allowing you to receive a Dropcam alert when the door to your home is opened.
Speaking of the future, the device is also offering an activity recognition feature in beta. This feature, which is powered by Dropcam’s advanced computer vision and machine learning technology, allows you to set up alerts for motion patterns in your video stream.
“At its core, Dropcam is a software and services company. That means Dropcam gets better over time with hassle-free automatic updates to the camera, cloud service, and apps,” said Greg Duffy, Dropcam CEO and co-founder. “With features like zoom and enhance, Dropcam Pro is an amazing camera today, and it will be even better tomorrow as we shape it into the ideal hub for consumers to see, sense, and control other devices in their home.”
The new Dropcam Pro packs in 2x sharper image quality than its predecessor, better performance, a mobile setup option, it addresses the issues we had with its predecessor, and it has even been designed for compatibility with future devices in mind. Not to mention, that it continues to offer the key features that make Dropcam so great – such as live viewing, cloud video recording, email alerts, location scheduling and awareness, and night vision. Overall, our favorite video monitoring solution just got better.
As for pricing – Dropcam HD, has been renamed to Dropcam, it still offers a great value, and it will continue to retail for $149, while Dropcam Pro is available for $199. And as always, Live video monitoring is always free with basic alerts, while the optional Cloud Video Recording (CVR) plans will cost you $9.95/month for seven days of continuous recording, or $29.95/month for thirty days.
The Good: Super simple mobile set up process doesn’t require a computer, improved Wi-Fi performance, excellent image quality for the price, improved night vision, zoom and enhance feature is super cool, affordable pricing, email alerts are awesome sauce and they are free!, optional CVR feature lets you review footage from the past week or month, audio has been improved, and location awareness.
The Bad: There is still a very slight delay when watching live.