|A Wireless Third Eye
How often could you use an extra eye on something
important? Security cameras are built for just such a task, but they can be
costly and difficult to install because they usually require a hardwired
But using a wireless networking connection can let
you position just such a camera exactly where you want it--that is, within
range of a Wi-Fi hot spot. We've been testing just such a camera from Cisco
people ) Linksys unit--the Linksys Wireless B Internet Video
Camera--and found there is a good deal of potential for just such a product,
though it still needs some improvement.
|The Linksys Wireless B Internet Video Camera
The basic idea behind this camera is that it lets
you position it near pretty much anything you want, where the camera can watch
for you, notify you if there's any movement, or simply take a picture and send
it to you.
One feature we liked right away and which worked very
well was the integrated motion sensor. If the camera notices movement within
its field of view, it will automatically start taking pictures. We set it up
near the office candy machine and caught a few co-workers grabbing a snack. We
were able to watch from a Web page that wasn't visible to the outside world.
But it does come with software that makes publishing a live picture on the
The camera contains its own embedded server software
and doesn't require a direct connection to any computer, only to a local area
network. This creates some powerful options. One setting lets the camera
automatically send a still picture by e-mail whenever it detects movement. If
it's pointed at something that shouldn't be moving, it can let you know right
away and send a short video. These e-mails can also be sent to you on a
regular schedule if you prefer. This feature works as the company advertises,
though we were surprised to find these video clips could only be five seconds
long. Also, there's no sound, since the camera has no microphone.
The obvious applications are obvious. This camera
could make a good baby monitor. And though we liked the features, getting to a
point where we could actually test them was a frustrating process.
Our chief complaint was with set up. It took us
several tries--and several of those were with the help of a professional
network engineer--before it actually worked with our Wi-Fi network. We were
about to give up on this test but gave it one last try, when it finally
worked. We never did figure out what we had done wrong in the first place.
This set-up process is in terrible need of some improvement for the sake of
simplicity and the user's sanity.
For this product's purchase price of $190, we like it
overall, but we don't love it. Linksys has done several things right only to
botch the set-up process. Future revisions should focus not on adding new
features but on streamlining and simplifying how users without an education in
computer network architecture can it up and running
|Motion sensitive security camera!
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