Dropping in With Dropcam

Category: Video

Surveillance and video monitoring systems for home or business can be expensive, and difficult to install. Dropcam solves both of those problems with an innovative wireless camera that can do some pretty cool things. Here's the scoop on this clever, affordable gadget...

What is Dropcam?

Surveillance camera systems are popular these days. Dropcam is one of the easiest to install and most affordable ($149) almost-wireless solutions available. I say, “almost wireless” because AC electrical power is required. But the Dropcam can be mounted anywhere you can run a power line.

Think of Dropcam as a webcam on steroids. The compact 720p camera with wide-angle lens and night-vision capability streams video footage via WiFi. From there, many things are possible.

Online ads for Dropcam show a beautiful, green yard with the caption "YOUR YARD," followed by a defecating doggie and the caption "NOT YOUR DOG." The obvious implication is that one could use this wonder of technology to find out which neighbor is allowing their dog to use your yard as a dumping ground. And in fact, this was the original motivation for the inventors of Dropcam!

What is Dropcam?

You can monitor the video stream from anywhere via a computer, tablet, or smartphone. You can talk with people within the camera’s range using its two-way audio system. You can start or stop video streaming. You can control the digital zoom, although the fixed lens has no optical zoom. You can’t tilt the camera remotely, but its swivel base does allow manual viewing angle adjustments.

The Dropcam can be scheduled to turn on or off, based on the time of day. It can stream continuously or intermittently in response to sound or motion detectors. Email and text messages can alert you when the Dropcam “wakes up” so you can see what activated it.

Streaming Options

An optional cloud-based DVR service is available. For $9.95 per month or $99/year, you can save up to 7 days of continuous video; 30-day recording capability costs $29.95 per month or $295/year. A 50% discount for DVR service is available for each additional Dropcam. You can save clips from your stored video to a local hard drive or mobile device, or upload to YouTube.

You Dropcam video stream can be private, shared with just a few friends or family members, or you can have a public stream that anyone can view online. The video stream is secured by SSL encryption. The cloud-based DVR adds another level of security; no one can steal your video from your home or business.

The Dropcam system has many applications in home, business, or public surveillance. The company’s Web site features a showcase of Dropcams monitoring newborn puppies, wildlife, commercial kitchens, shops, and public areas.

I've seen it used in stores, to discourage theft, or to monitor an employee on a cash register. Others have used it catch burglars (or raccoons) in the act, to say hello to pets while away from home, or as a baby monitor.

Portable, almost-wireless, secure, and highly interactive, Dropcam has enjoyed meteoric growth. Greg Duffy, co-founder, claims that more video is uploaded to Dropcam’s servers than to YouTube, which gulps in 100 hours of video every minute. That’s not bad for a three year-old startup with 30 employees.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome! Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Dropping in With Dropcam"

Posted by:

Peter Huber
21 Jun 2013

Based on your comments of the Dropcam, we might go ahead with an install at my son's business....

Thanks for a nice article...

-Pete Huber

Posted by:

Terry M
21 Jun 2013

I think the Foscam series of pan & tilt, wired & wireless, two-way audio cameras are better units with more functionality for less money. There are also knockoffs of these units which are even less expensive. They do not offer the DVR function from the manufacturer, but you can record the video on your own PC if you wish. See models FI8910W $85, FI8918W $68, FI9821W $135. Available on Amazon.com.

Posted by:

21 Jun 2013

Bob-- Nice to see your review. I bought the dropcam as I have an ADHD son who was raiding the refridge in the middle of the night. The night vision on this is amazing. I've had the Foscam and returned it. Dropcam is it. The DVR is great. The android app is great. Its intelligent capability to flag actual motion so that when you go back to the DVR you don't wade through hours of video is invaluable.

Posted by:

Gloria Huffman
21 Jun 2013

6/21/13 6:30p EDT
Does anyone know the cheapest way to get a videotape of yourself sleepwalking? The fact of sleepwalking is not in question. Capturing it on a video that can be shown to the doctor is the goal.

Being on an abysmally low Social Security income, any price is really too much, but something in the $40-$85 range for the total package could be doable. I don't have wireless, so I don't want to have to pay for multiple items that add up to over $100.

I have a webcam, but it doesn't have night vision. I have a Canon digital camera that takes videos in HD, but there's no night vision, and the camera shuts down after only about 15 minutes.


Posted by:

26 Jun 2013

Gloria -- if you sleepwalk outside your bedroom, could you leave the lights on in the rest of the house? Then you can set up the webcam to cover an area of the house that is lit and where you sleepwalk - that way you should be able to get a video using your current equipment.

Posted by:

22 Oct 2013

Dropcam states you can not store the data on your local computer. Have you found a way to do that?

You state "
You can save clips from your stored video to a local hard drive or mobile device, or upload to YouTube." How is this done?

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