Every once in a while, someone comes along and figures out a better way of doing something. I used to have the wired cameras that all feed into the rack-mounted box with hard drives constantly spinning and things breaking down.
Then along came the Dropcam and I ditched all that other stuff. I’ve got these babies everywhere covering every square inch of the house. They record straight up to the cloud and retain seven days of high-def footage for anytime rewinding or saving clips. And the Android app knows when no one’s home and the cameras automatically go into motion detector mode, alerting me of any movements while no one’s home. I can pull out any phone, tablet, or computer and see what’s going on in the house or pull up any detected motion activity to see what’s going on. You can even talk back to people in your house through the Dropcam’s speaker. It’s the best security system you can have.
You’ve got to pay monthly or yearly for the convenience of cloud-based DVRing, but it’s well worth it in my experience of maintaining my own hardware in the past.
It also makes the perfect baby monitor, but keep in mind there’s about a 1/2 second lag time since all the video is going round trip to the cloud and back before it gets to you.
What about security? Dropcam is a bit vague about all of its encryption details, but the camera employs on-board encryption, each with its own private key and certificate to keep streaming private. The video storage appears to be decrypted and stored in plain video on Amazon’s “secure” S3 server farm. Even with all that, it means you’ve got seven straight days of your private life sitting in the hands of Amazon. Nothing I’m overly concerned about, but it would be nice to see a complete security review of Dropcam.
And now Google has bought Dropcam, so I think things are going to get better and better. It will probably become part of Google’s whole home automation strategy with Nest. And there are already announcements of a little motion-detector tags that will communicate with Dropcams. The future of this stuff be interesting.
June, 2015UPDATE: I cannot recommend Google’s new Nest Cam which is Dropcam’s replacement. At least not yet. It is extremely buggy.