Logitech Digital Video Security System
The webcam, reborn
Review We’ve seen a number of PC-based home security systems in the past, but they all tend to share one common – and fundamental – flaw. The standard approach is to use motion-detection software running on a PC to tell the camera to record video footage of anyone that’s sniffing around your home or office without your permission.
Logitech's Digital Video Security: place your cameras indoors...
That’s straightforward enough, but storing the video footage on the PC means that an intruder can easily destroy the evidence of any crime they might commit. All they have to do is rip the hard disk out of the PC or - if it’s a laptop - just walk off with the entire machine under their arm.
Logitech’s new Digital Video Security (DVS) system offers a partial solution to this problem: an online component that allows it to email video ‘alerts’ to you whenever it detects any movement that triggers the camera into action.
The DVS is a modular system that allows you to connect up to six security cameras to your PC - there’s no Mac support, unfortunately. You start with a ‘Master’ system, costing £249, which includes a single camera and Logitech’s WiLife software. There are actually three different Master systems that include different types of camera. There’s a basic ‘indoor’ camera system, as well as an ‘outdoor’ model that includes a kit for mounting it on external walls. There’s also a ‘spy camera’ model that hides the camera inside a digital clock, so that people who enter your home or office may not even realise they’re being filmed.
Once you’ve set up the Master system, you can then add up to five further ‘add-on’ cameras to it, each costing a rather hefty £199 - which seems a lot for what's essentially a glorified webcam.
The initial installation is straightforward enough: you just need to install the WiLife software onto your PC and then let its Setup Wizard guide you through the installation of the camera. The system uses HomePlug powerline networking to send network data across your residence's electrical wiring, so you can position the camera anywhere that's reasonably close to a mains power socket.
The WiLife program displays a live feed of the video signal from your camera(s), and automatically starts to record files onto your hard disk as soon as the program picks up any motion within the camera’s field of vision. You can view these files on your PC by switching into playback mode, which displays clips arranged on a timeline similar to that found in many video editing programs. This makes it easy to browse through recorded clips but it does, of course, mean that you need to present at the PC in order to do so. And, as we’ve already pointed out, recording clips onto the PC’s hard disk means that a burglar can make off with the evidence simply by smashing the PC open and ripping out the hard disk.