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.
I understand where Logitech's coming from - they're targeting folks who're NOT tech experts and who can't be bothered with setups, cabling, Linux, etc. These are people who have money, trust the Logitech brand, are comfortable with non-tech DIY... a large large market, IMO.
While I'm at it, another service targeting similar folks (though its free and webcam based) is HomeCamera (http://www.homecamera.com). No video streaming (only video clips), though that's set to change early 2009. Motion detection alerts (including videos) are sent direct to mobile phones, storage is all server based, sharing is easy, scheduling of recording is easy, yada yada yada. Covered by Technofile on Sky News a few months ago (the video should still be there somewhere...)
Not new ..
It's cheap compared to some .. I know it's a bit more professional and it's what they are experts in, but Axis charge around £600 per camera for anything of decent quality. And they also have the ability to e-mail the footage (although if your a business that can afford such a system you can afford to lock the server running Axis Camera Station away so it can't be stolen)
Why the need for a subscription (even if it is a free subscription) to some proprietary service to receive email alerts? My little Y-cam IP camera sends me motion detection email alerts directly through my ISP's mail server without any need for registration or subscription. It also doesn't need any special software on my PC, indeed it doesn't even need the PC to be on (great for saving power), because the motion detection and emailing is done right from the camera. It has its shortcomings, for example wireless networking with WPA2 security being unreliable, and lack of PoE (a moot point if you are using wireless), but for around £130 I'm quite happy.
I haven't come across a single video security system that doesn't email/text you. Unless you consider an ordinary webcam...
Aren't their wireless keyboards and mice preposterously unsecure?
Last I heard a hacking team had worked out their woeful wireless signal encryption, turned out it could be hacked in a fraction of a second.
...And we're meant to trust them with an extortionately priced camera security system!?
We'll see how long it takes before hacking team reports come in where such cams are being hacked into. Throw a towel over them when surfing the porn eh lads!