There used to be a time when expensive closed-circuit television (CCTV) infrastructure was needed to set up a home surveillance system. In recent years however, the IP camera has taken much of CCTV’s market share. Now anyone with a Wi-Fi (or Ethernet) network can install and manage their own surveillance network at home or the office.
With IP cameras, the digital video signal is transferred over the user’s network and broadcast to a PC or mobile device. Video feeds can also be recorded and stored offsite. One of the best aspects of these cameras is that the live feed can be viewed remotely if there is a stable Internet connection available.
Leveraging its broadband offerings, Vox has recently introduced the Guardian Eye Lite, a pretty neat home surveillance IP camera that can be mounted virtually anywhere there is a power socket and wireless (or wired) network available.
The Guardian Eye Lite is not too dissimilar to other IP surveillance cameras on the market — most notably the Axis M10 series and the Ubiquiti AirCam. This means that it can be mounted and configured without the need for any additional recording or storage hardware.
Getting the Guardian Eye Lite to work on your network is straightforward. It can either connect to your home Wi-Fi by using the WPS sync security function — a button you press on the camera and on your router which will generate a unique passkey to pair the devices — or you can plug it directly into your network using a standard Ethernet cable.
Once connected, you simply install the mEZviewer software on tablet or smartphone — Android and iOS are supported — or install the desktop app for your Windows-based computer. With the mEZViewer software running, you will be able to view multiple cameras on your network (up to 36).
Even if you want to view your camera feeds from outside your network — for when you are travelling or at the office — the Guardian Eye Lite will give you remote access without the need to fiddle with your router settings.
Each camera has a unique ID and password and when launching the app from outside the camera’s network it will get the video feed directly from the camera using this ID. The camera essentially has a tiny Web server built in, which allows you to configure and access its feeds remotely. You’ll need the unique ID and password to access the camera.
Video footage can be viewed live, or recorded for playback later, and there are two ways of doing this. The mEZViewer PC software has recording capabilities built in, which can be set to record at specific times or when motion is detected. There is also a microSD card slot on the side of the camera that will allow recorded footage to be dumped directly to the card, capacities of up to 32GB are supported.
The Guardian Eye Lite can also take still images and upload them remotely to Dropbox or an assigned FTP server.
The camera has two lenses on the front. One is a normal daytime camera, while the other kicks in when the light fades. There is also a motion sensor built in that detects movement in the frame. The motion sensor has an effective distance of about 7m.
There is a built-in microphone, so you’ll also be able to hear audio when viewing a video stream. The addition of a 3,5mm audio jack also means that you’ll be able to connect the camera to a set of speakers. This can be handy for two way conversation or to ward off intruders — “you are being watched” or “get off my property” — while the police or security company is en route. This feature will most likely be used by owners to talk to pets when they are away. That is certainly what we would do. “Kitty, back away from the birdcage!”
The Guardian Eye Lite ticks all the boxes when it come to functionality, but it falls short in image quality. At just 640×480 pixels, you’ll only see VGA-quality streams. Granted, you’ll need a super-fast Internet connection to stream high-definition footage over an average ADSL connection, but we would have still prefered to have an HD camera that can record and store higher quality footage.
The mEZView software is also not the greatest. It looks a little dated and non-technical users won’t find it intuitive at all.
If you’re more technically minded, there are a number of settings on the camera’s Web interface that can be tweaked to further customise the Guardian Eye Lite experience. This includes the resolution, frame rate and bandwidth to be used for both local and remote viewing. The camera can also be set to record to a network-attached storage device, ideal to keep all the footage that gets recorded.
For most users, this camera will serve its purpose — and it does work well. But if you want higher image quality, you should look for an IP camera with at least 720p recording capabilities.
The Guardian Eye Lite costs R2 550. Vox is also selling it on 12-month and 24-month contracts to reduce the upfront cost. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media