16 March 2013

REVIEW: Y-Cam Home Monitor

Y-Cam? Because we want to.

Once upon a time the height of home security was the humble lock. Unfortunately criminals soon realised that locks weren't all that hard to get by, so burglar alarms became all the rage. But what is a burglar alarm anyway? A noisy siren that either goes off when you sneeze loudly at night, goes off for no reason while you're holidaying on Madeira and therefore keeps the neighbours awake for a week... or indeed doesn't go off at all, allowing Mr Tealeaf and co to clear out your valuables? So it's a good job you're reading this review.

The Home Monitor is the very latest piece of consumer tech to help with home security. A discreet camera that connects to your home WiFi network, the Home Monitor from Y-Cam allows you to keep an eye on your precious things - even from the other side of the world. We were so excited by the concept that we gave it a go.

Very Appy - The Home Monitor
smart phone app makes viewing
multiple cams even easier
But surely something like this involves a lengthy installation and set up process? Wrong. The Home Monitor truly is a plug and play piece of kit. Straight out of the box all the camera (which is small and light but solidly built) needs is to be plugged into your router via a provided network cable. Once the free account with Y-Cam is set up and the camera locates and accesses your WiFi network, its ready to go. It really is as simple as that.

Unlike other home CCTV systems there is no messy drilling of wires as all the camera needs is a normal plug socket and to be within range of the WiFi network. This allows you to put it wherever you fancy, keeping a watchful eye (one that handily possesses very good and clear night vision) on anything in your house. The user then simply logs onto the Home Monitor website, or connects via the extremely simple and user friendly smart phone app, and views the live feed from the camera. "Oh look, the dog is sleeping in the kitchen. Brilliant."

And it is brilliant, with the streamed video being clear and with a smooth refresh rate. But watching isn't everything. After all, you'd need to be glued to a screen to keep a constant eye on your home. Fortunately the Home Monitor comes with a free cloud storage service, where by the footage streamed from the camera is stored in your personal archive for seven days, to be accessed later.

But the really useful feature that the Home Monitor possesses, and one that will be of particular interest to those with home security is mind (other than, say, those using it as a baby monitor) is the motion detection software. If instructed to do so in the online settings, the camera will only start recording once motion is detected. It will also send you an email informing you of the motion, giving you a chance to log in and watch.

The motion detector element is a wonderful touch, adding oodles of usability to the gadget. You can even change what section of the camera's field of view is sensitive to motion, allowing you to place it in view of something that might occasionally move, but is of no concern, such as the aforementioned dog or the swaying of a clock pendulum. So no false alarms to worry you. "Oh my God, an email from my Home Monitor! There's movement in my kitchen! Quick, log on! Log on! Oh yeah... just the dog."

There are endless uses for the Home Monitor, from home security, child and baby care - even personal surveillance should you suspect the wife is having an affair with the work-from-home lawyer from next door. As the night vision aspect is really spectacular, it can even be pointed through a window to keep an eye on the exterior of your property and viewed should you ever hear those disconcerting bumps in the night (although the IR LEDs that provide the night vision do have a tendency to reflect back if placed close up against glass).

As with any truly ground breaking gadget, it is the flexibility of the Home Monitor that makes it great, allowing you to use it for exactly whatever you need.

Around £100 depending where you buy.

Check out the Home Monitor and other nifty gadgets at www.y-cam.com

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