| Jochen Wieloch |
Munich (dpa) – If you’re worried about crime, but too overwhelmed to set up a complete surveillance system, consider an IP (Internet Protocol) camera.
Without too much fuss, you can have a camera primed to send you an image by email if there’s a break-in at your home.
They can also be used for more mundane pursuits: Keeping an eye on your baby sleeping in a different part of the building, or checking to see whether anyone has parked a car that blocks your driveway.
The trick is finding the right camera. There are a lot of differences in power consumption and what extras are included. But, in the end, they allow surveillance without a tangle of cables and can be monitored easily via smartphone or tablet.
“These small devices are really affordable to buy and include a lot of comfort functions when compared to full-fledged surveillance cameras,” says Moritz Wanker of German computer magazine Chip.
The difference can be seen as soon as installation begins. All it takes is connecting the camera to a router with a network cable or WiFi connection and it’s already transmitting images.
They’re especially useful if you have no power socket outside the building to feed a surveillance camera. IP cameras can get their power through the network cable, the so-called power-over-ethernet function.
“Alternatively, you could use the building’s electric power lines to transmit the data,” says Wanke. That would involve using a powerline adapter to make use of the home power network.
A key factor is getting the right resolution for the camera.
“Cheaper models usually only offer VGA level, with 640 x 480 pixels. That’s enough if you only want to check in occasionally or keep an eye on the children,” says Wanke.
But if you want a proper surveillance system, then you need a model with high-definition resolution and motion sensors. These start recording to an SD card or an external hard drive as soon as the camera senses motion.
“With at least 30 images a second, the chances are good that the camera will catch the face of an intruder at the right time,” says Wanke.
Accessing the camera can be done from just about anywhere.
If assigned an IP address, it can receive communications the same way a networked printer would. Recordings and live views are possible with most browsers.
If you’re using a mobile device, there are a lot of apps to choose from, even with features for panning and zooming.
If the camera is outside, consider some protection from the elements. It will also mean the camera should have a wide angle lens so it can survey more area.
Yet more models have communication functions, so they can send text messages or emails when they start recording.
Cameras with a network connection can be had for as little as 100 euros (US$124).
But expect to pay several hundred euros for a professional outdoor model that can handle the cold and take images without extra lighting, thanks to infrared light-emitting diodes.