Update on the WiFi/IP camera post for monitoring an elderly relative

Thank you to those who commented on my post last week (“Can you recommend a good IP/Web camera for monitoring an infirm pensioner?“). After a good amount of additional research I actually ended up going for a UCAM247 product.

This is the one I eventually purchased to try out:

Readers helpfully recommended looking at the Dropcam Pro. I did look at it very carefully and I really, really liked what I saw. REALLY. Here’s the Amazon entry:

And as you can see it’s almost double the price.

Dropcam has recently been purchased by Nest/Google which is both good news and bad (heh… who wants Google’s servers now actually physically watching you whilst you eat?) however I also think that helps validate and assure the service on-going. The biggest negative for me is the Dropcam team haven’t yet internationalised their service — for instance their online shop only serves the US. That said it’s easy to get one sent to the UK — for an extra £85 it seems. Plus their archival service demands a US credit card.

I just wanted to test out the facility with my other relative (who wants to check on their parent). And although I loved, loved, loved the usability and service concept behind Dropcam, I thought it was silly to pay double the price.

As I expected, the UCAM247’s usability was a bit … techie. You really need to dive into the various different settings and I struggled to get the monitoring working to my satisfaction, probably because I wasn’t willing to invest the additional time and effort. The camera plays a stream on-demand via the app and the web. Job done. I did manage to get it to send alerts via Gmail/SMTP but not via FTP so I could use a more user-friendly monitoring service from the likes of Cammy. Again it’s probably me not paying full attention. I followed the PDF/FAQs on the UCAM247 site but to no avail.

I also found the UCAM app to be a bit… buggy. Things would freeze regularly. I was also a little disappointed that push notifications seemed to be perhaps 3 or more minutes delayed. I ended up using a third party app called ‘AnyScene’ on iOS (recommended as an alternative by UCAM) that offers a more consistent viewing experience, albeit in the older generation iOS style. Still, this was good enough for my relative… at the moment, anyway.

I’ll keep an eye on Dropcam. I still want one.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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