We had a blast playing with the Dropcam Pro Security Camera. It’s easy to setup, it has night vision, and I can control it from my iPhone. Am I in love with the Dropcam? Not really but it has a place in the security world. What is Dropcam? Dropcam is instant video surveillance that is DIY and self monitored.
Dropcam is widely used by people across the country to watch babies, keep an eye on pets and catch unsuspecting thieves.
Dropcam makes two camera. The HD and the Pro. Their newest camera is the Dropcam Pro and warrants a review as a DIY home security solution. The Dropcam Pro has some serious advantages over the Dropcam HD. The Dropcam Pro increases your field of view from 107 to 130 degrees. The view expansion was created in response to complaints about the camera’s inability to pan, tilt, or pivot. The camera still can’t pan, tilt, or pivot but it can zoom 8x and the video quality is greatly improved over the HD model.
Read our hands-on review of the Nest Cam , formerly known as the Dropcam Pro
What are the features and problems with Dropcam?
The Dropcam Pro captures video that you can view live using their free app or by logging into their system on your PC. It works well in full sunlight and can also record in darkness using the built-in night vision feature. In addition to high quality video the camera includes built-in two-way communication. During our test we were unable to get the two-way communication feature to work. We could see real time footage of our living room but the audio associated with the footage was at least 15 minutes behind.
Another Dropcam user states:
I will say the 2 way communication needs work; talking comes out clean on the other end but basically locks up some frames on your viewing end while it’s happening.
Other testers have shared concerns about the weight streaming video can put on your network. Some ISPs will put a cap on bandwidth and lower your speeds once that cap is met. Many Dropcam users have complained about the amount of bandwidth the camera uses. One solution is to turn the camera off while you are at home but for home security purposes this would be a failed plan.
Dropcam Pro Alerts: Push, Email, or Texts?
Dropcam has the ability to send you activity alerts if motion is detected. I had read that in order to avoid “spamming” Dropcam sends alerts every 30 minutes but I didn’t find this to be true. I received emails and push alerts to the point that I found it annoying. They came in about every 15 minutes on a 3-20 minute delay and they were completely useless. Who seriously has time to check live footage every 15 minutes? Not I. The major problem is that I became completely desensitized to the alerts. I stopped checking the alerts after using Dropcam for a half a day.
To solve for this problem you can supplement Dropcam with another system that has sensors. You would use the sensors as an alert system and Dropcam as your eyes to check-in on things. In order for this to work you would first disable Dropcam’s alerts. (As a side note, several reviews state that Dropcam can text you. This is simply not true. There may be a way to setup an email to text pass-through but this isn’t the same as a true text message.) Another way to solve for this is to pay for Dropcam’s monthly cloud subscription. The subscription comes with the ability to customize “activity zones”. Basically you can draw a virtual square over any area in a room that you actually want to monitor. For example, let’s say you have a camera in your foyer but you could draw a virtual square over the front door. If people walk through your foyer Dropcam will ignore the movement but if someone walks to the front door an alert will trigger. Cloud packages start at $9.95 per month and include the ability to create activity zones, cloud storage for video, and video sharing features.
The Future of Dropcam: Tabs and Nests
Dropcam started pre-selling Dropcam Tabs but quickly cancelled the product after merging with Nest. We had to wait three whole months post merger but finally…Dropcam and Nest work together! Dropcam works with both the Nest Protect and the Nest Learning Thermostat.
Dropcam + Nest Protect = free emergency video recording. When Dropcam is paired with a Nest Protect, Dropcam can monitor for an alarm. If your Nest Protect senses Smoke or Carbon Monoxide it will ask Dropcam to record and save a video clip. This feature works with or without a Cloud Recording package giving customers true emergency protection.
Dropcam + Nest Learning Thermostat = a step toward home automation. When partnered together, Nest can communicate actions to your Dropcam. If your Nest is set to Away, Dropcam’s motion alerts will be set to on. When you set your Nest to Home, the Dropcam motion alerts will turn off automatically.
Dropcam Pro vs Dropcam HD
For those interested in comparing the Pro to the HD here is a visual side by side. Both screenshots are of the same footage taken at the same time of day. Even though the two cameras are recording the experience simultaneously, the Pro offers a higher quality capture that is also significantly brighter. In order to fit the captures onto my site I had to edit the width of both pictures. The Dropcam Pro does provide a wider viewing angle that is not accurately depicted below.
How easy is it to setup the Dropcam Pro?
Watch the video below for the setup steps or skip to minute 2:50 in the video to see more pictures of our Dropcam Pro.
Setup was simple. It took a total of 11 minutes and most of that was spent messing with the packaging. To setup the Dropcam you plug it into your PC via USB, follow the prompts, setup an account with Dropcam, connect the camera to your wireless network, download an app (Dropcam works with iPhone and Android.), and then find a home for it.
Dropcam now recommends that you download the Nest app, which is currently rated 3.5 stars on iTunes. The app requires iOS 8.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
The Android version of the Nest app is available for download and is rated just over 4 stars on Google apps. The app requires Android version 4.0.3 or higher. We ran the app for several days without any problems.
Can I use Dropcam as a baby monitor?
I would not suggest using Dropcam as a baby monitor.
- The camera has a heatsink on the back of the device and is prone to overheating.
- Overheating is a greater concern when the Dropcam Pro is in night vision mode.
- There is a small risk of fire associated with overheating.
- The motion sensors are way too sensitive. You are likely to get multiple false notifications
- Dropcam has lag time issues. There is no way to guarantee you will be instantly notified when your baby needs you.
Baby monitors need to stream constantly while in use. The Dropcam can only stream live on your phone or your laptop. I personally find it rather unrealistic to stream live video on my iPhone for a couple hours. While the Dropcam Pro would make a decent nanny cam, the Dropcam should not be used as a baby monitor. You would be better off going with something else. We’ve reviewed several baby monitor cams and we’ve found that the iCam or iBabi by Amaryllo is one of the top baby monitoring cams available.
PS, if you use Dropcam or any IP camera promise to change the default password on your baby monitor ASAP. Promise? Good!
How Many Dropcams Can I Have on a Single Account?
This is by far the most popular question I receive about Dropcam. The answer is that you can have as many Dropcams as your bandwidth will allow. Each Dropcam pulls about 0.2 – 0.5 Mbps of dedicated upload speed. You may want to contact your internet service provider to discuss your options before deploying multiple Dropcams. You can reduce the amount of bandwidth the Dropcams use by turning off or not opting for cloud video.
It is possible to monitor multiple Dropcams from one account even if they are in multiple locations. For example, you might have one in your house, one at your lake cabin, and one at your office. If this is the case, you will need to check your Wi-Fi network’s upload bandwidth at EACH location.
How much is it?
The Dropcam Pro currently runs around $283.79 on Amazon and is eligible for free shipping using Prime. Yes they are calling it wireless but it’s not really wireless. It is wireless in that you do not plug into an Ethernet port but you do plug it into an outlet or power source. Just keep that in mind. However, keep in mind that the Dropcam Pro is expected to slowly phase out. So the Nest Cam is available for $197.00 on Amazon and includes free shipping with Prime as well.
Dropcam is video streaming only. If you want to capture events or store images you will need to pay for Dropcam’s monthly cloud video storage. They have two options for storage. The first is the 7-Day cloud recording for $99 per year and the other offers 30-Day cloud recording for $299. This pricing includes storage for one camera. You will need to pay an additional monthly fee if you have more than one camera in your home. Dropcam does offer a discount of 50% for adding additional cameras. At this time there is no way to record video on your own without paying for the cloud storage.
A Summary of Things to Think About
- Dropcam Pro provides HD video, night vision, and cloud storage options in one device.
- Installation is simple and takes less than 11 minutes.
- Cloud Storage Requires a Monthly Subscription
- The camera cannot pan or tilt.
- The camera must remain plugged into a USB port or outlet.
- Poor Audio Quality
- Bandwidth Usage May Bog Down Network
- The Dropcam Pro is prone to overheating especially when using night vision.
- Can be wall-mounted or you can use the included stand.
- The Dropcam app can send emails or push notifications but cannot send text alerts.
- Dropcam works with Nest for limited home automation.
- Dropcam will phase out in the coming years with a push for users to convert to the Nest Cam security camera instead.
Dropcam earned a 63.55% or 2.5 Gem Rating as a Self-Monitored Security System and 4.5 Gems as an IP Camera Solution.
You can read more reviews and even purchase the Dropcam Pro Wi-Fi Wireless Video Monitoring Security Camera by Nest for $283.79 with Free Shipping on Amazon here!
However, with the Dropcam slowly being phased out, you can purchase the Nest Cam for $199 on Amazon as it’s set to eventually replace the Dropcam all together. Wish is fine by us since it offers improved resolution and night vision in addition to a sleeker stand. Read our hands-on review of the Nest Cam here and tell us what you think!