Review

How does the Y-cam HomeMonitor HD perform for home security? - Review

Indoor security isn't something we have really covered here at Neowin before, but this was a gadget we really wanted to try out after hearing about it on TV a few times in the UK. The HomeMonitor HD is an indoor Wi-Fi security camera which does HD video and can be setup inside any house large or small. The company have created it to be as simple to setup as possible, and I have to say it took less than 5 minutes to be up and running here at home.

Included in the box is everything you will need to either set it up in the corner of a room on a stand, or attach it to a wall. You get the HD HomeMonitor Camera, a Stand/Wall ceiling mount, the power supply, a 1m Ethernet cable and various screws that can be used if you want to.

Specs

  • Colour camera with high quality 1 Megapixel 1/4" CMOS lens
  • Records in 720p
  • 30 invisible infrared LEDs - see in pitch black up to 15m
  • Audio microphone
  • H.264 compression
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Ethernet
  • Dimensions 85 x 85 x 30mm / 3.3 x 3.3 x 1.2in
  • Weight 150g / 5.3oz
  • Mains operated 12V, 100-240V AC, 3.75W

Once you have taken everything out, you can choose how you want to run the HomeMonitor HD, either via Wi-Fi or through an Ethernet cable. Either way you will first need to connect the camera up to your router via the provided Ethernet cable first, so that you can create your online HomeMonitor account.

The website can configure the camera is numerous ways

Setup

Setting it up online is a breeze, as the instructions lead you through perfectly well, you have to setup an account, enter the serial number and camera ID which is on the back of the HomeMonitor HD camera, and then it detects your device and can connect you up to your wireless router if you wish, thanks to the easy to use Camera Manager.

Once this is done, you just need to place the camera in the area of your house that you want to keep a check on, it's best to keep it away from areas where there is going to be lots of movement, such as doors. It's also best to keep it out of areas where sunlight or reflections might be as it can cause the trigger to come on.

The Camera Manager hub on the website is the main area where you will setup all features of the HomeMonitor from "Motion Recording Zones", which let you set separate zones on the camera which activate if there is any kind of movement to your "Motion recording schedule", which allows you to set times when the motion sensor can pick up movement.

For our house, we set it up to look for any movement of any kind from around 12am til 5am, this is the time that no one is really downstairs in our house, well apart from the cats as you'll soon see. It means that if someone broke in and walked in the area the camera was pointing, or in the zone we have setup, the device records their movement and sends it to the HomeMonitor servers.

The iPhone App in action

Usage

This is where the device really comes into its own; it records this footage either in colour or night vision depending on the lighting in the room. It then uploads it to the servers and stays online for 7 days. The 7-day video saving is part of the cost of the device, so you don't have to pay anymore money out, but if you want to pay out for up to thirty days of video recording, you can for an additional cost.

Personally, the 7 day save is fine for us as we never have more than 6 days or so away from the house, even when on holiday, so we can always look back if anything gets triggered at all.

For those who may be worried about the bandwidth usage, there is good news. As the HomeMonitor HD only uploads footage when motion is detected at your set times, or when you are watching the live feed, it really doesn't use that much at all. Infact HomeMonitor says that it tends to be a maximum of 85 MB of data per month, so it is hardly anything what so ever. Obviously this could get a lot larger if you would like to keep a check on your house via the live feed for hours at a time, but that is up to you!

In terms of how well the HomeMonitor HD works, it always picked up any motion in the front room between the hours we had set, luckily none of these were break-ins but they were various house investigations made by our cats! Whenever movement is detected and recorded, HomeMonitor also sends you an e-mail notification, which is great when you are out and want to check up on what has been happening in your house.

You don't have to use a PC to check up on the camera either, the easy to use app is available for Apple and Android devices and does everything that the website does, including live video feeds and the video archive, its a great feature to have especially when you are away from home. There is even an app out for Roku so you can monitor your house on a large screen TV.

Once setup, you will hardly notice the HomeMonitor HD camera is there

The design of the HomeMonitor HD is pretty minimal and reminds us a little of how devices like thermostats and cameras have been changing over the years. It is 85mm/3.3in by 85mm/3.3in - pretty compact when compared to full-blown cameras that some houses have outside, or even internally.

Once you have it all up and running, the only time you might notice it, is if the detection goes off, it then makes a little click as it starts to record, but its hardly noticeable most of the time, especially if you have setup your schedule properly.

One of the few negatives I could find out the HomeMonitor HD is that I would like to see it somehow stop activating when an animal goes near by. There are alarm systems now that don't activate when a cat or dog moves in a house, so I'm sure this can be done here too in some form.

Also the Live Feed suffers from quite a few seconds of lag, sometimes in my tests it was showing 10 second old footage from our front room rather than instant streaming, it isn't a major issue but it should be made clear that there will be some kind of delay.

Conclusion

Overall I can't find much to fault the HomeMonitor HD, it works just as the company advertised and really was as easy to setup, even for a computer novice. The recording features work well and the video feed both for live video and archived video was very clear and would make picking up intruders faces very easy if you were ever unfortunate enough to have one.

The 7-day recording archive seems the perfect amount for me, but it is good to have an option to extend that if you wanted to. You also don't have to stop at one camera if you don't want to, you could wire up your whole house to be monitored and it can all be checked online or via your mobile device.

To me, the HomeMonitor HD adds peace of mind when it comes to maintaining a secure house, and if you are ever unlucky enough to get burgled or have a break in or any other issue with intruders, what better way is there to get footage of them which can't be destroyed simply by breaking the camera?

The Y-cam HomeMonitor HD can be picked up here for £149.99 or $199 US.

 

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