Why I Love My Dropcam (and My Daughter Hates It)
Hi, my name’s Dan and I’m a snoopaholic. (“Hi, Dan.”)
I didn’t used to be. I used to have a healthy respect for people’s boundaries. Heck, I wrote a book on privacy. Then I installed Dropcam, the WiFi cam that has a cult following. And now I can’t stop myself from using it to peer into the lives of family members and total strangers.
I have installed a $200 Dropcam Pro. This model was introduced last October; it offers a wider field of view, better night vision and double the zoom range of the original Dropcam that debuted in April 2012.
Why do I love it so much? Here are three excellent reasons:
1. It’s idiotproof.
All devices should be this easy to set up. Just plug Dropcam into your computer’s USB port, and then log into your WiFi network and your Dropcam account. Remove the device from your computer, plug it into an outlet in range of your network, and you’re done — wham, bam, thank you, cam.
(By contrast, setting up a traditional IP camera from D-Link took me an excruciating hour and a half, and I still can’t get it to work with WiFi.)
You can then view the cam via Dropcam’s website or an app. Change your mind and want to move the cam? Just plug it in somewhere new and wait a minute. Dropcam automatically reconnects to the WiFi network and comes back online.
2. It’s a time machine.
Unlike most WiFi cams, which are marketed primarily as home security devices, Dropcam is also designed to capture life’s magic moments — like your toddler’s first steps, the rare instances when the teens are not bickering like an old married couple, or that time Dad dropped his phone in the soup bowl.
So in addition to the camera, Dropcam offers a cloud recording service — what it’s calling a CVR — that stores a week’s worth of video for $10 a month or a month of video for $30. In other words, you can go back in time either seven or 30 days to review clips, save them and share them via email, Facebook or Twitter.
Dropcam detects motion and sound, so it will automatically record video when there’s any action in the room. You can store up to three hours of clips and then download them to your hard drive to make room for more. Dropcam comes with a free two-week trial of the cloud recording service; if you decide not to pony up for it, you still get live 24/7 viewing, but you can’t record or share clips.