Network cameras aren't for everyone, but they can prove to be very useful to the people who need to use them. Small business owners will find value in having a robust surveillance system that won't cost them an arm and a leg. Concerned parents can set them as nanny cams to keep an eye on the sitters. Stepping up with a number of notable features is the Compro IP540.
The IP540 is an IP camera that'll see in the day and in the night. It's a camera that will pan, tilt, and zoom. And yes, you can access it online, no matter where you are the in the world. What's more, Compro has now teamed up with Seedonk for some nifty software tricks to boot.
Features and Specifications
You might remember when I reviewed the Compro IP70. That network camera also boasted night vision, but the IP540 is upgraded to include no fewer than 12 infrared LED lights, offering improved visibility in low-light conditions. They're both megapixel cameras with H.264, but the IP70 was fixed in its view.
By contrast, the Compro IP540 offers complete pan, tilt, and zoom functionality, all of which can be remotely controlled from the included software. You get 340-degrees of panning and 100-degrees of tilting, as well as up to 10x digital zoom. You can choose to mount it either right side up or upside down, making it quite versatile for lobby areas, warehouses, or just about any room in your home.
Among the other features are a built-in microphone, two-way audio support, multiple channel management, mobile device PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) control, active bandwidth management, motion detection, webmail notification support, and a microSDHC slot for local recording.
Street pricing is around the $250 - 300US price point, but you may have issues finding it as distribution is a bit limited in North America.
What's in the Box?
From what I understand, the Wi-Fi adapter is an optional accessory. If you plan on having this camera set up next to a network access point, the network cable could suit you just fine. In fact, the IP540 is compatible with PoE (power over ethernet), so that could make for a cleaner installation. That said, I do like having Wi-Fi, especially for a product like this where I may mount some distance away from my router.
I saw that you get "just about" everything, because while the device offers two-way audio communication, there are no built-in speakers. If you want to be able to speak to the people at the camera, you'll need to provide your own speakers. There's also a mic-in jack, but the integrated mic will usually be sufficient.
There's no doubt about it; this is a pretty serious product for a pretty serious market. You have to realize that this is quite different from the el cheapo webcam you mind find at the clearance bin in Fry's. This is a network camera that has been purpose built for surveillance purposes.
The construction is very solid, which is especially important giving the pan and tilt capabilities. There's even a special note attached to the camera when you take it out of the box, reminding you not to "manhandle" the moving mechanism. Let the motor do the work. Build quality is great. It might be plastic, but it's pretty thick and strong plastic.
I do find it a little strange that you need to use that 90-degree USB port to use the Wi-Fi dongle, though, since having a Wi-Fi chip built into the base would have been so much easier. Aside from that, I'm digging the range for the panning and tilting, since it really lets you cover just about everything around the IP540.