While smartphone apps and mobile connectivity are often touted for lots of things, be it fitness, media viewing, navigation or a whole host of other facilities, security isn’t one that’s touched on quite as much. Hoping to turn that trend around is Home Monitor, a home security camera system that hooks right up to your home network and gives you a chance to check in from wherever you are.
While I’m afraid this review won’t feature any of the usual overclocking or synthetic benchmarks, let’s take this camera for a spin and see if it can make us feel a bit safer.
- Colour camera with high quality 310,000 pixel 1/4” CMOS lens
- 30 invisible infrared LEDs – see in pitch black up to 15m
- Wide viewing angle 60° (H) 45° (V)
- Audio microphone
- H.264 compression
- Dimensions 85x85x30mm / 3.3×3.3×1.2in
- Weight 150g / 5.3oz
- Mains operated 12V, 100-240V AC, 3.75W
- 1 year manufacturers warranty
- Quick setup
- Supports multiple devices with free apps
- Multiple camera support
- Motion detection
- Email alerts
- Online video storage
- Bandwidth friendly
- No PC required
- Mains powered
Along with the camera itself, you get a short ethernet cable (for setting up WiFi), a power cable with interchangeable heads for different regions and an adjustable mounting bracket.
Set up and Testing
Seeing as my landlord wouldn’t be best pleased if I drilled a couple of fresh holes in the wall, I opted for a more temporary system – locking the mounting bracket in the conservatory window.
Fortunately, this placed it in a prime position to test the sensitivity of the camera to motion, since it was sat right in-front of the prairie dog cage.
This is a still of the general video captured by the Y-Cam and output on the HomeMonitor website. But it doesn’t work perfectly off the bat, there’s some set up that goes into play first.
This part of the HomeMonitor Camera Management has you setting up several “zones” within the camera’s field of view, to allow you to customise where the motion is expected to come from. This is great for covering specific areas that you might pass by occasionally, as you can prevent the camera capturing anything you don’t want it to.
On top of that, you can customise the time zone and days which it will be active, so there’s no need to keep unplugging the power when you have a drunken night you don’t want to appear online, you just adjust it within the online setup.
Once it’s all set up, it’s pretty automatic. If you want to check in on the live view you can, or there’s a collection of clips that they camera has picked up on and stored online for your ease of viewing.
Here’s one I captured yesterday morning while the little guys were enjoying the sun before breakfast:
As you can see the quality isn’t astounding, but it does a pretty good job. Night vision on this thing isn’t bad either, it picked me up having a smoke later in the evening.
I also received an email every time the motion detectors were set off. This might not be something you want going on for a high traffic area, but for when you go away, it’s a nice little reminder. There’s also a heads up whenever the camera is unplugged for any reason.
Later on, I used the free app to check in on the camera while I was out and about. Check that out here.
Understandably with some of the recent revelations about PRISM and Tempora, not everyone is quite trusting of the cloud so I put a few questions to Home Monitor about the security of its footage backup as well as why you have to input your WiFi password through its form and not into the camera itself.
XSR: Why do you have to put the password in through your website?
HM: The reason we only offer this form of connection is to eradicate ‘more difficult’ steps. With our cameras there is no way to directly input the Wi-Fi password with connecting to the camera IP address. From our experience with past customer we have found that these steps can either confuse customers or add in a step that wasn’t wanted therefore we made sure that to use HomeMonitor all that was needed was to connect the camera and then set everything up via the one online portal.
XSR: What security procedures are in place to make sure no-one else can access user videos?
HM: We use a 128 bit SSE of the video storage bucket and a strict user level access control on who can access the bucket. Only the user themselves can look in on an account. Super admins can perform maintenance on the backend, but at no point can they view videos recorded by the user.
All user data is held on a backend server, which is only accessible through the public-facing web application. The database is similarly protected and encrypted.
Finally, the cameras themselves can only receive commands from Home Monitor servers, so there is no way an external party could access them otherwise.
The Home Monitor Y-Cam is a pretty nice piece of kit. The quality isn’t astounding, but it’s good and the night vision works really well, as it picked me up no problem in a very low light environment. The connectivity is great and the setup is simple – it all works without any real technical know how which is a big plus for something like this.
There are some drawbacks however. While every user gets a seven day grace period with their archived video clips, if you want to extend that to 30 days, you’ll have to lay out another £30 for a year’s subscripion – that’s on top of the already not-cheap £150 for the camera itself. If you want the outdoor one, you’re looking at £250.
It’s also a bit annoying having to have it within distance of a mains outlet – this limits your mounting locations – though I understand how battery power could be problematic on a security cam.
All in all, the Y-Cam is a good product which will give you some great piece of mind without a hassle; you just have to pay for it.
- Simple setup
- Great connectivity, view clips from anywhere
- Motion detection works well, even in low light
- Night vision capabilities
- A bit pricey
- Camera placement is limited by length of AC adapter cable