Suddenly you can’t turn a corner without coming up against a new DIY security camera. Big ones, small ones, and they all have one thing in common. They’re designed to be super easy to install. We’ve just been checking out one of the latest on the market, the HomeMonitor HD Pro from camera veterans Y-Cam. It’s an outdoor camera, which is supposed to be so easy to install your cat could do it. Or something like that.
The gap between marketing speak about easy installation and the reality is sometimes frighteningly large, so we went into this review expecting to find some kind of problem along the way. But surprisingly enough we didn’t. Which is very cool.
The camera comes in a strong box, along with a small but useful set of bits. These include a Quick Start Guide, power block, aerial, fittings, and an Ethernet cable for the initial set up. It’s really all you need. The guide is nicely presented, although you’ll find most of the set up is done via the online portal, which is definitely convenient. Watch our video below to get an idea of how the installation and camera operation goes.
The first thing that you have to do is plug the camera into a power socket and connect the Ethernet cable to your home WiFi router (if you’re going to use the camera wirelessly, as we suspect most people will). Once you do that, wait for the red light on the front to go green, and you’re ready to complete the set up via WiFi and the online portal.
At this point the whole thing becomes almost effortless. You select your WiFi connection, hit the Connect button and you’re done. That quick and easy. It would be nice if all cameras were this easy to connect up. You then get some options to customize, including setting up areas for your motion detection triggers and schedules (i.e. if you only want motion detection to work at night etc).
Screw the camera into the wall with the supplied fittings and you’re done. Probably 30 minutes tops. The camera itself is a solid, well crafted piece of equipment, no plasticy feel at all. Both the swivel bracket and the camera housing itself are weatherproofed, and look like they’ll survive most events while outside on a wall. Definitely reassuring.
The image quality is also good. The camera is rated at 720p, and the video looks good. It’s definitely a compromise between quality and size, especially since the company offers free 7 days worth of free online storage. There’s no local SD card storage so if you’re uneasy about storing your video on a stranger’s server, you’ll need to look elsewhere. But for most people the free offer is a good one. No fees at all either, which is excellent value.
You access everything again through the online dashboard on the portal, which is where you can set up alerts, check your video archive and add additional cameras if you need them. It’s very easy to use and again, almost everyone should be able to get things done with no problems. There is also a smartphone app (iOS and Android) which you can use to access the video archives or a live stream on demand. Again it works out of the box with no problems, which is more than you can say for some of the cheap cameras on the market.
We were also impressed with the night vision capabilities of the camera. It switches instantly to infra-red when the light dies, and you get a nicely crisp night vision mono image which keeps the detail high. Good work. The company also boasts that the camera uses less bandwidth to upload video, and you can even keep track of it on the dashboard via a bandwidth feature, which is a nice touch.
The HomeMonitor HD Pro is a solidly built, well thought out product in every way. The slick online dashboard, easy set up and clear instructions at every step of the way are exactly what hesitant users need to help them take the plunge into DIY home security. Impressive image quality and low light functionality, plus the free 7 days online video storage provide the icing on the cake and make this a great all round package.
Colour camera with high quality 1 Megapixel 1/4″ CMOS lens
24 invisible infrared LEDs – see in pitch black up to 10m
IP66-rated – waterproof & weatherproof
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Ethernet
Dimensions 57 x 125mm / 2.25 x 4.9in
Weight 410g / 14.05oz
Mains operated 12V, 100-240V AC, 3.75W
1 year manufacturer’s warranty