For more than a week now, I’ve been playing with a Wi-Fi camera called the WatchBot. I received the device for review on my geek dad blog. Thanks to the many features of the camera, you can use the Watchbot for things like home security, checking in on your children, monitoring your baby, and communicating with your kids. The Watchbot includes a camera, DC power supply, wall mounting kit, alarm connection adaptor, network cable, set-up CD, and user guide. BTW, the power supply is designed for the UK, but a power adapter for the US was included with my unit. The Watchbot retails for $237.95.
The setup of the camera wasn’t difficult. All you have to do is connect the camera to your router with the network cable, download the software to your computer, and then add the camera in the software. If you want to use the wifi, you can set that up with the desktop software or via the set-up CD.
The desktop software lets you see what the camera sees. The software supports up to 64 WatchBot cameras. In addition, you can use the software to move the camera up or down, and right or left. You can use the software to record video or take snapshots. One of the best features of the software is the ability to turn on the camera’s infrared sensors so you can see in the dark. Cool!
Here’s another nice feature of the Watchbot — it’s equipped with two-way audio. That means you can listen and talk! The audio isn’t super clear, but it’s pretty neat.
I have not tried it yet, but the Watchbot also includes a motion senor that can trigger an alarm. When the alarm is triggered, Watchbot will send screen shots of what it detected to your smartphone.
The camera’s software is not limited to just the PC. There are also versions for iOS and Android phones. The mobile versions enable you to monitor your camera when you’re out and about. The app includes some of the features of the desktop version. However, there are a couple of problems. First, the iOS version is a lite version that prompts you to upgrade to use some of the features. The Android app has more features, but you can’t download and install it directly from Google Play. Instead, you have to install it manually and override the security warning. A bigger problem is that the app is not well-behaved. If you close the app by hitting the home button on your Android phone, which is what most people do, the app continues to run in the background. In my case, it made my phone run hot, drained my battery, and consumed my data plan. To prevent this, you have to manually close the app by holding the home button and then removing the app from the list.
BTW, the video feed isn’t high resolution. The video looks OK on a smartphone, but it looks horrible on a desktop computer. But even though the video doesn’t look great, it’s good enough to see what is going on.