Logitech aims for a simple but flexible home security camera system. (October 10th, 2010)
Internet-based home security camera systems are often a difficult prospect: they not only have to master video but motion detection, networking and remote streaming. Logitech’s latest offerings, the 750i and 750e master systems, aim to cover it all with a way to check HD-level video even from your iPhone. We're reviewing the 750i security system to see how well Logitech has managed to hit its targets.
Product Manufacturer: Logitech
- Good video quality.
- Simple powerline Ethernet.
- Web and iPhone access.
- Wide viewing angle.
- Disappointing motion detection.
- Low-gain microphone.
- Relatively expensive.
- No Mac desktop app.
Hardware and setting up
Both of the 750 series systems offer identical HD video quality, while the 750i we're reviewing today is the indoor model and the 750e is the waterproof and night vision enabled outdoor version. Since both the 750i and 750e are ‘master’ cameras they serve as the core component to the security system and other add-on cameras can be added to the network with them.
The 750 series of cameras from Logitech are connected to your network through HomePlug powerline networking. This is somewhat of a blessing and a curse. You don’t have to run any new cables or use Wi-Fi bandwidth for your security system, but you need to dedicate a power outlet to the system everywhere you want a camera, assuming of course you have a power outlet where the camera would go.
Setup for the 750i was very simple. We installed the software included by Logitech and wired up our camera to its HomePlug adapter and our router to the other HomePlug adapter. For mounting the camera Logitech supplies three options: a suction cup mount for glass surfaces, a bracket that can be drilled into drywall or wood surfaces and a small cradle to set the camera on a ledge, desk, or shelf. Logitech uses a smartly designed locking mechanism inside the camera base to ensure that when the Ethernet cable is connected it is secure and can’t come undone. The Ethernet cables Logitech includes are both very thin and heavy-duty. The HomePlug adapters have a set of diagnostic LEDs on them and we appreciate Logitech including an on/off switch for the LEDs.
The camera comes with a 2GB microSD card included, which isn't much for HD video but is enough for the largely automated, short bursts of footage the 750i captures. Users can have the camera permanently record video and access the video later from the included Logitech Alert Commander software. The entire system can accommodate up to six Logitech Alert cameras, both inside and out.
Software and viewing video
Logitech Alert Commander is currently and regrettably Windows only, but the company also offers both a neutral web-based platform and smartphone platforms (including the iPhone) in Alert Web Commander and Alert Mobile Commander respectively. The two mobile platforms can view live feeds from the camera in real time as long as they have the bandwidth. For users who also want the ability to watch recorded video and change settings, they’ll have to post an annual subscription fee of $80; unfortunately, those features are only free for seven days.
All three versions of the software were very easy to use; that's partly because there isn't much to change, but it's also designed to be extra simple. Additionally, we couldn’t find any features present in the desktop version that was missing in the two mobile versions. Lag-time for video loading was about the same on the desktop and web versions, with the mobile version being noticeably slower due to the limited connections and processing power.
Video quality was very good regardless of which platform we accessed the camera from. Logitech specs the video feed at 960x720 and at 15FPS. The camera is designed with a very wide lens -- 130 degrees to be exact -- and thus has a wider viewing angle than many other security cameras. The Commander software allows users to zoom the lens into a given area of the field of vision if need be.
The motion activation capabilities of the camera and the gain on its built-in microphone could both use some improvement. Many times the motion activation system would detect motion on a lifeless scene, and other times it wouldn’t pick up something as obvious as a person walking by. We found that it did detect upwards of 75 percent of all motion, but that last 25 percent is quite critical when someone is breaking into your house. The system is capable of sending e-mail notifications when motion is detected in addition to simply recording the scene. Audio quality on the camera is acceptable, but the microphone needs to have better gain.
For $300, users get the base of a comprehensive home security camera system with the 750i. The HomePlug connectivity will be a plus for some users and a issue for others. Certainly don’t select this camera if you need great audio recording abilities or perfect motion detection capability. The 750i is mostly a good choice for a simple video monitoring system that is expandable and has a huge field of vision. While $300 may price some users out of the market for this camera, its ease of use and video quality can justify the price tag.