Best web/security cam for capturing the catfights?
February 16, 2016 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Looking for something simple that will let me see on my phone a) that the garage door is closed (its usually dark in there) and b) capture video (and audio would be awesome) when motion triggered of our cats scrapping at home. I'm thinking this would be 3 cameras, if something is easier to manage a set of cameras thats a plus. Would love something that alerts me to motion, then I get to see the video hoping for a crazy match. Suggestions?
posted by H. Roark to Technology (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Nest Cam does everything you're talking about (app will alert you when there is motion/sound, and show you a video clip, and you can go back and watch more video if the clip is not sufficient, and of course you can view live video anytime). I use it to monitor my cat when we're away for a short time.
posted by thefoxgod at 1:38 PM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

We also use Nest Cams/Dropcams for watching our cats when we're away. They work pretty well, including night vision and motion detecting. The image quality is MUCH better than the cheap Foscam cameras we have (those also have horrible security holes, but that's a separate issue). Do be aware that if you want archiving, you have to pay for their service. Also, there's no way to pan/tilt the camera remotely, if that's important to you.
posted by primethyme at 2:01 PM on February 16, 2016

We just got an Arlo set up that has 3 cameras and night vision and would recommend it.
posted by soelo at 2:11 PM on February 16, 2016

*nods* at Dropcam suggestions. That is why I use to spy on my cats.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 2:15 PM on February 16, 2016

If by "best," you mean simple with minimal investment, Alfred would work if you have some spare phones lying around.
posted by sageleaf at 2:47 PM on February 16, 2016

If you aren't up to spending a lot of money, I have one of those Foscam fi9831w and I am quite satisfied with video quality. You can do all those things you suggest, including notification of motion. You can pan/tilt with any computer or smartphone. I bought an overpriced dropcam(nest) cam, having already owned netcams, and was pleased with picture quality but nothing else. Saving video online is expensive. Netcams like Linksys, Foscam can email a motion video right to you. Nest and Dropcam you're paying for the brand.
posted by nogero at 2:47 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

was pleased with picture quality but nothing else. ... Nest and Dropcam you're paying for the brand.

With a camera, picture quality is kind of the thing. This is like saying a beer tastes better, but nothing else is better about it, so you're just paying for the brand. Obviously YMMV, but I have both Foscams and Dropcams, and it's really no contest with respect to which actually allows me to best see what's going on in my house, which is the reason I bought them.
posted by primethyme at 3:02 PM on February 16, 2016

If you have privacy concerns (and if you don't, that's OK too) make sure to investigate any options you consider. Even Nest has had security leaks (for the thermostat.)
posted by DarlingBri at 4:00 PM on February 16, 2016

I have an trio of Arlos, one of which is specifically set up to spy on whatever my cats might be doing. There's advantages and disadvantages of Arlos:

• Incredibly easy to install the cameras as they run on batteries and connect via wifi: no wires needed at all.
• They have a free plan level where your footage is stored online for 7 days
• Great image quality day and night (the video linked above is set at their predefined medium setting, there's a higher image setting)
• Videos are viewable via web browser and iOS/Android smartphone apps. Both site and app(s) are reasonably well designed, it's easy to build custom activation schedules and notifications (email, native smartphone). I like that you can enter any number of email addresses to be notified as well as be granular about which cameras send what notifications.

• There's a several second lag at the beginning of recordings between when the camera first detects motion and when the recording starts. This results in the camera I have pointed out at the street dutifully capturing the view of an empty street as the car passing by that set it off has long driven out of frame.
• No audio capture
• No pan/zoom
• While the batteries have lasted longer than I expected, they are not cheap to replace. Each cam takes (4) CR123As. People who live in cold weather areas have reported much worse battery life than the 4 months I'm getting in a temperate climate. You can adjust the video quality/recording length by camera to eke out the best compromise between image:battery life. Apparently it takes rechargeables, I might try those next.

So, I dunno. Had I known about the recording start lag, I probably would not have purchased the Arlos. However, given that running power cables outside was simply never going to happen without hiring a handyman to do the work, the Arlos are a good fit for my use case.
posted by jamaro at 9:38 PM on February 16, 2016

Another con: Arlos don't work well through windows, if you want to capture outdoor footage, the camera needs to be outside.
posted by jamaro at 9:44 PM on February 16, 2016

I moved one of our Arlo cameras to point out a window that has a screen on it and it does work. It focuses on the yard beyond the screen, but I have only checked it in broad daylight.
posted by soelo at 12:28 PM on February 29, 2016

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