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Testing Out the Dropcam Pro

Have you ever wished you could keep an eye on your home when you’re not home?  Perhaps you want to see the kids in the backyard while you’re cooking up dinner or check in on your dog while you’re at work?  Dropcam Pro may be the perfect solution.  It’s a compact easy-to-use wireless internet camera that helps you keep an eye on the things you care about.

Hardware

The Dropcam Pro is a circular plastic puck-like device.  It has a camera on the front and a micro-USB port alone the edge.  It snaps into the metal stand so you can set it where you like or mount it on the wall.  Setting up the Dropcam Pro for the first time is simple and only takes about 5 minutes.  Once you’ve programmed it to connect to your WiFi network, the rest can be done via the web or the Dropcam app on iPhone or Android.

The camera on the Dropcam Pro is a step above the original Dropcam.  It’s HD and has a wider angle than before, 130 degree view.  It also has IR lights built-in so the Dropcam can see in the dark.  From my tests it worked well but don’t expect it to look as good as it does during the day.  It looks like a typical night-vision video stream.

Using the Dropcam Pro

The site and app are both simple to use.  You can login and watch your cams remotely whenever you want.  The quality looks great as long as you have a solid internet connection.  I tested it out on WiFi and via a 4G connection (T-Mobile) and it worked well.   All of the Dropcam settings are accessed remotely too.

You can setup alerts to notify you on your smartphone or via e-mail when the Dropcam detects motion.  In my tests it worked exactly as expected, e-mailing me a photo from my camera as soon as someone walked into the frame.  If you sign up for a Dropcam cloud plan you can go back and watch video of the motion that was captured and save it as a file.  Again, you can’t watch or record ANY video unless you pay for a cloud plan.  The cloud service starts at $9.95/month.

Cool features

There are a few unique features that set the Dropcam apart from other WiFi cameras.  There is a speaker in the Dropcam Pro that you can use to talk through the camera.  Hit the microphone button on your smartphone, start talking and the audio will come out of the camera itself.  Want to calm your dog?  Simply speak your doggie talk.  Want to tell the kids to do their homework?  Done!

I also like that you can setup the Dropcam Pro to automatically turn on when it detects that your phone has left your home and turn the camera back off when you’re home again.  This adds a level of security knowing that the camera is turned off when you’re home.  With that said, Dropcam promises that security is their highest priority.

What I’d change

My only complaint about the Dropcam Pro is that there are limiations unless you buy a cloud storage plan.  Sure, the camera can be used just fine without the cloud plan but you can’t record or go back.  I wish there was a way to save video without buying a plan.  Perhaps a cheaper cloud plan option that only saves the last few hours?  $9.95/month is a bit steep for families that simply want to keep an eye on their home.

Overall

Dropcam Pro is easily one of the best WiFi cameras on the market at a reasonable price,  $199.  There are less expensive cameras out there but the video quality, build quality and feature set will be hard to match.  If you really want to save some money, I’d suggest the original Dropcam, $149, but you will notice the difference in video quality.  In the end, it’s an easy way to watch the things and people you love when you can’t be there.