Testing VSaaS / Dropcam HD

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 14, 2013

Dropcam is pretty clearly the strongest upstart in the VSaaS market. While Axis has pushed their hosted service offering for years, it is beset by poor ROI and weak performance. There are dozens of other VSaaS Startups but no one matches Dropcam's relatively huge VC funding and dominance on Amazon. However, is Dropcam just a sales and marketing play?

To find out, we bought a Dropcam HD and tested it. If you are interested in consumer use, there's 600+ Amazon reviews as well as a teenage blogger's video review that we found impressive.

Our test focuses on the competitive positioning of the product and what makes Dropcam different from other VSaaS offerings, both good and bad.

******* ** ****** ******* *** ********* ******* ** **************. ***** **** *** ****** ***** ****** ******* ******** *** years, ** ** ***** ****** ********** ***********. ***** *** ****** ** ***** ***** ******** *** ** one ******* *******'*********** **** ** ******* ************ ** ******. *******, ** ******* **** * ***** *** ********* ****?

** **** ***, ** ****** ******** ***** ****** **. ** *** *** ********** ** ******** ***, there's***+ ****** ********* **** ** * ******* *******'****** ********** ** ***** **********.

*** **** ******* ** *** *********** *********** ** *** ******* and **** ***** ******* ********* **** ***** ***** *********, **** good *** ***.

[***************]

Ease ** ***

**** ** **** ***** ******* ****** ** *** **** *********** any ***** ***** / ** ****** ********:

  • ** ***** *** *** *** ******. **** ***** '**** * ****' ******* ********* ******* ******* and ********* * **** ****** ** *** ***, *** ****** or ******** ** * ***********. **** ** *** ****** **** Dropcam.
  • ** **** ** ******** *** ****** ** * ******* ** use * **. ******* ***** ******** **** ***'* ** *** ** ******** *** cable. *** ******** ************* ******* *** ******** ** *******'* *******.
  • *** ***** ******* ** ******. *****'* **** *** ***** - (*) ******* ** * Dropcam ******* *** (*) ********** ** * ******** *******. ******* automatically ********* *** ****** *** ***** ** ** **** ******* without ***** ********.
  • * ** **** **** *****. **** ******** ** ****** **** **** * * - 6 **** ***** ***** ***** ***** ** **** ** ***** an ******. *** **** ****** ***** ******* ******** ********** ****.

**** ** * ***** **** ************ **** ** ***** *** usability ******:

***** ** ***** ***** * - ** ******* ** *****, more **** *** ******* '** *******', ***** *** ****** ** intellectually ******* *** ********* ********* ** ** ****. ** ****, the **** **** * **** **** **** ** ***** ** is ***** ***. **** ** ******* *** **** ********* **************.

Features / *************

******* *** **** *** ********, ****** ********** **** ***** **** / ******** *********. ****'* ** ******** ** ****:

*******, ***** *** * *** ******** **** ***** ***:

  • ****** ********* ****** / *** ***** *********: ****** **** ** ******* **** **** * **** ****** of ***** ********* (*.*., ******** ******* ****, ****, *******, ***.), Dropcam *** * ********** *** ****** ** ***** ********* *** does **** **** ***** ********* **** ****** (************ **** * person ***** ** ******* **** ******* * **** ** *** field ** **** ** ** *** **********). ** ********, ******* only ***** ** ***** ***** **** *** ** *******, ********** of *** **** ****** ***** ***. ***** ******* ***** *****  '**** ******** ****** *********', *** **** ******* ******** **** ** ** ******* ********** but ****** ***** ** *** ************ / ***** ** *** consumer ******.
  • ******** ***** **********: **** ******* ** ****** ****** ******** *** ****** *** families. ***'* ****** *** ** ****** ** **** ***** *******. When *** ****** **** *** ****** ****** *** ******** (********* of ***** *******), * ****** ** **** ** *** ****** to ***** ********* *** ******* ******. **** *****, **** *** phone ** ******** **** ** *** ********, *** ****** ** turned ***. **** ** ****** *** ***** *** **** *******. See *** ****** *********'* ******** ***** **********.

The ****** ******

******* **** ** ********* ****, **** **** ***** ************ ********. Ambarella ******** *** * ********* ****** *** ******* ********* *******. Here's **** ** ***** ****:

 

Not '****' ** - ********* ********

****, *** ********* *** *****, *******'* ** ** *** '******' HD. *** ***** ***** ** ********* **** * *** *** Dropcam ********* **** **** ***** *********** ** *** ** *** low ********* ********** **** *** ********* ******* ** *** ***** than **. *** ********, ** *** *******, **** ************ ** cameras *** * ************ ***** ******* ** - **. *******, Dropcam ********* **** * *** ****** ***** (****** **), ***** significantly ******* ******* *******. *** **********, *** ******** ************* ** ******* ***** *********** *********. *** ********** ***** ******** *******'* ******* *** *********** ******:

******* ********* *****/* ****** ******, ** *** *****, ** *** ********* ****** ** *****/*. Either ***, *** * **** / ***** ****, **** ********* level ** *** *** *** ** ******* ** ***** ******* very **** *********** **** ******** ***** ******* ** *** *** the ******** ******.

Ongoing ***** / ******* & *********

** ******** **** ******* ****** ~$* *** ***** ** **** for *******/********* *** ***** $*.** ***** **** ******* **** (***** on ***** ***** ****** ******* ******* ** * ****** *** ******** ~**** ** ******* *** *******). ******** the *********** ***** ** **** '****' ** ******* ***** ****** triple ***** ******* *****. **** ****, *** ******** ***, ** is ******** **** ******, ****** **** *** * ****** ****** competitor **** ******* **** ** **** **** ******* *** ****'* not * ********* ****** *** **** *****.

 

Comments (16)

I've bee using Dropcam for at least a year now at my house and love it. It's ease of use, mobile access, flexibility - all the reasons you mentioned. They desperately need an outdoor version though. We have young children and when they're playing out in the front yard my wife will simply move the camera to the front window and watch them from the kitchen on an iPad. Having an outdoor version with a microphone would be great to hear better what's happening outside (any crying kids). I find the search function very easy to use. Each motion event will show little GIF images allowing you to get a sense of what's on that particular clip without actually playing it.

Not sure how well Dropcam would scale to a full blown commercial offering, but for residential use needing a couple of cameras around the house, I recommend Dropcam to all my friends.

Although form a video surveillance standpoint it is a little lacking as compared to most major manufacturers IP security cameras, but for a $149 consumer porduct that my mother could install, it's actually quite clever and well delivered and an excellent price point. Ease of use goes a long way in the consumer products market.

A lot of technology innovation has been driven from the ground up, per se, starting in the consumer market where the volume is large enough to generate enough revenue, even at low margins and eventually leading to development for the business world. I'm sure the future of VSaaS for business will evolve initialy out of the consumer market.

Although its lacking in features, most end users that this type of product is targeted to probably dont want all those features because it just ends up confusing them anyways. I think they were geniuses when they made this because they made it so simple to setup. Simplicity is such a huge thing.

Dropcam is a gimmic that has been well marketed. There are other products that are 25% - 50% more for the hardware that are just as easy to install and use that work better.

You get what you pay for and you see better with more light!

All, thanks for the feedback.

David, if you have specific recommendations, please share and we can review.

I think that one of the most important points in their solution is the server ability to stream Adobe Flash compatible streams (FLV) to the client, meaning that the client software could be Web based (Flash based) and the end user doesn't need to install anything else besides a Web browser and the Flash plugin to watch video streams properly - like Youtube does.

Considering other VMS/VSaaS solutions, this is the only one I know capable of Flash streaming. Probably because their camera already send the streams in Flash compatible format (or at least using the H264 Flash codec - would need to check that using a network sniffer), so the server doesn't need to transcode it to Flash. Other cameras with mjpeg/mpeg4/h264 standard codecs would need the server to transcode the video streams to Flash video to accomplish that - at a huge CPU cost.

This is one of the limitations of most VMS Web clients that usually ask for an ActiveX plugin (compatible only with Internet Explorer), or use a JPEG/MJPEG solution (like Milestone Web client) to use HTML only and allow cross-browser compatibility - forcing the server to transcode video streams to MJPEG.

It's a fact that Adobe Flash is an abandoned technology (http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/11/adobe-kills-mobile-flash/), the new HTML5 Web standard is going to replace it, but, in my opinion, as a VMS developer, I think they spent a lot of time developing this technology, but it worthed. The Web client is great and allows a very good user experience.

Hey Wagner - Definitely great points on the flash component, and while the demise of that technology platform has been long heralded... Flash browser/market coverage is still totally epic (will be for quite some time) and mobile apps cover the rest!

Great write-up John!

how is this different from the IP camera STARVEDIA sells from Taiwan?, which is also plug n play.

Starvedia is definitely one of the pioneers in the 'plug n play' space (it was one of the first cameras we tested 4 years ago).

Some technical difference include:

  • Dropcam integrates 'plug n play' recording users have to set that up separately with Stavedia
  • Setup is more complex as you have a password card, a thick client and have to discover the camera on the network using the client. With Dropcam just plug the USB cable in, no client needed, no password cards, etc.
  • It appears that their web interface requires an ActiveX control.

All in all, I think Starvedia is pretty good, though not at the ease of use level of Dropcam. Also, from reviewing the website just now, it does not appear that the product has significantly improved in the last few years.

Just a small correction regarding what Wagner said, there are some VSaaS offerings (including ours - NeoVSP) on the market, which offer Flash streaming as the default method (with optional fallback to legacy methods if needed).

It's indeed the most convenient method to deliver video for the consumer market today, albeit it has its own limitations.

That said, our new personal safety cloud platform Eyecam, is built on mix of HTML5 and Flash, in preparation for the moment that browser vendors will finally agree on the common video protocol and codec, and allow us to drop Flash and provide great video experience with native HTML5.

- Starvedia camera needs an ActiveX installation. Works only with IE. Just check their online demo.

- Stas, great to hear that are are solutions offering easy access for the Web. But how does the CPU cost for transcoding affect the architecture and specially the prices?

We avoid it by having the encoding done on cameras (as I presume, Dropcam does).

It always better to distribute the work to end-devices (same for edge-storage), rather than having a central system carry the entire load.

Really ironic that consumers are probably stuck on the idea of framerate being the most important requirment for these cameras when really, for the purposes and limitations of hosted recording and viewing, I think the consumer would be much better served with a default of 2 or 3 frames per second and much less quantization.

This is a very interesting review, but I don't clearly understand whether this is a USB device or an Ethernet device. The review suggests USB but online information suggests Ethernet. Can you clarify this point?

Paul, it's actually a clever approach. It's a WiFi camera (no wireline Ethernet) but it uses USB for power and for initial setup.

When you first get a Dropcam, you connect it your laptop's USB interface, it finds the camera (no need for software) and sets it up. Then you disconnect for your laptop and plug the Dropcam into an outlet and it's online.

We reviewed this in the original test but skipped it here because it did not change.

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports

Video Surveillance Hard Drive Size Statistics 2018 on Nov 08, 2018
What is the most common hard drive size for video surveillance? 150+ integrators answered: What size hard drive do you most commonly use? What...
Kogniz Silicon Valley AI Startup Profile on Nov 07, 2018
Kogniz is a Silicon Valley company that aims to bring AI analytics to security and surveillance, centering on their own smart cameras: We spoke...
Dahua Dual Imager Dome Camera Tested (HDBW4231FN-E2-M) on Nov 07, 2018
Dahua has introduced a dual-imager dome model, the HDBW4231FN-E2-M, with two independently positionable sensors including integrated IR, not found...
Favorite Video Surveillance Hard Drive Manufacturer 2018 on Nov 06, 2018
Who is the favorite hard drive for video surveillance use? 150+ integrators answered: What is your preferred brand/model of hard drive for...
Winter 2019 IP Networking Course on Nov 05, 2018
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals.  Lots of network training exists but none of it...
Video Surveillance Hard Drive Failure Statistics 2018 on Nov 02, 2018
Hard drive failures can be significant service problems but how common of an issue are they in video surveillance? How long do drives last when...
Building Occupancy Codes and Access Control Tutorial on Nov 01, 2018
A building or room's classification can greatly impact which building codes must be followed. In terms of access control, these 'occupancy codes'...
Cloud Video Storage Usage 2018 on Oct 31, 2018
Storing email and documents in the cloud have long been common, with on-site email or file servers increasingly eliminated. However, what about...
Wyze Explosive Growth Disrupting Consumer IP Camera Market on Oct 30, 2018
Wyze, a company founded only in 2017, is poised to disrupt the consumer IP camera market by combining American marketing and Chinese manufacturing...
Video Quality / Compression Tutorial on Oct 17, 2018
While CODECs, like H.264, H.265, and MJPEG, get a lot of attention, a camera's 'quality' or compression setting has a big impact on overall...

Most Recent Industry Reports

'Sticker' Surveillance Camera Developed (CSEM Witness) on Nov 16, 2018
The Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) has announced what it calls the: world’s first fully autonomous camera that can be...
ISC East 2018 Mini-Show Final Report on Nov 16, 2018
This is our second (updated) and final show report from ISC East. ISC East, by its own admission, is not a national or international show, billed...
Facial Detection Tested on Nov 16, 2018
Facial detection and recognition are increasingly offered by video surveillance manufacturers. Facial detection detects faces in an image/video...
Throughtek P2P/Cloud Solution Profile on Nov 15, 2018
Many IoT manufacturers either do not have the capabilities or the interest to develop their own cloud management software for their devices....
ASIS Offering Custom Research For Manufacturers on Nov 15, 2018
Manufacturers often want to know what industry people think about trends and, in particular, the segments and product they offer.  ASIS and its...
Hikvision Silent on "Bad Architectural Practices" Cybersecurity Report on Nov 14, 2018
A 'significant vulnerability was found in Hikvision cameras' by VDOO, a startup cybersecurity specialist. Hikvision has fixed the specific...
French Government Threatens School with $1.7M Fine For “Excessive Video Surveillance” on Nov 14, 2018
The French government has notified a high-profile Paris coding academy that it risks a fine of up to 1.5 million euros (about $1.7m) if it...
Integrator Credit Card Alternative Divvy on Nov 13, 2018
Most security integrators are small businesses but large enough that they have various employees that need to be able to expense various charges as...
Directory of Video Intercoms on Nov 13, 2018
Video Intercoms, also known as Video Door-Phones or Video Entry Systems, have been growing in the past decade as more and more IP camera...
Beware Amazon Go Store Hype (Tested) on Nov 13, 2018
IPVM's trip to and testing of Amazon Go's San Francisco store shows a number of significant operational and economic issues that undermine the...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact