Walmart Momentum IP Camera Tested

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 04, 2016

A 'Dropcam' for ~$30?

Walmart does super low cost and they are now bringing it to IP cameras, with a new cloud camera for an almost impossible to believe cost of just ~$30 (or a 3 pack for $90).

Over the past few years, the 'norm' for cloud IP cameras have been $150 - $200, with 'cheap' offerings ~$100. Recently, Hikvision started to sell direct at a breakthrough ~$70 (plus a year of free storage).

Now, Walmart has trumped Hikvision at less than half Hikvision's cost.

But is the Walmart Momentum Camera any good? We bought one and tested its usability, video performance and comparative positioning.

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Comments (26)

It sometimes takes a few seconds to load live video but, interestingly, there is negligible latency / delay when live video is streaming (unlike Dropcam and most cloud video offerings).

Does it even go thru the cloud for live video when on a LAN?

The negligible latency was the same whether connecting inside the LAN or via a cell connection on the road.

I am not sure how it works on the LAN, but latency is the same either way.

What you will probably find if you dig is the WalCam pushes video 24/7 and thus when accessing the video feed via the server (cloud) it is readily available and provided in a responsive time frame. The designer of this stuff has 3 choices, push 24/7 and have good responsiveness at the expense of uplink bandwidth, don’t push until requested and suffer the expense of App startup delays and poor responsiveness or push on security breach event thus making video responsive when it really needs to be (the latter being the method I use). On less responsive implementations, try enabling the server (cloud) NVR feature – you’ll probably see the responsiveness improve because the video is now being pushed 24/7 and the server no longer has to wait for the next camera client poll to request it start pushing video.

The Hikvision response to this new pricing was swift, if expected.*

*Actually, half joking since I don't know if it's a Hik, though it does bear more than a passing resemblance to their EZVIZ C2C.

Not Hik. it's from HengShiAn in Shenzhen.

Clock back to about 2 years ago when dropcam was the talk of the town in Shenzhen, lots of dropclone were made in the wave of "cloud video business model". Even baidu, 360 etc internet giant were falling for. Now came the dump.

Is the mobile access a P2P setup, or a 3-hole punch?

Why unhelpful?

I'm just asking whether you need to punch HTTP, RTSP and/or RTP holes in your firewall to enable remote viewing.

Actually it’s “no hole punch”. A peek under the skirts of DropCam, NestCam, WalCam, D-Link and all the rest, including my own Gateway plugin for Axis, use pretty much the same technology I call “HTTP push” (Gateway uses HTTPs but the results are the same). Basically the cam software pushes the video to a well known server URI. And yes, all I’ve looked at so far do so using HTTP push meaning the doggie cam video is out there in the open and up for grabs.

A peek under the skirts of DropCam, NestCam, WalCam, D-Link and all the rest, including my own Gateway plugin for Axis, use pretty much the same technology... Basically the cam software pushes the video to a well known server URI.

In the case of WalCam, is this an actual peek or a just a hypothetical one?

The reason I'm asking is that in addition to no-hole punching by pushing video to a well known stream, one can also use a well known URI just to setup direct connection between mobile device and camera, without using the cloud server as an intermediary.

Other Chinese clouds are using this method, today, so it's a possibility no?

Also, John mentions the unusually low latency of WalCam's live video , as opposed to Drop cam et al. This suggests to me that it is probably not being proxied live thru a third party server, but being served p2p.

It’s been a hectic week with too many irons in the fire. In any case, finally getting back to yours:

It's actually a peak, not a hypothetical!

There are only 2 ways for a server (camera in this case) on the friendly side of a router firewall to be accessed (or appear to be accessed) by a client (mobile phone in this case) on the unfriendly side of the same router firewall. And, it’s pretty easy to tell which is being used. In the case of WalCam, the methodology is http push to a well known address; actually addresses as in 2 separate IP address. If you track down those addresses, they lead to Alibaba servers in the bay area (I assume the Alibaba cloud service???). And yes, I know, clouds are implicitly secure, but wait, it gets better...

In my “peak” I see the camera connects to 2 well known IP addresses, one in HTTPS mode, which I assume is the control channel, and the second in HTTP mode to a specific port number (8088) which I know is the video push stream. I assume they are using secure net for control mode to prevent others from figuring out how to support their cameras??? I didn't bother, no interest...

In regard to your "well known URI" comment, URI to what? If its a URI to your home camera then that infers there is a hole punched through the router and firewall to allow the camera server to service the URI client access. You can't have one without the other. A caveat, the WalCam app does support "local WiFi" mode which I assume means they stream directly from the camera, but then the topic of this conversation is not about local mode but rather about remote WiFi'less mode.

In tracking down the low latency you and John refer to, as I reported elsewhere, it results from the simple fact that the camera is pushing video 24/7. Now you are better able to appreciate my “deer in the headlights” comment. When you have 3 or more of these little jewels installed; they will sap your entire uplink bandwidth at the expense of anything else you may want to do over the Internet. In any case, since the camera is pushing 24/7 to the cloud and since the mobile app connects to that same cloud, the video stream is, in essence, nearly instantly available to the app for display.

Since we are on the subject, some more general comments: the video quality is less than good, the video lag measures in the 4 to 10 second range (fluctuates and no, I don’t know why), the frame rate is in the toilet at about 2 to 4 FPS (again no reasonable explanation), the installation is going to be problematic for many DIY’ers (spelled returns) and last but not least, the video is being streamed in the open 24/7 with no encryption so the proud DIY’ers baby’s room is available to the world for the taking, something s/he may not be too excited about if and when they find out.

Having said all of that, my overall opinion of the WalCam device and app is they compare quite favorably with all the others in the same market space, including the DropCam’s and NestCam’s of the world. To all, “buyer beware”, cheap is not spelled "good and secure".

Good information Richard, thanks!

A couple of clarifications. First regarding:

There are only 2 ways for a server (camera in this case) on the friendly side of a router firewall to be accessed (or appear to be accessed) by a client (mobile phone in this case) on the unfriendly side of the same router firewall.

Assuming that the other one is to punch a hole to allow an incoming connection, then I still think there is a third way, as I was suggesting before.

Namely by using the P2P Skype method:

  1. The camera and the mobile device both establish outgoing connections to the well-known Wal-cam server.
  2. When the mobile device wants to see the stream, it asks the Wal-cam sever for it, on Wal-cam well know uri.
  3. The Wal-cam server the tells the camera to try and contact the mobile device directly at mobileip/random port.
  4. This fails because of the mobile firewall, but the local router does not know and adds an entry to the NAT.
  5. The Wal-mart server then informs the mobile device about the failed port.
  6. The mobile device sends a request to the camera directly.
  7. The firewall allows it, because of the NAT entry generated already.

Vid flows directly.

Dahua and Hik are using this method, probably because it avioids the bandwidth issues.

If you see live video on 8088 coming from the cloud though, I would assume they are not using this method.

Bad assumption! The second way I refer to is NOT by punching a hole. It is by use of the SIP protocol, which is what you refer to as the "Skype way". Yes, it avoids bandwidth issues assuming you have not bought into cloud recording. It is responsive at the expense of being an unlocked door for hackers to enter. Otherwise, it works well.

The second way I refer to is NOT by punching a hole.

You said there were only 2 ways for a server to be accessed from a client on the other side of the firewall, and left no hint what the other was, so I assumed the oldest and most well known method was one of them.

Yes, it avoids bandwidth issues assuming you have not bought into cloud recording.

More to my point, it typically improves live viewing latency as well. It's one stop shopping as opposed to the bucket brigade.

But as you have determined that it's store and forward video delivery thru a well known proxy, the point is moot I suppose.

Sorry never got to my second point.

Which was that I am way impressed with the responsiveness of the video, even if it is streaming 24/7 and readily available.

Why? One reason is that in the video John says "No latency", and appears to prove it by moving and shaking. Of course there must be some latency, so I'm assuming around 1-2 second max.

Which is quicker than some hardwired DVR's a LAN that I've seen.

John says as well the latency is the same when using even the cell connection.

So for a $30 camera to stream HD over the Internet, and then for the video to be forwarded to a phone over a 4g network in one second is nothing short of amazing to me.

What is your estimate of the live latency? Is it the same as the latency to first picture?

When you sniffed out the 8088 port, was that while you were viewing the live stream from outside your firewall?

Richard, I apologize, I missed this statement of yours at first.

The video lag measures in the 4 to 10 second range...

I'm pretty sure this is much, much worse than the latency that John was seeing. It's similar to the Dropcam crowd as you say.

But, if you experienced it to be 1 second instead, would you still think it was store and forward video?

How low will this go?

Concerned integrator

It's pretty close to 0, so can't get much worse....

That said, I think sub $50 IP cameras at big box stores with easy remote access will become the norm. So if an integrator is selling to homes or even SMBs, unless the home owners are rich or the business owner has demanding needs, I think this market will go overwhelmingly to DIY.

Wow, a WalCam 3 pack for just 90 bucks. Who would have guessed? Now can you imagine the deer in the headlights expression on the proud owners face when s/he discovers after installing the 3 pack that their smart TV, email, web browsing, WiFi connected cell phone, security and automation system and basically all other web activity performance has tanked? What a deal… But then hey, in 15 or so years we’ll all have Google net and that problem will be a thing of the past.

I've a similar one at home viz., Xiaoyi Smart camera (http://www.xiaoyi.com/en/functions_en.html). It also sells at $30 and offers SD card recording. There's no cloud option yet in India though. The problems that you've mentioned are very similar to this camera as well including export, unable to do FF/REW or time elapse recording. But I'm sure the apps will get better in due course. The price point is too luring not to fall for it.

Have to agree with you, this will be DIY market all the way in next couple of years.

Just had a client hand me one of these that they needed help setting up. They bought it to catch someone in the act of stealing. They had hoped to set it up themselves to limit who was aware of the camera. They could get it working for the most part, but they wanted to change some settings that the app did not allow.

So I took a quick look and low and behold, iVMS-4200 and SADP discover it as a Hikvision made device (see images below)

I was hoping to directly connect to it locally to pull a stream. I can't figure out the local credentials to login in though....?

Does the camera look the same as the one we tested? From what I see online the MOCAM-720-01 looks a little different:

VS.

Does it have a local web interface?

There's a couple of threads online which say credentials for the RTSP stream are admin/admin, but it may or may not have a local web interface.

You are correct, it is the newer version:

Maybe the camera still has the Hikvision backdoor and you can use it to make your own credentials?

That was the first thing I tried *shrug*

The day Wal-Mart has a booth next to Amazon @ ISC WEST will one day be a reality.

*Registers PeopleofISCWest.com*

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