When my Mum lived with us, we were fortunate enough to receive a fire alarm with texting capabilities that would alert 3 different people in the event that it went off. However to give me peace of mind, I would have preferred a small CCTV camera that I could have accessed through my iPhone when I’d gone out at any time just so I was reassured she was ok and allowed me to keep an eye on what she was doing.
I did look for something on the internet but they were all far too confusing with wired connections to a main control unit and to be quite honest, having to set something up like that just confuses me. I’d rather have had a plug and play unit. Which brings me onto this amazing find!
WatchBot is a portable cctv unit which once connected via your IP address the app (available on mobile/tablet/pc) allows you to view whatever is going on in the room you place it in.
Initially the camera was a bit of a nightmare to set up on my Mac. Although it claims to work on Mac, you do have to download and possibly purchase (if you have more than 6 things connected to your internet IP) the IP finding software which worked really well as it quickly found what the IP address of the camera was. I had the ethernet cable connected initially but however much I tried it couldn’t find the camera on the network. According to my ISP I would have had to set up port forwarding which I didn’t really want to do so I installed the app on my iPhone instead which was seriously easy and then allowed me to set the camera up. I think the only I way I got the camera to work via the app was with the long number underneath and scanning the QR code. Subsequently this is also how I set up the iPad app. There was supposed to be a username/pwd with a watchbot url but that was no where to be seen. I have an idea if this were shown as promised via the user guide, then this would have made it a whole lot simpler and given me the ability to watch onscreen via my PC. The app didn’t give me access to all the multi function features the PC software has but did allow me to password secure the stream (which stops other people gaining access to it), watch the action and speak through the camera via my iPhone mic. Once the camera is set up, then you can pull the ethernet cable out since it’s connected via wifi and therefore you can put the unit anywhere you need to watch.
We set ours up in the kitchen as we thought it would allow us to keep an eye on the dogs when they walked through the kitchen to go out into the garden but I found it quite fun to watch Andy cooking and shout stuff at him through the mic. The one thing about that though is if you switch the mic on, turn the speaker off and then vice versa for the reply otherwise something similar to the gran canyon echo. But you can set it up as a baby monitor, CCTV in nursing homes, to capture things via the night vision or just as a general camera for home security.
The picture once you view through the app on either iPhone or IPad is superb. The iPad picture was slightly clearer and easier to manoeuvre since the screen was larger but if you were just dipping in and out of the stream you wouldn’t be disappointed.
If you’re watching on the app and you want to record something – as long as you have memory available on your phone, it should record simply by pressing the little hollow camcorder icon on the bottom of the screen. Press the speaker icon and you’ll get sound too (which is pretty clear). This then gets saved in the app folder (which you can access on the main log in screen at the bottom). If you want to take a screenshot, just press the camera icon on the bottom of the screen, or if you’re using an iPhone just click and hold the menu button with the power button and it will take a picture of what you see on the screen.
Another advantage of using the camera with the app is the fact you can see a stream from each of your cameras on the main screen should you have more than the one. Then it’s just a case of choosing which one you want to see in a larger screen. Easy peasy.
I’m a little perturbed that I couldn’t get the desktop software to recognise the camera since I would have loved to have tried the email alert via the motion sensor which would be brilliant if you are away from the house for a long period of time and expect everything to be stationary and still. A trigger email or even text would be amazing but knowing it would record the thing that has triggered it would be sensational to see. I may try the software on Andy’s Windows PC when it comes back from being repaired so will update this with the results of whether or not it’s easier to set it up via Windows 8 rather than via Parallel Desktop and Mac.
Personally I love this little gadget and will no doubt purchase a couple more to keep an eye out on the front of the house and the garden for total security. It’s small, neat and easy to use. Costs £149.95 which may seem a little steep, however for peace of mind I think it’s worth it as if I have to go out, I can put my mind at ease by a swish of the finger.