Dropcam has become an overnight sensation in the world of wireless video streaming, blossoming over the past several years with an elegant combination of hardware and streaming video service that provides 2-way communication. When I was given the opportunity to spend some time with Greg Duffy, CEO and co-founder of Dropcam, I was curious what the young company had in store for the world next.
My answer would come as a review unit the same day I had a 30-minute call with Duffy. Dropcam Pro is the new top-of-the-line wireless streaming camera complete with improved video, audio, and an impressive combination of new features.
Dropcam Pro also includes an integrated Bluetooth LE radio, allowing users to set up their new camera with any Bluetooth LE capable smartphone. “We’re really excited about the potential this technology provides,” said Duffy.
With a future over-the-air update – Dropcam hardware is updated automatically via the same network connection used to stream video to the cloud – Dropcam expects this technology to make it easier to integrate the Dropcam Pro with additional devices.
130-degree Field of View and Zoom
Dropcam Pro features a 130-degree field of view, a 20% improvement over Dropcam HD. This wide viewing angle makes it easier to monitor an entire room from a corner, eliminating the need motorized movement to maximize coverage.
Improved Image Sensor and Optics
The Dropcam Pro also features a larger image sensor than previous models, allowing users to zoom in on specific areas at up to 8x the full image, enhancing the view so you get a near full quality image without the need of moving parts. The classic Dropcam is limited to a 4x zoom.
Dropcam Pro features a six-element all-glass lens that, when coupled with the larger sensor, is a significant step up from previous models. A series of IR lights are hidden behind a glossy black frame that is transparent to infrared light and doesn’t give the camera that weird alien eye look so many night vision cameras are stuck with.
While Dropcam has made significant improvements in video quality, you’re still limited to 720p video streaming.
Dropcam Pro features enhanced audio delivered by way of a new microphone with double the existing sampling rate. Additionally, the speaker has been improved to provide better in-room audio for two-way communication.
While we’re on this subject, the audio both to and from Dropcam Pro is fairly good, though it is intended for basic audio monitoring rather than any type of professional production. You wouldn’t necessarily use your Dropcam to present an entertainment show, but it works great for home monitoring and basic two-way communication between you and whomever is on the other end of the camera.
You don’t have to buy the Dropcam Pro to take advantage of new features coming to the Dropcam Cloud services. Activity Recognition (currently in BETA) detects motion activities and groups them for easy browsing later on. You can set up notifications that alert you to actions taking place on your camera. This is perfect for security monitoring or checking out the antics of a pet.
Dropcam positions itself as a service company above anything else, focused on the private user over corporate customers. My conversation with Greg Duffy left an impression, not only from his extraordinary knowledge and expertise on the product, but the story behind a company that set out to take on a market that is on the verge of exploding.
The Dropcam Pro is an evolutionary product, and while it in itself doesn’t change the world of Wi-Fi video, it tells the important story of where this industry is going. At $199, it’s a very budget-friendly solution to 24/7 video surveillance that brings out the best in the constant improvements to Dropcam Cloud services.
Two-way communication makes it easy to carry on a conversation with your pets while you’re away, see your family while on the road, or let someone at the front door know you’re on your way. It’s a fun camera to set up and share a link to. While Dropcam isn’t likely to expand its services to position it in direct competition with Ustream or Justin.tv, its unlimited (for now) viewer capabilities and 24/7 recording service makes it a compelling option for anyone that needs to keep an eye on the house while they’re out and about.
Disclaimer: For the purpose of this review, the writer received a review unit from the company.