Review: Compro's Full-Fledged Home & SMB Security Cam System Minus The Expensive Installation

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$270 More info from brand

Written by Matthew Lentini     29/07/2011 | 06:42 | Category name i.e.AUTOMATION

The Compro IP540 takes the small business or home security camera installation and boils it down into a simple camera and software bundle that hands over complete control from anywhere online. It isn't a holistic security kit, but it does turn a technical operation into a foolproof step-by-step home job without sacrificing important features.

Installing the IP540 physically and on the software and networking side is a simple job. The camera is configured and its video software installed at the same time. The CD installation gives a step-by-step guide on setting up the unit wired, wirelessly or through a port switch (but the latter can be little bit finicky for beginners).

Otherwise, the installation is seamless with all the IP memorising and network configuration automatically set up by the software. Wireless requires a hardline to a router and then an additional Wi-Fi dongle attachment which is sold separately.

The camera is mounted with a screw-on plate for ceiling mounting, and the software installation configures the camera for its upside-down view if mounted to a ceiling.

The ComproView software allows up to 32 Compro cams to be linked up to the one hub, with simple but fully functional controls over each feed.

The camera picture itself is completely customisable from the simple yet resourceful software coupled with the camera. Video quality can be tweaked from file types like h.264 for high quality but compressed feeds, MJPEG for mobile streaming and MPEG-4 of various qualities and frame rates.
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Low-light performance is almost brilliant on this cam, bar one hiccup. By default, the camera automatically switches between day and night modes, switching onto infrared (IR) night vision when a room gets dark. This can be disabled in favour of a manual approach.

The low-light performance is great thanks to the IR mode, capturing luminous details across far lengths. This would be a handy feature for capturing outdoor footage at night except that the IR lights on the camera can't be switched off without turning off the IR mode altogether. What you're left with when filming out of a closed window at night is a harsh reflection like when taking a conventional flash photo through any reflective surface.

Alerts are (mostly) customisable based on whatever stimuli you set the camera to detect. This event based video recording takes into account things like movement to begin recording video, take snapshots or send alerts to the email or FTP server of choice. Either to save digital storage space if you're running the camera off an ordinary PC or to be constantly in the know while you're away, this unit has you covered.

On the downside, there was no function for taking periodic snapshots or videos and having time-stamped files forwarded off, though the option is there to schedule timeframes for the camera to operate.

The customisation extends to the sensitivity of the camera's detection software. In the control interface (whether you're looking at it through your browser or on the primary software), a 1-10 level is given to control the sensitivity for stimulus like sound and motion so that, for example, if you don't want to be sent an alert every time a distant car on the road outside is picked up by the camera, you can simply tune down the sensitivity for motion detection. It'll require a bit of trial and error though to make sure it's just right.
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Online control from anywhere, including mobile devices like iPhones, Android phones and Blackberry phones, is the standout feature of this IP camera. A static IP address site is created when you set up the camera with log-in name and password and can be used to access the camera and full controls via web browser. Handily enough, you can also set up a unique iDDNS 'website' name for your IP540 so you don't have to remote the IP address version.

 In the settings, users can toggle more than one feed so that one is optimised for ordinary PC browsing while another, lower quality feed is optimised for viewing on a mobile. Network bandwidth detection finds the appropriate video bit-rate for certain feeds to eliminate the guess work.

The remote controls allow users to move the camera on its 340-degree angle and 100-degree tilt in real time with less than a second delay, and also receive and deliver sound through the two-way microphone and speaker. There is a slight mechanical noise when turning the cam though.

Coupled with a firmware update to support Seedonk instant messenger software, there are multiple other ways to view through the camera's eye, including through apps on Android and iPhone. The internet control is compatible with all major web browsers with the installation of either a VLC or an Internet Explorer-specific plug-in.

The Compro IP540 takes the small business or home security camera installation and boils it down into a simple camera and software bundle that hands over complete control from anywhere online. It isn't a holistic security kit, but it does turn a technical operation into a foolproof step-by-step home job without sacrificing important features.

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Pros & Cons

Pros:

Quick and easy installation of the device and software; Completely controllable online

Cons:

Narrow viewing angle; indiscreet, constant blue LED