The Compro IP70 security camera is a static high-resolution day and night camera, intended for indoor usage with a network connection. It is suited to applications such as home/office security, where an area can be monitored using a networked camera that can interface to a NAS storage device or provide remote streaming. As you may expect, if the camera is connected to an internet facing router, you can configure it to provide remove access – allowing you to view the camera using any PC or many smartphones. The ability to view the camera using an iPhone or similar device is definitely one of the product selling points.
Plenty of features are provided, such as IR nightvision, two-way audio communication and a high resolution CMOS sensor. Although there is no built-in wifi support, the camera can be upgraded with a low-cost USB wireless adaptor. Sensibly, there is also a microSD slot so that recoding can continue even if the external storage device is disconnected.
A decent resolution is important on a security camera, so a maximum quality of 1280x1024px at 15fps is ideal. If you require a higher framerate, the resolution can be dropped down to 640x480 at 30fps (if for example, the camera is to be used for streaming). Night-vision is another important feature, as this is when security cameras are most likely to be used (no doubt many offices are in use during the day!) – so the IP 70 includes an array of IR LED’s which can illuminate an area to provide an adequate image during the dark.
The full feature list encompasses:
The IP 70 feels solid and well-constructed and there is no mistaking it for anything other than a security camera. The front of the unit houses the camera lens, light sensor, IR LED array, speaker, microphone and status LED. The microSD slot is located on the side of the device, with the rear containing a 2 x 3.5mm sockets (mic/audio-out), power socket, LAN connection, wifi USB socket, reset button and a customisable IO ports.
- 1/3" CMOS Megapixel sensor
- Day and night functionality with mechanical IR cut filter switching
- Built-in IR lamp with light sensor
- Supports real-time H.264, MPEG-4 and MJPEG compression (Triple Codec)
- Supports dual streams simultaneously
- Support 4x digital zoom
- Video resolution is up to 1280 x 1024 pixels
- Image frame rate is up to 30 frames under 640x480 or 15 frames under 1280 x 1024
- Smart motion detection
- Two way audio with built-in MIC and speaker
- Support UPnP (universal plug and play)
- Support 10/100 802.3/Ethernet
- 802.11b/g/n WLAN on applicable model (Optional W155 wireless adaptor)
- Digital I/O for External Sensor and Alarm (2 In/1 Out)
- Supports local storage (MicroSD / MicroSDHC), Snapshot
- Remote monitoring from 3GPP mobile or phones with web browser (e.g. iPhone/BlackBerry)
- Hotmail and Gmail SSL webmail notification support
- Support video recording to local (MicroSD/SDHC) and remote (NAS/NFS) storage.
- Support live video watch in FireFox, Safari, Google Chrome web browsers. (with VLC Plug-in installed)
Installation and Software
Physical installation of the camera is straight forward, as 3 x wall-plugs are provided to fix the mount to an internal wall. An Ethernet cable (or proprietary wireless dongle) will need to be connected so that the device can be monitored and controlled, as well as the 5v power adaptor. It should be noted that the power cable supplied is only 1m long, so some consideration will be required when placing the camera.
Once the camera is connected to a router, the Compro camera software can be installed on a machine on the same network to begin the configuration process. It should be noted at the during the software installation process, a message box announced that Windows UAC control was being disabled – without any option to disagree or explain why this was happening. Even after rebooting the computer (required), the UAC settings remained disabled (on the Windows 7 x64 test PC). This was very disappointing to see, as a novice user may not understand the implications of this, nor realise how to re-enable it.
Two icons are place on your desktop after the installation, one is to configure the camera and the other is to view and control the camera in more detail. The “iWizard” configuration utility is very polished and works well, allowing a user of any experience to quickly get the camera up and running (without the need to manually enter any IP addresses or detailed information).
Once the camera is configured and a password set, many control functions can be performed using the web-interface. Any of the main browsers should be able to connect, although the default ActiveX control is written for Internet Explorer – other browsers will need the VLC player plugin. Testing was performed using the latest firmware version (v1.5), which removed the need to install an unsigned ActiveX control as was the case in v1.3.
The configuration utility allows you to trigger the camera using many different methods: you can record constantly, on a set schedule, when a face is detected, at a certain noise threshold, upon motion detection or when a fixed object in the scene is moved. A combination of these settings is likely to cover any possible security setup, and will record the data to your selected storage device. You can even create e-mail alerts when certain options are triggered – ideal for if you have a BlackBerry or other e-mail enabled phone, as you can then log in remotely and view the problem.
Testing was performed by setting up a combination of the detection modes on a view which focused on a desktop PC. There were plenty of occasions where video recording would be triggered, such as walking past or using the computer – all of these events were successfully recorded using the ComproView software. Although the software can be a little complex to navigate at first, it soon becomes easier to play back and configure after a couple of hours learning.
Image quality is clear in both day and night modes, with the IR LED’s claiming to provide an 8m range for illumination. The IR image capture is surprisingly clear and was taken in a completely dark room. The two photos below were captured during the testing process, demonstrating the same shot in day and night mode:
The IP70 is easy to configure and install, providing some excellent features for a product in this price range. For a small office, this product could be an ideal match – as it will integrate in to an existing network with little difficulty. For users with advanced requirements, there are IO ports which would allow you to integrate with other devices – such as alarm systems or event monitoring devices. There aren’t many products with such as advanced feature set in this price range, making it a very attractive option.
However, there are some niggles to contend with – such as the unexpected disabling of UAC without any re-activation. All of these are things that can be improved via software changes and firmware updates, so hopefully these will be introduced at a later date. It should also be noted that you will need to download and install VLC Player if you wish to use a browser other than IE (the VLC plugin worked great in FireFox).
Several new features have already been added in recent firmware updates, including SMS notifications and 10x digital zoom. By the time of publication, these should be very near release in the v1.51 update.