Easy iOS setup; Crystal clear video; Dramatically better low-light performance; Wider field of view
Back speaker not very loud; Somewhat conspicuous design
The Dropcam Pro Wi-Fi camera improves upon last year's model in just about every way, making it a great choice for keeping an eye on your home.
Home security is becoming rapidly more affordable and more accessible to those with little technical knowledge. The new $199 Dropcam Pro is the latest such example. In addition to packing a much better lens and sensor than its predecessor, this Wi-Fi security camera is even easier to set up than last year's version, and works more seamlessly with your smartphone.
DesigniZon. The camera is housed in a small plastic disc that's 2.6 inches in diameter at its widest point. The camera attaches to a teardrop-shaped metal bracket that can be mounted to a wall using the included screws and anchor bolts. In the back of the Dropcam is a microUSB port to power the camera; the company provides a 10-foot-long USB cable and plug, which makes it easier to place the camera where you prefer.
Next, the iOS app walked us through setting up a free account, and then searched for the Dropcam Pro via Bluetooth. After it found the camera, we selected the Wi-Fi network we wanted to use with the device. The app automatically updated the camera's firmware, and began streaming video to our phone. In all, it took about two minutes.
The setup process is a little more involved for Android users. Like the Dropcam HD, you'll need to plug the Pro into a computer via USB to configure it to work with your Wi-Fi network.
A not-yet-implemented beta feature will allow the Dropcam to send alerts, or ignore specific activities it sees. For example, if the camera is pointed at your front door, you can have it ignore trees moving and people walking by on the sidewalk, but send an alert if someone walks toward your front door. That's pretty clever.
As with the Dropcam HD, a small speaker in the back of the Pro lets you talk to whoever you see on camera, but it's not very loud. You're more likely to confuse your pets than scare off an intruder.
Also at the bottom of the home screen is a button for Featured Cameras; select this button, and you can view other Dropcams whose video feeds users have made public. You can do the same with yours, too.
The Pro currently shoots video in 720p, but company reps said that it's capable of 1080p. The Dropcam Pro also has a wider field of view -- 130 degrees to the HD's 107-degree view.
When it came to recording in the dark, the difference between the Dropcam Pro and the Dropcam HD was literally night and day. Where the HD's video displayed almost nothing, the Pro's night vision (in black and white) made it very easy to distinguish objects in our office.
Pricing and Plans
The Dropcam Pro costs $199, which is $50 more than the Dropcam HD. Users who don't sign up for Dropcam's cloud video recording will get alerts via email and the smartphone app, but won't be able to save any footage.
Dropcam offers two tiers for its cloud-based video recording service. A plan that saves up to 7 days of video costs $9.95 per month, or $99 per year, and the plan that saves up to 30 days of video costs $29.95 per month, or $299 per year. Each additional camera will add $4.95 per month.