The Expert Guide to Technology


Dropcam Pro

Posted January 28, 2015 by Jonathan Roubini in Gadgets




Company: Nest
Price: $199 + $10/month for 7 days of cloud recording or $30/month for 30 days


Slick camera. Cloud storage. Good image quality.


Expensive. Glitches in the system. No fast-forward feature. No local video storage.
Bottom Line

Can a cloud storage only camera take over the surveillance camera industry?

by Jonathan Roubini
Full Article

The Dropcam Pro can help you monitor your baby at night, your apartment when you are out or your employees when you are not in the office. Unlike traditional surveillance cameras that store the video locally, the Dropcam Pro streams the video through the cloud.

The Dropcam Pro is an improvement compared to the original Dropcam. It comes with a wider viewing angle, 130 vs 107 degrees, an improved night vision as well as support for 5G Wi-Fi. The Dropcam Pro offers the ability to stream 720p video and audio to any PC or smartphone connected to the web. It even offers you the ability to remotely talk back to whoever is nearby the camera.DropCam-PRO_Front_72dpi

Unless you own a newer iPhone or iPad, setup requires connecting the camera to a PC in order to properly set it up with your Wi-Fi network. We found this to be very annoying. To make things worse, once the camera is up and running, you cannot change your network settings unless you reconnect it to a PC.

The quality of the night vision is pretty good. In general we liked the quality of the image and the convenience of being able to watch the last 7 days or 30 days of recordings, in case you missed something. While watching your recorded streams, you can go to areas where motion or sound occurred. These markers are not always precise and we came across instances in which the software didn’t detect motion or audio.

We weren’t too pleased to find out that the recorded video playback lacks a basic function that even our defunct VCRs had, the ability to fast-forward. In fact, you can only playback from the cloud at regular speed; that can be very annoying, especially if you are trying to skim through hours of recording looking for a particular event.DropCam-PRO_Side_72dpi

Unfortunately, the cloud recording comes at a steep price, $10 a month or $99 a year to view the last 7 days or $30 a month or $300 a year for the last 30 days. If you add that to the cost of the camera and the fact that you might want to purchase 2-3 cameras, the cost can become prohibitive. There is no option to record your videos directly to local storage or to your own cloud storage account.

When you start looking closely at the Dropcam Pro, pricing is not the only issue, there are several issues that make us question the quality and reliability of the product. Throughout our extensive testing period, we came across some quirks that we didn’t like. Unless you have a reliable internet connection with upstream of at least 5Mbps, the Dropcam Pro might struggle in offering a reliable continuous video stream. Additionally, for several months this year, we noticed that on Friday nights the Dropcam Pro would often fail to connect to the server. After talking to their tech support, our only plausible explanation is that their server couldn’t handle the amount of new connections that customers initiate when the weekend starts. It was a real bummer.
We had issues with the ability to automatically turn the night vision on or off, the Dropcam Pro would keep the night vision on even 2-3 hours after sunset in a well lit room. We also noticed that when there is a sudden or fast movement, the Dropcam Pro handles it poorly with a lot of pixelation. While I am not too worried about seeing every pixel of my baby flipping in bed, I surely would want to clearly see the face of an intruder in my apartment. Basically, while the camera is capable of a 720p stream, the video is often extremely compressed, compromising the quality of the image produced.

It’s great to be able to monitor the camera through your smartphone, but the functionalities are limited and in our tests the app often crashed on several devices.

The Dropcam Pro is a great camera with a lot of potential. With some tweaks to its software and some additional new features, it could easily become the best internet surveillance monitoring camera on the market.


About the Author

Jonathan Roubini
Jonathan Roubini

Jonathan Roubini is the Editor-in-Chief of Lab Reviews.