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Gearbox: Easy security cam

TelevisionCat (animal)Apple iPhone

Name: Dropcam Echo

What it is: Dropcam Echo is a video and audio monitor. You can watch a live video feed when you tune in via Dropcam's website or its free iPhone or Android app, a great way to keep tabs on your home or driveway while you're gone.

How it works: The setup is plug and play, with the Dropcam guiding you through activation once you connect the camera to your computer with the supplied Ethernet cable. After you configure the camera to work with your Wi-Fi router, you can place it anywhere in your home, though the camera requires an electrical outlet.

The good: As an apartment dweller, I have less to monitor security-wise, so I tested the device as a cat watcher. I located the camera in my bedroom and focused it where my cats nap. With a 47-degree horizontal field of view, the camera showed my bed, a bedside table and the edge of a window. Initially, I watched only the live feed that comes with the free basic subscription. When I traveled in June and a sitter fed the cats, I tried the $8.95 per-month-service plan that lets you store videos for a week. I was able to scroll video recorded throughout the day. Camera recording is triggered by movement and/or sound.

The bad: I wish the camera could zoom in for the live feed or an event playback. For cat-watching, I found the audio feature annoyed me because it triggered too many recording alerts on my iPhone. After I turned the audio monitoring off via Dropcam's website, I received fewer alerts.

Cost: $279.

Available from: dropcam.com and amazon.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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