Posts Tagged ‘Camera’

Following on from our review of the D-Link Smart Home Plug, we have decided to take a look at the other products in the ‘mydlink Home’ range. In this review, we’ll be looking at the Monitor HD video camera.

The PIR Sensor will be covered in an upcoming review.

Introduction

The Monitor HD is a 720p video camera that can be used anywhere in the home. The camera has night capabilities with IR LEDs capable of illuminating  up to 5m, and so for the purposes of this review, I will be installing it in my nursery as a baby monitor.

First impressions

IMG_1576

 

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It’s a nice looking camera with a gloss white finish which should compliment most interiors. On lifting it from the box, the first thing that hit me was just how incredibly light it is. This may sound odd, but before I even start to use it, I want to weigh the thing down!

Setup

Sure enough, after plugging the mains cable in and positioning the camera where I wanted it, the slight curvature of the mains cable angled the camera away. It took a few attemps to get it to sit still in the right direction. Fortunately you can mount it on a wall using screws and D-Link kindly provide a drilling template in the box should you wish to go down that route.

As with the other products in the range, the camera has a WPS button on the side which when pressed in combination with the WPS button on your  router, will connect to your home Wi-Fi network.

D-Link advertise the camera as for use exclusively with it’s mydlink Home app (available on iOS or Android). Indeed, for most people, this will be what they use and it will be more than satisfactory. However, after digging a little deeper I discovered that it’s capable of operating as a standard IP camera over HTTP/S, RTSP and UPNP. It’s worth noting this as I don’t think D-Link are doing themselves any favours by ignoring traditional IP camera sales when it works so well.

So just to reiterate, you can view the video/audio stream in the mydlink Home app, or any IP camera app. The initial setup of the camera and any firmware updates will need to be done in-app though.

Firmware updates are applied in-app, automatically…

 

 

Performance

Here is a full colour daytime shot taken from the nursery window:


And a full colour daytime shot in the nursery:


This is a split view showing the D-Link DCS-935L operating as a traditional IP camera alongside a Foscam IP camera on the fantastic LiveCams Pro app.

IMG_0072

Top: D-Link DCS-935L (IR LED on). Bottom: Foscam 9804W  (IR LED on).

Extras

Audio is provided via a built-in microphone, but there’s no 2-way baby-soothing audio functionality.

Summary

As a starter camera, I can honestly think of nothing  better due to its integration with the mydlink Home app and the provided setup wizard.

It really is the kind of thing you could buy for your grandmother and she’ll be able to configure it for herself. Dig a little further though and D-Link have provided the features to make this a good investment as a standalone IP camera too. It’s a product that will grow with you if you’re new to this sort of thing.

 

TheTechSpy rating: 8/10

It is amazing the things you can do on a tablet nowadays. The games you can play and the uses are endless. From talking to your friend half way across the world for free to editing a hi-res photo with professional detail while on the sofa listening to music. It makes me think of what did we actually do when we were younger? How did we survive? How did our parents keep us entertained?!

As a parent myself, it worries me that my child uses the iPad far too much and sometimes we all rely on it far too often. I have even seen my son walk up to a digital photo frame and swipe to the right to see the next picture, but left feeling slightly confused as it doesn’t work.

The question is, are children nowadays too reliant on modern technology and is the imagination that I think we had, going to be lost to a processor? This question can only be answered as time goes by and we see what happens to the next generation.

All is not lost though…A company called Tangible Play (made up of old Google staff) have released Osmo, a new crowd funded app for kids that encourages ‘real world’ play. It allows the user to pick up things and build using their hands, thanks to a mirror attachment which turns the iPad’s camera to view the surface where your child is playing.

Recently I have looked around the App Store and failed to find anything that is different or breaks boundaries, but this app is very different and we should stand up and take notice.

All of the games to be used with this kit are optimised for ages 6-12 but each game has a varying range of difficulty. Take Newton, it’s a physics game, which uses the same concept as “Cut The Rope” where players can use any object, from lines on a piece of paper to a toy or even their own hands to control the stuff on screen. All you really need is a piece of paper and a pen to get started.

Tangram, is a game where puzzle pieces in the real world must be matched to the shapes on screen. The kit comes with an iPad stand and mirror connector and promotes your child’s creativity as suddenly the brain is thinking in many dimensions!

I do not only love this as a educational toy for my kids, but also as a concept in itself. It is not often you get something that comes along that breaks the mold and creates a whole new genre of games….this might just be that thing.

Available now on the Osmo Website for $49. This is a steal considering what you get and of course this will double once pre-orders have been fulfilled. The company is concentrating on developing the apps, but will eventually open this up to developers to create their own games….so watch this space.

Check out the Osmo video

 

 

So, it has been a while since the 60D was announced, nearly 3 years to be exact, which is a long time for an upgrade in an industry that releases more derivatives of DSLR’s than BMW do with the Mini brand.

Like the 60D, this camera is aimed at the enthusiast looking to take photography that little bit more seriously. The camera pretty much looks the same, keeping the camera looking very traditional which most photographers like. The camera has been upgraded to a 20.2mp APS-C sensor from the 60D’s 18mp and will work with “most” EF lenses (officially Cannon have stated 103 of the 156 out there).

One of my favourite upgrades to this camera is the presence of a touch-sensitive display which with owning the 60D I missed, but do not worry, all the dials and buttons are still present. Canon have allowed features like touch focus to take full use of the new display and bring the camera bang-up to date. In video mode, a new sensor based auto focus is used to make focusing faster.

The 70D has taken a leaf out of the impeccable 7D’s book by including 19 cross-type AF points which steps up this camera to the next level. Along with this, Canon has included WiFi connectivity. This enables you to transfer images between cameras, computer or to a smartphone/tablet wirelessly. You can also use this to control the camera using the iOS app downloadable on the app store.

Images are processed by the DIGIC 5 engine like the 5D mk3, which allows shooting of 7fps for up to 65 frames in JPEG meaning fast paced photography will be a breeze.

This camera represents a reputable upgrade from the 60D and for the first time we have a real reason to go for it as this in my opinion will be come a class leader in its group. The camera is set to be launched at the end of August and will be priced at £1079/$1199 body only.

Canon 70D

 

 

 

Over the weekend I was lucky enough to get to play around with a very neat Nikon Coolpix camera which really is waging war on your smart phone for the real estate in your pocket.

The Coolpix S01 is an ultra compact, ultra light, 10.1mp camera which is no bigger than the credit card in your wallet. It’s just under an inch thick, but could easily sit in your pocket, keys or handbag with no issues at all as it weighs 96g!

As soon as you put your fingers on the camera, you immediately come in contact with the coated stainless steel body which will shield it from scratches and makes it feel expensive. It has a 2.5″ touch screen display which I would say is one of the down sides of the camera, as it is a little bit on the small side. Quite strangely, this camera includes no removable storage or battery so it has 7gb of internal storage to make up for it.

You can expect the usual filter effects which we have all come to desire from cameras and smartphones nowadays, which include miniature, fish eye and toy camera effects. The camera does include 720p video recording, which I have to say I wasn’t bowled over by.

This camera, from what I can see is aimed at being in your bag/handbag or pocket for those quick split second shots that we all miss, but I can’t see someone spending £100 on this when you can get nearly the same quality shots from your Android or Apple device. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cool little camera that maybe people could take out with them when on a night out as its flash is far superior to any smart phone out there, but in any other situation I can only see our smartphones being more favourable as it wins with 3g and WiFi connectivity.

Cute little camera for a real niche market.

Nikon-Coolpix-S01

 

 

 

Continuing on from Part 1 of the iOS Replacement Apps blog, here are some of the next apps which could replace the stock apps on your iPhone to make your life easier and maybe even a little more fun!

 

Apple: Safari

Non Apple: Opera – Free

Now, let me first say, there is not a lot wrong with Apple’s offering, Safari is a great browser but sometimes we get bored and just want those added features. Opera includes all the standards, tabbed browsing, bookmarking and of course the “find in page” option, but also has some added features like share options to easily share with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google + and of course email.

One of the best features is the in-built data usage tracker, which can show you how long you have spent off of WiFi which could become particularly helpful while on holiday on those expensive roaming charges.

This app is a step up from Apple’s offering, but you may also want to take a look at the competition in the form of Google Chrome which is also a great alternative.

 

Apple: Camera

Non Apple: Camera+ – 69p

Camera + is an immense app which will change the way you take photos with the iPhone. Not only can you take photos with it, but also edit them after. While taking a photo, you can edit the exposure and focus in real-time. You also have a variation of shooting modes (Burst, stabilised and even timer) and the unique ability to have the iPhone’s light on continuously to take a picture so that you can see what you are doing in low light conditions.

Editing shots are easy, but you can also import into Lightbox for even more possibilities with the choice of automatic sync available. From the app, you can transform your pictures with almost professional tools, allowing many possible Effects, brushing and layering at your fingertips. The app also allows you to share with the likes of Facebook and Twitter direct from the app after editing and is now available on the iPad.

 

Apple: iBooks

Non Apple: Kindle – Free

iBooks I think has a nice feel to the app, but some of you may not like the life-like design that Apple opt for. The only problem I see with this app, is those of you who like to purchase books and build up a huge collection are going to be stuck with Apple’s collection and of course staying with iOS from now on. Kindle changes that, you can buy books through the Kindle store which offers over 1.5million titles including books, magazines, newspapers and PDF’s.

The attraction for me is that you can pick the book up from the very page you left on in any device across iOS, Kindle devices, PC/Mac and Android meaning you are not stuck with iOS for the rest of your life. Some of the newspapers available are the The Spectator, The Daily Mail and The Guardian and the best features include dictionary look-up, search inside the book and the ability to change font, size and margins.

A great all-rounder which is free and solves a lot of issues.

 

Apple: Music

Non Apple: Groove 2 – £1.49

Once again the stock music app from Apple does the job, but it does have some short comings. Along with being a little bit boring and no major changes in the app being done in the last few years, one of the things that really gets to me is the creation of playlists. Going through my huge music collection to add songs to my newest playlist, I would like to be able to briefly hear the song I am about to choose (just like you can in the iTunes store before purchasing) but Apple have missed this.

Groove 2 is a great app which studies your listening habits and creates a wide variety of instant mixes like your own personal DJ. They claim that you will never have to create playlists again.

Winning quite a few awards, this app has some cool features. When you are in the car, you can use smart gestures to control volume, playback and get new mixes while keeping your eyes firmly on the road. It can also create playlists for you with a touch of a button which before BBQs and parties can be a valuable tool to save time.

You will not regret upgrading to Groove 2, if you are serious about your music, this is the app for you.

Apple Apps

 

 

 

 

Sony has just unveiled a compact camera that is jam-packed full of features, tightly fitted in its light and small body. The features include a 20.4-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor and a whopping 30x optical zoom. The camera weighs 9.6-ounces, and measures 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.2-inches.

The HX50V with its old-school design is far from old with its rich list of tech. The HX50V has built-in Wi-Fi which when used through the Sony PlayMemories mobile app can work as a remote control and aid wireless transfer of images.

The camera does not forget its roots, still keeping the multi-interface shoe which allows you to add an external mic or flash to take your photography to the next level, but also includes an in-built flash. It keeps the multi-functional dial found on the more professional DSLR which just feels good and allows for connection of a remote shutter controller for those who do not want to use the available app to control it.

Along with all the hardware, Sony have ensured that the camera has the optical SteadyShot system which can only be a good thing when taking pictures on such a good camera. It also records Full High Definition video smoothly and has the normal image filters which we now find on most photographic devices. The unit has a decent maximum ISO sensitivity of 3200.

Altogether, this is a well-rounded camera and keeps Sony up there with the titans. It almost feels like it is a super camera disguised as an older Clark Kent to fool everyone.

It’s out in May this year, but Sony have not unveiled UK prices as yet. Our stateside cousins will be shelling out a cool $450.

Sony HX50V

Sony HX50V