The Logitech Alert motion-detecting security systems are pretty high quality cameras—15FPS/720p wide-angle lens—and convenient—they're powered and networked over your home's electrical system. I don't want to be a security guard, but monitoring my own house is now fun.
$300 for the 750i indoor version, $350 for the 750e weather-proof outdoor version with night-vision. An additional $80 a year if you want the Alert Web and Mobile commander—managing the camera via a web browser or your iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, inside or outside your home network. You can view the cameras for free, on web and mobile, but you can't get all the features of the desktop software suite on the web or on the phone unless you pay.
Convenient, useful and quite good quality when you compare them to video systems normally included with home alarm systems.
I tested the 750i internal system, and setup was quite easy—only one or two degrees harder than setting up a webcam. There are various ways to mount the device—on a stand, with a suction cup, or screwed into a wall with a rack-type mount.
How it works
It's completely wired. Unlike the Vue, which is battery-powered and wireless, or other security cameras, which are AC-powered and wireless, the Logitech Alert avoids both battery-replacement hassles and wireless interference. It even has audio! All you have to do is plug the powerline-enabled camera into a wall socket (power strip does not work), and a second powerline network receiver into another socket, next to a router or switch. The receiver then goes Cat5 into your home network, and out to the internet.
To view live or recorded streams, you can either use the Windows-only Logitech Alert Commander, or subscribe to the Alert Web to get the web-based, anywhere-accessible version and the cellphone viewer. If you don't need to do cellphone viewing, you can approximate the web-version by keeping a PC on at all times at home, and then VNCing into it when you're outside your house. Video quality will be a bit worse, but most of the time you don't need the video to be that smooth anyhow.
There's an included microSD card inside the camera to save triggered events, and you can also have your Logitech Alert software automatically download those events to your PC as well.
Eye in the sky, in your home
I tested an indoor version that was pointing out of a window looking over the front door—which is essentially the same task the outdoor version would accomplish. It allowed me to see who was at the door, or, if I wasn't home, to get motion-activated alerts when something happened. Some neat use cases:
- Getting a full-body view of the person at the door, instead of just a chest-up peephole view
- Emailed alerts of when the Fedex or UPS guy came
- Automatically recording and archiving triggered events, so you could see whether or not the Fedex guy actually rang the bell or if he just threw the package and left
And if you place the camera, or multiple cameras inside your house:
- Seeing if a pet or infant got into an area they weren't supposed to
- Archived video in case you suspect your roommates are using your computers without permission
- Documented evidence of sleepwalking and sleepeating
- Pet cam
- Baby cam
And so forth.
How it looks
The 750i has a 960x720 @ 15FPS camera with 130-degree wide-angle lens that covers a pretty big area at a decent frame rate. You can zoom in if you want, but I prefer the zoomed out full view. Here's a sample video of me coming back from a lunch run. It's pretty darn good—Logitech knows how to make webcams—especially compared to, again, more traditional home security cameras. This video's slightly compressed when uploaded to our system, but you can get a good sense of how it looks.
Is it worth it?
That kinda depends on you. If you live in an area where burglary is an issue, or if someone's regularly stealing your UPS packages, Logitech Alert is a decent idea. If you want to set up a quick and easy pet or baby cam, or if you have a maid or guests you don't quite trust with your valuables, there's the indoor version. At $300/$350, these cameras are cheap enough that you can start out with one, see how you like it, and have the option to expand to more if necessary. [Logitech Indoor 750i and Logitech Outdoor 750e]
Great video quality
Wide-angle lens lets you see more
Easy to use software suite, including web/mobile versions, which are free for just viewing
Powerline networking means you need to find 2 bare sockets, not power strips
Not too horribly priced, but not incredibly cheap either
Extended mobile and web controls costs an extra $80 a year