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We were also impressed with the zoom functions as the mouse wheel provides ten steps for the optical zoom and then switches to digital for the last step. As most camera users will agree, digital zoom is usually of little value but with the HCM381 we found it works well with none of the image and focus deterioration you’d expect to see. We also found audio operations worked well enough as we were able to hear voices clearly at the remote location but they were out of synch with the video feed as there is a lag of around one second.
Sony’s SNC-MX25P to the left and Panasonic to the right - the Panasonic is a clear winner for quality.
Wherever the camera is located you need to ensure access is restricted and you can create a list of up to fifty password protected user accounts and choose from a list of fifteen functions and decide which ones if any each user is allowed to control. Motion detection is good and when it is triggered you can choose to save the images in the camera’s buffer, upload them to an FTP server or email them to three different addresses. Detection can be fine tuned from the preview screen which uses bar graphs to show sensitivity. However, this only applies to the entire image - Axis’ cameras allow you to create different windows to specify where motion is to be detected or ignored.
Up to eight preset positions can be configured and used with the triggers to cause the camera to move to a specific position if an alarm is tripped. You can also trigger recordings with a timer that takes still pictures at specific times on selected days and use any sensors connected to the I/O terminal block. An output connector is also provided for adding a device such as a security light which can be activated from the browser interface. The SD card increases the camera’s buffer memory and is used to store recordings with Panasonic estimating that a 1GB card can hold around 58,000 images at 320 x 240.
If you’re on a tight budget we would recommend the BB-HCM381 as despite the lower price its image quality is far better than that offered by Sony. It doesn’t support MPEG-4 compression or offer any wireless capabilities but does make up for this with a range of quality surveillance features