At the device’s front, a proud section holds the light and camera sensors with IR lamp for video, while a fairly large speaker and pinhole microphone take care of audio. A small LED indicator glows blue to indicate a good network connection and flashes red if it can’t connect, but in case you think it’s too obtrusive or draws attention, duct tape is not required as you can switch it off permanently.
Around the back we have the aforementioned USB connector on its own slightly adjustable metal arm, 3.5mm audio and microphone jacks, an Ethernet port and an I/O port. There’s a carefully indented reset button that takes some effort to press, and a MicroSD card slot if you wish to record to network-accessible internal storage, saving potentially precious bandwidth. The camera itself uses a 1/3in CMOS sensor and a fixed 4mm (32mm equivalent) f1.5 lens.
Installing the accompanying ComproView software is quite easy. After you’ve entered the default user name and password (found in the manual, these can be changed later) you are led through a reasonably quick and intuitive installation process. The only quirk worth mentioning is a video quality selection page where the description claims M-JPEG will give you the best quality, but the only choices are MPEG-4 or H.246. The camera can run at up to 30 frames per second at a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 (VGA), and upping this to 1,280 x 1,024 lowers the maximum frame rate to 15.
You also select when to begin recording: the IP70 offers a choice between constant, time-based (where you can set a date, start/stop time and intervals) and event-based. Events range from several types of detection including motion, scene (if there are changes within the camera’s range of vision), object (when an object is taken outside of the camera’s range), face (looks for human faces, whether moving or still) and audio (when the microphone picks up “suspicious” noise). Of course you can also select where to store recordings, and you have a choice of any storage connected to the network.
ComproView features a straightforward interface, though adjusting settings post-quick setup can be a tad unintuitive. The software allows you to monitor up to 16 cameras at once, which is good for easily monitoring a multitude of streams though the views are too small to make out any fine detail. Moreover, consumers who’ve opted for the IP70 probably wouldn’t be getting more than four cameras. Multiple video streams and two-way audio communication from a single camera complete the generous feature set.
Remote (or local) viewing through a web browser was not as straightforward for us. Originally designed to work with Internet Explorer, our test with version eight was mostly unsuccessful: we could get snapshots through the camera but for its live video feed the software kept “connecting” without ever showing an image. Other browsers are supported through the VLC plugin, but at least in Firefox’s case this is not compatible beyond the ‘ancient’ version 3.5, so anyone with an updated Mozilla browser is out of the game. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to test the device with an iPhone or Blackberry, both of which it specifically claims to support.
Other problems with the IP70 included confusing firmware updates and remote viewing setup guides, showing older interfaces or not explaining what software they were referring to, which is especially frustrating for less tech-savvy users.