My daughter, Isabella, is at an age where she’s just starting to get mobile. She can now turn from being on her back to being on her front and cannot often make it back again. When she’s in bed this is a problem because I cannot tell the cry of “I’m stuck, come and turn me over” from “I’m not asleep yet, maybe yelling will get me some company”.
Some research and a poll conducted on the Dolphin Fan Mailing List suggest that the FOSCAM F18918W camera might do all I need at a price that seemed quite reasonable.
I ordered the camera online direct from FOSCAM, obtaining a small discount by using the coupon code “wifi1001”. UK first class delivery is free. It arrived the next day. Opening the box, you get the camera, two power adaptors (EU and UK), an Ethernet cable, a wireless aerial, a mounting bracket, screws & rawl plugs, an install CD and a small booklet of installation instructions. I attached the wireless aerial, connected the network cable, plugged in the power and watched the camera perform its power-on calisthenics.
I popped the CD into my CD-ROM drive, and here’s where problem 1 occurs. The CD is not recognised as being a CD. I shrug, open a new browser tab and head to the UK FOSCAM website expecting to be able to download all the stuff I need. Every attempt to download stuff results in me being asked to register. I do so, sighing slightly. I eventually get the link, click and I am diverted to a 404 page in a pictorial language I don’t recognise. I notice the path is “/down/”, perhaps they meant “/download/”. No, they didn’t. I go back to the UK site and hunt for more links, none are forthcoming, so I call the number listed on the website.
After perhaps a dozen rings, the phone is picked up by someone with an American accent and the sound quality suggests IP telephony and that they most likely are really in America. I explain the situation, asking for a download link for the setup tool. The chap helpfully directs me to the “.us” website and leads me to a page where I can get setup instructions for setting up port forwarding for various brands of routers so that you can view your camera over the Internet. I restate the problem more clearly, I don’t have the setup tools to configure the camera at all in the first place, and I’m not asking about routers, I just want to know where I can get the tools from.
He understands. I am asked to send an email to a gmail account [sic] asking for the tools to be mailed to me. As he’s explaining this I locate a link on the .us website and download the tools. They’re in a .rar file. For some reason that always makes me think of warez puppies.
The tool installs, starts, and almost immediately shows me a list containing my camera with the address it has DHCPd. I head to the URL and am confronted with a login screen. I look for the login details in the pamphlet and find problem 2. The login details are printed in black and white, but are printed over a black and white photo in the manual. I know the username begins with “a” and it has no password. It’s not “a” or “administrator”, it turns out to be “admin”. I am admitted to the web GUI.
First task is to get it on the wireless LAN. This proves tricky. Clicking on the Scan button results in nothing, eventually I work out that changing the encryption protocol and clicking scan gets me an AP list. I want to assign it a static IP address via DHCP. I look for the wireless MAC address. It is not listed anywhere in the GUI. I examine the labels on the camera itself, one is the MAC address that my router says it gave an IP to, and matches the URL presented by the setup tool. There is a second MAC address on the label, I take this to be the wireless interface MAC. I am wrong.
I should mention annoyance 1 at this point. Every change in setting requires you to reboot the camera.
I eventually manage to get the wireless interface to connect to my home wifi network; the MAC address is entirely different. I sort out a static address for it and set up port forwarding. And here’s where it gets good.
The camera does everything you would expect. The remote control is brilliant, the sound lovely and clear, the night vision is great. The pain of setting it up is entirely forgiven as it now Does Exactly What It Says On The Tin. The image quality is perfectly good for baby monitoring. The send-email-on-movement works perfectly well, the slightly ENGRISH menus will not get on your nerves at all. The night vision lights are quite dim anyway and can be switched on and off remotely (as can the network lights) meaning the unit is barely noticeable even in the near total blackout of a nursery.
Despite the negatives above, I’m very happy with this camera. If you’re looking for an addition to your baby watching arsenal, you will do well to buy one of these.