Anyone have experience with X10 wireless cameras?

Jared_B

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I am thinking about getting some type of home surveillance system, and I came accross these X10 units. Actually, how could I avoid them, they pop-up at almost every website out there. Has anyone bought from these people? Are the units themselves worth it? I would prefer a wireless setup, maybe even motion activated. If anyone has something like this, can you give me some ideas on how you are using it?
Thanks,
Jared
 

Ryan Wright

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Are the units themselves worth it?
Yep. They're worth exactly what you pay for them: Very little.
First, the Nightwatch cameras are completely worthless. They can't see a thing at dusk, let alone at night, and during the day even mild sunlight washes it out so bad that the output is worthless. X-10 should be nailed for misleading people on these cameras. (I returned both of mine for a refund)
The color cameras are OK. They're about the same quality you would get from a cheap webcam - you know, the kind that sit on top of your monitor. If you've never played with one of these, here's some info: They are extremely sensitive to light and have no tolerance for dim conditions. They really require bright light to operate. In a regular room with normal lighting, their output will be very dark - just barely usable. You have to turn on a bright halogen lamp or something similar to really make good use of them. They worked great in our office with rows upon rows of fluorescent lighting in the ceiling.
The wireless performance is decent, but they rarely will go as far as the company claims. If you ever want to set up an 802.11b wireless network, don't bother: The cameras will interfere. They may also interfere with some 2.4Ghz cordless phones and other 2.4Ghz products.
It boils down to this: If you want a toy/something to play with, and don't care that it is worthless in all but bright light conditions, buy one. They're cheap and you can have a lot of fun with them. However, if you're like me and are serious about video surveillance, get yourself a real camera. Smarthome.com sells some nice weatherproof tube/bullet cameras starting at $120 or so.
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-Ryan (http://www.ryanwright.com )
Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and you'll have their shoes.
 

John Miles

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If you ever want to set up an 802.11b wireless network, don't bother: The cameras will interfere.
That really shouldn't be the case. 802.11b is a direct-sequence spread spectrum system that should be reasonably good at getting around FM sources like those cameras. Even if there's interference, you should be able to change the WLAN's channel assignment to avoid it. Have you actually run into trouble with video cameras and WLANs? I'd be curious to hear how bad it really is.
 

Jared_B

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Cool, lotsa washington residents here....
Ryan, I am originally from Wenatchee, not too far from you. Thanks for the input on the camaras. They do seem too cheap to be worth-while. What kind of setup do you have? (or would you consider buying?).
-
Jared
 

Ryan Wright

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Have you actually run into trouble with video cameras and WLANs?
Not personally; I filled my walls with cat-5 when I built my house last year and don't need WLAN. However, friends of mine do have WLANs setup, and have had all sorts of issues with these cameras powered up. Specifically, nasty reductions in speed and frequent loss of connectivity. Power the cameras down, problem goes away. I agree that it shouldn't be the case, but it is.
Jared: I currently don't have any video monitoring setup, though I've installed systems for others and recently purchased a camera for my company which we're installing next week (so the receptionist can see who's at the receiving door before letting them in). I personally would buy something like this. I'd tie the cameras to a dedicated server, capture 1 to 4 frames per second 24/7 to disk, and use motion sensors to increase capture to 15 or 30fps. Time lapse VCRs are expensive and you have to change tapes on a daily basis if you want any sort of decent performance. A computer based system can store as much data as you have hard drive space and can overwrite the old stuff automatically with no intervention on your part.
However, I have yet to actually setup a computer based system. The systems I've setup used time lapse VCRs, as anyone can use one of those. Not everyone has the motivation to learn the ins & outs of a more complicated computer based setup.
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-Ryan (http://www.ryanwright.com )
Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and you'll have their shoes.
 

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