One of the features we often call out on "cloud" cameras is expensive online DVR or the complete lack of it. Dropcam is expensive, charging $10 a month for 7-day recording and $29.95 a month for 30-day recording. Y-Cam wins hands down here. 7-day recording is free forever and 30-day recording is $39.99 per year. An important distinction, however, is that Dropcam records a constant stream, while theY-Cam records only alert snippets. That is a considerable difference.
Both products' timeline views are equally intuitive and easy to use. Looking at the two,you can see the alert clip recording of the Y-Cam above and the continuous recording of the Dropcam with marker events for motion alerts below.
Both cameras will email when motion is detected and can alert via an app on your Android or iOS device. The Dropcam will also sound an alert. But the Y-Cam can be viewed on Roku.
I found positives and negative of each camera. For instance, the Dropcam email alert sent a snaphot of the motion for easy viewing, whereas the Y-Cam just included a link to view in "desktop version" or "mobile version".
But the Y-Cam was more configurable with setting up motion detection, allowing you to set multiple motion zones, schedules and sensitivity, whereas the Dropcam simply had one motion setting, on or off. You can see the Y-Cam's motion setup in the image below.
Y-Cam Motion Detection setup
Y-Cam alerts you when the camera goes offline, and lets you know when it's back online. Dropcam has similiar alerts, but only for offline; nothing to say it's back.
The configuration options of the Y-Cam are very modest as you can see in the list below:
- Camera on/off
- Camera name
- Microphone on/off
- Online/offline notifications on/off
- Night Vision Enable/Disable/Auto
- Motion Recording on/off
- Motion Recording zones
- Motion Recoding sensitivity
- Motion Recording schedule
For a broader look at the Y-Cam's cloud interface, as well as some app screenshots, check out the gallery below.
While putting this article together I often went back to Tim's Dropcam article. It appears that Dropcam has probably fixed a few things that bugged Tim when he looked at it. The biggest being the bandwidth problem. I tested both the Y-Cam and the Dropcam extensively with lots of action in the frame and only saw about a 0.5 Mbps hit to my bandwidth.
Both cameras also connected right back up to wireless after power cycling them, which was good for how much I moved them around. I prefered the base, mounting system and power cord of the Y-Cam over the Dropcam. Like Tim, I had the Dropcam pop right out of its mount several times and the USB power cord seemed very bulky.
Both cameras seemed to have about a 5 second lag. I could walk into the room where the camera was, then walk back over to my desk and still see myself in the other room. In reality, this probably isn't all that bad, unless you were trying to use it for two-way communication.
The Y-Cam HomeMonitor costs $199, while the Dropcam is $149. While that number seems higher on the surface, 7 days of alert recording are always free on the Y-Cam, whereas that costs you $10 a month on the Dropcam (although with continuous recording). The price difference doesn't look so bad when you consider that.
Cloud-only cameras aren't for everyone. A power user may like more control of the camera and the ability to record locally. And they may be concerned about the bandwidth it's taking. But there are more "connected" users who aren't power users and don't want to futz with equipment to get it exactly how they want. They want something you plug in and just works. This little camera will do just that.