Under the Covers and Closing Thoughts
According to WiLife's documentation, each camera runs an embedded 400 MHz processor that internally encodes a 640 x 480 video stream to WMV, version 9, in real-time at 15 fps (frames per second). As mentioned above, these cameras sit on a HomePlug network that is only accessible from a HomePlug-connected Windows system. Checking out the settings on my Windows network, I could see that this HomePlug network was configured in a private 172.29.xx.xx range.
I couldn't access this private network from my Linux or my OSX systems, so my poking around was limited to the tools I had on my Windows XP laptop, which were pretty minimal. I used the "netstat" tool to find the IP addresses of a camera, and "telnet" to find out that the video stream was coming from port 8080 on the camera.
To see if I could view the video using an outside application, I fired up VLC, the Swiss-army-knife of video players. Pointing VLC at port 8080 on the camera rewarded me with a live video stream. The video paused after a few seconds, but the result at least showed me that the video stream coming off the camera was pretty standard and it was possible to access the camera with alternate viewing applications.
As a home monitoring and security solution, I found the LukWerks system to be first-class. Its motion-detection and recording features were complete and easy to use. Setup for the system was a breeze. And the expandability of it all means that you'll be able to add coverage easily as the need arises.
But of course, you'll pay for this sophistication. The base system can cost around $230, but fully deck it out with six cameras, IR-illuminators, and other options and you'll be paying more in the $1700 range.And with a full compliment of six cameras, the recommended PC to run it all on is a high-end 3 Ghz model. Even with the base system and depending on your usage, you may need a dedicated PC just for handing your cameras.
Another drawback of the system is the reliance on the WiLife Web site for remote viewing. There's no guarantee that WiLife will still be around in a couple of years to support the remote-viewing capability. It would be nice to have the ability to directly contact your camera with your web browser without going through the WiLife site. Along those lines, I was also disappointed that the only way to remotely view the cameras was through Internet Explorer. That's a showstopper for Macintosh users like myself and a drawback for fans of other browsers like Firefox.
But if the price of the system is within your budget, and you're a Windows user who doesn't mind using Internet Explorer, you'll find the LukWerks surveillance system a powerful setup for keeping the bad guys at bay. And speaking of bad guys, our neighborhood arsonist is now safely behind bars, and it didn't take a genius to track him down. The locations of the three fires pretty much formed a semicircle around his house and enabled him to watch the flames from his window. It turns out he was also the "hero" who warned the neighbors that their house was on fire. Sometimes instead of a sophisticated security system, you just need to rely on a dumb criminal and a bit of old-fashioned police work.