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Feature Tour

The Smartvue S4 system comes with its own base station, can handle up to 10 independent cameras and operates on a private draft 802.11-n wireless network for what Smartvue calls "DVD-Resolution" video, i.e. 720x480. Since it operates on its own private network, it doesn't place any load on existing LANs.

Figure 1 shows the back of the attractively styled base station. Along with network and power connectors, you'll notice three prominent fan vents.

Basestation back panel

Figure 1 : Base station back panel

Even though it draws only about 50 W, this is not a quiet unit. When it's powered on, it's noisy. You can also see USB ports on the back. These are designed for an optional security key for restricting usage.

The front of the unit has various status LEDs for both the unit and for each connected camera. The unit was fairly large as these things go, being about the size of a compact PC.

For this review, I was supplied with two indoor cameras (Figure 2).

Camera

Figure 2 : Camera

Figure 3 shows the back where you can see a network port for wired use, an analog video out port for direct viewing, and another fan vent.

Camera back Panel

Figure 3 : Camera back Panel

This unit, much like the base station, was a bit on the noisy side as well sounding like a distant hair dryer (power draw was around 10 W). The cameras I received had base stands, but Smartvue also offers an interesting connector that allows the unit to be attached to, and powered from, a standard track-lighting bracket. But with the noise and a status LED on the front, don't expect these to be particularly stealthy cameras.

One of the touted benefits to the Smartvue system is easy configuration and setup. Setting the system up was documented to be nothing much more than plugging in a network cable to the base station, powering it up and powering up any remote cameras.

As advertised, setup of the system was really that easy. I plugged a network cable into the base station, powered everything up and turned to the Windows-only software install disk. Figure 4 shows the installation software running. For the most part, the main job of the "Assistant" is to install software to find the IP address of the base station on the LAN.

Setup Assistant

Figure 4 : Setup Assistant

Once it is located, the camera is configured via a web browser. Administration of the system can be done either via a standard HTTP connection, or via secure HTTPS connection. Once I logged in with my browser, I immediately jumped to the "Live Video" page to check out my cameras. Viewing the cameras required the installation of an Active-X plug-in to Internet Explorer, but once this was done, video from my two cameras was available inside the browser and I was up and running. So basically, the system was self- configuring. The base station found the two cameras on its own and configured them for viewing.

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