|At a Glance|
|Product||Belkin F7D7602 NetCam HD Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision [Website]|
|Summary||Cloud-enabled Wi-Fi only camera with 8 IR LEDs for night vision|
|Pros||• Nice long power cord
• Great wireless range
• Solid construction
|Cons||• Lack of local interface means no integration with other surveillance apps
• Essentially unusable night vision
• Not many features
• Crude motion detection setup
• Some features not available via browser, i.e. app only
Belkin has just started shipping its NetCam series of cameras. The Belkin NetCam HD Wi-Fi Camera, which we'll be looking at today, is positioned for home use to keep an eye on kids, pets and grandparents via easy cloud access and HD quality. It supports 720p resolution via a wide angle lens, has infrared night vision and a built-in microphone for audio. The camera is 2.4 GHz wireless only.
I didn't pull the NetCam HD apart because the FCC ID site had great and detailed pictures. The main processor, which also handles the 802.11 b/g/n wireless functions, is the popular Ralink RT5350F wireless SoC. Dual Winbond W9825G6JH-6 256 Mbit SDRAM chips bring the DRAM to 64 MB. And a single Winbond 25Q128FVSG chip provides 16 MB for flash. The image below shows the front and back of the NetCam HD's board.
Belkin NetCam HD Board Views
On the camera side, eight IR LEDs provide night vision spec'd at up to 8 M, which is just over 26 feet. I was excited to test this as most of the cameras I've tested lately have less in the way of IR LEDs.
The lens has a 78° horizontal viewing angle and a 45° vertical viewing angle. Looking at some of the other cameras we've reviewed, 78° is a nice wide lens which allows for a wider viewing range in a static location. On the outside, the camera features are meager, but functional. The front side has the light sensor, a microphone, the LEDs and the lens as you can see in the image below.
Belkin NetCam HD Front PanelOn the rear there is simply a switch for Setup Mode, which I'll talk about later, and a Reset button. You can see these two features in the image below.
Belkin NetCam HD Rear Panel
Lastly, since I criticized the D-Link DCS-942L camera for having a cheap soft plastic ball and socket joint, I feel it's relevant to mention the NetCam HD has metal ball and socket joint as you can see in the image below. For an inexpensive camera, it feels very solid overall.
Belkin NetCam HD Metal Ball and Socket
In the box came the NetCam HD camera, a quick install guide, mounting hardware and a very long power cord, which I very much appreciate. I've done way too much soldering of additional lengths to power cords when a camera only comes with about 4 feet. Throughout all my testing it was more than enough power cord to reach each test location.
Belkin's marketing literature mentions that no computer is necessary for setting up the NetCam HD, so I put that to the test. The NetCam HD is wireless only, so there is no plugging it in to the network and letting it set itself up by DHCP. Instead the NetCam HD has a setup switch on the rear, which as the name would indicate, puts the camera into Setup Mode.
Belkin NetCam HD Setup Mode switch
In Setup Mode, the camera serves as a wireless access point that you access from any wireless client. Once connected to the camera's wireless network, you use the NetCam app for Android or iOS. A message indicates a new camera is found and you are walked through the setup process that connects to your home or business wireless network, gets you set up on the NetCam cloud and then disables the camera's own wireless network.
Belkin is marketing this as a camera to watch over the house when you're not there. But the mischievious side of me wondered what would happen if I flipped the switch to put the camera back into Setup Mode once I'd already set it up and connected it to an account, so that's just what I did. To my surprise, accessing the app simply said, "I see a new NetCam HD. Would you like to set it up?". Walking through the setup let me choose a different wireless network and different Belkin account. As a home camera I guess that is ok, but I wouldn't be comfortable with that in a business security situation. It also made me wonder what exactly the reset button was for if Setup Mode brought you back to ground zero. Beyond my mischief, the camera set up quickly and easily and I was ready to go.