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Y-Cam HomeMonitor

At a Glance
Product Y-Cam HomeMonitor [Website]
Summary Grain-based Indoor WiFi cloud camera
Pros • Good night vision
• Good motion detection features
• Easy setup
• Doesn't seem to affect your WAN connection much at all
Cons • Wireless range is just ok
• No local interface

Introduction

We've looked at quite a few cameras in the past couple of years and they all usually fall into one of three categories. In the first category we have the typical IP camera, accessible via a built-in web server and viewed and recorded on a separate device, often a DVR, but phone/tablet apps are catching on.

The second category is the hybrid / "cloud" type of camera. It combines the "local" features of the first category, but adds remote viewing of the camera to the mix. This is an interesting combination, but many cloud features haven't reach maturity yet.

The third category is cloud only. The most notable member of this category is the Dropcam, which Tim reviewed back in April 2012. Tim was initially pretty excited about it, but that excitement wore off as he started to put it through its paces.

The camera we'll be looking at today is the Y-Cam HomeMonitor. It falls right in there with the Dropcam, so close in fact that I'll be doing a lot of comparisons between the two in this article.

Unpacking the Y-Cam you'll find an Ethernet cable, wall wart power adapter with a nice long 10ft cable, some mounting screws, a bracket and several power plugs for different country use. Since this is a Wi-Fi cloud camera, you might wonder why it has an Ethernet cable? The Y-cam can be run wirelessly or via Ethernet, which is a nice feature, especially since the range didn't quite reach to my normal testing area. More on that later.

The Y-Cam also is initially set up via Ethernet. This differs from the Dropcam, which is set up via USB. I set the two up side-by-side and couldn't really say which one was better, they were both about the same. In homes with only tablets, the Y-Cam may have a setup advantage as long as there are Ethernet ports available.

Both cameras were set up via first creating an account on the cloud. Once the camera connected to the cloud you could begin viewing. Quick and easy.

The image below shows the front and rear callouts of the camera. Note the 30 IR LEDs. I got pretty excited when I saw it had 30 IR LEDs. You can also see it has a microphone, but it does not have a speaker like the Dropcam. I don't feel that's a deal breaker, but it may be for you if you want to yell at the cat to get off the counter or say hi to your kids from work. I've never found a tangible use for a speaker.

Y-Cam front and rear callouts

Y-Cam front and rear callouts

Inside

I tore into the first layer of the Y-Cam, but got a little squeamish from there when the board was just not moving despite my prying. On the first level I could see the Grain Media GM8125 SoC, which is the same class of chipset as found in the D-Link DCS-942L and Zyxel IPC-4605N.

Y-Cam componentry

Y-Cam componentry

The LEDs of the Y-Cam are built into the front housing of the camera vs. on the board around the lens like the Dropcam; neither has an advantage. Y-Cams specs say you should be able to "see in pitch black up to 15m". I know from other cameras I've reviewed that the distances are usually optimistic and seeing at that distance doesn't always mean objects are discernible.

Since I've sort of made a big deal about the 30 IR LEDs, I'm going to deviate slightly from the usual format of covering features and looking at Image Quality last. Instead we'll look at image quality now and cover features after.

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