As you might have gathered from reading this blog, we have a fluffy cat named Eva.
After taking a few trips this past month we began to realize that cat-sitting is quite expensive and perhaps we should invest in some cheaper alternatives while away for short getaways.
Enter Project: Kitten Cam.
As an avid reader of tech blogs (especially Engadget) I knew there were a few solutions out there for in-home security monitors. Which we all know is just a fancy name for kitten cams.
I had a 50% off coupon for Logitech accessories, maybe I’d give their option a try ( since I do LOVE their harmony remote and keyboard and mice). But, turns out their system only works with Windows and we have a Mac. Negatron.
Next up was Vuezone, I’ve read good things about their system and it was relatively cost effective ($169.95 for starter kit via Amazon). So we Optimus Primed that baby, err…Amazon Primed it, I mean.
Here’s what arrived on our door stop…
Now with our luck, most things touted as “easy setup” usually end up taking us several hours. But the VueZone kit was different kind of cat.
My wife hooked up the base station to our router, I installed the batteries to the camera and then we synced the two together with a button press on the base station.
Christy then registered our account on the VueZone website (no software to install) while I mounted the camera base (just a peel and stick job) for optimal spying on our cat.
The motion-sensitive camera then just magnetically attaches (or detaches) to the base for adjusting or relocating later. Simple and as advertised.
We then set our system up to alert our phones (an iPhone and an Android) when it detected movement via email. This is done by installing the VueZone app in the respective iTunes Store or Android Market.
Default sensitivy setting was 80% and we got no alerts. So, I then turned it all the way up to 100% and then the camera started doing it’s work. It might work down to 95% or maybe even 90% for our pretty small 10lb cat. But the 100% setting didn’t really give me a lot of duplicate messages or false alarms, so I left it at that.
The motion detection worked at night too, So even though we couldn’t see anything through the video (our house is pretty dark at night) we knew she was eating or at least out and about (we’ve since installed a little tap LED light above her food bowl to correct this issue).
The camera goes into live view mode once you login to the VueZone site remotely, or through the smartphone apps mentioned above. That meant during the day we could check in on our cat (or house) just fine. Video quality for the VueZone is decent, but not great. Here’s a snapshot of video quality…
You can expand the system up to 5 cameras (only up to 2 cameras for their FREE service plan). So I can see us getting another camera down the line sometime.
We’re pretty darn satisfied with the Vuezone and the portability of the cams lends itself useful for other things. In fact, next time I use the smoker I’m going to mount the camera nearby to monitor temp remotely.
I do wish the sensitivity setting had a more useful metric, such as weight (in lbs) vs. just an arbitrary percentage. And it wouldn’t hurt if the video quality was better as well, especially for zooming.
The Pan and Zoom features it touts are a bit of a gimmick, actually. As the camera doesn’t move or rotate along the base, so pan and zoom simply means moving around the whole screen space with your finger on your smartphone with a digitally-zoomed (read: blurry) image. Not that useful.
But overall, the Vuezone fits the bill for our cat monitoring needs and after a few trips of not paying the cat sitter it’ll pay itself off in no time.