As far as home security cameras go, the Foscam 19831p camera is relatively cheap (currently $80 on Amazon). In the world of home security cameras, cheap isn't necessarily worthless. There are multiple cameras under $100 capable of protecting your home and Foscam has a good reputation. But the question remains, did they hit the mark with the 19831p or not?
- Motion Detection with 5 sensitivity settings and the option to create schedules
- Storage of video clips from motion events
- Sound Detection with 5 sensitivity settings and the option to create a schedule
- Email alerts of events
- Video and photo capture
- SD or cloud storage
- Night vision (up to 26 feet)
- 1280x 960 HD resolution
- Web portal, iOS, Android, and Blackberry apps
Setting Up The Foscam 19831p
Foscam touts a “plug and play” setup, and setting up the Foscam was as simple advertised. I plugged the camera into an outlet, downloaded the app, and scanned the camera’s QR code. It was very easy and the directions were clear. They even offer a remote set-up service, where you can call them and have someone from Foscam do all of the work for you.
Using The App
The Foscam app (available for iOS, Android, and Blackberry users) was actually associated with Foscam, which is a big bonus. When cameras use third-party software for monitoring, it always makes me a little nervous. The app itself isn’t much; in fact, it was a little clunky. It took me a minute to figure out the icons because some of them are a little unusual looking and the interface isn’t great. Other iTunes and Android users seem to feel the same way; the Foscam app only has two stars on each store. There are other apps you can use with the camera (some paid, some free), but they have similarly poor reviews and they are third-party, which again makes me nervous. However, the other apps offer features not found on the Foscam app. For example, zoom wasn't an option on the app I was using, but it was on others. As one reviewer pointed out,
"Features are inconsistently implemented across the different apps ... It takes a while to figure out which ones cause the most problems and avoid them ... I've tested Blue Iris, but it requires an always-on computer to manage the detection alerts, storage, etc. and I'm interested in simplicity, not adding more PCs or having to leave the one's I've already got turned on just to manage cameras.”
The different apps supporting different features only add to the camera's complexity and I wholeheartedly agree, this should be simple. Assuming that most people will stick with the Foscam app, the majority of my testing was done on that app. From the home screen of the app, you click on the camera you want to view and look at live feed. Sometimes, the buffering time (about 5 seconds) was a little slow for my liking even when my phone was on the same Wi-Fi connection, but other times the live feed loaded immediately.
From the live feed screen, you have the option to pan and tilt the camera mechanically. The camera was annoyingly slow to respond to my directions, but it’s still a great feature to have. And while the camera can mechanically pan and tilt, it doesn't have a true zoom feature with the Foscam app. In order to use digital zoom, you will need another app like Foscam Viewer.
The Foscam app also allows you to take a snapshot, record a video, and use two-way audio. During testing, the image and video capture worked as expected and the two-way audio feature worked well with a minor 1-2 second lapse. However, the sound quality coming out of the camera is terrible, so don’t expect to serenade your family while you’re at work and they’re in front of the camera.
Finally, from the app you can also go into a “settings tab”, more on that later.
It’s also important to note that you don’t need a smartphone to view your videos or see live video from the camera. There is a web portal, so you can access it from your computer. The web portal offers the same functions as the Foscam app.
A Closer Look At Features
Foscam 19831p Motion and Sound Detection
This home security camera has some seemingly useful features. The motion sensor on this camera comes with five sensitivity levels, so it can adapt to whatever you plan on using the camera for. You can also schedule motion detection. If you always want it to record your home from 3 pm until 6 pm Monday and Wednesday, you can do that. You can also choose from the same sensitivity settings and scheduling for sound detection. I didn’t have many false alarms with either the sound or motion detection, and it was sensitive enough to alert me when my baby was stirring.
The camera also allows for email notifications, which comes in handy. And while this may sound fine and dandy, it’s not all good. Although you can get email alerts, you can’t get push notifications with the app I was using. And when you get a high volume of emails every day, it can be annoying to have to constantly check to see if your last email was from your Foscam. And for the most part, who really lives in their email? Well, maybe some people do, but not like people live on their phones. Let's face it, when you are out to eat or on vacation you are much more likely to be on your phone than in your inbox. Without instant alerts from Foscam, it's home security value is drastically reduced.
Video Quality, Viewing, and Storage
The 1280 x 960 HD resolution of the camera is enough for you to get a clear image, and the night vision boasts 26-foot viewing. However, they use 11 IR LEDs to produce this night vision effect, which is slightly less than average. Overall, the day and night video quality was good and on par with other home security cameras in this lower price range, like Vimtag Fujikam. The downside was the viewing experience. When I tried watching the video from my phone while on the same network as my camera, the video would sometimes skip, cutting out some of the action.
In general, viewing your recorded videos and photos is simple enough. You can save either to the SD card or to the cloud. The camera does not include an SD card, but it will support up to a 64GB card. What it does offer is a free trial of their cloud storage. When you have that setup, you can view your saved data from the app or website. It’s pretty straightforward and easy to do. However, that's only a trial. Once the trial expires, be prepared to pay.
- $8/month, 4 cameras, 1 day of video storage, 5,000 images
- $20/month, 10 cameras, 1 week of video storage, 30,000 images
- $50/month, unlimited cameras, 1 month of video storage, 100,000 images
The Foscam 19831p camera didn’t do it for me, I liked it even less than Vimtag Fujikam, and I didn't like that camera either. It worked, but not well enough for my liking. The choppy video, an often slow buffering time, lack of push notifications, disjointed software, and slow pan and tilt were enough to make me think that another camera is a better choice. Although the camera has a 3.7 star rating on Amazon, the comments echo the same issues. Even 4 and 5 star reviews mention a “nightmarish user interface” and lagging video. There are better options out there, even in this low price range. However, if you want to purchase your own, you can buy one for $79.99.