Forget the long introductions! You might want to buckle down for this review, because I have a lot to say about the Foscam FI8910W. If you are looking into adding the Foscam FI8910W to your system, you might have come across a few promotional pieces and harsh forum comments, leaving you confused about what to believe. I’m here to clear things up and help you decide how to spend your money wisely.
- Good Value
- Multiple Apps
- Quality Night Vision
- Security Concerns
- Low Resolution
Design and Setup of Foscam FI8910W
Let’s kick things off by looking at the aesthetics of the camera. The FI8910W, available in black or white, is a lot smaller than I expected. For a Wi-Fi camera full of features such as infrared night vision and full pan and tilt, it’s a very compact device. The camera seems to be well built and engineered. Though there have been reports of a flashing network light that doesn’t turn off easily inside the base of most Foscam cameras, we didn't have any problems with the FI8910W.
Setup was fairly simple to install but not as easy as other cameras. You start by plugging the network cable into the back of the device and connecting your internet router. For the record, Foscam actually includes a 10 ft. long power cable in the box to give enough length to set up the device. The camera will pan and tilt for about 30 seconds after you connect the network cable and link it to a power source. In case you’re not familiar with pan and tilt cameras, this will allow the camera to face forward by tilting up and down and rotating.
As with most Foscam cameras, the FI8910W comes with a CD for you to install what is called the “IP Camera Tool” onto your Mac or PC. Once the software has been installed a shortcut will show up on your desktop and you can use the software to access your IP address. From there you will log in, using the information on the base of your camera, by double clicking the IP address which will open up an internet browser. After this, you are now able to view live footage of your camera. Once properly configured the camera can perform independently without you using a computer.
The camera connects to Wi-Fi easily but the performance is not always up to par due to the large amount of data being transferred. This way you’ll probably end up getting one or two frames per second if you are lucky. If this is the case, you may need a range extender device to get the camera to go faster. In my opinion, the Wi-Fi transmitter is a little too frail.
Image and Video Quality with Foscam FI8910W
The Foscam FI8910W gives a decent performance but really it is a decent performance for the price. It gives you two options for resolutions: 320x240 and 640x480. Though the resolution is lower than many popular cloud cameras, the price is also a third of those same devices. It is true that a higher resolution produces a better quality picture but if you are using a browser to access the live feed instead of a FI8910W app, (you’ll learn more about this later) you should set the resolution to 320x240 to get a smoother video stream. .
The quality of the camera during the daytime and night-time is almost spot on. This is one of the major difference between the FI8910W and previous Foscam cameras. It is equipped with an IR filter that helps to produce accurate colors during daylight but moves out-of-the-way when night falls to allow the IR illuminators to do their magic. Without this feature, it would be impossible to get good color during the daytime. For instance, the green carpet and flowers in your living room might look pink and the dark blue drapes might look light blue instead. The FI8910W uses 11 infrared LEDs to record up to 26 ft. away at night. Another area where Foscam has kicked things up a notch is that with this camera you can manually shut off the IR illuminators. This way you can place the camera next to a window without worrying that the illuminators will be generating obscure images.
As mentioned before, the FI8910W has pan/tilt capabilities and comes with two-way audio and a built-in microphone and speaker. Performance wise these features work perfectly with Internet Explorer but if you’re #teamGoogleChrome you may not have the same experience. Unfortunately, using IE the only way to make use of the two-way audio feature. Foscam suggests you install an “IETab” if you have a windows device or the “IP Camera Viewer” from the mac app store for iOS systems. This should allow you to use Google Chrome and Firefox to make the audio feature work but after doing so you may not see many improvements.
Foscam FI8910W to Enhance Home Security
The Foscam FI8910W is an indoor only camera. Foscam does make outdoor cameras that you can monitor under the same app which is pretty handy.
As an indoor security camera the FI8910W is decent. It has built-in sensors that can monitor for motion. The sensors can be customized by logging into the camera as an administrator, going to Alarm Service Settings, and adjusting the sensitivity of the camera, with ten being the highest and one being the lowest. If you have an acrobatic cat at home, 10 might not be the best number for you but with the right setting, the motion sensors are good at detecting movement.
If you only want the alarm to go off for special events you can use the scheduler to set certain times for when you want motion to be detected. It allows you to set times for the 7 days of the week, 24 hours a day. So, an ideal time to set the alarm to go off would be during the day when you’re at work or if you are going on a vacation you could set it to alarm at all times. You can also opt to receive a notification via email when the alarm is triggered.
When using a camera for home security, you must consider privacy part of the package. If you’ve ever entered “Foscam Cameras” in a search engine, chances are you’ve stumbled upon some stories about Foscam cameras being exposed to bugs. One of the most recent issues that has garnered the attention of the media is a bug in the software that allows anyone on a device with internet access to view a live feed and video footage of people with Foscam in their homes.
The company became aware of this problem on their forum support page after camera experts learned that the Web interface, for not only the Foscam FI8910W but also other cameras, can be accessed by any outsider who presses “OK” in the dialog box when asked to enter a password and a username. The company’s tech support owned up to their mistake, saying that the bug is present in MJPEG cameras running the .54 version but that they plan on shipping on updated version to fix the issues early this year. Of course this is not the first time Foscam has slipped up, they have been on blast by Qualys before.
Researchers from Qualys warned that Foscam wireless IP cameras contain multiple vulnerabilities that can be used to steal credentials or hack the devices to launch further attacks. Qualys believes that Foscam users are vulnerable to attacks from outsiders even when their devices have passwords. According to their research, tools such as THC-Hydra would make short work of Foscam camera encrypted with weak passcodes. Qualys believes that the best way to protect your home as a Foscam user is to ensure that you camera is not exposed to outside networks. If this does not work, they suggest using a firewall to limit connections to the camera.
Foscam FI8910W Software Behavior
The “Foscam IP cam viewer” app allows you to view live video feeds from any remote location, just as you would from your computer – assuming you have an internet connection. You can download the app from the Google Play Store or iTunes onto your smartphone. Since the camera supports pan and tilt, once you launch the app you can slide your finger in the direction you want the camera to pan toward. With the snapshot button you can take a photo of anything you see and save it. To see the photo, all you have to do is click the playback button and if you want to hear what’s going on click the audio button. You can press the talk button to talk into the microphone on your cell and have it emit from the camera speaker. It’s not a game changer but it’s a good way to access and record videos or keep tabs on what your babysitter is up to. The app will also allow you to shut off IR lights on the camera remotely.
There are many apps available that support Foscam FI8910W, which makes complete sense considering it is one of the most affordable brands today. Whether you have an iPhone, Android, or Blackberry; you certainly don’t have to worry about finding an app to monitor your camera. Plus there are many free apps for you to play around with before your decide to commit to one. Most of the apps you come across will support the audio alerts, motion alerts, and two-way audio. If you own a Blackberry and you are looking for a recommendation check out the TotalControl App.
The Foscam cloud isn’t the safest place. However, a good perk is that you’ll receive a free cloud trail. With the free storage plan you can link one camera, have 30 minutes of live viewing and store 100 images or 30 videos. The Basic Plan comes in at $8 per month and it allows you to connect up to four cameras. This plan gives you unlimited live viewing and 1 day of video or store 5000 images. The standard plan kicks things up a notch by allowing you to link up to 10 cameras, store 30,000 images or one week of video, and receive unlimited live viewing for $20 monthly. Finally, the premium plan for $50 per month allows you to go crazy and link an unlimited number of cameras, store over 100,000 images and one month of videos, and view unlimited live footage. All plans will allow you to set up email alerts so you can be notified when your alarm goes off.
Unlike Dropcam, Foscam does not record videos automatically over a server so your PC will have to be on if you want to record. As such, you will only be able to access live feeds when you visit the Foscam website from your cellphone. Of course, you can use the app from your cell to record video but if you want video management features like that of Dropcam you will need to purchase additional software like Blue Iris. This software gives you the ability to record videos remotely via FTP and track all the cameras on your system, among other features.
A Quick Summary
Foscam FI8910W is a reasonably priced camera. It comes with a wide array of infrared illuminators in comparison to other Foscam cameras and it brings a new meaning of “video quality” to Foscam. While you may need some tech knowledge to set up the camera, it’s not terrible. Once your camera is set up you will be able to view live feeds from remote locations using an app and maneuver the screen for the camera to face the direction you want to see. One thing I love about this camera is that there are a lot of compatible apps for you to choose from. From the app of your choice, you can schedule when you want the motion sensors to trigger the alarms so that you can rest peacefully at nights.
Compatible Devices and Pricing Comparison
Most video surveillance cameras you’ll come across today cost over $100. The Foscam FI8910W is available on their website for $64.99. It certainly has its shortcomings but for such a low price, you may be willing to work with them. Dropcam may be a better catch but it may cost you twice as much. Another thing that might push you to purchase this camera is that it may play well with other devices you may have on your home security system. For instance, it works with Camcloud, which is a cost-effective video monitoring system used by many homeowners and small businesses today.
You can purchase the FI8910W on: Amazon