HOUSTON -- As if there isn’t enough to worry about during the holiday season, many travelers fear they’ll return home only to find they’ve been burglarized.
Thankfully, new gadgets are making it cheaper to buy a little peace of mind while away.
The D-Link DCS-5020L is a small webcam you can mount or place anywhere in your home. Unlike security cameras from years ago, all you need is electricity and a Wi-Fi connection to hook it up. You don’t have to run cables through your walls and there’s no need for a tape recorder or DVR hidden in a closet somewhere.
While traveling, you can use your smartphone, a tablet, or a computer to look and listen to what’s going on inside your home. You can even tilt and pan the camera to look up, down, left, and right.
One of my favorite features in D-Link’s line of cameras is the alert system. You can enable the camera to capture photos or video anytime motion or noise is detected. It’ll then send you an alert via the smartphone app and send the visuals to your e-mail.
While I experienced inaccuracies with the motion detection (on both D-Link and other webcams), I found the noise detection to be very reliable. If someone breaks in, the camera will kick on, and you’ll get an alert.
The DCS-5020L retails for about $120, but Amazon.com has it for $99 right now. A simpler, smaller version without the pan & tilt option (DCS-933L) sells for $70. Both have daytime and nighttime vision.
Another option for home monitoring is Dropcam. This is one of the most popular security webcams on the market because it’s so simple to set up, and it comes with a few extra features, like the ability to “talk” to the crooks (or whoever) is nearby via the camera’s speakerphone-like function.
The Dropcam HD is $150 while the Dropcam Pro (better quality) sells for $200. Both will send instant alerts to your phone, but they don’t immediately e-mail you photos or video. If you want the cameras to record what’s going on, you’ll need to pay $10/month for Dropcam’s cloud service, which stores seven days of video at a time.
Both Dropcam and D-Link will also send you an alert if the camera becomes disabled (e.g. power goes out, Internet is disconnected, etc).
My recommendation: If you want to save a little money and know someone who is a little computer savvy to help configure it, go with D-Link. If you want something super simple to set up and use, go with Dropcam.