After our home was burglarized three times in 18 months, I decided it was time for some extra security measures for me and my family.
I installed the Vimtag Internet accessible P1 Smart Cloud camera ($129) paired with the S1 Storage CloudBox, which is a new system that a homeowner can own outright, rather than renting from their Internet provider.
The camera has the ability to adjust in multiple directions using the Vimtag app. You can add up to four cameras, so you can mount a camera for the back door, side door and the garage and monitor them all simultaneously in the palm of your hand.
I like this camera also because it features sound, which you can turn on or off. As you might expect with a device listening tuned for the slightest room noise, with sound on, there is a loud hissing noise, even in an empty room.
One aspect of this camera to consider is its size, unlike the tiny hidden nanny cams, this camera is rather large and obvious, about the size of a baseball. While it might be visible, at least it is stylish, with a shiny modern bulbous white casing, somewhat resembling the character Eva from the animated film Wall-E. It can be placed on a tabletop or other flat surface, or it can be mounted upside down or on its side.
The camera is powered by a micro USB cable, which if it were mounted outdoors within reach of a perspective intruder or burglar could be easily pulled out to disable the camera. Of course any camera cable could be cut, or a camera could be smashed or covered up by would be perpetrator, but in this case, the USB cord just makes it a bit easier to do.
The CloudBox can record for up to 60 days, and it can be played back from the app from anywhere, so you can check in on activity at your home from wherever you are. One downside of the CloudBox is that it has a fairly large footprint, about seven by seven inches wide and two inches tall, and it has to be laid flat. It also features a noisy fan, which I found was too loud in the bedroom for sleeping, so I had to move it into my living room, where still the sound of the whirling fan is annoying.
All in all, the system was simple to set up. After downloading the app, I was taken through the set-up process. Prompts told me how to connect to a Wi-Fi network and set up an account with a username and password, and then I could give nicknames to each device connected to the system.
During the setup of each device the app searches for and connects to the device via a network, and while it does this it makes a screeching hissing noise similar to the sound of connecting online using a dial-up connection. I’m not sure why the manufacturers put this sound effect to this function, because it is definitely an unpleasant noise, but it is handy in letting you know when the process is finally complete with an audible cue, when the noise stops.
A hugely valuable feature of this system is that the user can set up alerts when the camera detects motion. Therefore, if the devices detects an intruder’s presence, the homeowner is alerted, and if the individual is a threat, the homeowner can call the police to hopefully intercept the intruder and prevent the burglary.
As with all other security systems that simply capture images of uninvited visitors, there’s the question of the value of having those images if you cannot identify the perpetrator. In my neighborhood, our community newsletter posts grainy security camera photos of suspects and intruders on a weekly basis, and these individuals are almost never identified and captured. At least these images help neighbors be on the lookout for the alleged perpetrators, and maybe once they realized they have been photographed the perpetrators may not return.
A great advantage of owning the system is that there are no monthly fees for video storage and monitoring. The disadvantages of course you have to install it yourself and work out any bugs yourself. Luckily with the Vimtag system I did not have any significant problems, though I did contact customer support to learn better how to use some of the features, and the tech support was efficient and helpful.
Vimtag is a great system, though my hope is to never really have use for it. It is far better to not be burglarized then for the worst to happen and then to try to catch the thief. Of course, this is an argument for placing the camera where it is visible and could serve as a deterrent.