by Dan Delong
IP Cameras (net cams) transmit video and sometimes audio, over Internet Protocol on both local networks and wide area networks. Many such cameras can be viewed on monitoring equipment. Sometimes, cameras record constantly or intermittently triggered by movement. An example for home use would be a baby monitor, and for commercial use, the customer assist communicators at a gas station. Furthermore, casinos use multiple HD cameras equipped with zoom pan and tilt controls to monitor fraud.
When purchasing a net cam, notice the distinct differences in their routing methods. First, some require configuration (with supplied, or free software) that is similar to setting up a new wireless router, complete with SSID, static or dynamic IP address, and secure login-credentials. In order to simplify set-up, some manufacturers offer set-up that must travel through a remote server owned and operated by the maker of the camera. More recent models are powered over the Ethernet cable or a battery and can save video on a micro-SD card. Most net cams can be viewed on smart phones, from any location. The cheapest net cams, at under $50, are VGA 0.3 MP (640x480) resolution, have low frames per second, lack night vision, and require a connected Ethernet cable (no wireless). The more expensive cameras use wireless ac, and can send full HD video at higher frame rates, are waterproof, and come with more software features.
This 'FYI' will cover my experience setting up an older model IP camera that does not require a remote server, but can do so if needed. Once configured, this camera can, optionally, be detached from Ethernet and placed anywhere within range of the wireless with which it is sharing wireless access. Newer cameras (those without an Ethernet port) are easier to set up, and require few user settings, as the manufacturer supplies custom software to connect the camera to a remote server, and to monitor it from a secure user account. This usually involves Dynamic DNS services, which are used to allow access to the camera from remote devices, through setting supplied by the manufacturer's software.
A free application that worked well, Perfect IP Camera Viewer (unregistered, free version), it found my Ethernet connected camera quite easily - a Linksys Wireless-G model - and provided access to video and sound from this older model net cam. (This model must be configured with a wire, before removing the wire, to operate wirelessly.) It also found the camera, after it had been configured through Linksys's software for wireless operation. The free version will record for up to two hours per session ($ 42 CDN for full version, with unlimited recording and remote access).
This latest version 4.0 of Perfect IP Camera Viewer includes a media player, along with a longer list of supported cameras.
The supplied Linksys CD also quickly found and performed the wired set-up, followed by instructions for wireless performance as long as the instructions were carefully followed, step-by-step.
Probably the best way to show the process of installing and using Perfect IP Camera Viewer is through a series of screen captures.
Platform: all from Windows 10 back to XP
Version: 4.0 as at September 2017
Download Size: 22 MB
Installed Size: 66.3 MB - installs DivX Codec if required
Download Site: here.