SONY SNC-RZ30 NETWORK CAMERA,
0870 511 1999
Network cameras or
‘netcams’ have been around for a few years but haven’t really taken off yet,
possibly because early models were awkward to install and use. It’s also a tricky concept; netcams -- not
to be confused with webcams -- are self-contained video servers with their own
Internet Protocol (IP) address and connect directly to a computer network
without having to go through a PC.
Pictures from a
netcam can be viewed on any network PC using a standard web browser like
Internet Explorer. If the network is also connected to the Internet then you
can keep watch from almost anywhere in the world. The list of applications is
endless, from remote video monitoring of homes and workplaces, to keeping an
eye on your kids at the local playgroup while you are at work.
does all that, plus a whole lot more, but the key features are simplicity,
flexibility and characteristic good looks. The camera module is mounted on a
motorised pan/tilt platform giving it an all round field of view plus it has a
25x optical zoom which can be electronically extended to 300x so not much can
escape its gaze.
The pan tilt and
zoom (PTZ) functions are controlled from the camera’s own internally generated
website; just type in the IP or web address in a browser window and a Welcome
page appears with a choice of Java or Active X ‘viewers’. The Active X applet
gives the best results with steady PTZ control and smooth video. You can ‘grab’
still images and store them as JPEG files. The camera can also be programmed to
send stills as email attachments to a nominated address if the camera’s built
in motion detector or external alarm sensors are triggered. Stills and
sequences may be stored on Memory Sticks loaded into PC Card adaptors that fit
into the front of the camera. As an added bonus the latest firmware is
configured for a Cisco Aero wireless networking card so there’s no need for the
camera to be physically connected to a network. Details are still a bit sketchy
but hopefully Wi-Fi support will follow.
It only take a
minute or to set up. The network connection is via a standard Ethernet cable
and power comes from an external mains adaptor. The camera’s IP address is
assigned from one of the PCs on the network using a simple utility on the
set-up CD-ROM. All other adjustments, to the camera’s auto and manual exposure,
white balance system, motion detector, alarm, email and security features are
via a password-protected menu on the Welcome page.
Picture quality is
outstanding, comparable with conventional general-purpose CCTV cameras in terms
of resolution, colour accuracy, low-light sensitivity and exposure control. The
PTZ controls can be a bit sluggish, depending on the network or Internet
connection, which makes it hard to follow a moving subject but it has a very
neat ‘Vectoring’ facility where you point at something on the screen, or define
a box using the mouse pointer and the camera automatically swings around and
zooms in on it.
Typical Sony style,
build quality, performance, and price… but you’ve probably already thought of a
dozen uses for one and you don’t need to be a nethead or computer geek to set
it up or use one.
FUTURE HOME RATING
netcam -- slick design and simple to set up and use. A smart way to keep an eye
on things whether you’re next door or on the other side of the world.
monitoring over network or Internet using standard web browser, pan/tilt/zoom
functions, built-in motion detector and alarm connections, still image capture
and forwarding by email, PC card slot for Memory Stick adaptor and wireless
network card, up to 30fps video, day/night mode, composite video output
f = 2.4 mm to
60 mm, (25x optical/300x electronic zoom)
640 x 480 pixels
(digital) 480 lines (analogue)
140 x 175 x 144
Ó R. Maybury 2003,