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IP Cam Viewer Pro: Well Worth a Bit of Configuration Hassle

By Patrick Nelson LinuxInsider ECT News Network
Aug 10, 2012 5:00 AM PT

IP Cam Viewer Pro: Well Worth a Bit of Configuration Hassle

IP Cam Viewer Pro, an app from Robert Chou, is available for US$3.99 at Google Play. IP Cam Viewer Pro lets you view and control an Internet protocol (IP) camera through Android OS on a phone or tablet.

App features include SSL encryption, pan tilt and zoom, relays for lights and garage doors, and recording functions. DVRs and network video recorders also can be controlled.

Included are add-ons like a traffic camera database and camera sequencing.

The publisher reckons that more than 800 makes and models of cameras are supported.

App Prerequisites

Before you start, you'll need to know the IP address of the camera on your network and which port the camera uses. Your camera may also be configured with a User ID and Password.

I found that by opening the IP camera's configuration screen on the laptop I used to set the IP camera up in the first place, I was able to retrieve this information, note it, and enter it in the IP Cam Viewer Pro app on a tablet.

However, there was a lot of unintuitive opening of screens on my camera's interface to gather the required data, and -- though this was no fault of IP Cam Pro publisher Robert Chou -- it did add to the time required to get IP Cam Viewer Pro working properly.

I used a Trendnet SecurView TV-IP110WN camera hard-wired to a router for testing.

App Configuration

I estimate that it took me about 5 minutes to configure IP Cam Viewer, and I am a savvy computer user. This is not an app for those unfamiliar with IP camera setup.

If you set up the IP camera first time around, you'll figure it out. If someone did it for you, allocate some time for discovery.

Getting Into Record Mode

IP Cam Viewer Pro

Record mode is included in the paid "Pro" version and substantiated the $3.99 app price.

Default clip recycling kicks in when free space gets to 500 MB, but you can change this.

Chou is very clear that using record mode on a daily driver tablet will burn through your batteries. So he provides an intriguing alternative, which is to use a redundant tablet or phone just for the recording.

I loaded the app onto an entry-level Samsung Y smartphone I had lying around, and plugged it in to its charger. Recording took place and appeared to proceed indefinitely. A nice touch.

Other Devices

Google's Play store shows the app as compatible with Google TV. I was unable to get it to install on my Logitech Revue GTV box, however.

The "Installing" message would not complete. This may have been an issue with the box rather than the app, as the Revue is generally flaky.

Viewing the IP Camera

Despite an ugly app UI, image quality with the app was similar to the Trendnet camera- supplied, PC-installed software.

Disappointingly, I couldn't find a motion detection function on IP Cam Viewer. That's a useful function that allows you to map a zone within the frame and trigger an email with image attached when the software detects motion.

This means IP Cam Viewer can't replace a home-based PC. You still need to leave a PC switched on at home-base for certain camera functions.

Remote Access

Camera remote network viewing was complicated to set up. It involved opening ports on the camera-connected router, verifying the port, knowing your ISP-assigned IP address and so on.

If you're unfamiliar with port forwarding, allow a good few hours to get up to speed. I was able to successfully view the home-base networked camera while on a mobile network -- it just took me a while to get there.

In Conclusion

This app has a lot of features. I had a pleasant afternoon learning the intricacies of this app, and don't want to scare you off by rambling on about IP addresses and port forwarding.

If you've never explored those elements of configuration, this is a fine app to learn on.

Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.

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