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Swan dive! Avoid this overpriced security camera kit

Promising to make advanced home security easier and more accessible, Swann Security is introducing SwannSecure, a new wireless IP camera kit due in retail outlets this April.

Based in Australia, Swann has been manufacturing cameras and security devices for over 25 years. It was just last year, though, that they launched SwannLink, a peer-to-peer network designed to help consumers connect their security systems with devices like phones and tablets via the internet. The SwannSecure kit is the latest offering to fall in line with that initiative, consisting of an indoor/outdoor, Wi-Fi ready camera that you'll be able to … Read more

This Piper packs a punch

This review was updated on February 20th to account for the new Android app.

Piper is a $239 Wi-Fi-enabled home security system with an intriguing all-in-one style that diverges from the DIY security system mainstream. Lately we've seen a lot of starter kits that come with motion and door/window sensors, but no camera. Examples include $199 iSmartAlarm, $199 Oplink Security TripleShield, $229 Viper Home, and $229 SimpliSafe. It's tempting to compare Piper with simpler IP-based cameras like the Dropcam Pro, but it does much more than that.

While these systems offer individual accessories, and therefore more installation … Read more

Dropcam's new $199 Pro model aims to be the smart home hub

SAN FRANCISCO -- Greg Duffy is beaming.

The 27-year-old CEO of Dropcam, the maker of a video camera that streams to the Internet 24 hours a day, is holding a shrink-wrapped box containing the next major version of that device.

On it is a simple front and side shot of the all-black camera on a white background. On the back of the box are the words "Designed by Dropcam in California. Assembled in China." It's a not-so-subtle homage to Apple. In fact, from across the room, the camera could be mistaken for an Apple product.

To the … Read more

Internet Webcam service Dropcam nets $30M in funding

Dropcam, the San Francisco startup that makes a $149 camera that can stream and record video to the cloud, announced $30 million in new funding on Wednesday.

That round, led by Institutional Venture Partners, along with other investments from Accel Partners, Menlo Ventures, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, will be used to speed up product plans that originally were slated for 2015 and beyond, says Dropcam CEO Greg Duffy.

"We're pulling in most of our long-term plans," Duffy told CNET. "We're going to try to take care of those much sooner. Definitely expect new … Read more

Dropcam sees $12 million in new funding, better software

Dropcam, the company behind the popular home surveillance system, has picked up $12 million in its second round of funding, suggesting that investors have a lot of confidence that an even better product is on its way.

Menlo Ventures lead the round of investments -- announced today, along with an improved Android app -- with existing investors, including Accel Partners and Bay Partners. The company funding totals $17.8 million. Not bad for a company started to address dog poop.

The camera comes with a cloud-based DVR system that records video footage when it picks up on sounds or movements. … Read more

After quality misfire, Dropcam begins selling new HD camera

Dropcam founder and CEO Greg Duffy argues passionately that cloud is creating huge opportunities for startups to build hardware, just as his company does.

He's also learning first hand just how hard that can be.

This morning the company began taking general orders for its newest cloud-based home-monitoring camera -- about two months behind schedule. The setback stemmed from a good problem (big customer demand) and a painful one (sloppy manufacturing by the factory in China).

And so Duffy and his team have spent the last few months scrambling to figure out why the image quality wasn't up … Read more

My Jetsons moment: Three iPads and a sick daughter

Please don't call the authorities.

I don't even know at what point parents can get in trouble for leaving their kids at home alone. My older daughter, Eve, is 8, not 2, but that's still young in my view--especially since she was coming off a 104.7 fever the night before.

But we were in a bind, and not an uncommon one. My wife had to pick up our younger daughter from school and take her to a theater class she was eager to attend. I was a good 45 minutes away at work in downtown San Francisco and couldn't escape in time to watch Eve. Our nearest family is across the country. And we don't have a regular roster of babysitters, especially who can come over in the middle of the afternoon.

What we do have is two iPads. Three, actually, and each proved helpful in this babysitting challenge. … Read more

Dropcam goes HD with tiny new Wi-Fi video-monitoring camera

LAS VEGAS--Dropcam, which has made a name for itself for providing a user-friendly, easy-to-setup video-monitoring camera and service, has taken the wraps off its new video-monitoring camera, the Dropcam HD.

While Dropcam has just announced the product--and is shipping it later this month for $149--I've been playing around with an early sample for the past week. It has an interesting design and is fairly tiny. The camera can be removed from its stand (when you hook it up to your computer, you take it out of its stand), but most people will leave it in its stand and either set it up on a flat surface or mount it on a wall.

You can't swivel the camera remotely, but you can manually tilt and swivel the camera into almost any position. It's a fixed lens, which means there's no optical zoom, but Dropcam is now offering a digital-zoom feature. … Read more

How the cloud is revolutionizing gadgets

When Greg Duffy shopped his business idea around in 2008, investor after investor told him the same thing: you're crazy.

Duffy wanted to build a gadget--an IP camera for home surveillance that's accessed via the cloud--and most startup investors didn't want anything to do with manufacturing. They wanted software, and software only.

Duffy persevered. Today, his company--Dropcam--uploads and processes more video every day than YouTube. This fall he raised $5.8 million, the first big pile of money for his San Francisco company. And while it's still in its early days, Dropcam's traction points to … Read more

Dropcam gets Android app

Last year, we reviewed the Dropcam, a consumer video monitoring system that integrates into your Wi-Fi network. Previously, you could remotely monitor video feeds from a Internet-connected computer or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, running the Dropcam iPhone app. Now the company has brought that same remote mobile monitoring to Android devices in the form of a free Android app.

What we liked about the Dropcam was how simple to set up it was. The network-enabled Webcam produced by 88Volts uses hardware made by a company called Axis. Two models are currently available: the standard Dropcam ($200), which just … Read more