Web Cameras Secure Homes

Motorola and D-Link provide wired and wireless solutions that help people monitor home security. Motorola's Home Monitoring and Control System (www.motorola.com/homemonitoring) is pricey but offers a multitude of features and comes with a wireless base that connects to computers. Users can purchase sensors that monitor doors, windows and temperature for about US$40 each. This is great if people leave home for an extended period. The system can also send text alerts to e-mail addresses or cell phones.

The Motorola system sells for about $300 for the first camera, including wireless base, and each additional camera is about $120. A monthly $19.95 subscription is required to view camera images over the Web.

Other systems, like Linksys WVC54G Wireless-G Internet video camera (www.linksys.com), allows users to simply type camera IP addresses into Web browsers at no charge to see what cameras see. The Linksys camera contains its own Web server so it can connect directly to networks without being attached directly to PCs and e-mails video clips when motion is detected. Included software enables the recording of audio and video to hard drives. The camera sells for about $190.
D-Link's Securicam Network DCS-5300G Internet security camera (www.dlink.com) is more than double the price of the Linksys at $440 per camera, but it offers a better-quality image, allows pan and tilt, captures audio and connects to VCRs for recording. Better still, it does not require a subscription.

Mac Axis (www.axis.com) 205 network cameras are a good choice that offers similar surveillance features to Windows products. They run about $190 per camera and do not carry monthly subscription fees.

As an alternative, users could opt for standard webcams with built-in microphones for surveillance. Most have resolutions of 640 x 480 pixels. Avoid webcams with face-tracking features if they are only being used for security as these features will merely add to the price.

If webcams do not include monitoring software, it is available online. Active WebCam (www.pysoft.com), CamUniversal (www.crazypixels.com) and Webcam Watchdog (www.webcamsoft.com) are three such Windows programs that sell for under $50. SecuritySpy (www.securityspy.com; $50) works on Mac computers.
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