A Closer Look
The VueZone range of cameras come in a range of kits, each with a different selection of cameras and accessories based on specific user needs and preferences. The kit we’ve got here focuses mainly on use inside of the home or office and as such we get two cameras, one of which has night-time recording capabilities through the use of an infra-red camera. Although the camera bundles vary between each SKU, the base station component is the same right throughout the series.
Sat at the centre of each camera system, the base station is the gateway between the cameras and the end-user; wherever they are in the world. The VueZone base station requires little setup of its own and after being connected to your home network through the included patch lead it automatically connects itself to the VueZone network ready for matching up with your account. Each base station is able to support up to five cameras and per user account you can have up to three base stations registered. In total this gives us a total of fifteen cameras maximum per account – more than enough to keep the home covered from all angles.
Running down the spine of the base station we have a line of blue status LEDs for power, LAN & Internet activity and activity on the VueZone network.
On the back of the base station we have power and 10/100 LAN for getting the unit up and running whilst the included USB port is at this time reserved from any additional features – Netgear quote that the port is in place for any future upgrade or additional features that they may add into the VueZone service and network.
Pairing up the cameras is quick and simple thanks to one-touch sync button on the top of the base station. Once pressed an LED next to the button will flash to indicate that the unit is in pairing mode and by holding a camera close to the unit and turning it on, the pairing process is automatically carried out and is complete once an LED on the camera flashes quickly for a couple of seconds. This process is repeated for each camera and after pairing the cameras are ready to be positioned around the property.
Moving over to the cameras, the first thing that we note, apart from their ultra compact build is the difference in colour between the two units in this kit. As one may presume, this difference in colour does represent a difference in functionality between the two bodies. Whilst both cameras feature the same 2MP CMOS sensor, passive infra-red (PIR) motion sensor, fixed-focus field of view of 110° (corner to corner) and a maximum recording resolution of 640 x 480; the grey unit in addition is capable of recording images in low light conditions when paired up with the included infra-red lamp.
Powered by two CR123 photo batteries, the cameras are able to run for up to six months at a time during typical day-to-day use, although I will note at this point that continuous recording can result in the batteries running flat in under an hour – they are designed for momentary monitoring and snapshot recording, not continual streaming. Each camera is powered by a Freescale i.MX25 series ARM9 single core processor clocked at 400MHz and this is teamed up with 16MB of flash storage and 64MB of RAM.
On the back of each body is a curved plastic ‘fin’ which allows the cameras to attach to the magnetic mounting plates, with adjustment as simple as lifting it off the base or sliding / twisting it into position for the optimum view.
Just above the camera lens is the miniature PIR sensor, to the left of which we can just make out a small hole. In this hole is a tiny blue LED which, as mentioned above, flashes to indicate the camera is paired to the case station. The LED however only flashes during the power on / sync stage of operation and remains off at all other times to save on power and to deter any attention.
On the underside of the body we have a tiny power switch that sits flush with the body to avoid being accidentally turned off and a catch to release the battery cover towards the rear of the unit.
Removing the battery cover obviously allows for the batteries to be replaced, however on top of this we also find the cameras ID printed, handy for when you have a number of cameras paired and you discover the batteries on one unit are running low.
To give the grey bodied camera its ‘night vision’ capability Netgear include an infra-red LED lamp which automatically turns on/off based on the current light conditions. The lamp comes in three parts and is designed, like the camera mounts, to make installation quick and simple. The lamp itself is able to either sit on a flat surface as seen below, or for more optimum illumination it can be wall / ceiling mounted via a removable base plate which easily locks back on to the lamp.
To fine tune the lamps position, a twist lock barrel and elbow joint are provided.
The power cable for the light comes in three sections. Working from the lamp to the plug we first get a short ~10cm length of cable with a DC jack on the end into which connects a long power cable and finally the cable connects to the AC adaptor (local to your region)
On the front of the lamp, 48 infra-red LEDs are able to illuminate an area up to 25 feet away and in the middle is a light sensor which turns the light off during daylight hours. Whilst the cameras are able to operate outside through the use of the specially designed outdoor shell (available separate), the night-vision lamp is for indoor use only – shining it out of a window will allow for night vision cameras positioned outside to operate.
Once fully setup, the cameras themselves need to physical maintenance apart from battery changes when required. The wire-free design means the cameras can be moved from one position to another in seconds and additional cameras can be unboxed, connected and positioned in a matter of minutes.