IP cameras
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Beta Test: AVC LiveLine IP Camera

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LiveLine

Advanced Video Communications may have a winner on its hands with the internet-connected LiveLine video camera. Simple setup, a low $10-per-month access fee, and a fairly straightforward user experience make the LiveLine worth a closer look.

Early beta testers got a free camera, which AVC claims to be a $299 value. And while the company has sold out of all its initial freebies, it’s currently restocking its inventory. The actual selling price of the system once it’s out of beta will likely dictate the overall popularity of the product.

If the actual camera itself costs $299 on top of a $10 monthly service fee, it’s not going to do well. There are plenty of IP cameras with similar features available for well under $300 that don’t carry monthly charges. So let’s keep in mind that this thing hasn’t really been priced yet. If it stays at “free camera plus $10 per month,” it’ll be compelling.

As for features, the camera uses a wired or wireless internet connection and the pan, tilt, and zoom functions can be controlled remotely through most web browsers. The system can also be set up to record video files any time it senses motion. Those files are then made available with time and date stamps and playable inside your browser (they’re Flash video files).

Setup is pretty easy. You have to first connect the camera to your router with an Ethernet cable. Then you go on LiveLine’s website and enter the camera’s MAC address as part of your account setup. Once that’s done, you can type in your router’s wireless network name and from that point on, the camera will use its built-in wireless antenna.

back

As far as controlling the camera remotely, take this test account for a spin. It’ll give you a good idea of what to expect.  The interface is pretty ho hum right now and the overall motion and video quality is a bit choppy, but it gets the job done. There are other relatively inexpensive IP cameras on the market, however, that promise 30 frames-per-second video. This one does not do fluid video — at least it didn’t in my tests, and I have a Comcastic 30Mbps down/7Mbps up internet connection.

Here’s an actual still from the camera. The resolution is only 320×240.

still

And here’s a clip of actual footage (3MB AVI) to give you an idea of the framerate and whatnot.

Apparently the camera’s capable of recording audio, but I was never able to hear any during my testing. Everything’s still in beta, though, so that functionality may not be enabled yet.

AVC also touts the ability to view your camera from your phone’s mobile web browser. You lose all of the camera controls and access to recorded clips, though. Right now it’s little more than a static still image with a refresh link underneath it. That’s fine for older phones, but it’d be nice to see a more robust offering for newer mobile browsers.

mobile

Overall, it’s a pretty solid effort from AVC so far, provided they keep the price low. If the camera stays at free or maybe $50 plus the $10 monthly fee, it’d be a much easier purchase for most people to justify.

It might also be a good idea for AVC to drop the monthly fee altogether. There’s a link on the company’s site for advertisers, which leads me to believe the camera pages may someday contain ads. In that case, AVC might consider trying to make a few bucks off of camera sales while keeping the web access free.

Product Page: LiveLine.net

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