Review: Vue Personal Video Network

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When I saw the Vue Personal Video Network a few months ago, I was impressed. The system is dead simple to install. You plug in a base station, sync two little wireless cameras that run on tiny batteries, and watch the video on any web browser, anywhere. It’s like a little mini-security system that you can connect anywhere you have Wired ethernet. Sadly, my joy was short lived.

The biggest issue I have with this kit is the correct usage scenario. It doesn’t have motion activation, for a good reason which I’ll explain shortly, so it’s not good for security. You can’t watch multiple streams at once so it’s not good for real home monitoring. The video quality isn’t quite good enough for, say, live web streaming porno involving you and a bottle of pomegranate juice, which is not to say I’ve ever tried.

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Essentially, this is the video quality:

Not a lot of action in that shot but you get the drift. So what is this good for, then? It’s good as a doorbell camera, for example. When you hear the doorbell, you switch to My.VueZone and start watching. There is no audio so you can’t hear what anyone is saying. You could also use this as a simple Skype-esque welcom for friends and family to watch – but not hear – you from afar.

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But darn it if these cameras aren’t cool. The company, Avaak, originally designed these little things as smart military cameras. You’d throw them into a room and they’d start recording, allowing you to see what was going on from outside. They’re almost disposable and use a single battery. They only turn on when activated remotely which means they’re not surveying the scene at all times, thereby reducing their value as a security system.

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The web-based user-interface uses an object model, allowing you to drag one or more cameras to a “viewing area” and then click play to watch only one at a time live. You can also extract video and stills you took using the cameras. The base station requires a wired Ethernet connection.

Their low-light sensitivity is better than the Linksys WVC54GCA I bought to police my front door but overall the video quality is far inferior to that device.

You could also use this in a puppy mill/nursery so you can watch the dog or the baby from afar. Again, you can’t hear them, which might be best.

The kit costs $299 on Amazon, on par with other wireless webcams. The design and size of these, plus the seamless browser integration, make them better than most models but the feature set is limited in hardware. The company has plans to introduce a more security-minded model soon but as it stands it’s a tough sell for those wanting to protect their McMansions from marauding super-zombies and/or kids selling magazines.

Bottom Line
Close but no cigar. $299 for a wireless security cam without motion detection is a bit steep.

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