“No Complications” Home Surveillance: AdvoCam-HappyCam Review

    More recently, we talkedabout its own production in the city of Alexandrov, Vladimir Region, of the Russian company Videomax, which has 17 years of experience in the market of professional video surveillance systems. It creates professional video surveillance systems and top-end AdvoCam video recorders. Few Russian brands in the registrar market boast a “personal” factory. And, now, the Videomax employees invited us to familiarize themselves with the new unique product of the company - the miniature consumer video surveillance system (simply put, an IP camera) AdvoCam-HappyCam, aka Happycam-SD1 W. According to Videomax representatives, the model is different from the numerous other IP cameras available in our market with a few key points. Firstly, setting up the camera is extremely simple. So simple that even your grandmother can handle it. Secondly, according to the manufacturer, the camera uses a certain mega-technology of night shooting, which is even used by the US military (where, as it is not clear, nevertheless). Due to which extremely high quality night shooting is realized.



    They even prepared a rather funny “game” video for the model, which clearly describes the possible scenarios for using AdvoCam-HappyCam. I recommend watching to the end - there is a denouement of plots, and the coolest :)



    Of my personal options for using such a system - monitoring a child (a variation on the theme of a radio nanny), visual monitoring of a grandmother living far away, guarding an empty apartment for the duration of a vacation. In the latter case, a pet may appear, in my case a parrot. And let his acquaintances change his food once every couple of days, once again he’ll be personally convinced of the pet’s health. So, let's get started ....

    Equipment


    AdvoCam-HappyCam is trying with might and main to provoke positive emotions and attract the user to itself. Perhaps this is how they try to overcome the concerns of the layman regarding the complexity of handling the camera. Here and frivolous font on the box, and the "face" on the device itself. They even preferred to hide the expanded version of the manual on CD, and print only the brief and most understandable instructions to the average consumer. The box contains the main interesting features of the model, such as day / night modes or a two-way audio channel.





    Included is the aforementioned simplified instruction. There are five instructions on the CD, including separate manuals for the iPhone and iPad. By the way, all content from the disc can be downloaded as a single archive on the AdvoCam website.



    Each camera has a unique login and password that must be entered when connecting from a mobile device. The data is indicated on the card.



    For the camera to work, you need power from an outlet; no compromises such as USB connections are provided. In the presence of an Ethernet cable, without which with a Wi-Fi router (no matter how strange it may sound) without WPS, the initial connection cannot be established.



    Completes a screwdriver and screws with dowels - so to speak, a turnkey set for installing the camera. Corresponding openings are provided in the base of the camera holder.



    Exterior


    The camera body is made in the form of a compact candy bar. Despite the fact that the main part of the body is white, the surface is not easily soiled - it affects the matte finish. The model looks very positive, unlike the “gray” and purely serious colleagues in the workshop. Original design after all. The “smile” from the front is formed by two camera eyes (separately for day and night shooting) and painted on with other components of the smile.



    The complete instructions contain a curious “without color” camera photo - there is an opinion that the idea to make a “face with a smile” arose after the fact, already at the stage of the completed appearance of the case.

    The following elements are lined up horizontally, from top to bottom: WPS button, microSD display diode, Ethernet status diode, power status diode and IR LED. To the left of the backlight is a passive infrared sensor, and a microphone is installed to the left of the corner. I’ll immediately note that AdvoCam-HappyCam is not suitable for covert video surveillance. During operation, at least two lights burn brightly - power and network status. On the other hand, I would attribute this moment to an unambiguous plus: if someone gets into the apartment, then most likely he will prefer to retire, noticing the shooting. And if the camera itself “slams” - the thief will still be calculated by automatically starting the recording of the video file. A similar effect will be if you use the model to monitor a small commercial object such as a kiosk, pavilion or office.



    At the end of the right we observe a microSD card slot up to 32 GB. The specifications say that this size is enough to save up to one month of continuous recording. Nearby is a 3.5 mm audio output. Here you can connect headphones or speakers, without them two-way audio is not possible. If you’ve connected it, you can conduct a full-fledged dialogue with your comrades in the camera’s sight from your smartphone or tablet.



    At the bottom is a reset button.



    At the back are power and Ethernet connectors.



    Connection


    So, the most important point in the device. Most lucky for those who have a router equipped with a WPS button. In this case, it remains to press the appropriate keys on the camera and the router - voila, the connection is established. A very big plus of this method - all that remains to be done is to download the mobile client from Google Play or the App Store, enter the camera’s password / login and enjoy the broadcast.



    The second easiest way is a direct Ethernet connection to the router using a bundled cable. The difference from the diagram in the paragraph above is only that instead of pressing the buttons, we connect the router and the camera with a cable.

    The latter method caused me conflicting feelings, since the banal task of connecting AdvoCam-HappyCam to a Wi-Fi password-protected point is not solved in the most efficient way. So, first you need to install the CamView program on the computer from the supplied disk.



    Then use an Ethernet cable to connect the camera to the router. After that, in CamView in the column "Auto Search" our camera automatically appears. And only now, after a couple of manipulations, it will be possible to enter the coveted password of the Wi-Fi point. That is, in short - to set up wireless access without a wire can not do. And without a computer. Importantly, CamView is supported only in Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8, no Linux variations or Mac OS X versions are provided - be careful.

    Features, Settings


    Perhaps I’ll immediately voice a useful feature of the camera, in addition to directly streaming video. AdvoCam-HappyСam can send notifications to FTP, iPad / iPhone and Android mobile devices in the event of a built-in motion or sound sensor. For information - the effective range of the IR motion sensor here is about seven meters.

    There are two main ways to control and remotely view pictures from the camera - a computer or mobile device. Let's start with the first option, install and run CamView. To add a new camera, right-click on the item “List of cameras” - “New camera” - enter the password / login from the card and the name of your choice. The desktop application is by no means ideal, for example, some data entry fields overlap each other and stuff like that - this, however, never bothers to live. ”





    In my opinion, basically CamView is useful when creating a system of two or more AdvoCam-HappyCam - the application is able to simultaneously control 36 cameras. At the bottom of the program there is a panel for different presentation of dialogs with broadcast windows.

    Management from a smartphone or tablet is a little more complicated - download mCamView from Google Play or the App Store, enter the username / password of the camera and see the picture from the camera.



    Here I would like to make a small digression. Around the summer of last year, many identical cameras of different brands appeared in Russia, in which online video surveillance with monitoring from a mobile phone was based on the USTREAM service and the Unieye program. However, when compared with AdvoCam-HappyCam, such solutions cannot be called easy to configure, if only because broadcasting requires the manual registration of an account. And the delay in transmitting the picture reaches 10-15 seconds. Finally, if in the case of AdvoCam-HappyСam the broadcast is essentially password-protected from the beginning, then in USTREAM it is open, you must pay as much as $ 99 per month for setting a password.

    As for the settings of AdvoCam-HappyCam - in fact, the same items are available both in CamView and in the mobile client and the menu that opens in the browser window. Using the latter as an example, I will show the whole range of available commands.

















    As you can see, there is a short summary window for all possible parameters, notification options, NAS, memory cards, recording and notification schedules, date and time settings. In general, if your functional needs and intellectual abilities go beyond the scope of a “housewife,” there is definitely a place to dig into to adapt to individual needs.

    Video, photo


    Shooting takes place in one of the following resolution options: VGA (640 x 480), QVGA (320 x 240) or QQVGA (160 x 120). Settings for channel bandwidth: 64K, 128K, 256K, 512K, 768K, 1M, 1.2M or 1.5M bit / s. Frame rate: 1-5, 10, 20, 25 or 30 fps. Plus absolutely in-depth moments like brightness and contrast. Here it would be possible to grumble about the lack of at least HD-shooting, but it is not entirely correct to compare the capabilities of, say, DVRs or smartphones with a home video surveillance system. More than sure, they could - they would do. Only, most likely, the model would have cost some other money. An unambiguous plus of the “ceiling” of AdvoCam-HappyСam is that the “out of the box” device does not need particularly high-speed Internet, and almost 2G connection is enough for viewing on a smartphone.



    I give examples of photos and videos below. The quality of the recordings is quite enough to distinguish between the faces in the frame, and at the same time understand what is happening there within the “reach” of the camera. Day / night switching is automatic within a couple of seconds.









    With IR illumination in complete darkness, the image is very “ice”, albeit colorless. Detailing allows you to distinguish a person’s face from a distance of up to two meters, the “general picture” is viewed much further.











    Output


    AdvoCam-HappyСam costs 5,490 rubles (~ $ 150 dollars). For this money, a very thoughtful solution for home (or office) video surveillance is offered. In the model, I did not like just two points. The first is that there is no desktop software for systems other than Windows. Although under iOS they offer as many as two versions, separately for the iPhone and iPad. The second point - you can’t connect to a password-protected Wi-Fi without preliminary manipulations with CamView on a computer and a wired connection to a router. Otherwise, AdvoCam-HappyCam has complete order; it is really an extremely simple and intuitive IP camera to install and manage. The model has advanced settings, but they do not fall out on an unprepared user and do not scare away in the process of mastering AdvoCam-HappyСam. So if you need video surveillance "without problems",

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