Product: Logitech Alert 750i Master System
Rating: Strong Recommend*
Thankfully, despite living in a part of the city where burglaries are more common than we'd like, we've avoided any break-ins. It helps Emily and I work from home, but that doesn't mean we haven't taken a few precautionary measures as renters, installing a basic alarm system and adding motion detecting lighting near entry areas. This weekend we added another security measure which will allow us to monitor and check-in remotely from almost anywhere we are, providing one more layer of safety...at least until we get that German Shepard pup.
The Logitech Alert 750i Master System is primarily comprised of two power outlet network units and a camera, which utilize your power lines to connect the camera(s) to your home network. The camera unit itself is quite small (about the size of a large mouse) and can be positioned nearly anywhere using the supplied stand and also a wall mount/sunction cup option for more vertical orientation. But it can be a bit of a hassle in a household like our own where open outlets are a rarity (we moved things around to accommodate), so we would have loved a battery powered, wireless option, even knowing this would limit longevity of use, simply so we'd have one less thing to plug-in.
An optional weatherproof add-on outdoor camera unit is available and would be recommended for creating an inside/out observation perimeter; unfortunately these cost almost as much as the starter indoor system.
Unlike a lot of home monitoring devices, this one seems to have been designed with the average consumer in mind. We installed our camera unit in the area of our apartment where an uninvited entry was most likely to occur, from the dining room pointed toward our apartment's back entry. Installing the Windows-only software would normally have been an issue in our Mac household, but by chance, we've had a Windows laptop loaner for testing so we were able to get the Logitech software loaded and the whole system installed without issue. It's practically a plug and play affair, with the included Windows-only software used to setup each connected camera unit, designate how much video storage is to be stored locally, for creation of motion detection zones (very useful in high traffic areas and allowed us to keep our cats from tripping an alert), and to determine how notifications are sent.
Ideally, we'd like to have added a secondary outdoor camera pointed at our front entryway, perfect for the constant parade of UPS/USPS/FedEx deliveries to our home office, but at $279, the weatherproof outdoor add-on nearly doubles the price of the Master System (add it to our wishlist with a price drop, please). You'll have to weigh cost vs. necessity of additional monitoring units, depending on the size of your houses and potential break-in zones.
Captured video can be stored locally onto a connected PC or onto an included 2 GB microSD card (expandable to 32 GB).
After verifying the connection, we setup a new Gmail address specifically for the unit to send alert notifications to when the Logitech Alert was tripped. Motion detection sensitivity can be modified or turned off (some other reviewers have noted problems with false-positives with motion detection outdoors, but we only had an indoor camera unit and didn't experience any issues), and we found the default setting did a fine job at catching the average movements of someone walking through the back doors and into our apartment. Logitech offers iPhone and iPad users a free app (there's also Android and Blackberry apps available), allowing remote access to camera(s), while a web interface via alert.logitech.com offers similar near-live monitoring (the video delay is about 3 seconds) where users can switch on/off motion detection and change the viewing width/angle from the camera. A future project may involve fashioning some sort of disguise for the puckish indoor camera unit, since it seems conspicuous in our otherwise device free dining room.
Monitoring via the iPad or iPhone is as easy as downloading an app and choosing a camera to view with.
The photo capture quality sent by email alerts are clear, though motion blurring can occur when photos capture someone in movement, with video streamed via the app being a little less detailed but quite clear enough to determine whether an uninvited guest is perusing through your home. Logitech offers customers an optional $79.99/year subscription they call Logitech Alert Web Commander, which takes the options from the desktop software and makes them all accessible remotely via the web interface, alongside adding live recording and additional camera viewing options. At just about $7 per month, the option to upgrade from the free viewer to the full blown monitoring and recording service seems more than fair (a 7 day try-before-you-buy option allows you to figure out whether it's worth your money).
We've tested various consumer grade security and monitoring devices and we can recommend the Logitech Alert 750i Master System as the easiest, most user-friendly system out on the market today for basic monitoring out of the box. Despite some notable limitations (iPhone app, but no native OS X support, Logitech?) and the initial investment cost, the Alert system offers monitoring capabilities that are as simple to use as most baby monitoring devices, but with the addition of recording, pan/zoom and online notification. In fact, we'd say the Logitech Alert could do ample service as a baby/child/pet monitoring device when not keeping a lookout for intruders, making the system a solid investment for parents and pet owners looking to keep an eye on their home while away.
Pros: Easy to install, movement detection and notification works well, browser and iPhone/iPad app access makes mobile observation simple, compact camera size
Cons: OS X support absent, requires free outlets per unit, no wi-fi option, additional cameras costs can add up
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.