Stem's IZON Wi-Fi Video Monitor 2.0 is an app-controlled video camera that enables live streaming of audio and video to an Apple iOS device, anywhere in the world. It joins most wireless networks to provide secure remote monitoring via a free app for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad. At £100, this seems like a bargain - but how well does it work in practice?
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The monitor has an interesting and innovative design – the detachable base is convex and the concave bottom of the camera unit sits on it attaching magnetically, meaning you can easily swivel and position it to a useful angle.
The base can also be wall mounted and screws are provided. There’s no battery option however, so you’ll need to place it close to a plug socket. The camera itself has a 60-degree viewing angle, and the app supports video at 300 kbps, QVGA (160×120) at 10 frames/second.
Once you’ve plugged the camera in, you simply download a free app from the App Store (IZON, a crucial detail that wasn’t explicitly clear from the instructions) and follow the steps to set up your camera. A QR code is displayed in the app, which the camera then scans.
All this works exceedingly well and you’ll have your camera set up in a matter of minutes without having to type in any tricky IP addresses – the only thing you have to enter is your Wi-Fi network’s password.
The IZON app has some good features, too – there are options for detecting motion or sound to trigger alerts on your iOS device, in the form of push notifications. Each option has a sensitivity slider, so if you find that you’re getting too many notifications, you can easily lower the sensitivity. With the motion alerts, you specify an area of the screen where the motion should be detected by dragging the corners of a selection box.
When an alert is triggered, it records a 30-second clip, which is stored on the Stem Cloud service for free. The camera can upload 25 videos a day; after that you have to wait until midnight, when the count is set back to zero before you can store any more. Unmarked alerts will expire seven days after they were taken but you can save up to 100 clips permanently on the Stem Cloud.
At 10 frames per second, the video quality isn’t outstanding, but it’s in colour, clear enough to identify faces and good enough for playback on the iPhone’s screen. There’s no night vision, but its performance in low light wasn’t too bad at all.
If privacy is a concern, then we’re assured that the IZON uses encryption to protect its streams. The camera has a green LED on it, which is obtrusive, but there’s an option to turn this off, so it becomes less noticeable. There’s also the option to flip the image, which is handy if you’ve say, fixed it to the ceiling, so everything appears to be upside down.
We’d love to give the IZON a big thumbs up, but we do have some reservations. Viewing over Wi-Fi was patchy on one network we tested it with, but completely fine on another. When it worked, it was great, but sometimes there would be either an inexplicable ‘Sorry an error was encountered when streaming video’ message, or it would just try to connect for minutes and not get anywhere.
When tested over 3G, the performance was actually a lot more solid, working every time. The vagaries and incompatibility of different wireless devices can often produce these results, so it might be a case of testing it first with your particular home Wi-Fi set up, if possible.
When you’re viewing, you can watch five minutes at a time before you have to reconnect, which might be annoying if you want to have it on constantly for monitoring something, and there’s also no way to save recordings to your local device. On the whole, though, we have to say we liked it, despite these limitations.
- Price £100
- Manufacturer Stem
- Website steminnovation.com
- Dimensions 100×45×45mm
- Weight 89 grams
You'll find this review, and many more, in Tap! Magazine issue 22.