|Name||Digital video security system: Logitech Alert 750E|
|At a glance:||Easy setup, with HomePlug AV networking and Power over Ethernet,Clear video day and night,Moderate price, but mobile and web apps are not worth the money|
|Summary:||Setting up a digital CCTV system for security or other users is as easy as it gets with the Logitech Alert 750E system. More work is needed on its mobile and web apps however.|
Best known for its PC and home-entertainment peripherals, Logitech is taking a stab at the CCTV market with its new range of digital video security cameras. This might seem an incongruous product line, until you realise it’s just a combination of the company’s well-established areas of expertise: webcams, wireless and simple software.
We tried the $549 Alert 750E Master Outdoors system, which includes a sturdily built weatherproof camera with mounting arm and wall/ceiling bracket, and two bulky power adapters. Two adapters are needed
as the camera uses Power over Ethernet (PoE) but also HomePlug AV networking to send data.
Setting up the Alert 750E turned out to be very simple. You install the software and plug one power adapter into a mains point and connect it to your network switch with the supplied Ethernet cable; likewise, connect the camera to a second supplied Ethernet cable and find a mains point that’s on the same circuit as the other Alert 750E power adapter. All the gear has activity and diagnostics LEDs so you know they’re working – conversely, they do attract attention too, but can be turned off.
I didn’t think power line networking would be a goer, but the system boots up fast and soon you’ll see what the camera sees. With PoE as the power source and a flat cable, you have a fair amount of flexibility for placing the camera, even without outdoors power points. I tried the camera at the other end of the house, some 25 metres away, and it worked perfectly well.
Logitech claims the colour image is 720p high definition, but that’s stretching the truth. The resolution is 960 by 720 pixels, at 15 frames per second. That’s not quite HD, but nevertheless, the image on your computer screen is sharp and provides great detail with a 130 degree wide-angle lens that also has a 3.2x digital zoom. You can also record audio, but this is disabled by default.Everything is controlled via your PC, using the supplied Alert Commander software that can control up to six Alert cameras and notify you by email if something happens. Alert Commander is easy to use and lets you play back recorded video stored on the camera, or remotely on the Dropbox file-sharing service. A supplied 2GB micro-SD is enough to store a week’s worth of video.
There are also Web and Mobile Alert iPhone and Android apps, but they have rudimentary functionality and refresh the image very slowly. They are not worth the US$80 per year subscription charge.
Thanks to infrared illumination, low-light performance is excellent. You can literally see in the dark with the Alert 750E, although the image is in black and white. The motion sensor on the camera works well too, during day and night. You can set it to trigger the camera when it detects between one and twenty seconds of continuous motion, to cut down on unnecessary recording.
With a moderate price, easy installation, good video quality even when it’s dark and the ability to add more cameras at $459 a pop, the Alert 750E is worth checking out if you want a digital video security system.
Its main drawbacks are lack of Mac OS X support and average mobile and web apps; the system components are also quite big and noticeable which depending on the intended usage is either a pro or a con.