Rating: ★★★★☆

If you’re the kind of person to put cameras inside your house, for anything from making sure your kids are doing their homework (spying on them) to basic security, there aren’t a lot of good options. That is, there aren’t many camera options that won’t clear your bank account and force you to sell all the wonderful stuff you plan on watching closely, kids included. Whatever it is you want to keep an eye on, that eye should be like Sauron: all seeing.

That’s what VueZone offers with their Personal Video Network (PVN), a simple, no-BS system of several cameras connected wirelessly and streaming whenever you want to your computer or smartphone. No serious installation required, no computer required. To set the PVN up plug the base unit into your home network and set up the cameras wherever you like. After registering at VueZone’s website and inputting the code on the base, users gain full access to viewing their cameras and gain full control over all camera settings and options.

What makes the PVN interesting and convenient is that it works on iPhone, Android and Blackberry, so users can stream video to their smartphones from anywhere, freely. This feature alone makes the PVN worth having because peace of mind is all about timing. The longer we unsure about a situation the more our imaginations run wild. Having instant access to what that camera sees and knowing that it can be viewed anytime kills that negative anticipation.

For this review I tested the PVN with two motion-sensitive cameras (retail $290), though the PVN is sold with both a standard camera and motion camera for less. Up to 15 cameras can be put on one system, and individual cameras cost $80 and $100 for standard and motion detection, respectively. Each camera can record at resolutions of 320×240 and 640×480, and can capture 2MP pictures (1600×1200). The lower the video resolution, the more frames per second captured, though framerate isn’t too important for security cameras, especially without audio recording. I tested both resolutions, and even on smartphones the 320×240 recordings are too small. I recommend recording at 640×480.

I tested the free app on my iPhone 3GS, the Blackberry Torch 9850, and HTC Evo 3D, and all work exceptionally well. The latter two phones can view the 640×480 resolution, while the 3GS downscales it to accommodate the lower-resolution 320×480 display. All have the same basic functions, which includes viewing, adjusting settings, recording, and watching the last recordings automatically taken from a motion camera. Only the iPhone app allows for sharing cameras with friends and watching saved recordings through the phone. Both of these features need to be on all devices.

In my office I’ve used the PVN for two things: to watch for arriving shipments and entering guests from two vantage points. However, the PVN is not designed to take over as a security system, and while I could have left one camera active, that would have drained the two AAA-batteries in less than a day. The PVN is rated for up to six months with five minutes of daily viewing (12.5 hours total). However, sometimes the local FedEx deliveryman will drop a package and not ring, and I won’t know for hours. I thought the PVN would be exceptional to fix this, and save me hours of waiting for packages, but there is no alerts system in place for the motion tracking cameras yet. They will activate and record when sensing movement, but they won’t update users via smartphone app through in-app alerts if something happened.

I think that such a feature would make the PVN exceptional, though no such feature exists as of yet. Because of this, the PVN is a peace-of-mind system only, specifically for when users need to have eyes on whatever the camera is pointed at. With an alerts feature, it would double the system’s usefulness.

The PVN cameras aren’t exactly built to go anywhere. They’re almost egg-shaped, but VueZone smartly magnetized the backs and includes with every PVN system four spherical magnetic connectors. These connectors have adhesive backs to attach to flat surfaces, and can also be screwed in place. Each holds individual cameras perfectly in place at any angle. The back of each camera is shaped in a way that high vertical angles can’t be reached, but the cameras can be placed upside down and video/pictures inverted.

VueZone’s PVN is an amazingly simple, easy to use camera system. It has no wires, no cables, no mess, no software setup, nothing. Just turn it on, register, use the included QR code to download the mobile app, and it’s up and running. I’m impressed with the ease of use and overall design and implementation, though the iPhone-specific functions should be available on all mobile platforms and motion-sensing cameras should be able to send alerts to smartphones. For anyone who needs a camera system that’s available on demand, quiet when not needed, and easy for anyone to set up, the VueZone Personal Video Network is an strong solution.

Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for a simple, relatively inexpensive way to keep your eye on something or someone, at the office or at home, and you own a smartphone, VueZone’s PVN is a great option.

You can buy the VueZone Peronal Video Network at Amazon for $289.95, which includes 2 indoor cameras.

Pros:

  • Easy installation, no computer required, solid wireless range
  • Smartphone apps work well
  • Online system is free to use (premium memberships are pay-for) with all the basic, required functions

Cons:

  • No alerts feature limits the general use of the cameras



James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.