Home security has always been serious enough to warrant paying real money for surveillance devices. Networking video cameras accessible to the average consumer have made real inroads and are more likely to be used by a homeowner than that of a service. Swann saw the need for a basic networking security camera that could be quickly set up for use. Surprisingly though, the ADS-450 SwannSmart Wi-Fi Network Camera with Secure Cloud Storage doesn’t skimp on the features.
First let’s deal with the “Secure Cloud Storage” part of the ADS-450’s name; this is a subscription service to let you save content to the “Cloud” from the camera’s motion-sensing capabilities. But there’s no need to use this if the camera’s purpose is for remote viewing purposes only.
The ADS-450 is quite small and lightweight. It screws onto a swivel base that can stand on its own or be attached to a wall or other surface using screws. Realistically the LED indicators on the back serve no real purpose; yes they tell you if there’s a connection to the home network and also to the Internet, but unless you’re using the ADS-450 where you can look at its behind, this information won’t be of any help. Of more value is the inclusion of a wired Ethernet cable, since there are times when a camera might be used close enough to the router to warrant this.
But in this case, as is probably the case with the majority of those using the ADS-450, the built-in wireless transmission system is a better way to go. That’s not only because it reduces the number of connecting cords to just that for power, but it also lets you use the ADS-450 as a WiFi extender, extending the signal strength from the camera’s position onward.
The setup of the ADS-450 requires both a physical and software approach: take the camera to the location it is going to be used at and screw the rod from the base into the back. Then tighten the rod while moving the camera horizontally/vertically so it is “aimed” where the image is to be seen from (this can be adjusted again later as needed). This is important since there is no provision in the operating software for being able to pan or tilt the camera’s view remotely. Plug the power cord in.
The software setup is similar to those devices using AirPlay and other systems which connect to a wireless network: I selected the WiFi network being generated by the ADS-450 and so established a direct connection between it and the smartphone. I then ran the SwannSmart free app and followed the prompts — basically this consisted of establishing a secure, password protected connection to my home network (but if I hadn’t read the instructions first, I wouldn’t have known about the need to put the “On” switch up when going directly to the camera’s WiFi transmitter). I could now see the video from the ADS-450 on the app. Remote viewing is better done on the smartphone, since a still photo or video can be activated and stored locally. This is not the case when accessing the camera from a web browser at the Swannsmart.com website — here you can only see the video. But in both cases the internal microphone can be heard. The image of the camera is fixed focus and the image itself standard resolution (read that as “low”). Video does not run at normal speed, even if viewing the camera from within the confines of the home network it is attached to. There is a delay of about 5 seconds and video movement is a bit jerky. But on the plus side, the infrared lights provides a picture even in total darkness (outgoing distance being less than 15 feet). So pretty much no matter where you place the camera, it will be able to provide a visual.
I went out to run a few errands and decided to “check in” while at the Library, using their Wi-Fi network. The app brought up the camera within a couple of seconds and I could see and hear in my apartment (mostly that was my dog snoring in his bed nearby). I repeated the test out in the car using the cellular network and had the same results, although it took twice as long for the image to first come up on the app’s video screen.
Bottom line: Security/Surveillance cameras for the consumer need to be easy to set up, easy to move to other locations and easy to access. The Swann ADS-450 SwannSmart Wi-Fi Network Camera with Secure Cloud Storage does all that. $99.00 may not buy you the ultimate in remote camera control, but for those looking for a simple and sensible surveillance camera solution, the ADS-450 can’t be beat.
Night vision, Multiple camera capability
Fixed position viewing only
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.