Imagine you've got a load of valuables at home that you need to protect, but that pit bull terrier puppy you bought as a guard is taking absolutely ages to grow up. What do you do? You could sit around all day with a baseball bat waiting for perps to make an appearance, or you could go out and get yourself a Y-cam Bullet, a £320 wireless security camera designed for both indoor and outdoor use.
The Bullet is a big, sturdy-looking unit that more closely resembles a shell from a giant, futuristic shotgun than ordinary handgun munitions. Wherever you install this thing, people will notice it, particularly at night when the red LEDs surrounding the lens illuminate. That's great if you want the camera to act as a deterrent, but not so ideal if you need to conduct covert surveillance. You'll feel more than a little conspicuous installing it outside an ordinary suburban home, and it may alert ne'er-do-wells to the fact you have valuables that need protecting.
Installing the Bullet isn't particularly straightforward. If you're mounting the device outside, you'll need to drill holes into a wall on the side of your property to mount the camera, and then drill a hole through the building itself in order to feed the wad of cables inside. Needless to say, putting a hole through your walls can be a tad unnerving, but, once this is out of the way, setting up the camera itself is simply a case of connecting the power and Ethernet cables (or relying on the camera's Wi-Fi antenna) before entering the camera's IP address into a Web browser to see its video stream.
Perps can't hide
The Bullet's video quality is very good. It delivers a clear 640x480-pixel picture at a relatively reliable 30 frames per second, although this reliability depends largely on the speed of your Internet connection. The slower your connection, the lower your frame rate, so you'll need to be wary of uploading files over the Web while using the camera.
The Bullet delivers good image quality at night too. A set of infrared lights mounted around the lens illuminates objects in the dark, so you can still get a decent picture of any perpetrators attempting to gain access to your premises in the moonlight. Red LEDs at the front of the unit illuminate to warn intruders that they're being watched.
Y-cam allows Bullet owners to view the camera's video stream from a browser on any Web-connected PC. It's also possible to view the stream on Y-cam's somewhat confusing MultiLive software, or from any mobile phone that supports VLC streams, such as QuickTime and RealPlayer.
If you see or hear anything untoward happening, it's possible to record video at the push of a button and, if you're using a Windows PC, to send wannabe perpetrators an audio message via the camera's built-in speaker. If you're unable to keep a constant eye on the video stream, you can tell the Bullet to start recording whenever it detects motion.
The Bullet works well for the most part, but it's not without its flaws. For example, the camera comes with a built-in microSD card, onto which you can record footage. This can be accessed by unscrewing the lens portion of the camera. There's no lock, however, so thieves can access the memory just as easily as those who rightfully own it. The same goes for the wireless antenna. It's all too easy to unscrew the aerial, severing all connection to your wireless router and removing the Bullet's ability to alert its owners to a possible break-in.
A security camera with such a wealth of features doesn't come cheap, so you'll need to be serious about surveillance or loaded with cash to even consider purchasing the Y-cam Bullet. Still, if you fancy a hard-wearing IP surveillance camera that works inside or out at night-time or in broad daylight, you could do far worse.
Edited by Charles Kloet