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Avaak launches home video monitoring system

Lack of motion sensors on the cameras severely limits usefulness.

The Vue is a unique, battery-powered Web cam. Rafe Needleman / CNET Networks

Avaak is launching its very attractive Vue Web cam system at the Demo 09 conference Monday. It's designed for home monitoring, like cameras from Panasonic, Logitech, and DLink. The kicker: The Vue cameras are tiny, light, and battery-powered. You don't have to screw them into a wall or run power cables to them. That changes a lot.

The mount for a Vue camera is a small metallic dome that you can screw or tape onto a surface. The cameras themselves have a curved base with a magnet inside so you can just stick them to the domes. You get two domes with each camera, which is supposed to encourage you to move the cams around as your monitoring needs change.

The internal battery (a standard lithium CR123 cell) in each camera is said to provide enough power for 1 million images, or about 10 minutes of video a day for a year.

The system includes a base station that you plug into your home router. The radio system the cameras use is a proprietary mesh protocol. It has a 300-foot range indoors, but the mesh technology lets you string together a network of cameras with a 900-foot radius around the hub. That's enough for most homes.

The cameras are tiny Rafe Needleman / CNET Networks

The control and viewing system is Web-based. In the preview demo I saw, it looked easy to set up a system, view live and recorded videos, and share a cam with others. You can also upload to YouTube.

Sounds great, but there's a snag: there's no motion sensor on the system. That makes it useless as a security solution. Sure, you can use it to see what's happening at your house right now, and you can also set the system to snap an image at regular intervals, but there's no way that Vue can alert you when someone moves into a camera's field of view.

The cameras also don't pick up sound.

Avaak CEO Gioia Messinger told me that future versions of the system will have improvements, quite possibly including sound and motion sensors. Until then, the use cases for this system tend toward novelty, not utility.

The base Vue system will be sold directly and via Amazon, for $299 with two cameras (and four mounts). A service fee of $19.95 a year (reasonable) will be charged after the first year.