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Belkin NetCam HD+ Wi-Fi Camera review: Belkin tries for entry-level security camera supremacy

Belkin adds two-way talk and WeMo compatibility to its revamped NetCam HD+, but can this inexpensive Wi-Fi camera steal the show?

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Megan Wollerton
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Megan Wollerton

Senior Writer/Editor

Megan Wollerton has covered technology for CNET since 2013. Before that, she wrote for NBC's Dvice.com (now SyFy). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

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Belkin's $130 NetCam HD+ (£130 in the UK, and AU$170 in Australia) is an updated version of the brand's existing NetCam HD. The basic NetCam HD had decent specs already, but Belkin added two-way talk and WeMo product integration to its latest iteration -- these extra features give the new NetCam HD+ Wi-Fi camera a unique edge over other DIY security IPs.

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8.0

Belkin NetCam HD+ Wi-Fi Camera

The Good

This comparatively inexpensive IP camera has a lot of high-end features including night vision and two-way talk. It's also compatible with Belkin WeMo products.

The Bad

You need to pay the $10 monthly or $100 yearly fee to store video clips and receive motion-related push notifications. You are dependent on the Belkin servers and the video quality can't rival the Dropcam Pro's.

The Bottom Line

Belkin's NetCam HD+ is a fantastic option for budget-minded DIY security enthusiasts, but you'll need to pay the monthly fee to get the most from this entry-level IP camera.

While its 720p resolution didn't match the $199 Dropcam Pro's 1080p, it still returned a pretty clear image on both the web and mobile apps (although that could vary depending on your Wi-Fi connection). And, if you spend $10 a month or $100 a year on the optional Cloud+ services, you can save 14 days of clips and receive instant push notifications whenever the built-in motion detector senses activity. Overall, Belkin's $130 NetCam HD+ delivers high-end features at a comparatively affordable price and I think it's a great fit for anyone interested in a solid lower-cost IP camera -- just be prepared to trade some video quality for the HD+'s value.

The Belkin NetCam HD+ is on point (pictures)

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Curb appeal

The NetCam HD+ has a white finish and is made up of plastic components, with the exception of a small metal joint that connects the camera to its stand. That metal component makes it very easy to adjust the camera angle as needed. While the HD+ doesn't feel as durable as the Dropcam Pro, it is well proportioned and nicely designed -- especially compared with Samsung's top-heavy $189 SmartCam HD Pro .

The box includes the camera, an integrated stand, a power cord, and hardware for optional wall mounting. It has a 95-degree diagonal field of view and a glass lens. Since the $199 Piper security system has a 180-degree glass fish-eye lens, this 95-degree lens isn't particularly impressive. But, that shouldn't be a problem if you want to monitor a smaller room or a particular section of your home or business.

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Colin West McDonald/CNET

While Belkin's HD+ doesn't have Dropcam Pro-level optics, the local SD card storage of the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro, or the Z-Wave compatibility and additional environmental sensors of Piper, a side-by-side comparison may make you think twice before spending $199 on a Dropcam when you can get something pretty similar for $130.

The HD+ has a speaker and a microphone, free real-time monitoring, night vision, and the option of 14-day cloud storage and motion-related push notifications for an additional $10/month or $100/year. You can also set up rules with Belkin WeMo products on the WeMo app.

Here's a rundown of the NetCam HD+'s options versus the competition:

Belkin NetCam HD+Dropcam ProPiperSamsung SmartCam HD Pro
Price $130.00$199.00$199.00$189.00
Color WhiteBlackWhiteWhite
Field of view (diagonal) 95 degrees130 degrees180 degrees128 degrees
Video quality 1,280x7201,920x1,0801,920x1,0801,920x1,080
Cloud storage Yes, $10/month or $100/year for 14 daysYes, $10/month or $99/year for 7 days or $30/month or $299/year for 30 daysYes, saves up to 1,000 clips at no extra costNo
Local storage No, but you can download clips from the Web appNoNoYes, SD card
Glass lens YesYesYesYes
Night vision YesYesNoYes
Mobile app Yes, Android and iOSYes, Android and iOSYes, Android and iOSYes, Android and iOS
Web app YesYesYesYes
Bluetooth NoYesNoNo
2-way audio YesYesYesYes
Motion and sound alerts Motion only, and limited to email alerts unless you subscribe to Cloud+.YesYesYes
Protocol integration NoNoYes, Z-WaveNo

The nitty-gritty

This IP camera was very easy to set up. Basic instructions are included in the box, but the Belkin NetCam Android or iOS app can also guide you from start to finish. The whole process took less than 10 minutes.

It was as simple as plugging in the camera, connecting to the Belkin NetCam Wi-Fi network, and downloading and launching the app. The app immediately recognized the new camera and walked me through registration and final steps.

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Setting up the Belkin NetCam app and camera. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

You can see the name of every camera you have registered on the home screen -- I named mine "Living Room." From there, you can click on the camera and start monitoring live. You can access a handful of different features directly from the video screen. Take a screenshot or a recording of what you see and it will automatically show up in your phone's photo directory. You can also click on the speaker to listen to audio and hold down the microphone button to talk.

There's also a settings section where you can customize your camera a bit more -- change its name, share footage with friends, adjust the sensitivity of the microphone, speaker, and motion detector, opt in to email notifications, and access the optional NetCam Cloud+ Premium services. Email notifications will only send you screenshots of motion activity, so many of you will want to spend the $10/month or $100/year on Cloud+. Fortunately, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial to decide if 14 days of rolling video clip storage, motion-related push notifications, and the ability to permanently save motion-triggered clips as MP4 files are worth it.

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Motion-related push notifications. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Belkin's NetCam HD+ delivered very good performance throughout testing. I received instant push notifications and emails when the camera detected motion. The saved video clips were clearly timestamped for easy access and the live monitoring and related two-way talk features were similarly straightforward.

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The Belkin NetCam HD, the Dropcam Pro, and the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro in both day- and night-vision modes. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

I did experience periodic lag times and blurry video footage, particularly when someone walked by quickly, but it didn't cause any significant performance issues. I do wish the HD+ could send notifications based on sound like the Dropcam Pro, the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro, and Piper, but I'm willing to accept that this reasonably-priced Wi-Fi camera can't double as a baby monitor.

Currently, the Belkin NetCam app controls the majority of the HD+'s functionality, while the separate WeMo app handles any rules you may want to set up between the HD+ and WeMo devices. I would prefer HD+ access exclusively from the WeMo app, but it wasn't terribly inconvenient. I used the WeMo app to create the rule, "When the camera detects motion, turn on the lamp connected to the WeMo Switch." I didn't experience any issues with it, and as the WeMo line grows , the options for rule customization are sure to expand.

The takeaway

Belkin's $130 NetCam HD+ isn't perfect, but it does a lot when you compare its price with those of some of its competition. For roughly $70 less than the $199 Dropcam Pro and the $199 Piper, and roughly $60 less than the $189 Samsung SmartCam HD Pro, you get decent video footage, WeMo product integration, night vision, and responsive motion alert emails.

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The HD is noticeable, but not an eyesore. Colin West McDonald/CNET

If you're concerned about your feed being filtered through Belkin's server, you should probably avoid Cloud-based IP cameras altogether. And if you want audio alerts and a wider-angle lens, consider the $199 Dropcam Pro or the $199 Piper. Otherwise, I would definitely recommend this camera to someone searching for an easy and affordable entry point into home security and home automation.

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8.0

Belkin NetCam HD+ Wi-Fi Camera

Score Breakdown

Features 7Usability 9Design 9Performance 7