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EyeCam review: EyeCam

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The Good Quick to set-up. Easy to use. Alternative to IP-based cameras.

The Bad Potential privacy problems. No remote tilt/pan. Only works over 3G. No motion sensing security features.

The Bottom Line More of a novelty device than a security solution, the EyeCam is a relatively cheap way to keep an eye on your pets or kids while you're out.

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In its white glossy shell, the dome-shaped EyeCam could be mistaken as an Apple accessory. Sold exclusively by 3, the AU$149 EyeCam is similar to a Web cam, but instead of using the Internet to send video through to a PC, you use a 3G-capable mobile phone. Wherever you are in Australia, by making a video call with your phone to the EyeCam, you spy through its lens and listen to whatever is going on in the room in which it is placed.

Each EyeCam comes supplied with a SIM card restricted to incoming calls. At the base of the pod-like device is a small plastic cover that detaches to reveal the card slot. Aside from the upfront cost of the device, there are no ongoing charges other than the costs of making video calls from your mobile phone to the EyeCam.

As a security measure, a four-digit PIN assigned by 3 mobile must be entered when you first call the EyeCam. While the EyeCam can only connect to one caller at a time, up to 20 different phone numbers can be authorised to view the camera.

We tested the EyeCam with the recently-released Nokia E70 (stay tuned for the full review). The microphone built in to the EyeCam picked up conversations up to two metres from the device, but voices were faint and muffled at distances greater than this. Similarly, video streaming is fine if the subject is within close range, but with mobile phone screens being a lot smaller than PC monitors, we found ourselves squinting at the relatively small display to see what was being captured when subjects were more than a couple of metres from the camera. When we tried calling the EyeCam from a landline and from a second-generation mobile phone, the call simply termintated -- you can't make a voice call just to hear the audio.

Although the EyeCam doesn't support two-way conversation, a brief buzz signals when a video call is connected. One of the EyeCam's status lights also blinks to indicate you're being watched. Unfortunately you can't remotely tilt or pan the EyeCam from the phone, but the inner section of the EyeCam rotates manually about 90 degrees.

The EyeCam is both light and portable, but unfortunately the model we tested needed AC power plugged in to work -- the user manual says its internal battery should last around four hours. A small mounting kit is provided in the box but be aware that the device needs to be plugged in to a wall socket to charge.

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