Foscam Plug and Play Wireless IP Camera FI9826P review: This DIY security camera is pretty bare bones

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The Good The $220, £135, AU$230 Foscam FI9826P has excellent specs, including 300-degree pan, 120-degree tilt and 3x optical zoom. It offers local SD card and cloud storage services.

The Bad It will likely take at least one call to customer service to figure out the FI9826P's setup and even longer to make sense of its outdated Web interface. The Foscam Viewer Android and iOS app can't send push notifications.

The Bottom Line The FI9826P's unnecessarily tedious setup process, old-school Web interface and lack of push notifications seriously stunt this otherwise impressive Wi-Fi camera.

6.4 Overall
  • Features 7
  • Usability 4
  • Design 6
  • Performance 9

Foscam's $220 (available in both the UK for £135 and in Australia for AU$230) Plug and Play Wireless IP Camera FI9826P is full of contradictions. It's a high-quality pan, tilt and zoom camera with night vision, two-way talk, an SD card slot and opt-in Cloud storage services. Despite these solid specs, its web interface is extremely antiquated and downright DIY-unfriendly; unfortunately, you have to navigate it to successfully sign up for email notifications and to make a bunch of other camera-related settings adjustments.

Tack on the mobile app's lack of push notifications and the FI9826P's initial promise fades fast. Since it delivers in terms of optics, it will work as a live-streaming solution. But, both the Web and mobile app need major design overhauls to match the real-time, DIY-security-camera-style of Foscam's closest competition.

At a glance

The FI9826P is a hefty 1.8-pound camera that's available in either black or white. If your router has a Wi-Fi Protected Setup button (WPS), you can connect it wirelessly. Otherwise you're stuck tethering the camera to the router via the included Ethernet cable. I went the WPS route and experience a few hiccups early on.

The "quick installation guide" walks you through a series of steps -- pressing the WPS button on the camera and on the router, downloading the Foscam Viewer app on your Android or iOS device (there are several unofficial Foscam apps, Foscam viewer is the one you want), scanning the QR code on the bottom of the camera (quite a balancing act) and registering with a unique username and password.

Mobile app configuration. Screenshot by Megan Wollerton/CNET

This process was pretty confusing. I created a username and a password only for it to return an error message: "Login Fail: Username or Password Incorrect." Apparently, you have to log in the first time with Foscam's default username, admin, and no password. Then, it gives you the chance to update your info, but I had to reset the camera before it actually accepted my new username and password.

From there, I was able to access live streaming in either single-or-quadrant-view (great if you have multiple cameras running simultaneously). I was also able to record video, take snapshots, pan, tilt, zoom, set night vision and enable audio for two-way talk.

It also has an "Enable Push Message" option for motion-related security events, but I wasn't having any luck getting it to work. Foscam confirmed that push alerts are not currently available on the Foscam Viewer app (either for Android or iOS users), but that a new app should be coming out within the month that will offer this feature. How odd.

Dropcam Pro Foscam FI9826P Piper Samsung SmartCam HD Pro
Price $200, £190 (not available in AU) $220, £135, AU$230 $200 (available only in North America or Europe for €200) $190, £160 (not yet available in AU)
Color Black Black or white White White
Field of view (diagonal) 130 degrees 35 to 70 degrees 180 degrees 128 degrees
Video quality 1,080p 960p 1,080p 1,080p
Cloud storage Yes, starts at $10/month or $99/year for 7 days Yes, saves 30 clips or 100 photos for free and goes up from there Yes, saves up to 1,000 clips at no extra cost No
Local storage No Yes, SD card No Yes, SD card
Glass lens Yes Yes Yes Yes
Night vision Yes Yes No Yes
Mobile app Yes, Android and iOS Yes, Android and iOS Yes, Android and iOS Yes, Android and iOS
Web app Yes Yes Yes Yes
2-way audio Yes Yes Yes Yes
Motion and sound alerts Yes Motion only Yes Yes
Protocol integration No No Yes, Z-Wave No
Pan, tilt and optical zoom No Yes, 300-degree horizontal pan, 120-degree vertical tilt, 3x optical zoom No No

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