Home Security On A Budget (Part 3)

6/7/2012 11:28:56 AM


WebCamXP is another free program, and one that will let you connect up to six cameras, although you will have to pay $44.95 for this. Its downside is that it's slightly more complicated to set up than Vitamin D.

Description: WebCamXP

WebCamXP is very powerful, but it’s not as easy to use as Vitamin D

WebCamXP does a fantastic job, though, and unlike Vitamin D it also allows you to view your security recordings over the internet. WebCamXP also has the ability to stream to your smartphone, which could be useful.


Description: Yawkam

Yawkam is free to download and use. It's complicated but free

Yawcam is a completely free security software program written in Java. It works quite well and has a fairly accurate motion detection system. It has email notifications and supports more than one camera without extra payment. It's perhaps not as slick as the other software mentioned here, but it does a good job for no money at all. It's perhaps not for the computer beginner, though.

In Test

Description:  webcamXP User Interface

webcamXP User Interface

For my tests, I used Vitamin D, as it really is the superior program. It was simple to set up and in less than ten minutes I had two rooms successfully monitored with my cameras.

The cheap eBay camera worked okay, and in good light got fairly good results. However, once light started to fade, the camera was next to useless. The video quality was also jerky, and often stuttered.

The Creative camera fared better, with good results even in low light. Also, the final video quality was much smoother, and clearer, even though the resolution was the same. Perhaps you really do get what you pay for.

In fact, the fairly high-end Microsoft LifeCam did not really perform any better than the budget Creative camera in any of the tests. This sort of proves my point that a decent security webcam setup can be had for about $72. Even if you decide to pay for Vitamin D, you can still have a fantastic and working setup for under $160.

Interestingly, I tried to use WebCamXP and Vitamin D at the same time, and as long as you selected different input cameras on each one they worked perfectly. It's not ideal, though, having different cameras running on different software programs, but if you really want to save money, it's a possibility.


Description: abbaKam

JabbaKam can make life a lot easier

If you can't face setting up any software yourself, then there is a company that will do all the hard work for you; you'll find it at For $95.984 and $9.52 a month, you can have a camera that you simply plug into a USB port, and you can then monitor it without setup over the internet via a given password. It works really well, although it's not cheap. It has all the motion detection settings and email alerts you'd expect too. For the complete computer novice, it may be worth thinking about.

Feeling Safer?

Hopefully, this article has made you at least think about setting up some sort of security system in your house. A one-camera setup can be yours for as little as $4.8 inclusive of camera and software. Also, although video quality is not perfect, it is acceptable.

For a little bit more you can have better quality recording, and for more still you can have a four-camera network, which is easily maintained and works brilliantly.

As long as you already have a computer to install the software on, then your budget will not be stretched. What's surprising is the excellence of the security software that can be had for absolutely no money; it really is professional quality. What's stopping you?

What If You Have Loadsa Money?

Okay, so you don't fancy drilling holes all over your house, you can't stand the idea of messy wires cluttering up your minimalist house, and you have a lot of money to spend. Well, then you have two options.

One is to install a purpose built security camera system, such as the ones Swann offers to suit a range of (fairly large) budgets. These come with cameras, mountings, wireless systems and connectors, and they can be a good choice. They do not require an awful lot of know-how to put together (although there will often still be drilling involved), and by connecting them to a computer or other recording device, good results can be had.

If you still think that you want to do it yourself, then you could go down the wireless camera route. With wireless, cameras you can still have multiple cameras in multiple rooms of your house, but obviously without the wires. Wireless webcams used to be for Russian oligarchs only, but nowadays even us normal people can afford and own pretty sophisticated wireless IP cameras for not really very much money at all. D-Link, Logitech and others all offer pretty good models at reasonable prices.

As mentioned in the main article, D-Link (www.d-link. has a wide range of wireless webcams. A good starting point is the D-Link 932 webcam, which can be picked up on Amazon for under $112. This camera is a good-quality unit, and with a bit of tinkering can be set up to work really well as part of your home security network. The only snag is that sometimes free software like Vitamin D does not support wireless webcams. The plus side, though, is that D-Link provides you with MyD-Link, a suite of software and online services that enable you to access your camera online, as well as on your smartphone. MyD-Link is a good solution and has all the motion detection, storage and email options that the other software looked at here has. It really is a very good way to run a home security network, but it comes at a cost. A four-camera system will cost you nearly $384, so it's not really budget at all.

If you have a lot of expensive equipment in your house or office, then it's perhaps not a good idea to scrimp on your home security anyway.

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