November 4, 2015

PorchCam 3.0

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

I was so excited. I thought I had a new PorchCam for Wambooli. A better camera than the old Foscams I purchased. Something designed for outdoor use, with pan/tilt/zoom and IR for night time images. Oh boy!

The price was good: About $140, which isn’t cheap but it’s less than the $600 models you probably see outdoors in our surveillance-riddled society.

Who makes it? I dunno. It wasn’t a Foscam camera, and that’s pretty much all that mattered to me.

The Foscam cameras were designed for indoor use, so they barely survived the winter. The webcam is its own web server. You access the controls by using a web browser. Log into the web page and you can control the camera, see what it sees, and listen.

The problem with the Foscam devices is that they rely upon a 20-year-old Microsoft technology called ActiveX. It was Microsoft’s attempt to automate the web and, like many of their attempts, it sucked.

ActiveX blew so much spew that even Microsoft confessed to how wretched it was, so they halted development a while back. That apparently doesn’t stop the Asian webcam developers from continuing to use the horrid technology.

The last Foscam software update I pulled failed. Even using ActiveX on an older version of Internet Explorer, I couldn’t access the camera’s controls. The same crap happened with the “new” camera: I installed it and — lo and behold — I needed to install ActiveX to get it to work.

My disappointing was volcanic.

So I boxed it up and contacted the vendor for a refund and return.

Here is the review I wrote on Amazon:

I was really hoping for a decent webcam, but this device proved just as disappointing as the Focscam cameras I’d given up on long ago.

I can forgive the rotten English instructions and useless manual. I could also forgive the fact that this specific model isn’t listed in the manual. The gizmo has a cable with three wires: One is power, one is Ethernet, and the other is a mystery. Is it a button? I don’t know because it’s not in the wretched manual. And where is the Wi-Fi antenna shown in the picture? I received no such thing in the box.

To use the camera, you must access its web server. To do that, you must kowtow to the manufacturer’s insistence upon using Active X to access the browser administration page. It. Just. Doesn’t. Work. And why should it? Active X is a horrid, outdated technology, one I specifically disable on my systems.

Chrome doesn’t do Active X. I tried accessing the server via Microsoft Edge. That works, but the live stream doesn’t show up. At all. It keeps insisting that I install Active X, which is the same nonsense I went through with the Foscam webcams. So what’s the point of even buying this gizmo when I can’t access its live video stream?

I must mention that the mobile stream worked, so the camera isn’t a dud. Still, I returned it because I demand something that actually functions, has a useful manual, and doesn’t drive me nuts with Active X.

Sadly, the vendor is playing hardball and won’t accept the return. I have updated my review to include that relevant information.

And so the search for PorchCam 3.0 continues.

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