Logitech WiLife 961-000288 Digital Video Security Hidden Master System Camera
List Price: $334.99

Our Price: $334.99

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Product Description

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Customer Reviews:

  • Very cool, but limited features without a subscription
    Logitech makes some cool things and the Logitech WiLife Digital Video Security Hidden Master System Camera is one of those very cool things.

    According to the documentation and marketing, it takes only 15 minutes to set one of these up. That's not exactly true however--if you count how long it took to unpack the system, set up the software then the hardware in a suitable location, be prepared to spend at least an hour.

    That said, the entire process is simple and should not present much difficulty beyond thinking about where to place and focus the camera. The package I got came with a camera, two transmitter/receivers: one connects via USB to the computer and the other via Ethernet to the camera, a CD of drivers and software and an assortment of bits of hardware chiefly for mounting the camera.

    Installation of the software was straightforward and easy. Setting up the hardware was also straightforward; the included Quick Start guides and other pieces of documentation was clear and easy to follow, complete with color illustrations. I was soon up and functional. The bad news soon followed.

    I have a wish list for Logitech: Would that there was a way for the camera to be completely wireless. Even with the 8-feet-long Ethernet cable, the camera requires a power outlet and is thus limited to being within 8-feet or so of said outlet. The best place I could think of putting a camera (the package came with only one; more can be obtained for an average cost of $200) was near the top of my living room which, of course, doesn't have any outlets close-by. With several different ways of mounting (on the wall using an included apparatus with wall screws and such, on a pane of glass with suckers, or on a desk with a stand), I guess there are several options, but it seems there was none I was satisfied with.

    The other thing I wish for is that the features that a prospective user would find most useful (such as remotely controlling pan and zoom; setting an automatic schedule for recording, etc.) are only available by subscribing to an $80 a year subscription to something called WiLife Platinum. All of these `non-features' contribute to my thinking of this product simply as `neat' but not very practical. I guess if I really needed such a camera system, perhaps I'd spring for it, but it is a downside.

    The camera itself, without the Premium subscription, requires a manual focusing. Which is just great because two people are required for such a procedure: one looking at the WiLife command console and shouting to the person who most likely is precariously perched on a rickety ladder tweaking the lens. I can tell you that the picture quality is pretty good and the ability to record several levels of quality is also quite nice. I could, for example, choose to record at 15 frames per second or less; I could record at VGA or QVGA (640x480 with VGA or 320x240 for QVGA); I could define `zones' which means I could focus recording only on a specific, defined region. It is also possible to have the system contact the user via email and mobile (PDA, etc.) alerts.

    To top it off, all of this is viewable online using the WiLife site. However, as I stated earlier, in order to get the more juicy (and, in my opinion, more practical) features, the user will need to subscribe to WiLife Platinum. The maddening thing about it is that WiLife command console is filled with references to Platinum-only features. The front of the WiLife command console has a `zoom and pan' feature that figuratively screams "buy Platinum, dude!" every time the program opens up, which is on logon if you choose the default settings.

    There are definitely some very cool uses for such a package but for the "average" user, I don't see this product fitting the bill unless as one of those "cool" things to have although it could still have some very useful security applications.

    4 stars out of 5....more info
  • Truely amazing ease of use
    I was skeptical about this camera system living up to it's easy installation claim - but it does. I am truely amazed.

    I am running Windows XP Media Center over a wireless 802.11g network. My antivirus and firewall is Trend Micro Internet Security. The security settings are high because I connect wirelessly. My DSL connection is through a 2Wire router using DHCP for addressing. My power to the PC and the camera is through an APC battery backup. I figured that between the firewall filtering and the battery backup conditioning the power this system would at least need some tweeking.

    All I needed to do was install the software, plug it all in, and follow a few on screen directions. It was that easy. The system uses the electrical lines to communicate so installation is as simple as plugging one adapter into an outlet near the PC and linking it to the PC via the included USB cable and then plugging another adapter near the camera and connecting the two with the included cable (I think it is a standard RJ45 cable). The system worked flawlessly right off the bat - even though the adapter that connects to the PC is plugged directly into my UPS. The PC interface to manage the system is straight forward and intuitive. I didn't even need to access the help menu to fine tune my preferences.

    The system I was shipped has the indoor camera rather than the clock camera pictured here. As mounting options, the indoor camera comes with a swivel mount that must be screwed onto a surface, a suction cup mount and a desk stand. This camera is easily to focus and position. The biggest drawback for this camera it the excessive status LEDs. In a business the one red and three green flashing lights could be a plus but at home it is annoying. Fortunately, you can turn them off in the computer interface but it took two tries and unplugging the camera once for the setting to stick.

    Lastly, I went to the WiLife internet site and created an account in a few short minutes (maybe 5 tops). Shortly thereafter, I was watching the camera feed via the internet. How cool is that. And this service is free with the camera. One of my dogs is going to be so busted as I am now able to watch and see which one is tearing up the bed while I'm at work.

    ...more info
  • Please see other review
    I was sent the wrong product and received the indoor camera system (not the spy camera system). Please see my review at:

    Logitech WiLife Digital Video Security Indoor Master System Camera...more info
  • it does what it says
    There are three sets that are nearly identical, and differ only in the type of camera: this one (hidden camera), the outdoor starter kit, and the indoor starter kid. for more comprehensive reviews, look at those other kits as well.

    As for my opinion, this set does what it says it does in a pretty seamless fashion: you install the software, plug the camera into the wall, plug a USB adapter into the wall and your computer, make some minor configuration changes and you are all set. I have no doubt we could have gotten a better system cheaper but not one as seamlessly integrated.

    We looked at many different systems and bought this one instead because:
    - most spy cams broadcast for TV...you then need a TV/VCR to record, or a separately purchased adapter to make it work with your computer, and we weren't technically confident enough to want to buy different pieces and figure out how to get them working together
    - some spy cams are self-recording (they contain memory internally) but these tend to be pricey AND they limit how much you can record; they will fill up if you don't clear them out regularly, and for our purposes that wasn't practical
    - most "wireless" spy cams work on a WiFi wireless network, which is great if you have one, but we wanted this for use in a place we didn't have wifi; this one works by transmitting over your home or office electrical system.
    - the cost of the system includes a website you can set up to view your camera remotely (although if you have a firewall you'll only be able to watch 3 minute pieces; if the system can connect directly, which might require configuring your router which some people will find daunting, you can watch constantly).

    So, that said, here are some cons:
    - only works on PCs, not macs
    - 95% of the configuration is a piece of cake, but some aspects are confusing, like how to schedule alerts, and setting up for emailing alerts
    - the program has many features that are in the program but you can't click on them -- they are there as advertisements for a "platinum" version of the software that costs $80 a year. It's annoying to have a screen full of buttons you aren't able to click, and to have advertising be such a prevalent portion of the interface
    - this one is kind of petty, but it would be nice of the clock that hides the camera had an alarm, since we had to remove a "real" clock in place of this one
    - the camera is fine for security, but the image is kind of strange - it appears to be infrared? Which means the colors are bizarre. Reds turn yellow, greens and blues turn white. Which is probably fine for security purposes, but don't be expecting to get a high quality video out of it...more info