Aztech, a Singapore electronics manufacturer since 1986, is known for their wide range of consumer tech products like homeplugs, routers, and IP cameras. Their latest IP webcam, WIPC309HD, is with me for review.
I have bought Aztech homeplugs and IP cameras over the years, as they are very affordable compared to the other overseas brands. I have since upgraded to other brands. The new WIPC309HD, interestingly, is Aztech first fix-angle IP camera. All the past IP cameras feature pan-and-tilt, which is very useful for surveillance over a large area. But with improved resolution and optics, fixed-angle IP cameras are equally capable in doing the job. It is also better since you can see everything all the time, whereas when you pan and tilt the camera, you cannot see other areas not in frame.
The WIPC309HD retails at S$69 captures video in full HD (1920×1080) at 15 fps, and connects to your home network over Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n). It has a 110-degree lens which is more than enough if you put the camera at the corner of a room. It records video or photo in an external microSD card (up to 64GB) which must be purchased separately, but you can also configure to store recorded media over FTP or NAS setup. It supports night vision with 12 infrared LEDs that illuminates up to 6 metres. It can also support two-way communication through the built-in speaker and mic.
The tiltable stand is permanently fixed to the camera. The reset button can be conveniently pressed without the need of a needle, thankfully. The micro USB connector is L-shaped, which helps in cable management.
The new AzCam app is a lot more user friendly compared to the previous versions run on older Aztech IP cams. The app guides me to connect the webcam to the home Wi-Fi and then it will appear in the app. Once the webcam is connected, subsequently on other phones running AzCam app, just scan the QR code on the webcam to add the device to the app.
Video footage are recorded up to 15 seconds when it detects motion. From the app, I can choose to record videos, take a photo manually, watch live feed, communicate over the webcam. The speaker quality is clear enough to hear the conversation, and loud enough to get some attention when the room is quiet.
There is no option to select the motion detection area, so when the camera detects movement in any part of the frame, it will trigger a recording. I can, however, define the periods to trigger motion, e.g. during specific times of the day. Again, there is no granularity in defining the periods, as I can only set one set of start and end time followed by which days to trigger. Other webcams could even define different start-end times for each day. I find setting the motion sensitivity to “low” is sufficient to detect human traffic unless you want to capture small objects. With a 4GB memory card, I can record about 10 days of 2000+ motion-triggered Full-HD video in 15-second clips. On weekends, the webcam practically records every other minute due to heavy activity around the house.
There is an option to notify you via smartphone app with every motion trigger, but you might want to turn it off unless you expect the events to be far and few. I also like to turn off the infrared sensor, since there is no need for me to detect motion in the dark. Some webcams do not have the option to turn off, which is annoying, because whenever the webcam switches on the night mode, it will let out a rather loud click-click sound. If it detects insufficient light condition, even during the day, webcams will switch on the night vision mode, and it annoys people in the house. I also like that the LED indicator on the webcam can be turned off, so that my family does not feel conscious about the operation.
An interesting feature not found in many webcams is the ability to record footage to NAS storage and FTP storage. This offers the potential to do cloud or off-site recording and prevent the intruder from taking away the SD card.
The app seems to be pretty responsive the recorded footage are loaded promptly, even when I’m checking the webcam from outside the home Wi-Fi network. Occasionally, the app appears to be disconnected from the webcam, but a refresh usually gets the cam connected promptly. In contrast, the D-Link webcams often give me problems in loading the webcam live feed and accessing video footage.
Browsing thousands of video files could be a little daunting. There is a dropdown filter to drill down the video list, but no option to search by date, time or save videos locally. Photos, on the other hand, can be shared.
I also hope there is a in-app guide to help clarify some of the app functions. I had to click a URL from the FAQ menu to load the Aztech product website, manually find the product model, then search the FAQ page for answers.
The WIPC309HD is a basic webcam that runs reliably, more stable than my current D-Link DCS-8100LH 180-degree webcam that is almost 3 times the price (though the latter as a lot more functions). The smartphone app UI is improved over earlier versions, and makes the product so much easier to use. Though the device does not support much customisation over the app, the basic functions of motion recording and footage playback work well. With the LED and IR disabled, it watches over my living room quietly at a corner, giving me peace of mind and allowing me to check out the live or recorded content. If you like an inexpensive IP webcam with straightforward functions and do not need advanced motion detection program, then this webcam should suffice.
Retail price goes for S$69, visit the official product website for the full list of retailers selling the WIPC309HD. The launch promo price goes for S$59 till end of April, available at Challenger, Courts, Harvey Norman, and more.