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IP cameras help you keep tabs on different sections of your home at all hours of the day. There are many kinds of IP cameras, some made for outdoor use and some that double well as video baby monitors. The Samsung SmartCam HD Pro is an excellent example of an IP camera that works well as a video baby monitor. With the SmartCam, you get most of the benefits of a video baby monitor, combined with the versatility of an IP camera. Let's take a look at some of the reasons why this translates into greater peace of mind for parents.

Surveillance Features

Perhaps the most obvious reason is that being able to see your baby at any time, no matter where you are in the home, reassures you that the baby is just fine. Even at night, you can clearly see your baby with the SmartCam because it has 10 built-in infrared LEDs. You can expect the night vision to reach about 15 feet, which should be plenty to keep your baby in clear view.

You can set up the SmartCam HD Pro to send a push notification to your smartphone when it detects noise or audio using the camera's smartphone app. This app enables you to use your smartphone as a baby video monitor and watch the video feed from the SmartCam. When your baby moves or starts to cry, the app notifies you. This means you don't have to constantly watch the video feed to ensure your baby's comfort.

Many video baby monitors have voice- and sound-activated features, but few allow you to control those features. The SmartCam lets you define motion-detection zones. Only motion within these zones triggers the push notifications. That way, you don't get false alarms when your dog wanders into the camera's field of view or you turn on the ceiling fan.

The SmartCam comes with a mount and screws, so you can place it just about anywhere. The wall above your baby's crib might be a good place for it. From a good vantage point, you can enjoy the HD video stream of your baby. On mobile devices, you get a 720p stream, whereas viewing on a computer will get you a 1080p stream. This is a considerable improvement over traditional video baby monitors, which usually run standard-definition streams.

Baby Soothing

When viewing the SmartCam HD Pro's video feed on your smartphone, you can see and hear everything that the camera hears and sees. That means when your baby begins to cry, you'll hear it and also get a push notification. At this point, you have a couple of options to soothe your baby either until he goes back to sleep or until you can get to him. One of them is the two-way talk feature. Many video baby monitors have this, and it enables you to speak to your baby through the camera.

The other option is to play lullabies to your baby through the camera. The SmartCam has three lullabies to choose from. This is an excellent option to calm your baby down. With the combination of this and the two-way talk feature, you'll be able to keep your baby calm until you get to her.

Connectivity

Setting up the SmartCam HD Pro as a video baby monitor is easy. All you need to do is download the Samsung SmartCam app for your smartphone, make sure the camera is plugged in and turned on, and then let the app run you through a setup wizard. It only takes a few minutes.

You can watch the video stream in 1080p on a computer, but in order to do so, you need to download an additional plugin for your web browser. This is a little disappointing, as it really shouldn't be necessary, but it's not a big deal. It's nice to have a clear video stream of your baby's nursery on your computer monitor while you're doing other things.

Some video baby monitors offer the option to record video and screenshots and save them to an SD card. The SmartCam also gives you this ability. It's easy to save some video footage of your baby to share with relatives. You can also set the camera to record and review your baby's sleep habits to make sure everything is OK.

Not many IP cameras have the option to plug an Ethernet cable in for a more reliable and faster connection, but the SmartCam does. Overall, the device is a bit larger than most IP cameras, but the tradeoff is nice extras like the Ethernet port. Of course, you can always just use the Wi-Fi connection, but for HD video streams, you should really consider using a wired connection.

Network Stress and Quality

Home networks can be complicated. You really need to pay attention to what your home router is capable of, or your IP camera may take up a sizable chunk of your home network's bandwidth. That translates into overall slower connection speeds for all wireless devices in your home. Generally speaking, the important thing to look for is what Wi-Fi standard your router is using. There are several standards, and they have different specifications.

Let's start by looking at 802.11b, which is an older standard that can only handle up to 11 megabits per second (Mbps). One important thing to remember with these numbers is that you're likely to only get 50% or so of the maximum due to signal interference and some other factors. That means on 802.11b, you'll only get around 5.5 Mbps on wireless devices. For reference, Netflix suggests at least 5 Mbps for the HD-quality streaming and 25 Mbps for Ultra HD.

We move up in bandwidth considerably with 802.11a and 801.11g. Both of these standards support up to 54 Mbps at their theoretical limits. Even half of that is considerably more than the earlier standard. However, when you consider that an IP camera can use 10 to 15 Mbps on its own, you could run into video quality issues on these standards if you have several wireless devices connected to the same router.

You'll need to get an 802.11n router if you don't want to worry about how much bandwidth your IP camera is using. With an 802.11n router, the theoretical maximum is 300 Mbps. That's enough for most small families, even with an IP camera or two. Keep in mind that the more wireless devices you connect to the same router, the slower the internet connections are when divided among them.

Accessibility

When watching the IP camera at home, you access it using your home network. As discussed above, this may or may not present quality issues. However, if you want to access your IP camera when you're away from your home, then you'll need to worry about your internet connection speed. When you request the camera's video feed on your mobile device from work or a restaurant, then the camera needs to go through your internet service provider. The quality of the video stream depends heavily on how good your home internet connection is.

Summary

IP cameras in general can work well as video baby monitors. They have some weaknesses and some strengths, but overall, they serve their purpose. IP cameras are definitely more complex and a little harder to use than most video baby monitors, but the ability to view the video feed on your smartphone in HD quality is enticing. The Samsung SmartCam HD Pro in particular is a good candidate for use as a video baby monitor, with its built-in lullabies and two-way talk feature. With IP cameras, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes when you know your baby is safe and sound.

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