The WinCam.Live Internet Camera System by StarDot
Technologies is a fully automated webcam. This isn’t one of those little webcams that
you use to do video chat through Microsoft NetMeeting or other such programs. WinCam.Live
is more suited although not limited to surveillance type work. This product can be easily
configured to take a picture every 60 seconds and then upload it to a webserver for
|The WinCam.Live is a 4" Wide X 3.1" High X 5" Deep plastic |
bodied camera. It has a CCD chip resolution of 512×492 pixels but has options to go as
high as 640×480. The color depth of the camera is 24-bit color or up to 16.7 million
The camera sits flat on non skid rubber feet or can be attached to a tripod via
A small LED on the front of the camera shines green when the camera is in use, yellow
The camera comes with an 8mm lens. Several other lenses and filters including outdoor,
Outdoor enclosures can also be purchased separately.
The WinCam.Live is attached to your PC via a 24AWG CAT.5 25ft phone cable (included).
One end plugs into the back of the camera and the other end plugs into a dual AC adapter,
25 pin serial connector. You then plug this connector into a free serial port on your PC.
What makes this camera somewhat unique is it’s ability to move far away from the
controlling PC. You can use a 200ft cable, or with an optional extender kit, up to 1 mile
away! Or, you can even connect an external modem to the camera and move it anywhere you
want as long as there is a phone line to connect it to (I did not test this).
Another feature is the ability to have one PC control up to 6 separate cameras one one
comport via an optional multiplexing box.
Included with the camera is a software package called Capture Host. This is the
software that controls the camera and uploads the pictures to a webserver. With it, you
can control image information such as capture resolution, number of images to save,
brightness, exposure, and Jpeg quality. There are also powerful scheduling options that
you can set such as the interval between snaps, days of the week and hours to enable use.
You can even setup nifty little features such as warning sounds to play when the camera is
getting ready to snap a picture, or the type of text overlay that you want each picture to
have such as time and date.
|When the software is running, you see a small live grayscale image in the |
window with a larger color image of the last snapshot. A count down to the next snap
is also displayed. From this main screen you have the ability to quickly turn off the
camera, turn off ftp transfer, change brightness or zoom in 2x to 4x. Unfortunately, the
zoomed image is only for viewing in the preview image window. It doesn’t effect the
captured image. I guess it is more for surveillance purposes.
To the left you see
I found the software to be powerful and user friendly.
|To the left you see an actual snapshot that was uploaded to the webserver. |
The quality of the pictures are quite good. The camera does a good job of setting
the correct exposure for different lighting situations. Indoor shots are good as
well as outdoor shots. I did tests where I pointed the camera out the window on a bright
sunny day and it did a terrific job.
With the standard lens that comes with the camera,
Uploading the pictures to your webserver is automatic. You just have
to tell the software the hostname, and login information. Capture Host will then dial
up your ISP and ftp the files automatically. You can set up the software to keep the
connection open, or you can have the software dial the connection, upload the file and
I really like the WinCam.Live. The only real bad points about it are that it is
expensive and it can’t be used as a regular video conferencing camera. Star Dot does
tell me that they are working on a driver that will allow you to use the WinCam.Live as a
video conf. camera in the future.
As for the price, you have to realize that it isn’t in the same class as the $99
webcams. This is not a toy, but a tool. I’ve had quite a bit of fun with it during the
review period. I set it up in my living room while I was at work so I could ‘spy’ on my
dog. One day I even caught her sleeping in MY chair! 🙂
This system would be great for businesses or people that want an easy to use and setup
Easy to setup
Ability to locate far from host PC
Ability to connect multiple cameras to one PC
Lots of accessory options like lenses and enclosures
Can’t use the camera as a typical webcam for video conferencing