So lets break down wireless camera systems…..
First let’s just separate wireless into a couple of groups: Wireless, Cellular and Hybrid
Wireless group are the ones that truly work anywhere because they form their own wireless network as deployed. They do not require any cellular service at all as they typically use an embedded radio and work on their own frequencies.
BuckEye Cam first came out with the first wireless system of this type in 2004. The advantage of this type of system is they work literally everywhere. Since they are not reliant on any data service or cellular carrier they are considered free transmission. If you use the PC Base you can control everything from your computer and the software has loads of features to keep you connected when you are not there.
Cellular group are the ones that require a cellular service to function wirelessly. They will only work (wirelessly) in areas that have cellular service. Most (if not all) of these types of systems do not send the full size image directly to you but rather to a server then gets rerouted to you or you have to log in to view. The added requirement of server (where your actual images and videos are stored) means you need to log into a “website” in order to view your actual images and videos. I won’t get into the many different ways wireless (cellular) cameras operate but for the most part these systems are inherently unreliable and deceiving as to what you actually receive to your phone and/or your email etc. Typically, it is a thumbnail version (to save on data rates) and limited communications to the camera in the field. Most still save to the SD card so you still have to visit and get the card etc.
Hybrid group are the ones that combine both technologies into a single working unit. In 2006 BuckEye Cam released it’s first hybrid system which combined the use of our Wireless and Cellular technologies into a single system. With this type of system typically the cameras in the field communicate to a base using their own proprietary wireless technology (not cellular) and the user can connect to the base via as cellular connection. This gives you the best of both worlds. You can deploy cameras anywhere (including in areas where you get poor or no cellular service), run as many cameras as you want, control the entire system from your computer and keep everything under a single data plan. Since the CellBase can be mobile (run in the field or inside) and only needs to be located within a couple miles from one of the cameras you can locate the cellbase in the area that gets the best cell service.
The BuckEye Cam CellBase can handle as many cameras as you want to deploy in the area (literally hundreds), all under single data plan and you are in complete control of the entire wireless system. Full resolution images/videos sent directly to you, you are in complete control of your entire wireless network, directly.
Other things to consider:
The finer points to consider when selecting a system – whether it be wireless or just standard camera is the overall performance of the camera. Resolution is always a “big” deal but most people don’t realize that a lot of camera systems out there are completely misrepresenting their resolution. So much so in most cases it would be considered a blatant lie.
Basically, you have Native and Interpolated advertised resolutions. Native being the actual resolution capabilities of the imager in the camera. Interpolated (which is what most camera manufacturer advertise) is a fancy way of saying post processing the image to fit a need. Whether that need is to look better by smoothing the edges and removing pixalation or (in most cases) enlarging the image to appear that it is a higher resolution than it actually is. For example, if a camera states it is a 10meg resolution in MOST cases it is a 1meg native interpolated to 10meg. Think of it like when you take a picture on your computer and enlarge it 10 times that is what a lot of camera companies do to inflate their resolution.
In case you are curious, we have always listed our BuckEye Cam camera resolution in Native terms. We just figured there was no reason to call an apple an orange for the sake of trying to fool some people. I only know of maybe one other camera manufacturer that advertises their resolution in Native terms and since I have not asked them if I can say their name here I will only say their name starts with an R and ends with a Y.
Camera functions are also really important. Most of the time we find that cameras tend to have some serious gaps in performance. Sometimes it’s understandable – if you pay $300 for a camera expect it to function like a $300 camera. Don’t expect great things from a $300 camera. I mean if you think about it, most camera systems are in the “food chain” of the industry. By that I mean you buy them from a dealer or retailer and they purchased them from a wholesaler who purchased them from a “manufacturer” who typically had them made overseas. So every time that camera changes hands someone get a cut. Easily the cost of the $300 retail camera to the manufacturer has to be less than $100. So you can see that feeding the “food chain” is part of the cost of doing business. You might be surprised to find out that the retailer can make the lions share of the profit and NOT the manufacturer. I will cover that in a separate blog post. It’s interesting to learn from the inside how that industry works… You’ll be surprised for sure.
Anyhow camera functions like trigger speed, recovery time, all the different setting options and the hidden little “devil is in the details” aspect was well.
Most wireless cameras are inherently awful at this recovering process. So you get your new wireless camera (the cheaper one, you know) take it out and find out that recovery speed is completely reliant on the speed at which it handles the picture processing. I’ll explain, most have this issue where the camera takes the picture and then spends the next 30 seconds or so processing the picture and then another 30 seconds “sending” the picture wirelessly. So it’s recovery time is over 1 minute. This means that the camera has to wait 1 minute before it can even be ready to take another picture. In most cases this just awful if you are trying to use the camera in any location other than over bait.
Why don’t they do something about that? Well that is processing, much like your computer, if you want faster processing (processor) in your camera you have to pay more for a faster processor and they can be pricey. What does a faster processor get you? Sub-second recover times, continuously, plus all sorts of other capabilities and setting features. You get what you pay for essentially.
Batteries are one of the top things to consider (if not the top) with wireless cameras. Why? Because as you can imagine, wireless stuff consumes a lot more power than just saving to an SD card.
To my knowledge we are the only wireless camera in the industry that uses a SLA battery (9aH at that!). The irony is the BuckEye Cam’s use less power than most cameras out there and because of our “cutting teeth years in wireless” back in the early 2000’s we developed our own wireless communication protocol. Power consumption is a huge deal with wireless because in most cases it takes more power to transmit than it does to operate the camera, so buying alkalines and lithiums just won’t cut it for very long if you are taking very many pictures. (you can read more about batteries)
At the end of the day there is a lot to a wireless system and the best advice I can give you is understand that there many reasons why some systems are a lot more expensive than others..