This is part of our continuing series of IP camera reviews. The reviews focus on cameras that work with Camcloud’s IP camera cloud services. Hopefully this will help customers pick the camera that’s right for them.
For this post I will review the Tenvis JPT3815W. Tenvis is a low-cost provider of IP cameras. I was eager to try this camera to see how it stacks-up against other low-cost MJPEG cameras, in particular from Foscam. The price certainly is right — I bought it for $47.99 USD. Amazon.com stocks plenty of Tenvis cameras, but once you get outside the US the options become a bit more limited but they are sold in many major markets — here’s the Tenvis list of distributors.
I’ll review the camera’s Hardware, Network Setup, Video Quality, and Monitoring Features.
The contents of the box are pretty standard — you’re provided with the camera itself, a software CD, install guide and a small mounting bracket. The quality of the camera hardware is pretty low — it feels like a budget camera, but for sub-$50, I didn’t expect much more. The plastic mold isn’t very rugged and wouldn’t stand-up to much impact. None of this is a showstopper, but just expect a light, toy-feel to the camera. Ok, let’s move on to what’s important — the camera functions.
My first goal with any IP camera is to get it on my network — often how easy (or difficult) it is to complete this process is a harbinger of the camera’s overall ease-of-use. So, I followed the instructions and dutifully connected the Tenvis to the network via a wired connection. The CD didn’t auto-launch a setup wizard, so I launched the app on my own and ran into my first problem. I tried to use their network search tool to identify the camera. After attempting to install the search tool, I didn’t receive any confirmation whether the operation was complete or not. So, I selected “Search Tool” again and it put me into a subsequent installation screen asking me to modify my existing installation. Since I hadn’t even installed anything (or at least it wasn’t obvious that I had), I’m not sure why it was prompting me to modify and/or customize the install. The subsequent steps in the wizard didn’t allow me to complete this step anyway, so I gave up on their PC software and made sure it was removed from my machine. Didn’t exactly get the warm and fuzzies here, but not a deal-breaker, I just found the camera’s IP address through other means… on to wireless setup.
I logged-into the camera’s web page with the default credentials (I’ll save you some time: admin / admin). The wireless setup was actually very good. Really not much to report — it just worked. So, their PC software that’s meant to make things easier was a fail but for anyone familiar with IP cameras and don’t require “plug and play” functionality, it was workable. Once you’re done setting it up, you can take 2 minutes to try out Camcloud’s cloud service for free.
The Tenvis JPT3815W is an MJPEG camera (which is an older video compression standard) and offers a max resolution of 640×480. I was curious how it stacked up against a comparable camera, specs-wise. Below are 3 snapshots from the following 3 cameras: Tenvis JPT3815W, Foscam FI8910W and for comparison sake, the Foscam FI9821W which is a 720P camera. I think the results speak for themselves. The Tenvis is in the same league as the Foscam FI8910W. Obviously as you expect the higher res camera is much better, and it’s only here as a comparative benchmark. What’s the bottom-line? Well, the image quality is very comparable to a popular competitive camera and certainly more than adequate for the majority of home and small business applications.
I use IP cameras for monitoring — basically keeping an eye on my property when I’m not around, so I’m always interested in what the cameras have to offer in this area. Tenvis offers the basic features you’d expect and are fairly simple to understand. Many cameras add a large number of motion detection (MD) settings into the device and it adds too much complexity, with (in my experience) limited improvement in false positive reduction and overall MD performance. I also use Camcloud’s IP camera cloud service, so my goal was to configure it with Camcloud for cloud storage of any motion recordings.
There are only two things you need to accomplish in order to setup cloud storage of your motion events: (1) Provide your FTP credentials to the camera and (2) Configure your alarm settings on the camera itself. The first was easy — I just grabbed the Camcloud-supplied FTP credentials, entered them in the Tenvis FTP menu and I was off and running. (Be sure to give it an FTP directory name or it won’t work!)
The second step is to configure the “Alarm” settings. The screenshot below shows how easy it is to set this up with Tenvis. You’ll be surprised at how complicated some IP camera manufacturers can make this setup. Tenvis keeps it simple and provides the settings that are sufficient for most home and small business users. My only grumble here is that you can pretty much guess what all these settings mean but they aren’t documented anywhere that I could find, and the Video Recording checkbox doesn’t seem to do anything (ok, that’s two grumbles). I got excited that maybe they will FTP video to your cloud storage account, but after searching their forums it appears it is local video storage only but I couldn’t find a place to specify a storage path / location… so I basically gave-up on that feature. Anyway, some minor drawbacks but overall this functionality was simple, worked well and easily uploads snapshots to my Camcloud cloud storage account.
I assessed this camera based on the fact it’s obviously a budget-conscious camera. It doesn’t stack-up to many popular cameras on the market in-terms of video capabilities and overall function, but for sub-$50 you get what you pay for. Bottom-line is the camera works fine, generates good video and has a basic set of alarm settings that are appropriate for most users. If you’re going to shortlist some budget cameras, I’d add this one to your list along with the Foscam FI8910W. Both provide comparable functionality and it really comes down to whether you can get a good deal on a Tenvis — if you can, go for it.
If you’re looking for cloud services for your Tenvis, try the Camcloud service for free. You can also read more about our support for Tenvis IP cameras, as well as other popular IP cameras. Good luck!