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 Wanscam JW0016. Wanscam is one of the growing number of low-cost IP camera manufacturers competing for your attention. What I find interesting about Wanscam is they have a pretty good selection of cost-effective outdoor cameras, some for as low as $60-$70 on Amazon.com. I was eager to try this camera to see how it stacks-up against other low-cost outdoor cameras. Many customers are looking for outdoor cameras so I think it’s a good approach for Wanscam to offer a range of options.
I’ll review the camera’s Hardware, Basic Setup, Video Quality, and Monitoring Features.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and feel of the camera hardware. Most inexpensive IP cameras come with fairly low quality housing. The Wanscam JW0016 is an exception — it has a sturdy outdoor housing and the size of the camera is great. It’s not too bulky like most outdoor bullet cams — frankly most outdoor cameras I’ve seen tend to be quite large. So, definite plus on that front. The rest of the package was fairly straightforward — an antenna, power cables (including POE) and some screws to mount the device. Ok, let’s see how the camera performed functionality-wise.
I’ll start first by saying this isn’t a ‘plug and play’ camera. If you want simple, scan a QR code, sprinkle some pixie dust and your camera’s up and running, then stop here. That’s not a Wanscam. However, if you have a bit of techie in you, don’t mind things a bit rough around the edges, then keep reading. Obviously the first goal is to get the device configured on your network properly. So, I plugged it into a wired LAN connection. Connected the power. Umm… now what? No CD with the typical ‘network discovery’ software was provided. Obviously there are other ways to discover devices on your network, but I wanted to use the options provided by Wanscam. Turns out they have a software download center at www.wanscam.com/xiazai. Here’s a screenshot of the page – like I said, don’t expect an iPhone interface.
Download and install the search tool, and it will auto-discover the camera on your network. Double-click the camera’s IP address, login (default u/n and p/w is: admin/blank) and you’re into the settings area. The Basic Network Settings and Wireless LAN Settings work well and are very straightforward. So, other than chasing my tail trying to find their network scan tool, it worked fine.
I’m not going to go into a detailed spec discussion here, other than to note the Wanscam is a MJPEG camera so you’re not going to get high-definition video. I think images summarize things nicely, so below are screengrabs from: Wanscam JW0016 and the Foscam 8905W, two comparable outdoor cameras. As you can see the overall image quality is similar. The colors look different but I didn’t play with the color settings in the camera to really test it to that extent. The only issue I did run into with Wanscam is when streaming for more than a few seconds some frames would have distortions in them. It was hard to reproduce but I tried in multiple players (Camcloud, VLC, a few mobile players) and the same thing would happen regularly.
My interest in IP cameras is to record activty when I’m not there — I see them as a monitoring tool for my property. The Wanscam provides two options for saving recordings: save video to a local drive or FTP image snapshots to a cloud storage location.
The “Local Record Path” is where you can save some large video files on the LAN, which is a handy feature. I prefer using cloud storage, so configured the “Alarm Service Settings” seen below to push image snapshots to the cloud. Once I supplied my Camcloud FTP credentials to the device, it worked great. The settings you see below are fairly straightforward — I’m still not sure what “Alarm preset linkage” means and couldn’t find a reference for it online, but I configured the other settings quickly, made a few adjustments to motion sensitivity and I was on my way.
The bottom-line is this camera is still rough around the edges from initial setup through to many of its configuration options. Plus, it’s not clear where to go for support so I’m not sure what kind of support you’d be able to get if you had any issues. From that standpoint, it might be safer to just go with a Foscam. Still, the camera works fine, it streams decent video and can store recordings (images) in the cloud. I’d say the biggest plus for Wanscam is if you are shopping for an inexpensive outdoor camera, then I’d add a few of their cams to your shortlist — here’s a shortcut to their Amazon.com listings. If you’re looking for cloud services for your Wanscam, try the Camcloud service for free. You can also read more about our support for Wanscam IP cameras, as well as other popular IP cams. Good luck!