Good-quality day and infrared images; iOS viewing and control; motion detection with alerts
Clunky interfaces; fewer features for Mac users
Catering to the needs of homeowners or small businesses, the SwannEye is a security camera that connects itself to your wired or wireless network and feeds its video to your browser or iPhone.
Since you don’t want to watch it constantly, you can also set up the SwannEye to detect motion and send you an email alert containing a sequence of still photos. It can also automatically upload the images to an ftp server.
The 300,000-pixel camera shoots MJPEG video at 30fps at resolutions up to 640 x 480 pixels. The quality is quite detailed and smooth compared to others in this class.
A ring of infrared LEDs around the lens gives you night vision up to 10m away. This is turned on automatically when low light is detected, and the quality, again, is top-class and sharp.
The SwannEye can be mounted on a flat surface or, by using the included bracket, on the ceiling or a wall.
Setup is via a web browser on a Mac or PC, but the Mac interface lacks some of the Internet Explorer controls, limits you to one camera connection instead of nine, and doesn’t have recording options.
You first have to connect the camera to your router via Ethernet and run a simple search tool that locates your camera on the network and takes you to the web setup page.
Here you can set up the wireless connection and change settings such as pan and tilt speeds and motion-detection alarms.
It’s relatively easy to use if you’re comfortable with standard (non-Apple) router interfaces, but should really be cleaned up and simplified for the average user.
Once you’ve set it up, the app shows you the live feed in a window across the top of the screen, with a panel below it containing simple controls for panning and tilting, taking still shots, and muting the speaker and microphone (which we never managed to get working properly).
There are also switches to turn automatic panning and tilting on and off. There is no zoom, unfortunately.
Also detracting from the experience is the interface, which looks quite slapdash. The buttons are small and ugly, you can’t view the video in fullscreen mode, and the use of black type on a dark grey background makes the app very hard to read.
You can use your iPhone to connect to the SwannEye from anywhere you have Wi-Fi or 3G/4G data access. Be warned, however, that viewing the video is a constant download so it could eat through your data allowance pretty quickly.
On OS X, your option for viewing and control is the same Safari-based web interface you use to set up the camera.
For some reason it features a large Apple Time Machine icon … which, confusingly, has no connection with Time Machine. Instead, treating it as a compass and clicking on it pans and tilts the camera in the direction of your click.
Other browser controls are auto movement controls, brightness and contrast adjustments, plus settings for frame rate, resolution and frequency.
Up to four remote iOS or web users can connect at a time.
Macworld Australia‘s buying advice.
We have some reservations about the unattractive, old-school web and iOS interfaces, and the lack of advanced controls for Mac users, but the fact remains that the SwannEye is a high-quality security camera with some great features.