If you feel like keeping an eye on someone (or somewhere), but are on a budget, fear not. We are in the second decade of the 21st century. You no longer need to buy a lot of expensive equipment to monitor an area; However, some of the best home security cameras are more affordable than you might think.
All you need is a smartphone, preferably one you’re not using, and something to view the feed. With just a few dollars, a mobile device, a charger, and some tape or a tripod for mounting, you can monitor whatever you want.
In this guide, we use AlfredCamera as a free example, but we also list great alternatives for iOS and Android.
How to use AlfredCamera
We chose AlfredCamera (Google Play) (Apple’s App Store) because it has great user reviews, is easy to use, and works great. You can use this service for free, but there are some drawbacks, such as ads and recording limits. You can unlock everything this service has to offer through a monthly or yearly subscription.
In this example, we use the free account and set up a Pixel 3 as a camera. To view the feed, we used a laptop and Google‘s Chrome web browser; no extensions needed.
Mobile device requirements:
- Android 5.0 or newer
- iOS 8 or newer
Note: Before you begin, make sure you are using a wireless network that is secure and password protected. Setting this up on an unprotected network is not recommended as it is possible for someone to access your network without your permission.
Step 1: Install the app and sign in with your email address, Google account, or Apple ID credentials.
Step 2: Select how you want to use AlfredCamera. As shown below, we choose Baby monitor, but you can touch other options like Kids monitor and Out of trip.
Step 3: The application may default to Viewer mode. If so, touch Viewer at the top and select Camera instead of.
Step 4: Tap one of the three permission options in the pop-up window to take photos and record videos.
Step 5: Tap one of the three permission options in the pop-up window to record audio.
Step 6: Pair the phone with another device by logging into AlfredCamera on the second device. You can do this by installing the application on another phone or tablet, or visit the AlfredCamera website in any browser and log in with the same account credentials.
Step 7: Point the phone’s camera at the location you want to monitor. A tablet or phone mount will work, or you can purchase a smartphone adapter that screws onto a tripod. By default the app uses the rear camera, but you can switch to the front camera within the mobile app or via the web viewer.
Step 8: Open the AlfredCamera website in a browser, log in and click WebViewer displayed in the upper right corner.
Step 9: As shown above, the camera in the list shows a preview that changes like a slow slideshow, but this is not the actual broadcast. Click on the Advance to watch the live stream, shown below.
Step 10: With the live stream open, hover over the video and a translucent menu will appear with the following tools:
- Snapshot – Take a screenshot that is automatically downloaded to your device.
- Recording – Record feed for up to 30 seconds.
- To turn – Rotate the advance 90 degrees.
- Flashlight – Turn on your phone’s LED flash.
- Change camera – Switch between front and rear camera.
- Low light filter – Click once to set it to automatic. Clicking twice activates the filter.
- Full screen – This puts the browser in full screen mode. The actual feed does not expand.
- Siren – The phone will beep at maximum volume.
Rename the camera
Step 1: Return to the main portal that lists your camera.
Step 2: Mouse over the image until the Cog icon appears. Click on the Tooth.
Step 3: Click on Camera name and enter the new name.
Here, you can adjust other settings such as turning motion detection on / off, setting the low light filter to Automatic, toggling the “stay zoomed in” feature, and adding an account to the Trust Circle.
Some notes on AlfredCamera
All videos are stored in the Moments section on the website. If you want to download the video, click on the video and it will start playing towards the right side of the browser. Click on the Download or Share buttons.
If you want to record videos longer than 30 seconds, you will need the subscription, which extends the recording duration to 120 seconds. The subscription also unlocks the Zoom feature, enables HD viewing and recording, removes ads, extends cloud storage up to 30 days, and enables motion detection scheduling. The cost is $ 4 per month or $ 30 per year. If you just want to turn off the ads, a one-time payment of $ 17 removes them forever.
Keep in mind that using a phone as a camera will drain the battery very quickly. We drain about 20% of the battery in just one hour while testing this app. You should keep the phone plugged in at all times while using it as a camera.
AlfredCamera provides a WebCamera function on the website that accesses your laptop’s webcam. You can easily use this instead of a phone and then view the feed in the Android or iOS app.
Finally, you can access the application settings by tapping on the three lines “hamburger” in the top left-hand corner. Here, you can switch to viewfinder mode, activate motion detection, view camera status, and change camera settings.
If you own an Android device, there are many alternatives. We recommend two.
WardenCam and IP Webcam
WardenCam and IP Webcam are simple, easy to use, and work on most Android devices. If you can tolerate the ads, both services are free to use. Otherwise, you can get IP Webcam Pro for $ 4, while WardenCam costs $ 6.
In terms of functions, both are basically the same, whether you need motion detection, night vision, or the ability to review events that took place while you were away. They also allow you to adjust the resolution of your video feed and set your phone to not sleep while the camera is working. It all depends on the taste of each person.
Accessing your feeds on PC
WardenCam does not offer an app for Windows 10 or Mac. Instead, you can view the feed through the website’s web viewer.
With IP Webcam, you have a few options. You can watch the broadcast using VLC or any video player with streaming compatibility. If you are using VLC, go to Media> Open Network Streamingand enter the URL of your remote camera. Once you’ve entered the URL, you can connect and view through your smartphone’s camera. Unfortunately, you can’t record images very well with VLC; For that, you will want to opt for more powerful software.
More robust configurations
Here, we recommend WebcamXP or Netcam Studio. Both WebcamXP and Netcam Studio are manufactured by the same company, but Netcam Studio is newer and includes a watermark when viewing images. If you don’t want a watermark, you can buy the software for $ 50 or use WebcamXP, its older but capable brother, without a watermark. However, they both limit you to just one camera at a time, so if you want a crazy setup with three different smartphones, you have to invest in the paid edition of Netcam Studio.
Both WebcamXP and Netcam Studio offer the same easy functionality you’ll need to get the most out of your Android device’s remote camera. Both can view live broadcasts from the camera, record images, activate when motion or sound is detected, and connect with the IP webcam. They lack minor features like camera focus and LED control, but you can still control them remotely via the IP webcam. Both WebcamXP and Netcam Studio are extremely versatile given their feature set, and if you decide to improve it, you can transform your Android device into a real security camera with these tools.
As an iPhone owner, you have a few options to configure remote viewing.
Presence by People Power is an automation app for all trades that offers free connectivity to another iOS device for spectators only. The free version allows you to watch a live broadcast and will send notifications when something happens nearby. In-app purchases for Presence Pro Video increase your cloud storage, improve video quality, and allow for longer video recordings.
Presence has a browser version that you must register to use.
3G baby monitor
If you want a higher quality feeding for something like monitoring a sleeping baby, consider Baby Monitor 3G. At just $ 5, it lets you use an old iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch as a wireless baby monitor. The current iteration is compatible with watchOS and includes video zoom and a night mode. Both the Mac app and the Apple TV app cost an additional $ 5 each and are great for watching and talking to your child from a room or two away.
If you are looking for another alternative, check out AtHome. There are two components to this setup: the AtHome Video Streamer app that serves as the camera, and the AtHome Camera app that receives the stream. When used together, the pair allows you to monitor the area of your choice from wherever you are, as long as you have a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. You can also schedule recordings in advance, view multiple cameras on one device thanks to a split-screen feature, and remotely control your camera to better see the room or surrounding area.
If you want to monitor the power using a PC, AtHome provides desktop software for Windows 10. You can turn a Mac into a camera, also Windows 10, but there is no application to receive broadcasts.
Above article is first published by the link. We curated and re-published.