Another automated Twitter approach
Audio-only monitoring of your pet

Lorex home webcam using Skype

I finally got my hands on the Lorex Live Connect camera that I mentioned earlier. Overall, I'm mostly pleased with the results. I got the least expensive package ($149), since I have no use for the in-home monitor ($299). I can imagine that's a pretty handy thing if you're using the camera as a baby monitor and don't have an iPhone or other iOS device around to keep on eye on your little angel. (But for the money, you'll be lots happier buying an iPod touch instead.)

As a home security or pet monitor, the cam isn't exactly ideal. Primarily because it doesn't offer any pan or tilt controls. (You probably don't need those if you're monitoring a baby in a crib.) The cam does have the decided advantage of being battery-operated, though, which gives you lots of flexibility in placement. Lorex says the battery will last 4 hours, but as is typical, my real-world results are about half that. Fortunately you can also run the camera plugged-in, so if you have an outlet nearby, that's a better choice. You can use a standard USB-style power supply, or the one that Lorex provides.

The remarkable (if not brilliant) feature of this camera is that it's basically a Skype device that's set to auto-answer calls from Skype users that you authorize. Using Skype solves a huge problem associated with webcams--they're all damn tricky to configure. With the Lorex Live Connect, you doh't have to hassle with port forwarding, dynamic DNS, or a subscription to a third-party proxy server. The darn thing just works.

Well, most of the time. Despite the greatly simplified setup you still have to create a Skype account for the camera, then create one for yourself to use when you're away from home (if you don't have one already), and then reciprocally add the accounts to the address books. This feels like jumping through several hoops, but once you're done, it's smooth sailing.

Well, most of the time. The Lorex Live Connect comes with a Skype router that connects to your home network (Wi-Fi or ethernet) and a camera that connects wirelessly (like a cordless phone, not via Wi-Fi) to the router. I've experienced frequent problems where the router is online with Skype, but it's unable to talk to the camera. When this occurs, you can connect via Skype, but you can't hear or see anything. I contacted Lorex support, but they weren't at all helpful with this problem. Eventually, I figured out that turning on the router, waiting for it to connect to Skype (indicated with a light on the router), and only then turning on the camera seems to avoid this problem. So far, anyway. (If you never turn your camera and router off, presumably you'll avoid this problem.)

The camera can talk to up to four different cameras. I only have one, but according to the documentation, after you connect to the first camera, you use text chat to switch to another. Seems like this would work, but boy does it feel like a hack (and a hassle).

The audio quality of the camera is surpassingly good. The video, however, is quite poor. Now a lot of the quality has to do with Skype and your connection speed, but even when you have a fast Wi-Fi connection the picture is fuzzy. (See example.) The camera has automatic infra-red illuminators, a nice touch, but like all IR cameras the color fidelity suffers. Overall, for my purposes, the quality is sufficient, but if you're hoping for better you might be disappointed.


This may sound like a lukewarm or negative review, but really it's not. The camera's price is reasonable compared to other solutions, and the amazing ease of use it brings via Skype is commendable. With some work on overall reliability, Lorex is onto something great, let's encourage them.



what if you don't want to use Skye? is there a work around? I don't really like the idea of having a PC/Skype on 24/7.


is there a work around to NOT use Skype?

Gordon Meyer

It doesn't use Skype on your PC at all, it's a standalone device.

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