The UK has over 4.2 million cameras tracking our every move, and not wanting to buck the trend we’ve got our hands on the Compro IP55. Aimed squarely at the home and small business market, this little camera is an interesting entry into the low-end security market.
The IP55 is a network camera, so once attached to a router you can connect to the video stream over the network or the web. In the box there‘s the camera, mounting kit, network cable, power adapter, installation CD and instructions. You can also connect the camera to a network through the addition of a USB wireless dongle, which is not included.
The camera itself might look a bit like R2D2’s ugly younger brother but this gawky look is probably down to the amount they have crammed in. For your money you get a 1.3 Megapixel camera that can feed dual MJPEG and MPEG-4 video streams, two-way audio (so you can shout at the people stealing your stuff in real time), Micro SD card support for capture of still images, Windows software and web firmware that can be accessed by logging into the camera in your browser.
Set up was straightforward; we used the included network cable instead of an additional wifi dongle - not just because we’re cheap (although mostly so). The Compro setup wizard configured the camera and the IDDNS.org account based on a few selected options. The free IDDNS service lets you connect to the camera via a web address rather than an IP with the format http://<your choice>.IDDNS.org. We did encounter one problem during setup; our router was giving the camera multiple IP addresses. We assigned the camera a static address and this sorted it out.
The desktop software looks serious, letting you configure 32 of these cameras and monitor 16 of them at a time. We can’t imagine this will be used much and since we only have one camera it’s wasted on us. The single camera view is still packed with features giving you the option to set up record and alert events based on movement, noise, changes in objects and scene. We only tried noise and movement, as these are probably the most useful. They’re nice features and worked well. You can stream in multiple resolutions from 320x240 to 1280x1024, although there is a frame rate drop when you select higher resolutions. If you don’t want to use events you can record nonstop to a local drive. The software had a number of features that didn’t work with this model, although this didn’t cause any problems.
The web software suite included in the camera’s firmware can be connected to through the free IDDNS.org account or directly by IP. This worked first time and gives you the option to setup two different accounts, viewer and admin. Within the admin account you can mess around with most of the features available to the windows software. The clean design of the web interface was preferable to the slightly cluttered windows software. The camera also lets you set up multiple feeds, one MPEG-4 and another MJEPG. The latter is primarily for viewing on mobile devices. We tested the second stream on an HTC hero and although the frame-rate was low, you could see what was going on as the picture was updated in real time.
In addition to the existing features of the camera and software, Compro are updating on a regular basis with two firmware releases while we were writing this review. One of these added the option to record to the optional MicroSD instead of just capturing still images, so if you are willing to keep up we would expect more to come.
The Compro I55 is a cheap solution to your security needs. It might not have all the features of more expensive cameras, but if you don’t mind a fixed viewpoint, this offers excellent value for money. The windows software is mature and was clearly developed for a more expensive model. In addition to this, the web firmware is where the Compro IP55 really comes into its own; their free IDDNS service gives you a named gateway to access your security cam wherever you are. We particularly enjoyed the mobile phone feed. We’re not sure when it would actually be useful but it’s good entertainment, anyway. The Compro IP55 delivers everything promised, and if you are security minded or own a small business we would definitely recommend.