The FOSCAM FI9821W V2 as a baby monitor

FOSCAM FI9821W V2I may have mentioned on a day that people wouldn’t believe me that there is another little theITbaby editor coming. This was true, although the part about the Star Wars theme is mostly false. We wanted another baby camera, so I grabbed the FI9821W V2 as a replacement baby room camera, and we’re moving the 8910W over to Maggie’s new room.

The FI9821W V2 has better optics, is an h.264 stream, and seems to pick up sound slightly better. The image is significantly improved over the FI8910W, and overall it looks better in the app.

The FI9821W V2 also includes the option for a timestamp on the images, which solves the problem of their piss poor Android and iOS applications not letting you know for a good minute or two that the stream is broken.

Unfortunately evidently gone is the ability to view the stream without installing a plugin, and as of yet I’ve found no plugin with Chrome that works (only Internet Explorer.) The documentation I’ve found indicates that it’s supposed to download via the link that pops up when you visit the admin page, but that link doesn’t contain any Chrome plugins. Just IE. The Foscam extension some random person uploaded in the Chrome Web Store doesn’t work with this camera.

You can see the FAQ on the Chrome plugin here, but as of April 17th, 2015 that doesn’t work.

There is however a pretty decent multi-camera application called FOSCAM Client you can install that will let you monitor multiple cameras at once without the need to view in a browser. This is pretty useful in a multi-camera household, but it appears to only allow you to stream the audio from one camera at a time. It will also crash hard if you remote desktop connect into the system it’s on.

The app also thinks that it’s acceptable to either be minimized or take up the entire screen, which is absurd when you’ve got a high resolution monitor. You can find details on the client here, it’s called FOSCAM Connect in the manual and install, it’s called the Super Client on FOSCAM’s website.

FI9821W V2 image

Above is a picture produced on the Android client with the FI8921W V2. It updated approximately three times a second if I were to guess. The image was consistent without a lot of jaggies popping up like I had with the FI8910W. The shades in the night vision were much clearer.

For comparison here’s an FI8910W image from when Maggie was a little one:

FOSCAM 8910W nightvision

If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, resolution is doubled I believe, you can see detail better, and if it were animated you’d see that you can more easily tell that the baby is still breathing.

Additionally both of these cameras are mounted in the exact same space. I switched up the base units because I didn’t want to remove them from the wall and they looked the same to me. Notice that the new (top) camera the lines are straight, the bottom curve.

I couldn’t really tell much difference in how far they saw in the dark, but I think they have the same IR lighting. The new one is listed as 26 feet.

I can’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure the noise that the motor makes when it’s panning the camera around is decreased, however I think the noise when the night vision clicks on is increased.

There doesn’t appear to be a way in the FOSCAM FI9821W V2 to disable the network indicator light, the 8910W has that as an option in the device settings. As such the light will blink constantly whether on wireless or not. This is solved by a piece of black tape, but in the older version it was solved by simply saying “don’t blink the network light.”

It’s a significantly better performing camera than my previous and also has the ability to record video to either an FTP or to an SD card that you insert in the unit. You can skim through and watch video of your baby sleeping all night, or set it up to take snapshots as I understand it.

Honestly haven’t played with that function as of yet.

FOSCAM Support

Just assume there isn’t any. Yesterday I attempted to speak with anyone during their stated business hours on their live chat. From 9am CST until 10:25am I was bounced from associate to associate without anyone ever typing. At 10:25am I was finally disconnected.

FOSCAM SupportFOSCAM SupportFOSCAM SupportFOSCAM Support

In case you think that’s an isolated incident, I’ve also contacted them via email about an error with a plugin that caused my browser when connected to my camera to eat through 250 gigs of data in 10 days (cam was associated still with an external camera) and never received a reply.

I’ve got some other choice emails from sales that ended up being completely ignored.

Forget about getting a response on Twitter.

Decent camera, meh software, forget about support.

Setup

Setup is pretty easy. You can press a WPS button if you’ve got that on your wireless network, or you can simply plug it in, run the FOSCAM finding software to locate your camera, and configure via a web page on port 88.

The default username is Admin with no password, and then it requires you to define a different username and password, so write it down.

When the camera’s plugged in to a network the WiFi doesn’t kick on. So after you unplug the camera you’re going to have to re-locate your camera, but it’s pretty straightforward.

Overall

Good camera for the price, meh software, forget support. If you’re completely opposed to Internet Explorer or using their 16-camera application you’ll need to scout out some other software which I haven’t found yet.

I’ve got an email into them about Chrome plugins, but got to replies as of this writing.

The FOSCAM FI9821W V2 is available from Amazon for $74.99. It’s probably worth it.