An IP camera is a security camera that allows you to monitor its feed remotely, using your home wireless network and some simple software. IP stands for Internet protocol. It refers to the set of instructions that digital information—such as the feed from your digital camera—uses to be transmitted successfully across the internet.
In most instances, that means you’ll be able to monitor your camera’s security feed in real time (or review recorded footage), just by opening an app on your smartphone or tablet computer. Digital IP cameras convert detailed imagery obtained at your home or place of business into data that can be transferred over great distances in the blink of an eye. All you need is internet access and a working home wireless network.
Installation and Operation
Since they operate wirelessly, IP cameras are among the easiest to install and operate. And because data is processed internally, there’s no risk of losing signal integrity when transmitting raw feed over great distances. This means your video will be crystal clear, no matter how far away you—or your recording device—may be.
For large homes or businesses, IP cameras are usually networked with a central Network Video Recorder (NVR). Think of it as a computer hard drive dedicated to the storage and management of multiple video input streams from around your home or business. NVRs are digital storage devices that can be used to handle incoming video feeds, while also providing recording capability, and allowing for alarm management, among other features. Some systems even allow your camera to identify unusual activity and respond accordingly, by triggering an alarm, for example.
Not all IP cameras require a dedicated NVR. For smaller homes or businesses, one or two cameras may suffice. These cameras require no centralized video-feed storage. Instead, use portable storage media, such as a USB flash drive (sometimes called a “thumb drive,” “key drive,” “memory stick,” “jump drive,” etc.) to capture and record video streams. Other removable flash storage devices, such as SD cards (usually used in digital cameras), may also be an option.
Some systems may also work perfectly well with a standard digital video recorder (DVR). When connected to your home’s wireless network, you’ll be able to access content remotely, using your smartphone or other digital device.
IP cameras are available in a range of pixel levels, offering increasing levels of clarity and definition. Higher pixel counts mean greater image resolution. To summarize: IP cameras may cost slightly more initially, but they offer several enticing advantages: they’re easier to install, offer enhanced video quality, and greater flexibility.