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Worth a Look: CamCam

Apple iPhones and iPads, exceptionally popular for personal use, can also have security uses. Traveling on vacation or maybe to a conference, many people would likely appreciate looking in on the safety of their home, for instance.

A growing number of Apple applications are letting users view live footage, often from a computer with an attached or built-in Web camera, from their Apple devices. The applications vary in terms of price, features, and functionality. Some tie in with business security surveillance systems. A relatively new application, however, called CamCam, appears to offer a good balance of quality, ease of use, and cost for someone who wants a limited home surveillance option.

The application, from the vendor Splashtop, works with a wide array of Internet Protocol (IP) cameras. Users without a built-in computer camera should ensure that a camera is attached before installation. Users should then download the Splashtop Streamer software, available at the main CamCam product page, to their Windows computer (the application doesn’t yet work with Macintoshes). After running Splashtop Streamer, users are asked to choose a security code.

Users should download the Apple CamCam application, available from either the CamCam product page or from Apple’s App Store. There are two main ways to synch the computer’s Web camera with the Apple client. If the computer and Apple device are sharing the same wireless network, users can have the device automatically detect the computer.

The computer can also be connected to the device remotely via the Internet. To do so, users need to enter a Gmail address and password into the Splashtop screen. The screen will indicate that the computer can be connected to remotely. If in a remote location, users can open their CamCam application and tap on the term “Internet Discovery.” After entering Gmail credentials and the original security code, the device, usually within just a few seconds, will offer a high-definition streaming video taken by the Web camera.

The video didn’t appear to have any lag even after a few minutes. The sound quality was also strong. A few noises (not of any intruders, but of the wind blowing against a window shade) seemed impressively clear and realistic. To ensure good video quality, the vendor suggests using a computer with a microprocessor speed of 1.6 gigahertz or higher.

The image was slightly unfocused, which appeared to be caused primarily by the Web camera’s settings. Before accessing the remote surveillance, it’s important to remember to launch the Splash program on the Windows computer.

CamCam is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch; it’s also compatible with Windows 7, Vista, or XP.

Some Apple surveillance applications offer a wider array of functions, including an ability to connect to multiple IP cameras and to record video and sound. CamCam lacks such features but produces high quality video at modest cost.

Pros. Relatively simple to set up. Works with many types of IP cameras. High-quality video and audio.

Cons. Not compatible with Macintosh computers yet. Doesn’t allow users to look through multiple Web cams.

Where to get it. The Splashtop Streamer software can be downloaded from the main CamCam product page. The Apple application, priced at $4.99, can also be obtained on the CamCam site or from Apple’s App store.