Panasonic BB-HCM581 IP Network Camera Review

Discussion in 'Home Networking' started by helen3942, May 4, 2008.

  1. helen3942

    helen3942 Guest

    Here's what the manufacturer says about this camera, which we bought
    the other day for 630 quid (including VAT & delivery) from Network

    And here's our opinion after two days testing.

    BB-HCM581 is a PoE device; so it doesn't come with a DC power supply:
    one can be ordered at additional cost. We just connected the camera
    via Cat5 Ethernet cable to a Netgear FS108P PoE switch attached to a
    Freecom FSG cable router. Then, after inserting the CD into our
    laptop, the camera was soon available online. Panasonic software makes
    it easy to set up this camera and others like it (e.g. BLC-131,
    BLC-30, BLC-1 etc.).

    Picture quality is not at all bad for something in this price range.
    While the 'color night view' is particularly impressive, we have
    noticed a few streaming aberrations over the LAN in MPEG4 mode which,
    to be fair, might be a problem with our network. Otherwise the images
    are pleasing and satisfactory, thought not as good as those produced
    by some simple analogue cameras we have attached to Axis 247S video

    However, the most impressive features of BB-HCM581 are its 21x optical
    zoom lens and 360 degree panning ability that, unlike our Axis rigs,
    can both be controlled remotely over the Internet. With BB-HCM581
    sitting on the window ledge of a high-rise block, we are able to see
    things our other cameras cannot, and in great detail. Whereas the
    total panning facility affords access to much more of the available
    scenery than ever in the past. I wouldn't place too much emphasis on
    the digital zoom feature which, like most, is little more than a
    gimmick. It's this camera's optical zoom lens we find awesome. Honest!

    Other features worth noting are:

    1. SD card slot for recording stills and moving images onboard. Cards
    up to 2Gb are supported. But no SD is supplied.
    2. Two-way audio, which lets you hear what's happening at the remote
    site and permits you to talk to anyone there. Might prove useful to
    3. Analogue video/audio out for monitoring on a normal TV set (special
    adapter supplied).
    4. Remote sensor block for attaching external devices like
    5. DC-in socket if PoE unavailable.
    6. Ceiling-mount kit with plastic shroud to hide unsightly
    7. Single channel version of Panasonic's IP Camera Recording Software
    including free access to what they call 'Viewnetcam', which makes your
    camera available to Internet users by giving it a unique domain.
    8. Cell phone monitoring of still images.
    9. Lens cap.

    Now considerably poorer in pocket than this time last week we've
    concluded that BB-HCM581 is a comprehensive out-of-box solution for
    remote monitoring, provided you have something like our Netgear FS108P
    or, say, a PowerDsine PD-3001 midspan available for attaching to your
    cable or DSL router. Otherwise for this camera you will need a DC
    power supply at extra cost.

    In terms of raw picture quality and streaming skill, we don't think
    that BB-HCM518 is as good as our reference system, comprising a JVC
    TK-C920E analogue CCTV camera (with 5-50mm f1.3 Fujinon lens) and an
    Axis 247S video server. But of course you cannot pan and zoom this
    combo remotely, which is where BB-HCM581 comes into its own - and then

    Indeed, if this camera were better built (it's made of plastic and
    feels quite flimsy) and cheaper by around one hundred pounds I could
    be more enthusiastic about it. Whereas we are just content with the
    image quality and thrilled by the 21x zoom and 360 degree panning

    So, would we buy another BB-HCM581?

    Yes - probably: but in a few months, when the price will no doubt have
    fallen a fair bit.

    Finally - if you're looking for a really cheap IP monitoring solution
    without the bells and whistles described above, check out Panasonic's
    BLC-1 'Pet Cam'. At some 65 UK pounds (including VAT) - nearly one
    tenth the cost of a BB-HCM581 - in our view BLC-1 offers astounding
    picture quality and features that are unbeatable in this price range.
    We have one of these in the boys' room and it's great for keeping an
    eye on the wee rascals.
    helen3942, May 4, 2008
    1. Advertisements

  2. helen3942

    helen3942 Guest

    Incidentally - the free single channel recording software provided
    with this camera is BB-HNP11 and NOT BB-HNP15. So you cannot take
    advantage of the MPEG4 stream available from the BB-HCM581. If you
    need to record MPEG4 you will require the retail version of BB-HNP15
    which costs about 250 UK pounds and supports up to 64 Panasonic
    cameras. Alternatively you could use a third-party application like
    Milestone XProtect Professional, which is a very cool product with
    oddles of export options, including DIVX.
    helen3942, May 7, 2008
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.