Eye on the Prize

Keep your business secure even when you're away&#151try a wireless surveillance device on for size.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the December 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Need to monitor your office or warehouse overnight? Want to keep an eye on retail locations or branch offices even when you're not there? Setting up a surveillance system used to be a struggle. But the spread of 802.11 wireless networks in homes and businesses, with the Internet connecting them, has given rise to wireless video cameras for extra security.

The CRN Test Center reviewed the Toshiba IK-WB11A and the Veo Wireless Observer, both of which can attach to wireless networks. They're easy to use and allow recorded images to be sent to a Web site where they can be viewed anywhere in the world. The cameras don't require cables or even a PC hookup, and can send video clips via e-mail when motion is detected.

Toshiba's IK-WB11A offers industrial-strength wireless video capability with mounting brackets for indoor or outdoor use and the ability to communicate over either a wired or wireless network. Initial setup of the unit is a bit tricky, but it offers outstanding video that's both crisp and clear.

Business owners will appreciate the unit's accurate remote pan, tilt and zoom operations, although the price is steep at $649 (all prices street). Toshiba's camera is less intuitive to use than others, but overall, it offers an impressive list of features for almost any location and can be integrated into other alarm systems for motion detection.

The Veo Wireless Observer looks and feels much more like a consumer video camera-and is priced like one, too. The unit incorporates all the basics needed for a wireless security camera in an easy-to-use package. That includes 2X zoom capability and full pan and tilt.

Like the IK-WB11A, setup was tricky. The camera requires a serial connection, a spare of which can be hard to find even on today's computers still supporting legacy ports. The Wireless Observer lacks today's more common USB or Ethernet connections.

But once plugged in to a serial connection, the Setup Wizard makes final installation a snap. The Wireless Observer's browser-based console is easy to use, and almost anyone will be able to connect and control the camera quickly.

Those seeking additional functionality can use the Veo Observer Studio, a stand-alone tool included with the camera. Observer Studio offers video recording and basic editing capabilities, and it adds camcorder-like functionality to the camera, though the camera's resolution is too low to create videos. The Observer Studio is great for light indoor surveillance and is a perfect compromise for small businesses at only $300.

Frank J. Ohlhorst and contributing writer Michael Gros are affiliated with the CRN Test Center, the technology testing facility for CRN, a newspaper aimed at IT consultants and solution providers.

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