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Gadling Gear Review: iZon Remote Room Monitor

The iZon Remote Room MonitorHave you ever been away from home and wished that you had the ability to look in just to see what was happening back at the domicile? If so, then Stem Innovation has a product that may be of interest to you. Whether you're in the room next door or halfway around the world, Stem's Izon Remote Room Monitor is a simple, inexpensive way to monitor what is happening around your house.

At its core the iZon is essentially an always-on wireless webcam that is configured and controlled by an iPhone and iPad app. The unit is small and inconspicuous and once configured it only needs power to stay active. The camera's built-in base allows it to be swiveled to just the right angle, while a single green LED light indicates that it is in operation.

The initial set-up of the iZon is fairly straightforward provided you follow the included instructions. That process begins by downloading the Stem:Connect app and installing it on your iOS device. From there, users create a Stem account, which is used to log in to the app and register your devices. Stem:Connect actually allows you to control multiple cameras and the personal account helps to keep track of each of them individually. Those different cameras can also be assigned unique names, such as "Bedroom" or "Office," which makes it easier to differentiate them from within the app itself.

After installing Stem:Connect and creating a personal account, you'll next need to connect the camera to your wireless network. That is also accomplished through the app, which gives you the ability to select your Wi-Fi network and type in the password needed to join. Once that process is complete, the iZon will restart itself and begin broadcasting video and sound.
Once the configuration process is complete the app serves as the monitor as well, allowing users to see whatever the iZon sees. Logging into Stem:Connect gives you the option to select the camera you want to view and then begins streaming video directly from that device. The quality of the video is average at best and isn't likely to wow you, although it does serve its purpose just fine. The images are definitely improved in well-lit environments and on faster network connections, just don't expect high definition quality.

Besides simply broadcasting live video, the iZon has a few other tricks up its sleeve as well. For example, you can configure it to send you an alert when unexpected motion or sounds occur on camera. This is handy when you are using the device to monitor a baby's room, for instance, and you want to know when the child has stirred. Stem has also given the iZon the ability to upload video directly to a YouTube account making it a breeze to capture and share some of the best moments you see on the cam. These options add versatility to a device that already provides quite a bit of functionality for its $129.95 suggested retail price.

The iZone certainly is an affordable option for those looking for a video monitoring system for their home or office but it doesn't come without compromise. As mentioned, the video quality isn't particularly outstanding and there is a pronounced lag between what happens in front of the camera and what is displayed on the screen. Even using it on my fast home network, I often experienced a delay of 30 seconds or more between when something actually occurred and when it appeared on my iPad. That delay is worse when you shift to a remote Wi-Fi network or are using a 3G or 4G connection.

Connecting from those remote networks can be a challenge too. The iZon is designed to be plug-and-play, and while it was easy to configure the device and get it working on my personal Wi-Fi network, I had issues being able to connect to the camera while I was away from home. What good is a remote monitoring system if you can only use it while you're actually at home? Fortunately, I was able to resolve the issue by opening the proper ports on my wireless router, so a rudimentary knowledge of networking can help make the process easier. To their credit, Stem Innovation has released regular updates to both the device's firmware and the Stem:Connect app, which have helped alleviate some of the challenges of getting the camera working. Just be prepared to dig in a bit deeper if the iZon doesn't function as expected out of the box.

In terms of an inexpensive and easy to configure remote room monitoring system, it is hard to beat the iZon. It is small, works well with an iPhone or iPad and has a low cost of entry. If you can live with the compromises in video quality and broadcast lag, this is probably the best way to monitor what is taking place around the home without breaking the bank.

Filed under: Gear, Video, Gadling Gear Review

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