Logitech 750e Security Camera...
A product review.
A Review of the Logitech Alert 750e Security Camera -- the bad things, mostly -
NB: LOGITECH DOES NOT SUPPORT THIS PRODUCT RUNNING ON AN APPLE COMPUTER. HOWEVER I'M RUNNING IT INSIDE OF A VIRTUAL MACHINE, VMware, ON AN iMAC. MOST OF THE ISSUES, EXCEPT FOR ONE ON WHICH I REPORT, HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS WAY OF RUNNING LOGITECH'S PROGRAM. ONE PROBLEM DID RESULT FROM MY COMPUTING ENVIRONMENT (the software update) AND LOGITECH'S SUPPORT PERSONNEL RESOLVED THAT FOR ME AND IT'S NO LONGER AN ISSUE (see emails below).
I'm going to mention mostly the negative things about this model; please look at the four and five star reviews on Amazon.com to find out what people say they like about the Logitech Alert 750e. I've had another brand of camera running for over a year now, the Aztak Mole, a WiFi camera, motion-sensing. I've tried several others in 2010 which I've returned because of poor ease of use, setup difficulty and other irritating features:
Foscam FI8908W Wireless IP Camera
Axis 207W Wireless Network Camera
This cam is hefty and if that's an indication that it's well made I probably believe it. It's pretty, too, and it has colored indicator lights that tell you what it's doing. That comes in handy if, for example it's mounted under the eves and you can see that from your window. The Hardware is very well thought out and plugging everything together took longer than in Logitech's promo video, only because I examined everything carefully and marveled at the attention to detail that is embodied in this product.
However… The screw-mounting hole on the case is not attached near the cam's center of gravity. So, if you want to use it, say, on a window sill using a small camera tripod (it fits), then the camera will tip over.
There is no paper manual. There is a quick start guide, which is well designed and was enough for me to plug things together. As for sitting down with a book and reading about the features and limitations before or during the use of the camera, forget it. There is a HELP feature - see below.
TIME STAMP -
There is no time stamp on the images! -- this is one of the most important features a security cam should have, for legal reasons, amongst others; That's what I think. And it's almost impossible to tell what time a video was taken from the file names which the camera produces.
There was a glitch in an otherwise clean install. At one point the the software complained that it couldn't detect the camera. After wasting about half an hour, I saw an on-screen note that, for PoE cams, this message can be ignored. I didn't know what PoE cams are (I found out later), so I continued and everything went swimmingly.
VIDEO ACCESS / QUALITY -
The picture quality (720x960) is good and there is some spherical distortion, as can be seen on the online adverts for this product. This is normal and can be expected for wide angle security cams.
The zoom is only 'digital', however -- it's not a real optical zoom. This means it only makes a subset of the image bigger, but the detail, the resolution, is as it was before the cropping and enlargement: enlargement are 'grainy' (as they often call that these days -- a term borrowed from film photography which actually had grains of silver halide on the surface of its film). This kind of zooming business ain't nothin' to write home about but this wasn't made more or less clear to me in the advertisement for the camera.
The current view is NOT shown when the cam is in replay mode, so you can't see what's going on, say, if a burglary is in progress, while playing the video -- until later. There's no option for that, although space is available if not all cameras are used. You'd have to pull up a web browser window to do that.
Resizing the picture area to be monitored (Zooming) carries along the active motion sites which have been outlined by the user, if any. It's desirable to select the motion-sensing area to omit triggering the camera due to the motion of leaves, for example, and this does the job at any magnification.
MOBILE DEVICE ACCESS -
It prevents access to your other security cams when trying to access them from a mobile device like an iPhone: I use Aztak Mole cameras in addition to this Logitech model. After I key in its URL, (http://alert.logitech.com, sign in to see the camera's live view), I either get a screen from Logitech [sic] advertising 'Commander' software for sale or download, or I get a message saying that I can't connect to my Internet wirelessly! This happens with all the browsers I've tried - Safari, Opera and Terra. I hate this feature. Logitech should not block this Internet access from my iPad.
Logitech provides, for free download, its app for mobile devices and it works. It gives the save view and options (none) as when accessing the am cir a web page. In both instances however the pop-up message "Press to continue" appears, ad nauseam, so you can't sit back and enjoy the view as if you were watching some other thing on your computing device.
The iPad app downloaded (free) from Apple is made for a display the size the iPhone. When expanded on the iPad to full screen size the picture is of course quite low-res. If the this is an example of the software that Logitech sells as adjunct to the camera, then I don't want it. I've been afraid to buy it to try.
On the subject of browser access - I'm used to accessing the old (2010) Mole cam from my office via Internet Explorer or Opera or Mozilla, to view what happened - did the mailwoman leave a parcel on the stoop? Are the horses in the barn or are they out? That web based screen gives me the option of seeing previously taken pics stored on it's on-board SD card. You can't do that with this Logitech camera.
BAD HELP -
HELP tab in Logitech Alert Commander opens the familiar (Windows) help feature but using its SEARCH feature causes Logitech's system to stop responding: The message "Logitech Alert Commander Help (Not Responding)" obtains in the title bar at the top of its window. Next, the Help window itself grays out and then the perpetual revolving circle cursor appears whenever the mouse is hovers over this window or over the Logitech Alert Commander window.
Windows 7 offers an option to search for a solution to THIS problem, but when selecting that option Logitech Alert Commander commits Rapture -- it closes and one has to re-start it afresh.
The support web page at Logitech.com asks for a username and password, but it won't accept the one I've set up in the software and in product registration. After another laborious account setup procedure and after having to make up and remember yet another new password, all I got was a email: "Thanks for submitting your question. Use this reference number for follow up: #110615-003872". And that was four days ago.
A MAJOR FAILING -
No Time Stamp appears on videos, as is featured in all security cams I've seen. From looking at a frame, one has no idea of when that picture was taken, not even approximately. The user-given name of the cam is identified, however, a small perk, since it's usually / often obvious from the scenery around one's house. When saving a frame from the playback, no time or location annotation appears in the resulting jpeg picture. You lose provenance, so to speak. Try showing THAT to the police, or to an insurance company to prove how your property looked before the mishap happened. I still have no idea when my video snippets were taken.
SOFTWARE UPDATES - See email section below for a fix for this problem.
Program pop-ups keeps pestering for 'firmware updates' but updates don't work -- the old version remains and the new version is not updated. To obtain this null result a long time is needed. I have version 3.0.176.
I called Logitech Support(888.469.4543) early afternoon and Darren answered right away, no waiting, and he is a friendly fellow. He
One reviewer on Amazon.com said: "The software program works like it came
from stone age..." ~ Dick "WANAB
sent me an email which delineated some steps (10 steps) to try to get the update to take, but to no avail; it did not work, but later Logitech did send me an email which took care of the problem.
I asked if the new versioned software would have a timestamp and Darrin said no. Darren probably thought that I'm a space alien from the planet Kolob, judging from his reaction. He said some people use this camera to watch heir goldfish -- a time stamp really isn't needed for that and I think that's probably so. But it's needed for the things for which one actually buys a security camera, as evidence in court, after apprehension of a thief! I had this need a few years ago, but I didn't have a security camera; that's why I have cameras now and I want this timestamp feature, especially for a camera in this upper price range; it's not asking for much.
Formatting the supplied SD micro card takes approximately 45 times as long as it takes my regular camera to do a deep format.
Running the diagnostics produces a file which shows what problems, if any, were found. However it does not detect, apparently, that there is something amiss with the format. I can hear the camera click when it makes an image, but that image does not appear in Logitech's directory on on the C drive. However formatting the SD card seems to fix that.
MOTION SENSING -
When the motion sensitivity is set to its factory default position, walking 15" in front front of the camera at a normal pace ACROSS its field of view it does not trigger picture taking. This obtains, especially after it has just captured a video and its red light has ceased blinking and returned to a steady illumination, indicating that it's ready for more action.
The Logitech Alert Commander software is pretty and has some good utility. However the "Display" feature of this Alert Commander is awkward gad confusing and sometimes wrong. Sometimes it won't show files (its function is so select files for viewing) unless one restarts the program. Maybe this has something to do with the reformatting problem mentioned above, I don't know.
THE GREEN TIMELINE BAR of the Alert Commander Software -
The "Display" feature of the Alert Commander has a timeline view where "<" and ">" symbols bracket a green timeline bar, which when clicked advance the the time display forward and backwards. The green bar shows where, along the displayed time line, videos were taken. However during playback of the files, clicking this not only moves the time window left or right but it causes the displayed file to jump from place to place. Deleting a video can be accomplished by right-clicking (but not by using the delete key). More than one file segment cannot be selected for deletion, say by dragging the mouse along the line which represents those segments -- something that is common in audio and video editing software. It's not intuitive. When deleting by right-mouse clicking, it's not obvious what's to be deleted. On the green timeline, a red cursor follows the current time-position of the frame being displayed. This green bar can be stretched or compressed, a nice feature -- but because of that it's never clear the extent to which a deletion will take effect, because that extent always show as green, like the rest of the bar's extent that is associated with video clips. The extent does NOT change color when right clicking, so that one might have a preview / clue of the range of the imminent deletion.
When using the "<" and ">" of the timeline bar to slide the green time line bar left or right, its associated red cursor becomes disassociated -- it does not move with it. Instead, it stays positioned relative to the screen, not not in relation to the time at which it had been stationed. Thus you lose the spot which you were reviewing, only because you wanted to move the timeline. The same happens when you want to increase / decrease the resolution of the displayed timeline, a feature which is provided so that you can spread the extent of the time display from hours to seconds.
During display playback, the red cursor which shows what time is playing on the timeline and displaying on the screen, can sometimes march off into the future, ad infinitum, on its own -- a time where there couldn't possibly be a video -- because that time hasn't happened yet! How could this have escaped Logitech's 'quality control'? And when you manually stop the cursor there is no button to cause it to go 'home'.
Sometimes, when playing material, it does not play for an extended period of time, instead showing a blank screen, even though no files have been deleted and the timeline that shows playable files are present. Repositioning the red cursor, manually, at a point in time before this malfunction allows the material to be displayed.
Another problem with Alert Commander's green timeline bar is that sometimes, when one clicks a spot (file) on it to select one video segment, it turns white, indicating that there isn't a video recording after all! Who would what such a feature? I'm guessing that this happens because the user has deleted videos in the default folder to which the cam has saved its output. The cam does not check to see if the files are sill there -- it assumes that they are -- and it keeps the green colored segments in the display. I suppose that's because the programmers didn't think to check from time to time if those files still exist -- something which they could easily do since they do it once already. That's my opinion. At least this should be done shortly after booting up the Alert Commander software.
It seems that the green bar can confine video material from the onboard SD card as well as from the default video directory, but I'm not sure. In any case, one can't be sure of what the source of the video on the green bar is. At least I can't tell. So, If I delete something, say, a pic of me embracing my girlfriend, can my wife later find it anyway?
STILL PICS -
I don't see an option to take only pictures -- snapshots; only videos seem to be produced. Still photos would conserve a lot more storage space and are suitable and more convenient for many situations. It's not too difficult, at least conceptually, to provide, even AFTER the fact, pictures of the scene BEFORE during and after motion has been detected.
When one deletes the videos in the directory in which the software has saved them, Alert Commander software doesn't notice that and continues to show a green bar-timeline which represents stork data, which, of course when attempting to play it, happily displays a blank screen. It doesn't skip that green colored area with no data. Seemingly Alert Commander doesn't refresh itself before it begins playing. Alert Commander acts as if it's playing a movie snippet even when it has nothing to play!
There is no way to turn the camera off remotely. It's always on.
DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT -
In the two years that I've been using my present computer, I've never had Windows-compatible purchased software behave so badly, except for this Logitech Alert Commander thing. Perhaps many of the problems I see are addressed in the new updates which won't update to my machine. I have version 3.0.176. At time of this writing (June 2011), version 3.0.196 is available, presumably 20 releases newer as mine, but as mentioned above, this won't update on my computer. I run Windows 7 via VMWare emulation on a 27in iMac. Everything works, except this software. I don't think my configuration is the problem; if so, Logitech could esily have mentioned this in its systems requirements, but I'm willing to be educated about that, if anyone knows for sure. I've contacted Logitech about this problem several days ago and have received no reply. I've also asked them if I could do this update outside of their Commander software -- no reply.
I am disillusioned and very very tired of having to spend so much time fiddling with poorly thought out and sloppily implemented software that doesn't work out of the box and I feel obligated to warn others about what may happen if they buy these things. I hope that manufactures read user reviews / complaints and take away from them what they can do to make it better. Please feel free to contact me, thanks.
After futzing around with this, trying it for about two weeks, I found this thing too difficult and inconvenient to use for the reasons above. I returned it to Amazon and uninstalled Logitech's Windows software.
Computers from Amazon
Nine days after my original inquiry to Logitech I received a reply from Logitech's Eric D. Vernon, Sr. Manager, DVS PQA. He explained that this camera model is "not officially supported on Mac over a VM [virtual machine -- that's software which emulates another computer], but that Logitech has posted a couple tips and tricks on its forum which seems to address most of the update issues" and he supplied the URL for that fix -- see my replay to his email below.
In short, his recommendation fixed the software update with this model; Here is my reply:
Date: June 25, 2011 12:14:34 AM MDT
To: Eric Vernon <********@logitech.com>
Subject: Re: Logitech Alert
Thank you Eric,
I think I applied this change, but my dialog box to accomplish this looks a little different from the one in the link in your email (shown here).
The screen shot for camera connection to iMac under VMware displayed (link) shows a Windows dialog box, and I could not find that in Windows 7.
However I did find, in VMware under the pull-down menus "Virtual Machine > Settings > Removable Devices", a dialog box with the heading "Windows 7 X64: Network", where I changed the option NAT to BRIDGED.
After that I was asked to update power line devices and then to the update to version 3.0.169 and that worked!
My question is, should I now change the setting back to NAT?
I include below a screenshot form that VMware dialog box, which you may feel free to use in your forum if you what to update it.
I will also update my review on Amazon.com. Did you see that one, and do you think it was fair?
Ps: I bought this camera on Amazon. I may still have to return it even after this (many thanks, BTW for your helpful information) because even after the update to the latest version, there is no time stamp on the images! -- this is one of the most important features a security cam should have, for legal reasons, amongst others; That's what I think. And it's almost impossible to tell what time a video was taken from the file names which the camera produces.
Page updated 2013-11-03 by @Com