Don't you just wish you could see and hear what's going on inside your home while you're away using your iPhone or iPad? Well it just so happens that Stem has come up with the iZON that will let you do just that plus more. The iZON is a remote room monitor, or wireless security video camera in more simple terms that will let you tap into a wireless video feed from anywhere in the world using your iOS device to check up on what's most valuable to you at any time whether you're connected to a WiFi or cellular network. Unlike expensive bulky home monitoring services and equipment on the market, the iZON offers an extremely affordable solution that combines multiple monitoring features into one user friendly, app driven remote room monitor.
Of course that all means we've got to put the iZON to the test. Is it the must have gadget you should get? Find out after the break!
Out of the fancy box, the iZON comes with a USB wall power adapter, a short USB cable extender that I've yet to find a use for, a magnetic base (more on that later) with optional mounting screws and of course the iZON unit itself with a very long USB cable that you'll be connecting to the power adapter and not your computer.
Getting started in using the iZON requires you to download the free Stem:Connect iOS app that you can use with your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Setting up the iZON requires you to add the iZON to your WiFi network which the app does for you. Though the setup was not what I would call a user friendly process. It was more like a messy and confusing process. Unfortunately, Stem hasn't put much thought and time making the app as easy to use as it should have been for an app that controls hardware and plays a crucial part in the way things work. Although the app guides you thru the setup process the first time, it still manages to be a confusing way of setting up a device in an unappealing user interface.
You will be asked to create a Stem account inside the app that you'll be using to connect to your own video stream/s. As of this review, the app is currently on version 2.2.5 and it's as buggy as an app can get. You can set up as many iZON cameras as you want and create the ultimate monitoring system that will most definitely keep an eye on every part of your precious living space and/or office.
To give you an idea of how large the iZON really is, it's pretty compact as you can see. It can easily be put anywhere without attracting much attention. The white body however doesn't help to conceal it, but at the same time this isn't meant to be a hidden spy camera either. The iZON has a very clean, cylindrical design matching today's well designed gadgetry. Stem has done a fantastic job making the iZON stand out from most other video camera monitors. The lens, wait what lens? Sadly you aren't going to find any glorious glass lens fitted inside the iZON as it only has a QVGA quality camera capable of shooting at 10 frames per second. Let's not forget that the iZON is designed to stream video so to have the best performance with all home networks, the video quality is somewhat downgraded.
The video quality is just near acceptable and nothing more than that. With 10fps video streaming there's a significant amount of choppiness to moving objects. Low light conditions aren't very kind to the iZON's performance. The iZON doesn't have infrared capabilities for night time shooting but with a little light, it isn't half bad and you may still be able to make out faces caught on camera. Even though the iZON is designed to work in indoor conditions, you can also position it to monitor your front door from behind a window. Depending on direct sunlight, the white balance doesn't do a good job adjusting to movement resulting in dark moving objects. The more light there is, the better the video quality will be. With that being said, the iZON's video quality is within reason to what's currently available at similar prices.
There's also a significant lag in the video stream which hinders the ability to see what's happening in real time. The lag is roughly 25 seconds long. Stem has stated that it is working to update the app early next year for near-live video streaming results.
The Stem:Connect app not only lets you view your video stream in landscape mode but set push notifications and both motion and sound alarms. The iZON is capable of instantly recording a video with sound once it detects motion or sound and immediately upload the recorded video straight to a specified YouTube account. The uploaded videos are set to be private by default. There is one drawback to this however and that is you cannot playback the recorded video on your device as it is directly sent to YouTube and not stored on your device. It would be nice to have the option to save the recorded video to your iOS device as well. Your home network will do all the uploading and the low resolution video takes seconds to upload to YouTube even on a slow internet speeds and will show in 240p resolution once available to view in your YouTube account.
In practice this has worked very well, but there have been many times in which the buggy Stem:Connect app would falsely trip motion alarms and upload empty videos to YouTube. Notifications are also laggy and not always accurate. It's worth noting that notifications only work with iOS5 and only let you know of a tripped motion or sound alarm. You'll have to head over to YouTube once again to see what was captured if anything. This all comes down to how badly the app performs and not necessarily anything to do with the iZON camera itself. Testing the video streaming ability over a 3G connection took about 25 seconds to tap into the video stream which is laggy as well, and almost instantaneous over a WiFi connection.
The magnetic base is weighted down and works really well. It allows you to position the iZON in many steep angles without tipping over to get the perfect viewing angle you need. For more extreme placements, you can mount the base to a wall and have the iZON record video upside down which can be rotated to the correct orientation using the app. The app also lets you turn the green status LED on the front of the camera on and off.
Stem's iZON isn't a bad little home surveillance wireless camera with many useful features that will give you peace of mind when you're out and about at $129.95. Although I cannot recommend the iZON particularly because of its mediocre app that is in desperate need of renovation and bug fixing, I would say that as an iOS accessory the iZON is worth having a look at especially if you want the luxury of having a quick eyes and ears inside your home or office even while you're half way across the world. It's that peace of mind that makes the iZON worth trying out. If only Stem spent more time creating a better app for the hardware, $129.95 is a good deal. It also wouldn't hurt to ask for a combo package price for more than one iZON.