Foscam FI9821P Plug & Play

Like many other new entrants into the baby monitor category, Foscam got its start as a security camera company.

While Foscam offers cameras specifically designed as baby monitors (dubbed Fosbaby), their most popular offering is a network security camera that many parents are using to monitor a nursery.

The FI9821P is an affordable ($65 to $80) cam with an impressive list of features: remote pan/tilt, night vision (you can turn this remotely on or off), HD picture (720p), two-way audio monitoring and a sharp picture. Yes, it works off your home’s WiFi network. The one downside: there is no monitor to view the camera—you do that from your computer or smart phone (apps are available for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android).

Fosbaby Digital Video Monitor

Fosbaby Digital Video Monitor

Foscam also has traditional baby monitors called FosBaby ($50 to $80), that are basically a fixed security camera with pink or blue accents (no joke). Fosbaby monitors feature 720 HD vision and recording to a SD card. Also included: optional motion detector alerts via smartphone app, two-way audio and temperature.

Foscam has recently debuted the FosBaby P1 with pan/tilt control. It also has a 720p HD picture, infrared lights to see baby in the dark and built in nightlight on top of the features of the original FosBaby. The P1 looks a bit different than the original with a more elongated shape. Weirdly, you can’t purchase the P1 online except directly from Foscam.

Here’s our take on Foscam and other security cameras that can be used to monitor baby’s nursery: don’t buy them.

First, Foscam’s FosBaby monitors have been in the news lately, as parents discovered some Foscam cameras can be easily hacked. We have blogged on this subject, but the basic advice is: change the default password. Many hacked cameras were still using the default password.

Foscam and all the other security camera solutions filled a need a few years ago, before there were easy-to-set up streaming cams like Nestcam (as well as competitors Canary, Piper and Netatmo’s Welcome). Now, we don’t see the point. Yes, Foscam is less expensive than all of those options—but Foscam and its ilk requires a significant amount of tech skills to get them to work. By contrast, newer streaming cams like Nestcam can be set up in a matter of minutes, with the bare minimum of tech skill.

Another issue: quality. Many low-end security cameras (under $100) work great for a few months. Then the audio fizzes out. Or the camera refuses to connect to your network. Or just plain dies. Bottom line: there are better options out there if you want to monitor your baby’s nursery via a smartphone.

Rating: D