Vue Personal Video Network: Webcams go wireless

Webcams have brought surveillance to the masses, but they have one big limitation: They need power. That severely limits where you can put them, but the cameras in Avaak's Vue Personal Video Network are different. The tiny cams (each is 3 inches high and weighs 0.1 ounces) are completely battery powered, not to mention wireless. Mount them anywhere in your house and they'll faithfully transmit images to the system's base station through the air. The base then puts the feeds on a password-protected website that you can log into from anywhere.

The wireless tech is a special low-power 2.4GHz system called FrameMesh, which Avaak originally developed for the U.S. military. To save power, the cameras operate only when you're watching (so they're no good for continuous surveillance), and their replaceable batteries should last about a year. A single FrameMesh network can have up to 50 cameras. And no PC is required (except to watch).

My hands-on impressions of the Vue system, along with price and availability information, are after the Continue jump.

Checking out the system last month, I thought the video quality was pretty "meh" — it maxes out at VGA (640 x 480) at 10 frames per second — but the functionality was great. Vue's website hits all the right places, too: you can record clips, schedule recordings and share video online. If they add a motion detector that activates recording, I'd be completely sold.

On sale in late May, the Vue Personal Video Network includes a base station, two cameras, and mounting gear for $299. Extra cams cost $99 each. The online service is free for the first year, and $20 for every year afterward. An iPhone app for watching your streams is said to be in the works.

Via Vue Zone