the IT city, the I.T. Baby


Eight months in: Foscam FI8910W as a baby cam

FOSCAM 8910W just hanging outIn October of last year I purchased a Foscam FI8910W camera and set it to work as a baby camera. Over the last several months I’ve used it day in and out and have decided the following:

It’s cheap.

The image quality is ok for a cell-phone circa 2006, the WiFi seems to be exceptionally weak, the images transmit in MJPEG format which means you can’t capture on the mobile app versions of the software, and the mobile software they provide for it doesn’t reconnect automatically.

What this has caused is numerous wakeups to a white screen on the Android tablet we have dedicated to nighttime baby monitoring. What’s worse is even on the ActiveX Internet Explorer version the audio will disconnect while the video will still be going. It will also leave the indicator up that the audio is still transmitting.

This is problematic as many a night I’ve been woken now hearing faint cries from downstairs only to realize the audio had just cut out and those were loud screams from a very ticked off baby.

There are, however, workarounds. Such as plugging it into an ethernet connection. Which sort of defeats the purpose of a wireless camera, but it does provide more stability. You can also get a WiFi extender which helps out somewhat, increases lag a bit, however that’s generally purchasing a product that’s the same cost as the baby monitor.

The audio is a good second and a half delayed, so if you’ve got audio going upstairs and baby screaming downstairs you’re going to get the notice twice. I’m not particularly happy with that and know that the audio can perform better than that with the setup I have.

The video is grainy enough that you sometimes cannot tell that a baby is breathing. This has lead to quite a few trips to poke the baby. My cell phone camera from 2010 doesn’t have this issue, however it doesn’t do nightvision.

We also had an issue with the camera being associated with another camera. Turned out whenever I was watching my baby in Internet Explorer, the ActiveX control was busy streaming another camera’s video and audio to nowhere. I doubt that will happen to you, but beware previously worked on cameras.

Oh yeah, when contacting Foscam support about the 9 gig a day camera issue I got no response.

The incredible drop-out rate on the WiFi has lead to multiple attempts to make this thing work wirelessly without success. I moved the router closer, no difference, added the repeater and moved the router back up, not much difference, only connected one device and set it to 1 FPS which reduced the bandwidth it was consuming from 250K to about 14, no difference.

I’m going to have to try wired. I don’t have any other WiFi devices that have anything on the level of dropout this does. Going to wire it into the wireless extender tonight as I’ve given up on attempts to force the WiFi to work with its WiFi transmitter.

So as a wireless with less than 20 feet from camera to base, it doesn’t work well with built-in hardware/software.

Tired of waking up to find a white screen after several hours of behaving properly. Tired of being woken up to do tech support and diagnostics on a misbehaving camera.

It appears they may have recognized that the WiFi was nearly useless as in subsequent releases as the two-pack includes 9dBi antennas at $164, which is about $24 more than you could purchase two cameras and two 9dBi antenna for. Yup, 62×2 = $124 + ~$16 = $140.

The Foscam FI910W is available from Amazon for $62 which is over $90 off of MSRP. I wouldn’t get it expecting the WiFi to work particularly well however. Not enough to be a reliable baby monitor.

2 / 5 stars     

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.