Makes a lot of promises without anything to back them up.

(I’ve been putting this one off for a long time mainly because I felt like I was being unfair to the manufacturer, but the show must go on.)

I love the idea of an internet enabled camera that I can use for security and communication while I am away from home. Despite the manufacturer name including the very word “idea”, this camera doesn’t amount to much more than a flawed concept.

During my initial handling, the camera popped out of the mounting and fell to the floor. This was despite my earlier confirmation of the seemingly solid “click” from the small clip on the camera. No damage but Red Flag Number One had already appeared.

As I was selecting the best place to set the camera, I pulled out a comically short micro USB cable and realized that unless I were to use a different cable, the effective install range is about a foot away from an electrical outlet. I ended up connecting the camera’s AC block to one of my spare Amazon Kindle USB cables which allowed a greater cable length with enough slack to mount the camera toward an upper corner of my test room. The magnetic base that allows the user to mount the camera to a metal surface (such as a refrigerator or section of basement ductwork) was nice, but it was too bad that I had to supply a longer cable of my own in order to get the most of the magnet.

IdeaPro NJ001 IP Camera REVIEW

This product has generally low build quality and I whispered “You get what you pay for” several times while I worked with this device.  The AC adapter mentioned above is a completely unbranded Travel Adapter that likely is the same type of replacement adapter that graces countless of gas station counter tops as “Android-compatible”. The strange grab-bag appearance of the unit and its power source became Red Flag Number Two.

Setting up the camera seemed like it would be easy and it was, up to a point. The unit’s instructional pamphlet lists a group of products that are designed to work with the YouSee app on the Android or iOS app store.  Downloading the app was a little off-putting because although the app does show (broken) English text during the app setup, the store descriptions of the updated app are primarily Chinese language.

Using the mobile app felt as broken as some of the English language prompts and the process to create a new account with an unintelligible “cloud service” does not feel trustworthy or secure.  The app received a recent update within the past two weeks, but the “forgot password” option still routes the user to a broken web page.  The combination of website and the mobile app made for a whopper of a Red Flag Number Three.  Still, I pressed on with the testing.

IdeaPro NJ001 IP Camera REVIEW

When initially connecting the camera to the mobile app, the app sends out a series of high-pitched sounds which are picked up by the camera. Once this setup has completed, the camera will join to the user’s chosen wireless network (I remained reluctant to let the camera connect to my home’s primary wireless network, but I found myself lacking other options, as you soon read.) and display a status of “Online” in the mobile app.  To the IdeaPro’s credit, the mobile app showed me a camera image exactly once.  I was able to remotely see a decent quality image on my phone screen, though the frame rate was strangely low.  Unfortunately, during the next set of tests, the camera ceased responding to the mobile app.  I went through several factory resets, power cycles, and even multiple wireless routers, but I was able to consistently connect the camera to a wireless network and view the status of the device as Online, but a plague of “Network Error” messages finally caused me to flash the camera back to factory settings and box the equipment back up.

IdeaPro NJ001 IP Camera REVIEW IdeaPro NJ001 IP Camera REVIEW

This item was a disappointment.  I truly believe this may be a defective unit, but the performance of the device when it WAS showing an image does not give me confidence in a potential replacement unit.  Also, I really don’t want to create another throwaway account for the “cloud” service required by the device.  This camera may be cheap, and it may list a lot of features that can be compared to a more expensive brand of camera, but users that attempt to work with the IdeaPro NJ001 will find themselves facing a net loss of time and frustration. I recommend walking away from this one.