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The Logitech Alert home security video system is easy to set up and install.

It is also easy to move cameras around, and you have no wiring hassles.

 
 
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Logitech Alert 750 review (part 2 of 3)

Installing and Setting the System Up
 

Place cameras wherever you wish in your house with no need to run special video cables to each camera.

Part 3 of a series about the Logitech Alert and home security cameras in general; please also visit

1.  How to Best Set Up Video Monitoring at Your Home
2.  Logitech Alert 750 review 1
3.  Logitech Alert 750 review 2
4.  Logitech Alert 750 review 3

 

 

If you're like most of us, the thought of installing a multi-camera security system sounds daunting and something best reserved for professional installers.

Happily, the Logitech Alert system is very easy to install - even I did it with a minimum of fuss and bother.  This is because you don't need to add extra wiring, and because the cameras themselves can be freestanding if you don't want to drill holes in walls and add special mounting brackets.

Indeed, as the picture above shows, they blend nicely in with the rest of your home.

Adding Extra Cameras

Most people will probably choose to have at least a two camera system (ie one internal and one external), although if you're in an apartment complex with few vulnerable exterior walls/approach paths, you might settle for just one or two internal cameras and no external cameras.

The system can be grown to handle up to six cameras.  In theory, it would be possible to add still more cameras (and of course Logitech would make more money if they sold you more cameras), but in practice there are several limitations on this.

One is the bandwidth required, both within your LAN and externally to the internet, to support multiple video streams simultaneously.  A surprising other limitation is the processing power of your computer's CPU - it is a processing intensive task to be displaying multiple video streams simultaneously and few of the current crop of computers could handle more than six video streams without massively impacting on their performance for everything else you want your computer to do at the same time.

There's also an underlying paradigm issue as well.  This is intended to be a home security system, offering reasonable capabilities and performance at a high value price point.  Re-read our related article on How to Set Up a Home Security Video System to better understand how many cameras you really/truly need for effective monitoring and timely detection of breakins.

If you truly need more than six cameras to protect your house, you probably also truly need a fully professional grade security system, probably costing ten or more times as much as the Logitech Alert.

Installing the Cameras

Installing the cameras is much easier than I feared it might be.  You have various different options for where and how you can mount the cameras - either from the top or bottom, and the camera itself can be upside down or the right way up (you can compensate for this in the camera's software setup).  There are plenty of different bits of mounting hardware to make it easy for you to affix the cameras either temporarily or permanently to the places you select.

An option for the internal cameras is to stick them to a glass surface using nothing more than a suction cup.  Logitech assure me that they've done tests with objects weighing a great deal more than a camera that have remained safely suspended for more than six months beneath one of their suction cups, so as long as you make sure the glass (and the cup) are very clean, and you slightly moisten the cup, it should be okay to mount a camera that way.  If you do, I'd recommend you make a calendar entry perhaps repeating every three months, reminding you to remove, reclean and reaffix the suction mount.

Logitech also tell me their cameras are 'drop resistant' for reasonable distance drops, in theory, worst case scenario, you (and your camera) should be okay if the suction cup does fall off.

Wiring the Cameras

Once you've mounted each camera, you then need to run a combined data/power cable between the camera and a box you plug into a wall power socket.  The cable is a standard ethernet type cable with RJ45 connectors on both ends which uses the 'Power over Ethernet' protocol.

Internal cameras come with a 10 ft cable, external cameras come with a 20 ft cable.  If you need a longer run, Logitech sell longer 50' and 100' ft cables made with a small low profile flat ribbon type cable (the same as the shorter cables supplied in their kits) which makes it easier to route the cable.  Alternatively you could use any regular Cat-5, Cat-5e or higher classification Ethernet cable as well, but it will be bulkier.

The box you plug into a wall socket is a combined power supply/transformer and also a special data transceiver that converts the signal from the camera to a type of data transmission that works over mains power wires - what is known as the HomePlug AV standard.

This means you don't have to worry about any extra wiring through your house.

At some point, probably next to your home's LAN router, you have a companion box that you plug into a wall power socket, and you run a (supplied) 10' cable from that to the router.  This box converts the data signal back from the mains power cabling, and allows you to get your cameras online and onto your local home network (and also on to the broader internet as well for remote monitoring).

HomePlug AV devices can communicate with each other over about a 200 yard length of wiring, although this range depends massively on how your home wiring is laid out and what types of other ordinary devices are also connected to it.

It is hard to think of a house that needs more than 200 yards of wiring length from one end to another, but if for whatever reason you find yourself with range problems, you can simply mix and match some parts of the camera to router distance with ethernet cabling and some parts with HomePlug AV wiring.

So mounting and wiring is extremely simple, with very few constraints and a minimum amount of wiring.  Overall, you should never have a range or wiring problem in your home.

A related advantage is that it is easy to relocate your cameras in the future.  Maybe you add another camera and then are able to adjust the locations of the other cameras.  Or maybe you decide, after some time testing your layout, that the original locations weren't ideal.  It is easy to simply move the cameras somewhere else and re-plug them into your home mains wiring.

Other types of security camera systems might use Wi-Fi to broadcast their signals, but this will probably end up with no greater range due to the presence of walls, floors, ceilings, and other signal obstructions.  Some other types of security cameras actually require a physical cable to run all the way from each camera to the central monitoring control box; this requires a potentially massive investment in running new wiring through your walls, gives you no flexibility for future adjustments to where your cameras are located, and so is by far the least satisfactory method.

System Works With No Computer

Although we were worrying in the section about How to Set Up a Home Security Video System about thieves stealing the computer on which you are storing the camera video clips and which is used to manage your Logitech Alert system, a positive feature of the system is that it will work perfectly well with no computer present (or switched on).

Because the cameras have built in intelligence which causes them to know how to 'talk' to Logitech's central servers, once you have set them up, they know how to 'phone home', via the internet and through Logitech's central servers, and on to your various contact devices such as by email and text message, and you can in turn get back in touch with the devices through Logitech's servers without needing any special home LAN to be running.

This is definitely a plus if you don't like to leave a lot of computers running 24/7, or if your only home computer is a laptop which you take with you when traveling.

Using the Logitech Alert System

Using the system is simple and straightforward.  Load the software onto your Windows based PC (there is not currently a Mac version although Logitech acknowledges the need for adding a Mac product in the future); mount and connect your cameras, and that is about it.

You'll then want to run the Logitech Commander software and configure your cameras.  It is possible to electronically zoom, pan and tilt the fixed camera so as to selectively capture only part of the very wide-angle (140 lens) field of view the cameras have.  But be aware that if you do this, you'll be experiencing something like the 'digital zoom' on a camera - you are simply multiplying the available pixels to make up for the missing ones, you're not actually increasing the resolution as you would with optical zoom.

From that perspective, maybe it is best not to zoom, pan or tilt the cameras at all, and instead adjust/limit the part of the image you are using for the motion detection zone or zones.

You'll also want to set up the motion detection logic, specifying with parts of the image the camera should 'look at' for motion, how sensitive to motion the camera should be, and how long it needs to see sustained motion before sounding an alert.

For a full discussion on how to set your cameras up for motion detection alerts, see our related article 'How to Best Set Up Video Monitoring at Your Home'.

Accessing Logitech's Customer Support

Logitech provide excellent customer support, Monday - Friday 6am - 6pm PST plus Saturdays and Sundays, 7am - 5pm.  The weekend support is invaluable, allowing you to make setting up and resolving any issues with your system a weekend project.

I placed a test call with a semi-invented question.  I was quickly routed through to a regular American, Andrew, with no time on hold.  He spoke clearly and understood my question, and showed technical competence with the product in answering it and walking me through the solution.

 

Part 3 of a four part series on home security/video monitoring systems; please also visit

1.  How to Best Set Up Video Monitoring at Your Home
2.  Logitech Alert 750 review part 1
3.  Logitech Alert 750 review part 2
4.  Logitech Alert 750 review part 3

 

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Originally published 19 Nov 2010, last update 02 Jul 2017

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
 


 


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