by Richard Easton 28 Apr 2015
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At first glance, the Foscam FI9831P doesn’t look drastically different from the FI9826P. On closer inspection you'll notice that the upper lens housing is smaller and less bulbous - most likely due to this model lacking the more expensive FI9826P's optical zoom.
It does still have pan and tilt control, which gives you much more flexibility when it comes to placing your camera. The FI9381P’s upper camera housing can rotate on its base, so you can cover a wider area, and the lens itself can tilt up and down. Around the lens are 11 infrared LEDs that provide night vision up to eight metres away in darkness.
The FI9381P has both wired and wireless networking. There’s an Ethernet port on the back and you can also attach an optional wireless antenna, to give you more flexibility with where you want to mount the camera.
If you go the wireless route, the FI9831P supports push-button WPS pairing, which is supported on most routers. You just need to press the WPS button on the back of the camera and then also press the WPS button on the back of your router, and the two should connect without you needing to type in any passwords or keys.
You set up the camera's iOS or Android apps by scanning a QR code on the base of the camera. You’re then able to assign a name to the camera. Naming it after the location being monitored is usually a good idea if you’re managing multiple cameras. You’ll also need to sign into the camera using the default password from the instruction manual.
Once this is done, you’ll need to assign a new username and password to the camera. If you’re setting up multiple cameras, this needs to be done for each one. Fortunately you can have the app remember your sign-in details so you don’t have to worry about multiple logins, but it’s still a little long-winded.
Setting up a new username and password proved difficult, however. On our first two attempts the camera seemingly didn’t take the new username and password, and we were not able to sign in with either the new or the default credentials. The third time eventually worked, but we had to factory reset the camera between attempts, meaning the entire process took far longer than it should have.
Once you’re finally set up, the app gives you a live feed and controls to adjust the pan and tilt. It’s not a particularly attractive app and there are lots of icons whose function isn’t immediately obvious, meaning you’ll spend a lot of time in trial-and-error land. As the camera has a built-in speaker as well as a microphone, you can use it as an intercom, which worked well with minimal delay at either end. There are 3.5mm sockets on the back of the camera for connecting an external microphone and speaker if you prefer.
Surprisingly, we found the FI9831P's live feed proved far more stable than that of its sister FI9826P camera, even under identical network conditions. Video was smooth and there was only a slight delay between reality and what was displayed in the live feed. The camera's frame rate was also far more stable.
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