Y-Cam The Grasshopper review
The Grasshopper bundle is a collaboration between Y-Cam and network storage manufacturer Synology. The kit comprises two Y-Cam Knight S IP cameras and a Synology DiskStation DS211j NAS. It's an obvious combination. The NAS provides somewhere for the cameras to store their captured video, so it's accessible from anywhere on your network. You can also hide the NAS away in a cupboard where it's less likely to be stolen, so your footage of burglars should be safer than it would be on a desktop PC.
The DiskStation DS211j NAS is a particular favourite of ours, having won our Best Buy award earlier this year. The bundle comes with two 1TB hard disks, but you'll need to fit them yourself - fortunately, this only takes a couple of minutes. You'll also need to install the DS211j's firmware, but an application on a CD in the box does this over your home network automatically. Once you've installed the NAS's operating system and logged in to the DiskStation's glossy and clearly laid out web admin interface, the Quick Start options prompt you to create a shared folder on the NAS's hard disk before adding users and assigning access privileges. The DiskStation has plenty of extra features, such as working as a media server, as well as letting you share USB disks and printers across your network. You can also set up the twin hard disks as a mirrored RAID 1 array, so you will still keep all your data if one disk fails.
In the case of this bundle, the most useful of the DiskStation's features is the Surveillance Station, a handy tool to store, monitor and control the video stream from your IP camera directly via the NAS's web interface. Adding a camera is remarkably easy - you just click the Add button and enter the camera's IP address and login details. The first camera licence is activated by default on the DiskStation - you'll have to enter the second yourself, but a card with a licence key is in the box. If you want to add extra cameras later, you'll need more licences - a single licence costs around £30, while a four-licence pack is around £120. Synology supports a massive range of IP cameras, so you don't necessarily have to buy matching Y-Cam devices.
Once you've activated the cameras via the Surveillance Station, you can use it to configure the video quality, recording settings, storage allocation and recording schedule of each camera. You can also configure the cameras via their own web interfaces, but it's far easier to use Surveillance Station. Scheduled recording is particularly useful - you can define different types of trigger for different times and days of the week, such as continuous recording on one day or motion detection-triggered recording on another. You can set up motion-detection zones, display live or recorded video feeds and configure email and SMS alerts in response to various events, including motion detection, with the Surveillance Station's web interface. You can also view live streams from your cameras on an iOS or Android device using Synology's DS Cam app. If you want to view your video feeds from outside your home network you'll need to set up port forwarding and, if you don't have a static IP address, Dynamic DNS.
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