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What IP Cameras are Mac Compatible?

So you’re looking for an IP camera, but you want make sure that you can view it through your new Core 2 Duo 13″ MacBook.

Thankfully, there are  more options than you may have thought.

For the most part you won’t need to worry since there is nearly always a way to get a live view from any network camera on your Mac. However, there are usually compromises to be made.

Often, a manufacturer will provide few options for viewing the video feed from the camera. For instance, the Panasonic BL-C and BB-HCM ranges (US / UK-EU) provide two viewers - a built-in ActiveX control and a static image refreshed every x seconds through the standard http meta refresh mechanism. Your only option for a ’streaming’ video feed is to use the Motion JPEG feed or ActiveX control in Internet Explorer and since Microsoft no longer develop IE for the Mac, this 2nd option is out. You cannot (without a LOT of messing around) install an ActiveX control in Safari or Firefox.

This, though, is a small price to pay when the quality of the view is more important than how many frames per second you can squeeze out of the camera. The BL-C range will always deliver an image to you and your lovely new Mac.

And what of cameras from other manufacturers? With Axis and Sony your options are slightly better as both manufacturers offer Java-based viewers alongside their ActiveX and other viewers. Unfortunately the non-default viewers are often feature-poor and less user-friendly than the default.

It is also common for cameras to offer a Motion JPEG viewer which gives streaming video in Safari or Firefox. On top of this many key features are often supported through Java (like the setting up of motion detection windows etc). Conveniently, in Safari/Firefox/Mozilla no plugin is needed to view a Motion JPEG stream, but depending on bandwidth you may find it a bit jerky.

Viewer technology is not the only problem. Initial installation, video recording and audio support are all given scant consideration. This will change, we are sure, and is changing.

Tpressure for this. At the very most we can expect many more cameras to support Macs in their core feature set but we are unlikely to see true Mac compatibility including all features and software. Still, there’s plenty of choice in the market for us.

There are many pros and cons to be considered here and we will consider them in later posts. As Mac users we sympathise and we implore manufacturers to consider beefing up their support for Macs. We know what they need to do. They only need to ask.

more information & your choices » »

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