The company touts its "60-second setup": you plug the camera into your computer via USB, select your Wi-Fi network, and name the camera, and your Dropcam HD is online and ready for viewing. While it may have taken closer to 90 seconds, I can attest that setup was, in fact, just that simple. Just as importantly, when the camera goes offline due to a power failure or dropped Internet connection, when it comes back on, the camera automatically joins your wireless network and comes back to life. The earlier version wasn't as reliable.
The camera is AC-powered so it's always on (unless you have a power outage, of course) and a night vision mode turns on automatically when a room darkens, so you can capture video even in poorly lit environments. That said, in total darkness it becomes useless, though sound still comes through.
You can "talk back" with the two-way audio feature, but there can be a slight delay, so it's not exactly like having a Skype conversation. A couple of times I managed to scare my kids remotely. I don't have pets, but people have be known to tell their dogs to get off the couch from afar, which must be fun.
Finally, with the digital zoom, you can "pick which part of the room to focus on." However, as with most digital zooms, you lose some sharpness, but it works.
Dropcam's pricing for its service remains the same. You get free real-time viewing from a computer or mobile device -- there are free iOS and Android apps available that work quite well, though a native iPad app isn't available quite yet -- plus free e-mail and push motion/sound alerts. But if you want DVR functionality, you have to step up to the company's premium service, which costs $9.95 a month.
With that DVR service, Dropcam stores up to 30 days of video on its servers, so you can look back through a month's worth of "motion" events. The company says, "All video is encrypted using bank-level security standards to ensure user privacy."
There are plenty of IP cameras out there that allow you to view a location remotely, but few offer as simple a setup or as elegant an interface as the Dropcam (I include the mobile apps in this). I wouldn't quite go so far as to call it the Apple of video-monitoring services, but much like Sonos has in the wireless multiroom audio space, Dropcam has created a consumer-friendly solution that you don't have to be a tech expert to get up and running.
While the camera had some kinks in the early going, they've been resolved, and the image quality is quite decent. Currently, Dropcam doesn't have an all-weather version that would allow you to place the camera outside, but I suspect one is in the works.
You could quibble over the price, but seeing that you get free basic real-time monitoring (mobile and desktop) with the purchase of the camera, it's pretty reasonable and less expensive compared with other, more "professional" surveillance camera systems. It's also easy to add additional cameras to your account.
While the Dropcam isn't perfect and its performance will vary according to your network and existing equipment, my impression after using it for several months is that it's gradually getting better as Dropcam continues to tweak its software. I have no problem recommending it to someone looking for a video surveillance system that's easy to use, relatively affordable and reliable, and offers decent image quality, plus sound.