Recommendation for Office Cam for monitoring a lobby (not security) - simple solution

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Wanted to see if anyone had a simple idea to solve a problem at my wife's office. They have an entry lobby, where a receptionist used to sit to greet people that came in. The remaining offices are down a long hallway with no direct view of the entry area just due to angles. Due to personnel changes they no longer have a receptionist.

The question is, what would be a stupid simple way to provide them a video feed of the front lobby so someone can walk up to help a customer that has entered? It's not far from at least 4 people, but it's not in anyone's field of view, and since they rarely get people at the office (most everything is done online or via mail), people sometimes enter and it's not obvious to them people are even in the office. Something cheap and simple (I'm thinking almost like how a Picture in Picture works), so each person in the office could have a stream to monitor. This isn't particularly for security, they aren't currently looking to record etc. Just something that can provide/stream video to 6 or so computers in the office. The lobby is super well lit during the hours they are open, and the resolution wouldn't need to be anything great really.

I am pretty sure they have a whole-office-POE network switch because all the phones are powered by POE already. So I'm wondering if this is just the right job for one of those crummy-sensor, little desktop IP camera models. Was thinking something along the lines of that TOP-201 POE one or similar.
 
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TonyR

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I suggest you consider the Amcrest IP2M-841 (re-branded Dahua) . It's ONVIF compatible, provides RTSP, is 1080p, IR, 2-way audio plus mike in/speaker out, has pan/tilt/digital zoom, record to micro SD card, wired or wireless and has alarm in/out, great with Blue Iris, VLC, etc. Comes with wall/ceiling mount, 1/4"-20 tripod mount feamle insert on bottom. Black available here for $45 USD, white or silver for $3 more.

I've installed 4 of them and 3 of it's lower-res, 720p cousin the IPM-721 and all have functioned with no hiccups for the past 3 years.

Put VLC on the PC, minimize its window on desktop, use minimalist interface, pull to desired corner, even have audio on the PC speakers from the cam's built-in mike!
Use the following URL in VLC to pull up the RTSP stream. I'll let you work on the command line to open VLC and run the URL!

Code:
rtsp:/user:password@Camera-IP:554/cam/realmonitor?channel=1&subtype=0
EDIT 4/1/21: V3 of the IP2M-841 does NOT provide relay I/O nor jacks for an external mic and speaker.
 
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Thanks @TonyR that's actually the one I was looking for, but all my searches for cheap camera were grabbing TOP-201 & Q's cheap camera shootout! Closest I could get was the IPC-K35A which was more than they were looking to spend for a minor convenience. Just have to check with their corporate guys, because they need to block all the outbound internet access on these things because they are so insecure, but still allow the internal office computers to see the streams.
 

TonyR

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Thanks @TonyR that's actually the one I was looking for, but all my searches for cheap camera were grabbing TOP-201 & Q's cheap camera shootout! Closest I could get was the IPC-K35A which was more than they were looking to spend for a minor convenience. Just have to check with their corporate guys, because they need to block all the outbound internet access on these things because they are so insecure, but still allow the internal office computers to see the streams.
The IP2M-841 is easy to kill gateway, P2P, uPNP, etc.
You can also go into "setup", "network", "IP Filter" , enable "Trusted Sites" and put in the LAN IP of the PC's that are allowed to access the cam and/or view the stream!
 

looney2ns

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Wanted to see if anyone had a simple idea to solve a problem at my wife's office. They have an entry lobby, where a receptionist used to sit to greet people that came in. The remaining offices are down a long hallway with no direct view of the entry area just due to angles. Due to personnel changes they no longer have a receptionist.

The question is, what would be a stupid simple way to provide them a video feed of the front lobby so someone can walk up to help a customer that has entered? It's not far from at least 4 people, but it's not in anyone's field of view, and since they rarely get people at the office (most everything is done online or via mail), people sometimes enter and it's not obvious to them people are even in the office. Something cheap and simple (I'm thinking almost like how a Picture in Picture works), so each person in the office could have a stream to monitor. This isn't particularly for security, they aren't currently looking to record etc. Just something that can provide/stream video to 6 or so computers in the office. The lobby is super well lit during the hours they are open, and the resolution wouldn't need to be anything great really.

I am pretty sure they have a whole-office-POE network switch because all the phones are powered by POE already. So I'm wondering if this is just the right job for one of those crummy-sensor, little desktop IP camera models. Was thinking something along the lines of that TOP-201 POE one or similar.
Shop keepers Bell
 
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Reminded me I have an old Amcrest sitting idle in a box, an IPM-723W that I think died only because the TrendNet POE splitter died. Currently they are borrowing an old 5 year old smartphone.

Shop keepers Bell
That made me LMAO, fair enough sometimes the solution is the simplest, cheapest, dumbest one that has worked for 100 years or more! In this case they already have an electronic door chime, but it goes off when someone runs to the toilet, leaves for lunch, goes to check the mailbox or returns from any of the above. So ultimately, 90% of the time it isn't useful just to know the door has opened.
 
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