Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Foscam FI9821W - (The worst) wireless IP web cam

FoScam FI9821W - Wireless security web cam?


I wanted to monitor my baby so on 1 April 2013 I purchased a wireless IP camera for 122 Euros from 'Foscam Digital Technologies UK' via Amazon.

When the IP camera arrived I tough "cool, I will have it up and running in 10 minutes". Now, few weeks months later I still struggle to make it work. 

The Foscam (it should be rather spelled Fo-SCAM) wireless IP camera hardware seems somehow decent but the software is written by a dog. It is damn difficult to install and configure. There are multiple installation steps. The documentation is poorly written and the interface is poorly designed. For example the "IPCamera.exe" application has no visible button of menu. All functionality is hidden behind a pop-up menu that appears on right click. 

In the end this Foscam camera just doesn't work.

Nightmare installation / under-the-table software

So, the first problem I had was in the first step of the installation. Here I had to use a Windows application called "IPCamera.exe". But every time I ran the application it crashed with this explanatory message:

SOLUTION: I spent some time with the software and I have found out that instead of crashing the application should have displayed the following message 'Cannot connect to network. Please check your fucking firewall'. 
I am a software developer too and I know this is NOT the way to handle a firewall problem.


Foscam will crash the video driver

As soon as I installed web camera's second driver in Firefox the computer started to crash. Repeatedly. Every time I accessed the Foscam web cam GUI the computer will crash with a BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death). There is a conflict between nvlddmkm.sys (the nVidia driver) and Foscam web camera driver. Got the latest driver from nVidia. Still crashes like hell as soon as I try to access the Foscam IP camera.

Update (14 May 2013): I have installed the IP camera also on my second computer. This one has an Intel video card. Also this video driver crashes when I try to access the camera.

Bad firmaware, bad!

As you see, I have spent quite some time trying to make this camera work. That's me I am stubborn. So, the next thing I have tried was to update the firmware. I thought this will make it work.
I went to web site to download a new version of firmware. But surprise! Even if the camera firmware is faulty, Foscam won't let you access the updates unless you register yourself with them. WTF? They really WANT to make this difficult. Anyway after registering myself I got the direct link to the download page. I will share it with you so you won't have to register yourself: 

Unfortunately, the firmware update available on web site (V1.1.1.11) is actually older than the one in my webcam ( So, yet another dead end.

No support / Total scam?

So what's the last resort when you have problems with a brand new/expensive product you just purchased? The support! 
The support was very unresponsive. I only got 2 emails from them. The last one suggested to uninstall the DLL from Firefox and install it back, but didn't explained how to do that, neither provider the DLL or an uninstaller. I asked them how to do that. But they never-ever replied back. 
They also have a forum. I tried to get support via forum but when I try to create an account they ask the following security question: "Where was the camera created". I have tried "US", "USA", "America", "United States of America". None of them worked. So, I couldn't access the forum. WTF?

I would safely say that there is NO support whats so ever for this IP camera.

* 13 days few months after I contacted the support for the first time I still struggle with this piece of crap.I only once encountered in my life support as bad Foscam's support. 
* support gave up and redirected me to Now I have to start this bullshit all over.


Foscam released FI9821W v2. They promised they fixed all issues. So I purchased this web camera also. Guess what? They fixed those issues but added others. On this new camera the night vision is not working anymore (broken IR LEDs) and the sound is very poor (broken microphone). I will return this camera soon also.


The good
  • The camera can pan vertically and horizontally
  • IR (infrared) night vision

The bad
  • No customer support whatsoever 
  • Poor manual
  • Impossible to use/configure. I invested over 14 hours in it and still doesn't work.
  • The driver is unusable.
  • After installing the driver the computer crashes every 2-5 minutes with BSOD
  • Information of web site is misleading/obsolete 
  • The camera's speaker makes noises so it cannot be used as a baby monitor or as secret camera

With its price and set of features, the camera it will be GREAT (I repeat GREAT) if it would work. But it doesn't work! Don't waste over 100 Euros on a not-yet-mature product!

The webcam is produced by a company called Foscam which is very ironic because the company name could easily be written as Fo-SCAM! 

Few weeks months after I purchased this IP web camera it still doesn't work. 

Update 2014:
Amazon offers 2 years warranty so I send the camera back got full refund.

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