Use this forum for the discussion of all things related to the use of cellular trail cameras. The discussion of different models/manufacturers, service providers, problems, tips & hints for ease of use are all welcome here.
By hthr316
#344217
My brain hurts. Ford vs. Chevy vs. Chrysler is about the same as choosing between HCO vs. Covert vs. Bushnell vs. AnyOtherName. I've read a bazillion reviews and, well, everyone has a different opinion/thought/idea. I came across this site and thought, now here's a group of people I need to ask! That being said....

I'm searching for a cellular trail cam for my dad. He's been using two Cuddeback cameras for quite a few years and it seems like every couple months lately, he's has to bring them to me to "fix" something. As his technical adviser/fix-it person/I.T. manager, I had the brilliant idea to get him a wireless cam for his birthday/father's day. Fortunately, I have two brothers that will share the cost as I'd like to get a lock box and solar power for it also.

That being said.....my head is spinning on what to get!!! I was about ready to pull the trigger and buy the new Bushnell I SHOULD be able to get online later today or tomorrow (they just started shipping them out on May 9th to retailers), but now I'm second guessing my choice. Cell provider can be either AT&T or Verizon as they both have strong signal on his property.

Primary requirements would be:
- Ability to access photos via the web and Android phone.
- Ability to change camera settings via web or app.
- Good night photos....well, good day photos too.
- Minimal out of pocket expense after purchase. I've noticed that some brands have added fees to use the web/phone app?
- Something that doesn't take a rocket scientist to operate once it's set up (since I'll set it up before I even give it to him)

One of the reasons I was rethinking my decision on the Bushnell is because I talked to a guy with Vista Outdoor at the NRA convention in Louisville last weekend and I swear he said that if you wanted to download the higher resolution image, you had to pay extra for it. I can't find that piece of info online so I'm unsure that's what he actually said or if he was confused or if I was confused....lol.

Anyway, sorry for the rambling, but I'd love some insight into what any of you feel would provide the best bang for my buck. I'd like to keep the total price (including the accessories I plan on buying) at about $500 which really does keep the door fairly wide open.

Thanks in advance!!
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By johnnydeerhunter
#344219
hthr316, as far as I know there's only one of the cell cams that's been out and proven itself and that's the Spartan GoCam. I have 4 of them and planning on a 5th soon. I am also sharing/using a friends covert camera so I have experience with both. The GoCam app is fantastic and they are adding new features on a regular basis, everything works as it should and the only quirk in the system is the iphone notifications are squirrely and they are working on that as we speak. Coverts app is new and while they are working on and improving it they are also doing away with some of the features like larger transmitted pictures. It also doesn't appear to be a true app, more of a shortcut to their browser. The problem with this is that if you are sharing the camera with others and they view the pictures the people who haven't seen them don't get them showing up as new or unviewed, you also can't have guest access to the camera where someone can have the app and view the pictures but not be able to change the settings, basically anyone who you want to see the pics can change the camera settings, where with the Gocam you can give out both guest and administrative access. There's also no email or automatic pic forward with the coverts, you have to look on the app or be logged into their portal. Now the GoCam does have an extra charge for using the portal and premium ($3 a month if you buy a years worth) but it's well worth it and if you take into consideration the other costs between the two cameras it's probably a wash. Covert is $9.99 a month for 1000 pictures and he Gocam is $25 for three months ($8.33 a month) for a gig which if you are sending the same sized pics as the covert is around 25,000 pics. The coverts also seem to not function perfectly unless realtime is turned on and that eats up a set of lithium batteries in three weeks. The GoCam also has the ability to add a Verizon unit to your existing cell phone plan, it's $5 a month plus taxes and depending on your cell plan I have heard prices from $5.50 a month to $8.87, nice thing with this is there's no monthly renewal. My Verizon camera uses 2% of the familys 6gb of date so that's not much at all.
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By Roscoe
#344220
Buy the HCO Spartan GoCam. It's the best cell camera in the price range you listed right now. It's been out for a year and most everyone that has one is loving it. Android app for it is working great. The premium service that uses the app is $3/month if purchased a year at a time. It's worth every penny. More than one of you can have the administrative access to the camera via the app. I've had 3 of them for well over a year. You guys will love the camera!
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By FredG
#344224
In addition to the fine advise of JDH and Roscoe above let me offer the following. As a hardheaded Cuddeback user myself, I feel very comfortable in predicting that your father would be very pleased with the image quality of the HCO Spartan Go Cam. This is not meant as a slam on the IQ of the Covert, but it's just a reality that the HCO image quality is very similar to (and in certain respects better than) his Cuddebacks. Us old farts have a way of becoming very set in our ways as to our expectations, likes and dislikes, and whether right or wrong, justified or not, most of us don't really like being thrown a curveball. Again, this is not meant as a slam on Covert's IQ as many folks prefer them over any other... It's just that the Spartan will likely deliver pictures equal to or better than what your Dad is used to from his Cuddies. It would be a hands-down, no-brainer decision for this old Cuddeback user which to get and I am guessing it would be same for you Dad. Then again, maybe your Dad never has liked what he's getting from his Cuddies! :D

As a side note, if you care to explain what kind of fixes you're having to do to your Dad's older Cuddies, I might have a tip or two on how to keep them running more reliably.
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By rebbie
#344226
I have both the new 2016 Covert Code Black and a Verizon Spartan Go Cam. There is no comparison as far as I am concerned. The HCO Spartan Go Cam blows away the Covert code black in just about every category! The only thing the Covert has over the Spartan Go Cam is that the camera is smaller and you can name the camera so the name shows up on your photos. JohnnyDeerHunter pretty much summed everything up between the 2 cameras. I can tell you also that I am not so happy with the nighttime flash quality of the Covert. The Spartan GoCam flash looks so much brighter. I also noticed that unless you have the Covert set to Real Time all the time the camera does not perform as well. The other day I had the Covert Code Black on a real time delay of 1 Hour and all of a sudden it would not send a few photos that it took. I had to reset the camera and put it back on real time and it has worked fine since. I just can't trust it to work right unless it's on Real Time all the time. My Verizon Go cam has worked flawlessly! It has never missed sending a photo on a scheduled event. I have never used the Bushnell wireless camera so I can not comment on it. Just trust the advice you are getting here. Buy the HCO Spartan GoCam and your Dad will be one happy camper! Good luck.
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By LibbyLA
#344230
First, I will say up front that I am strongly biased in favor of the Spartan GoCam. We are running 12 of them (10 AT&T black flash, 1 AT&T IR, 1 Verizon black flash). In the past, we have run a 2013 Covert, a 2014 Covert, and a 2015 Covert. I have no experience with the 2016 Covert or app or with any other brand of cell camera. I have read all the discussions about the 2016 Covert and app so I’m somewhat familiar with that although I have no hands’ on experience with those.

Here are some reasons that I love the Spartan GoCams, mostly in addition to what the other guys have already said.

Service Flexibility

First, I have a strong preference for using the app, which means using the premium service ($3-4/month over and above the line/data cost, depending on how many months/credits you purchase at a time). However, if for some reason you want to use the camera the old-fashioned way, with text commands, and not pay the monthly Premium fee, you can do that. You can enter up to four email addresses or phone numbers (in the form phone_no@carrier, e.g., 5555551212@vzwpix.com) on the camera without having to download and run software on a computer then transfer settings to the camera. You can also control some of the features of the camera using text commands. All you pay for in this case is the AT&T or VZW monthly fee so the camera can be online and you can go back and forth between this and premium at any time. You cannot do this with the Covert once you’ve opted to use their service for connection and service.

If you pay for the Premium service, you can still send photos to up to 20 email addresses/phone numbers. You create what’s basically a contacts list then select from that list for each camera. This works for people who don’t have a smart phone.

For those with Android or IOS phones, the app is that way to go, as others here have said. It is handy to be able to set up admin codes and guest codes for cameras. The app is free to download so (in theory) you could have hundreds of people using a guest code to monitor your camera if you wanted to. If you want to try the app, PM me and I’ll give you my account code and a guest code for four cameras and you can get an idea how the app works.

Line Cost

Whether you use Verizon or AT&T, cost per camera per month won’t be much difference if you are comparing the Verizon camera that can be added to your Verizon smart phone/data plan. I think Rebbie said that his VZW camera costs about $5.50/month. Ours costs about $8.60 with all the taxes and fees, I think, so a few cents more for us than the AT&T DataConnect plan. The advantage of the VZW camera for us is that it’s a small monthly charge on our regular phone bill. I’d recommend the VZW camera for anyone who already has VZW cell service. We are running mostly AT&T cameras because at the time we got most of our cameras, the $5 VZW plan was not available. The AT&T DataConnect plans are great, I just pay for 3 or 4 cameras a month to spread the costs out evenly. We have 7 cameras (soon to be 8) that are renewed in one month.

Radio/modem capability

TrailCamPro has warnings on their cell cams that you need three bars or more signal strength for cell cameras to work. That makes me chuckle because we are in a poor signal area, whether it’s VZW or AT&T. Cell phone service for either carrier is hit or miss (mostly miss) where we are. This morning’s status reports show five cameras with 1 bar and four with 2 bars, which is pretty typical, and yet these cameras send pics reliably, missing very few. One of these cameras sometimes reports no bars at all and when I shut it down to change batteries, I often have to walk it 30 or 40 yards out to get it online, then walk it back to where it goes, and yet it manages to send pics. Obviously they don’t work where there is no signal, but they do work amazingly well in less than ideal signal conditions.

Picture size

When using Premium service, you can choose either standard 640 x 480 photos or higher-res 1280 x 960 photos. (You may be able to do that with the regular service but I don’t remember offhand since I don’t use that.) Regardless of which thumbnail size you choose, you can request a full-resolution photo of any photo and it doesn’t cost anything extra, it just uses a little more data on your plan.

Scheduled events

These are only with Premium service, but this is one of my favorite features. Some of our cameras are located in places where there may not be activity for several days, or even weeks during the summer. All our cameras are scheduled to send photos at 9 AM and 9 PM so I know they are still there and working, plus I have some idea what the weather is like and I can be sure that whatever they are watching is still there. This is especially useful if your camera is not in a location near you. You don’t have to worry about whether the camera is missing, the batteries are dead, the feeder is empty, or whatever.

Over-the-air firmware update

This is something that you won’t use often, but it’s nice to be able to tell the portal to update the camera’s firmware. You don’t have to download the firmware or mess with the camera at all. So convenient!
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By LibbyLA
#344231
Regardless of which camera you decide to get for your dad, check out the later posts in this thread for some ideas on external and internal batteries, solar panels, etc. There are several useful links scattered through the thread.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=44038&start=0
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By rebbie
#344237
Holy Cow LibbyLA! You went into incredible detail! Very well written!
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By 27jr
#344441
Make sure you take a good look at pricing as depending on whether the cell camera you buy there is a premium for a Verizon network ready versa's a AT&T, below from HCO website, Covert pricing is the about the same maybe even more. You need to shop around the internet for prices and better deals. I think the funny thing is HCO/Covert cell cameras look like the same camera if you look at both websites.

Camera, Spartan, GoCam (Connected by Verizon), Wireless, IR (GC-VCTi) $449.95
Camera, Spartan, GoCam (Connected by Verizon), Wireless, Blackout IR (GC-VCTb) Blackout $469.95
Camera, Spartan, GoCam (Verizon M2M), Wireless, IR (GC-VZWi) $449.95
Camera, Spartan, GoCam (Verizon M2M), Wireless, Blackout IR (GC-VZWb) Blackout $469.95

Camera, Spartan, GoCam (AT&T Version), 3G, Wireless, Blackout IR, HD $399.95

Camera, Wireless, MB600, 3G, Blackout Flash Not certified Verizon/AT&T $399.95
By wewilley
#344464
AUTHORIZED DEALER
check with HCO the dealer is authorize to get the warranty you are spending a lot of money on a camera you want a warranty with it
covert has a very good CS
i have a HCO im happy
By Chasenfish16
#344470
I agree with everything said above, I have been very happy with my Spartan go cam AT&T version. When I have a issue (which is rare) HCO has always been there to help. The big thing that sold me on the Spartan is the Bushnell's warranty I believe is 90 days and Spartans is two years. My first camera had a PIR sensor go bad after 6 mos. and Spartan replaced it with a new camera that I received within a week. The new one has worked flawlessly since. The premium service with the App is well worth the money! Go Spartan.
By hthr316
#345682
Thank you all for you input. I opted to go with the Bushness Aggressor Wireless and have to say, it's an awesome camera. It takes clear photos, both day and night, and is easy to manage. The only downfall would be that Bushnell doesn't offer much of a warranty on it, however, I purchased it through trailcampro.com and they provide a two year warranty on all of their products. So, if anyone is in the market for a new wireless cam, I highly recommend the Aggressor AND trailcampro.com! :D
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