Published on May 2nd, 2012 | by Greg0
Brinno’s PeepHole Viewer: See Clearly Now
If you live in an apartment, chances are your door has one of those old-school glass peepholes. You've used them at hotels, and they are pretty simple. They provide you with a way to see who is knocking or ringing the doorbell, but have a few downsides. First, when you do so, the person on the other side can tell that you're home. And they are often at the wrong height for children, or elderly, or really tall people. Plus, it can be hard to see through them, and if you are vision-impaired, a regular peephole can be useless in identifying who is outside.
The Brinno PeepHole Viewer attempts to fix these flaws with technology, and succeeds to a decent degree. It isn't perfect- it introduces some new flaws, as you might expect- but it works pretty well. As a gadget, it also gets attention, and is simple enough to use that anyone can do so. It won't really fix one of the major issues- those too tall or short to reach the peephole won't be much better off- but it does help remedy the other flaws. We've checked out another piece of their digital imaging gadgetry before- the Garden Watch Cam- and this seems a natural extension.
We installed it in minutes, in an apartment we borrowed for the tests (our offices don't have a peephole). Testing it without installing it first results in poor results, as warned- it's meant for the optics of a peephole. They offer two models, an advanced one with knock and motion detection, as well as a basic no-frills model that requires you to push a button. Batteries are required, but the two AAs are helpfully included. Some quick checks are necessary to make sure that you can use this one- your door should be between 1-3/8″ to 2-1/4″ thick (most are).
We admit that we weren't impressed at first- the image quality is pretty poor, thanks to the fact that it's only a 1.3 MP camera doing the imaging, and the video isn't exactly high resolution or super-clear. The screen itself is fine, and you can press the button a second time for a zoomed in view (that was not really useful in most cases, but kind of funny). The system compensates and corrects for the fisheye distortion that is typical in peepholes, but this seemed to reduce the field of view, so kids and folks to the sides are less visible than before. Also, we found the images pretty dark and dim, which was unfortunate. The PeepHole viewer is only available in one style right now, black and metal, and looks sleek but a little odd on some doors. All in all, for those who are satisfied with their peephole, this is nice but necessary- but if you've been frustrated for any reason, definitely give this unit a try. Available for under $100, online.