travel GEAR: Watch home from the road

Name: Archerfish Quattro Interactive Video Monitoring and Recording System

What it is: A home-monitoring system that lets you watch the house via computer while gone.

How it works: Position as many as four cameras (two come with the kit) in or outside your house and hook them to the cables that connect to the electronic "brain," or Archerfish SmartBox. The box is connected to your computer system's router, which provides remote visual access by computer anywhere. You can be on a Wi-Fi connection at the airport in Copenhagen and see who is pulling into your driveway back home. You can also program the SmartBox to discern certain "events," such as movement by a person.

You wouldn't want to watch all the live feed, but by programming events, the device will alert you by e-mail or mobile phone that an event has occurred.

The good: The equipment was surprisingly easy to set up. Arranging the mechanical aspects of the system was straightforward. The difficulty came in configuring my computer software to allow video monitoring via Internet. I spent an hour on the phone with Archerfish tech support.

The bad: The system feels pricey, but this is a product category to watch. It's fun, fascinating and reassuring. Such systems should get cheaper over time. Archerfish also offers a cheaper option called Archerfish Solo ($399), and another company, Swann, might be worth a look.

Cost: $1,699. An added $7.99 monthly subscription provides event notification and backup video storage on secure servers, so if your house burns down, you still have video of the person who lit it.

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