I SPY, AND SO DO YOU

We have seen several marketing surveys that find more than 70 percent of those polled are concerned about personal security and interested in surveillance products. In short, they’re looking at you, kid, or they’d like to be.

We’ve been looking at LaserShield (LaserShield.net), which has the appeal of a very simple setup. What we have is two devices, each about theLaser Shieldsize of a hardcover book. The recommended installation is to set them on a tabletop or shelf, aimed at a doorway or other spot that would likely be crossed by an intruder. You plug them into electrical and phone outlets, flip the switch and you’re done.

The $200 LaserShield is not a camera but an infrared motion detector. When it senses motion it sounds an alarm and can dial into a monitoring service that costs an extra $20 a month. That service is optional but results in a phone call to a number you specify to check if everything is all right or not. If you ask, or you don’t answer, the operator can then also call local police.

The system can be armed and disarmed by a remote key chain control or by a telephone call if you’re off the premises. The key chain device also has a panic button if you suddenly encounter an intruder. There are no codes to memorize.

NOTE: There are at least a dozen kinds of surveillance cameras you can buy, and they nearly all come with motion detection software. Such software compares an image of a room or coverage area with a new image photographed every second or less. If the images don’t match, something is amiss, and an alarm is triggered.

The advantages are that pictures can be transmitted to a Web site for viewing from anywhere in the world and recorded for alter examination. The disadvantage is that, unlike the LaserShield system described above, you nearly always have to connect the system to a computer.

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