We were impressed with the results and utility of cloud-based video surveillance system Dropcam when we gave it a spin back in March, but one thing that was sorely missing was a way to hear sound, since the camera hardware did not have a microphone.
That shortcoming has been addressed with a new version of the Dropcam hardware the company is calling Echo. It sells for $279 (an $80 premium on the video-only version), and lets users listen to what's happening on both live and archived footage. Better yet, it uses the same trigger system for video movement, as it does for sound, so you can get an e-mail or SMS whenever it hears a noise.
Besides audio recording, the hardware is otherwise identical to the previous model, which the company still sells. Because of this, it's worth noting that Echo's wireless Internet prowess is still limited to 802.11b and g networks, and not the faster n specification. If you've got a router that does simultaneous a/b/g alongside n, this shouldn't be a problem, but it's definitely a limitation if you're in an all-n household. The alternative there is to just leave it plugged in with an Ethernet cable.
The company says Echo units will be shipping out by the end of next week, and that the iPhone app for watching footage remotely is being updated to include audio.
See also: DIY home surveillance with a Webcam