D-Link network cameras
Remote live access from iGadgets; motion detection; infrared model
Not wide-angle lens; advanced features rely on Windows PC; can’t watch video replays remotely
RRP $99 (DCS-930L); $129 (DCS-932L)
D-Link has sold IP-based surveillance cameras for a while but the new DCS-930L and DCS-932L are under the new ‘mydlink’ branding. They let you watch live video via a desktop web browser, or else an iOS or Android app.
Both new models are 640 x 480 colour cameras with low- light support down to 1 Lux, but the 932L also offers infrared so you can see in the dark. The cameras sit on adjustable stands or can be wall-mounted, but are only designed for indoor use. They connect to your home network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi (802.11g/n 2.4GHz only) for those hard-to-reach corners, but they still need access to a power point.
As surveillance cameras go these two are pretty basic. They lack wide-angle lenses, offering only 45 degree horizontal and 35 degree vertical viewing angles. So if you mount one in a corner it won’t see from wall-to-wall or floor-to-ceiling. They’re not advanced Pan, Tilt, Zoom cameras, so you can’t move them by remote control. They also rely on disappointing digital zoom rather than optical zoom.
This is not to say these D-Link cameras are terrible, just that they’re an entry-level solution. They offer smooth 640 x 480 video over a local network, but this drops to 320 x 240 at several frames per second when viewing remotely (you’re at the mercy of home upload speeds and remote download speeds).
The optics do a reasonable job of automatically adjusting for lighting conditions such as external windows and bright backlights, but avoid them if possible.
Unlike some surveillance systems, the D-Link cameras connect straight to the internet and don’t rely on a central digital video recorder. You can view the live feed from any camera for free via a browser or the mydlink Lite iPhone/iPod touch app, while the $0.99 iPad mydlink+ app lets you view four cameras at once. You can also hear the audio when using a browser.
Of course, the whole point of a surveillance system is that it alerts you when there’s something worth watching. You can configure alerts via the D-Link online portal, with the cameras emailing photos or uploading them to an FTP server.
You can set the sensitivity as well as divide the view into a 5 x 5 grid and specify which areas to monitor. This kind of flexibility means you can fine- tune the system to reduce false positives, such as a tree moving outside the window.
Surprisingly there’s no scheduler for motion detection alerts, so you need to manually turn them on and off via the web interface. The web interface is infuriatingly cumbersome at times and it’s a shame you can’t control more of the settings via a handheld device.
The DCS-930L manages to detect even slight movements in very dim conditions, but the images you receive in the dark will be of little help when deciding whether action is required. Considering the minimal price difference, it makes sense to consider the infrared 932L. It easily detects motion well over 5m away in pitch black conditions. You can even recognise faces within 2m or 3m.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice.
If you want to record video from the cameras you need to install the Windows-only D-ViewCam software, and this is where the system starts to become complicated. It lets you record video to a PC or to a network drive, but only if the computer is running.
You also can’t trigger recordings remotely or view video replays. If you’re after such features you might consider a more advanced security system.