D-Link’s web-enabled surveillance cameras make it easy to keep an eye on things when you’re not at home.
Home security and surveillance is one of those areas where you can spend spare change or thousands of dollars, depending on what you’re trying to achieve and what kind of functionality you’re after. D-Link has introduced two new IP-based colour surveillance cameras, the $99 DCS-930L and $129 DCS-932L. At these prices they’re obviously a “consumer-grade” solution, which is a nice way of saying “don’t expect too much”. They’re actually pretty good for the price, but it’s important to appreciate what they can and can’t do before you take the plunge.
These D-Link cameras connect to your home network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, letting you access them across the internet via the D-Link website as well as an Apple or Android gadget. As such you can login anytime from anywhere to take a peek at what’s happening at home. What’s more useful is that you can configure the cameras to alert you if something moves. You’ll receive an email with a few still images, so you can see what’s happening.
Thankfully you don’t need to leave a computer running at home unless you want to record video from the cameras, which requires installing the Windows-only D-ViewCam software. If this is important to you then it’s probably worth investigating more elaborate home surveillance systems.
What’s impressive about the D-Link system is that you can divide the view from each camera into a 5 by 5 grid and specify which areas to monitor. You can also vary the sensitivity, so you’re only alerted when there’s a significant change in what the camera can see rather than a minor one.
It’s impressive to see this kind of flexibility in a consumer-grade surveillance system, as it makes the cameras much more practical. Without this kind of fine-grained control you’d be notified every time the cat walked across the floor or a tree moved outside the window. It wouldn’t take long for you to abandon the whole idea.
While the alert system is impressive, keep in mind these are still only basic surveillance cameras. They lack wide-angle lenses, so if you mount one in a corner it can’t quite see the whole room. You can’t move them by remote control and they rely on disappointing digital zoom rather than optical zoom.
The key difference between the two D-Link models is that the 932L adds infrared so you can see in the dark. Considering the relatively small difference in the price, it’s probably worth paying extra for the infrared model. Even in pitch black conditions it easily detects motion well over five metres away. Once people get closer you can even recognise faces.
Keep in mind that these cameras aren’t weather-proof and they’re not designed for outdoor use. The Wi-Fi option might make it easier to place them in hard-to-reach places, but they still need access to a power point.
D-Link’s DCS-930L retails for $99 and infrared-capable DCS-932L for $129. For more details visit dlink.com.au