This is not a full review as I don’t have all the equipment necessary – like a spare POE switch (that is reasonably low cost) and have only one unit to test. But it is interesting to see how easy it is to set up and use.
The DCS-4701E camera has a recommended price of A$299 but astute shoppers will find it for perhaps 20-30% less – especially if you are buying a few of them.
It is wired – not wireless – so you need to lay in Ethernet Cat 5/6 cable back to a central POE switch like D-Link’s $219.95 DGS-1008P that has four powered ports and another four unpowered Gigabit ports – but any 802.3af standard POE injector like the DPE-101GI or switch will do. Or alternatively you can use any 12V 1.5A power pack (not supplied). POE is good as it uses the same Ethernet cable and gets over the vagaries of using a Wi-Fi connection that savvy criminals can hack or jam.
The camera is a colour, 1280 x 720p resolution, f/2.0 lens with a 2.8mm (wide angle) focal length capable of 30 frames per second video - frankly that is overkill for security where all you need is a grey-scale, lower resolution, sample frame every few seconds, and motion detection – it can do that easily. It outputs H.264 and MJPEG formats.
It has built-in IR LED illumination that auto-illuminates and is claimed to work out to about 30 metres ‘night vision’ – this is theoretical and 6-10 metres is more reasonable. However, coupled with a low light, 1/3” 1.3MP CMOS sensor at worst you will get grayscale in low/no-light conditions.
Build-wise it is like most other security cameras – reasonably vandal proof, IP66 rain resistant, and able to be screw mounted under awnings without fear of damage.
It comes with a single user, Windows version of D-ViewCam that allows for adjustable image size and quality, custom recording schedules (to a hard disk NAS or PC), event notifications, and playback. You will need the professional version if you want to run multiple cameras (up to 32) and add third party central management systems etc.
There is also a free Android app that allows remote viewing and camera selection.
The camera has an IP addressable web server that allows for comprehensive options in setup, viewing live video, firmware upgrade, logs and status. For a single camera the IP web server is all you need. If you want to read more about this the 58-page manual is here.
I do not have a lot of experience with security devices – but in many respects I represent the typical home or small business owner that wants to save a few dollars and do it themselves rather than go to a security company that will invariably recommend remotely managed and monitored systems to supplement a back to base alarm system – that it what they do best.
I like the ease of setup – it is within the scope of any moderately tech savvy user. I like a single POE Ethernet cable connection - I don’t trust Wi-Fi especially when a criminal has staked out a place and knows that it can easily be disrupted. I like that for around $1000 or so you could get four cameras and a switch and cover vulnerable places around a home or business.
The D-View software is comprehensive but so too it the camera’s web interface and during testing (on a single unit) that did everything I wanted.
This is a terrific security camera for indoor and outdoor use and any SMB or home owner can’t go wrong. It may be worthwhile to visit D-Link’s Australian business IP camera web site to see the range of 14 dome, fixed, pan/tilt and other types of IP camera’s.