Most helpful critical review
277 of 300 people found the following review helpful
Good for plug-and-play usage, but difficult to customize use (see end of review for instructions)
on July 30, 2011
This is a decent camera that will work well if you want a simple plug-and-play webcam for monitoring purposes. Setup is a challenge, though, if you decide to configure and run the camera manually, rather than using D-Link's software and portal. (If you want to manage the video without using D-Link's portal, I've included instructions at the end of this review.)
+ Good looking, fairly unobtrusive camera with a nicely designed ball-and-socket mount that can be set on a table or mounted permanently on a wall.
+ Video quality is fine for room monitoring at the default configuration (320x240 pixels) and quality can be improved four-fold by resetting the video to VGA (640x480 pixels). This isn't the same quality as an HD cam, so I wouldn't use this camera for Skyping, but it's fine for a room monitor.
+ The DLink web service makes it simple to view the video feed from an internet connection when you're away from home, if you choose to use their portal.
+ If your router supports WPS Setup, setting up the wireless connection is as easy as pressing a couple of buttons.
- If you don't want to use DLink's web portal for remote monitoring, setting up the camera manually requires a fair amount of technical knowledge. I didn't like the idea of having DLink manage my video feed, so I went for the manual setup approach. Unfortunately, there is no documentation for doing this, so you need to be comfortable configuring network devices. Basically, DLink assumes you'll use their service if you want remote access.
- If you don't need remote access (e.g., if you're using this as a baby monitor), things are a bit easier, but not trivial. You'll need to manually hunt for the camera's IP address on your subnet, login, and manually configure the camera. Once I figured out the IP and login name and password (which aren't in the setup guide), configuring the device for use at home was pretty straightforward.
- If your router doesn't support WPS, getting the wireless connection established is a challenge. You have to connect the camera to the router with a Cat5 patch cable, search manually for the IP, login (again, the manual doesn't give default login credentials), and manually set up the wireless connection.
In a nutshell, this is a decent camera, and if you want to use DLink's software for configuring the camera and their portal for monitoring the video feed, it's a good, simple choice. But DLink assumes you'll use their approach, and if you want to set up and use the device without using their software (which I didn't want to install on my laptop because it's a work computer) or portal (which I didn't want to use because I didn't like the idea of DLink managing my webcam feed) then you need to have technical knowledge and be willing to spend some time, without the benefit of instructions.
UPDATE: I finally managed to configure this camera manually and have it set up for monitoring from outside my network without using DLink's portal. If you decide you want to do the same, here's how:
- Connect the camera to your network with a Cat5 patch cable. Using a browser on any PC on the network, search for the camera (you can use a utility to find connected devices, or just start entering IP addresses on your subnet until you get a hit).
- Once you get a response from the camera, go to the setup tab then to wireless setup and enter the SSID and pre-shared key for your router so that you won't have to keep the camera connected with the Cat5 cable.
- Then go to the network setup and enter a static IP address, enter your router's IP (the one on your subnet, not the external IP) into the default gateway field, and enter a port number other than 80 into the HTTP port field (80 is the default but many ISPs block port 80).
- Next, log in to your router and set up port forwarding to forward activity on the port you set in the last step to the static IP address you entered in the last step.
- To access the camera from outside your network, fire up a browser and enter your router's external IP address followed by a colon and the port number. If you have a dynamic IP address from your ISP, you can use a service like DynDNS.org to get a common name keeps up with your ever-changing IP address. You can also download a free/cheap livecam app on your iPad or iPhone that lets you monitor the video feed remotely.
Important: You'll only need these instructions if you want to configure your DLink cam manually and want to monitor it directly without using DLink's portal. The easier approach (by far) is to use the CD that comes with the camera, load and run DLink's setup software to configure the camera, and use their portal for monitoring. But I didn't want to use their software or portal (I try not to load lots of potentially buggy software onto my computer, and I don't trust D-Link's security enough to have them managing my webcam feed), so I took the time to figure out the manual approach. I hope these instructions are useful to anyone else who wants to do the same.