Unless you are using just one camera, a POE switch is nice. It provides camera power through the network cable. I'm using http://www.amazon.com/TRENDnet-8-Port-100Mbps-Switch-TPE-S44/dp/B000QYEN1W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389139282&sr=8-1&keywords=trendnet+poe+switch The advantages of a POE switch are less wire clutter, and less traffic on your "Normal" home network. (4) 3.0MP cameras can generate a lot of traffic. By running the cameras to the POE switch, then my PC running Blue Iris to the switch I don't bog down my home wireless router with all the traffic.
I bought two of these via Amazon from this vendor. The cameras I received lack the HikVision marking, packaging, and associated software. I noticed that the firmware was several versions older than the versions reported by users of this HikVision camera. I called HikVision USA, and learned that they will not provide access to firmware, documentation, warranty, or support of any nature for this camera.
I returned the cameras to Amazon for refund (with some argument from Amazon). I reported to Amazon that these are unsupported by HikVision. Amazon still lists these as HikVision. They are NOT. In my opinion, Amazon has and continues to mislead customers regarding this item.
Once it is configured, it can be accessed with a web browser. I now use it with a mac. However, i did need to use a PC to configure it -- I couldn't see the camera until i changed the IP address, and I needed their pc-based tool to do that. I haven't needed the PC since.
The camera comes with a 12 to 15 inch cord. It DOES NOT detach from the camera. It runs right into the housing.
Technically it is two cords. One is the network CAT5 cable, and the other is a thin 12VDC cord. They are both "together". Use either one to power the device.
I think at the cable's widest, it is 1/2 inch wide. Maybe 3/8th.
The spec sheet says the camera will function up to -22F. I have had these cameras in the low single digits (Fahrenheit) with no issues so far. It also helps that the cameras give off a certain amount of heat.
You can get the new firmware here -ftp://ftp.hikvisionusa.com/../../Hikvision%20IP%20Camera%20Firmware/Raptor_2xxx_Series/ Please note that it's referred to as "Raptor". I haven't done the upgrade because others have found issue with it.
This particular model does not have audio support. There are models with other features, including audio, sd card support, different lenses, variable focus, etc. Check the Hikvision website for details.