D-Link DCS-1000W Wireless Internet Camera
The DCS-1000W is a self contained camera allowing you to access a real-time video stream from anywhere via the Internet. Unlike webcams you may be familiar with, the DCS-1000W does not require a computer to operate, although one is needed to initially configure the camera. Since this camera is wireless, you can also integrate it into your 802.11 WiFi network so you can reposition it to new locations easily. The camera also has a RJ-45 network port for connection via a LAN cable. The DCS-1000 camera appears to be the same camera without the WiFi capabilities.
For now, I have this camera on a small tripod pointing out my home's front window which allows me to watch the birds and squirrels, and anyone else approaching my home, all from my workplace. Included software allows you to press a button to record still images or movies, schedule these events, or use external triggers (motion sensors, door switches, etc.) to capture images and e-mail them to you. There are many possibilities.
What You Get
The front of the camera has the obvious lens which can be manually focused. There are also status LED's which indicate mode and connection status. These LED's can be turned off for more covert activity. The bottom of the camera has a mounting receptacle for the included straight and angled mounting posts and plate. It can also be used to attach to a standard tripod.
Setting It Up
You can change the camera's IP address to fit into your existing network by assigning a static address or using DHCP. I opted for a static address since I was going to do some router mapping later. The camera can then be plugged into your existing network and accessed by its new IP address. After I had this working, I decided to tackle the wireless functions, and after a few attempts at the correct settings, I had the camera successfully connected to my U.S. Robotics wireless router. Total setup time, about 15 minutes.
Control and Operation
The camera stores no images, as there is no memory or hard drive, but you can configure access to an FTP site where you can schedule uploads or trigger them manually. This is also useful if you are unable to gain access directly to the camera from outside your network because of a firewall or router.
Once you have all your settings made, you simple access either the Java or ActiveX page options and watch away. Both provide you full motion video, display the camera's current time, and allow you to trigger image uploads. This is useful if you see something happening that you want to record. The Java option is immediately accessible by any Java compliant browser, but the ActiveX option needs a quick software component supplied on the existing CD. You can place that control on any accessible server and indicate it in the camera's configuration to have it automatically downloaded on first access for users. The ActiveX control is preferable, as I noticed the Java client was utilizing more system resources.
The camera works well, but don't expect TV quality. The lens has a focal length of 6.0mm and an aperature of f=1.8. It doesn't work well in night time conditions with low light. Minimal Illimunation is 2.5lux@F1.4 (if that means anything to you). What you do get is VGA quality images that work well at 320 x 240 pixels. (640 x 480 and 160 x 120 are also available) Clarity is handled by JPEG compression algorithms and is generally good. I could see birds on the bird feeder, but could not make out what species they were. Here is an example:
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