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D-Link Wi-Fi Cameras

Video cameras are becoming quite popular for do-it-yourself home security, with "smart home" products like the Ring Doorbell cameras and the Blink Indoor and Outdoor cameras (acquired by Amazon at the end of 2017). These are designed to monitor an area, send an alert if they detect activity, and post an associated video clip online.

These cameras are designed to be small and inexpensive, and so depend on the web for storage. As a result, they tend to capture relatively short clips, limit the amount of video storage, and/or charge a monthly fee for storing clips for longer periods. They're also not designed for extended live viewing.

But these security cameras are great for their purpose, and you can spend lots of time on YouTube watching clips of people who were successfully caught acting badly at front doors -- trying to break in, stealing packages, and hogging all the Halloween candy.

Another approach, taken by D-Link, is to build the intelligence and the storage into the camera, with online cloud storage as an option. These cameras detect activity, record clips to a local SD card, send alerts to your smartphone, and optionally upload the video to the cloud. Plus you can monitor them live, continuously, and record while watching, for example to keep an eye out on the driveway for an expected visitor or package delivery.

The D-Link cameras also provide a broad range of configuration options, through the mydlink app and web browser access, including remote viewing with zoom, split-screen to monitor multiple cameras, detection sensitivity (sound and/or motion), selecting zones within the view to monitor, alert types, and use of night vision lighting with IR LEDs. The app also works with Amazon Alexa (Fire TV) and Google Assistant (Chromecast).

The core D-Link line has four wireless cameras.

The base D-Link Mini HD Wi-Fi Camera for $59 (two for $99) is small cylindrical camera (3.6 inches tall) designed for indoor use, and which records only to the cloud.

It captures HD 720p video (1280 x 720), with a 120 degree field of view. It alerts on sound or motion, and the night vision IR LEDs illuminate up to 16 feet in complete darkness.

The D-Link HD Wi-Fi Camera for $59 is an adjustable camera with similar specs and about the same height, but stores video locally and optionally to the cloud.

It also not only records audio with video, but also has a speaker to support two-way conversations.

The D-Link Full HD Wi-Fi Camera for $79 then steps up to higher-res 1080p Full HD video (1920 x 1080).

It has a wider 130 degree field of view and is a bit taller at 4.3 inches.

Finally, there's the D-Link Full HD Pan & Tilt Wi-Fi Camera for $99.

This is a 1080p camera with 114 degree field of view. It's a bit chunkier at 4.38 x 5.26 x 4.58 inches, and 0.73 pounds.

Plus, it adds the ability to see a much wider area by remotely panning side by side to see behind (170 degrees to each side) and tilting it up and down (up 90 degrees to look straight up and down 20 degrees).

The D-Link setup process is relatively painless. You download the app, scan the QR code on the camera to identify it, and then set up the camera on your Wi-Fi network (done transparently through Bluetooth, so you don't need to manually mess around with settings). This worked successfully in most of my tests, although sometimes the app needed to re-try the Wi-Fi setup. Just watch out that there are multiple "mydlink" apps in the app stores (Lite, Home, etc.) -- you need "mydlink" without any modifiers.

Finally, D-Link does provide monthly plans for its cloud storage option, which are designed for extending storage for multiple cameras. You can store video for free for 24 hours, with up to 3 cameras. You can extend this to 7 days for $2.49 a month or $24.99 a year, or 14 days with 5 cameras for $4.99 / $44.99, up to 30 days with 10 cameras for $9.99 / $99.99.

Smart cloud security cameras are a great inexpensive alternative for alerting on activity in specific areas like the front porch. But for not much more you can get a more flexible camera that allows you to watch areas live, provides more flexible control over how it monitors, and stores and retains video locally without additional monthly costs.

- See full Holiday Tech 2018 presentation for my local talks in the Princeton area
- See companion article in U.S. 1 Newspaper, Nov. 14, 2018

Find the D-Link Mini HD Wi-Fi Camera, HD Wi-Fi Camera,
Full HD Wi-Fi Cam, and Pan & Tilt Wi-Fi Cam on Amazon

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This entry posted on December 6, 2018.

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