As prices in computer hardware continue to drop, it can be hard to distinguish between cheap in cost vs. cheap in manufacturing. The D-Link DCS-910 Surveillance Camera is one of D-Link’s entries into the low cost Ethernet ready camera market, and at its present price you almost get what you pay for.
An IP Camera That Won't Break the Bank
At its $94.99 retail price the DCS-910 10/100 Fast Ethernet Network Camera certainly won’t break the bank. The stand alone device connects to an existing network via an Ethernet cable. Hooking up the camera is a very simple process. The camera is Universal Plug and Play enabled so once the Ethernet device is connected to the network it appears as any other network place, and can be accessed and controlled by any browser with Java capabilities.
The DCS-910 has a myriad of uses as it’s able to both take still images and record from the browser directly to the hard drive. Weighing in at only 0.5 lbs with a size of 2.8 x 4.3 x 1.5 inches the camera is fairly unobtrusive and can be easily mounted anywhere. The streaming video is in the MJPEG format, and can be viewed using any compatible digital media player. Still images are in JPEG format and easily viewed by most photo viewing software or a browser. As well as being viewed in real-time, video can be scheduled for specific recording times and uploaded to an FTP server or sent by email. Saved images on the FTP server have no time/date stamp attached, so the only way to tell specifically when an image was taken is by the date of the image file itself. There’s no sound capability so usefulness may be restricted. There have also been problems reported from users on disconnects from the ftp servers for no apparent reason. Remote viewing from any java enabled browser is a plus, and with the ability to password protect the camera, the possibilities of unauthorized viewing should be minimal.
Video and Network Support
The video options are where the DCS-910 offers its best selling point. Images captured from the camera are crisp and clear. The color is good and the camera comes with auto white balance helping a bit with the overall look of the image. But there isn’t any way to adjust the color correction or exposure control manually, as it’s handled automatically by the camera, which can cause some user frustration when attempting to perfect the image in a stable environment. The DCS-910 is capable of recording at 3 resolutions; 10 frames per second at 160x120, 30 frames per second at 320x240, and 15 frames per second at 640x480. With a minimum illumination requirement of 1.0 lux, about the amount of light given off by a candle flame, the DCS-910 isn’t going to win any night-vision prizes, but will still afford the user the ability to have some monitoring capability in low light situations. It also supports a large array of network protocols for easy access, including TCP, FTP Client, HTTP Server, and IPv4.
The DCS-910 comes with D-ViewCam 2.0, a piece of software that enables the viewing of up to 32 camera feeds. The D-ViewCam software is clunky at best. It does the job of allowing users to monitor the camera but little else. The ability to monitor up to 32 cameras is a nice addition, but the software itself is non-standard, full-screen only, and tends to cause OS troubles when minimizing. D-ViewCam is also Microsoft Windows only, working with Windows 2000 Professional SP4, Windows XP SP2, and Windows Vista. Mac Users are out of luck on the free software and largely ignored by D-Link as the product installation CD Wizard is not Macintosh compatible either.
The D-Link DCS-910 10/100 Fast Ethernet Network Camera is a useful low-cost network camera. For small business and home use it gets the job done. While there’s no night vision capacity, it does fairly well in low-light areas. For general monitoring use it’s a good camera, though due to the lack of sound capability it’s inappropriate as a baby monitor. The free PC only software is a big disappointment, and reported problems with the automatic ftp features means that 3rd party software will have to be purchased in order to put the camera to full use, bringing the low cost of the camera up a bit. Mac users are generally ignored by the product, both in the software and in the manual provided. The $94.99 price tag has been known to dip as low as $68 in places, but even at that price the cons may still outweigh the pros of good picture, quick connectivity, and ease of access. For real-time monitoring the DCS-910 is a good choice for the price, it’s only when the camera is needed for automatic operations where the cheap price points to a lack of quality. It does the minimum an Ethernet camera can do, but there are several better options out there for under $100.
Minimum System Requirements
System Requirements for the DCS-910:
- Wired 10/100 Fast Ethernet Network
- 1.3 Ghz Processor
- 128 MB Memory
- Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2, or Windows 2000 SP4
- Java Enabled Browser