People are buying net cams for a variety of reasons. Some want to keep tabs on pets while they’re at work. Some need to check up on their kids. Others need to protect assets or equipment from theft or damage.
Lots of cameras on the market can be used to cover those scenarios. They don’t all offer the same feature set, however. This post offers a quick look at the kinds of features you should be considering when reviewing cameras.
Before you do that, however, ask yourself a few questions about what you want your camera to do. That will help you think more clearly about the numerous features available in popular net cams.
- Where will you be placing the camera?
- What’s the lighting like in that particular spot and surrounding area?
- What kinds of details will you need to view in the frame?
- How much money can you spend?
- How important is it for you to easily access the video feed remotely?
- Do you need to access the camera from an iPhone or mobile browser?
- Will you be recording and saving video to disk?
- Do you need to pan and tilt the camera remotely to see different parts of a room or scene?
- How many cameras will you use, and do you want to centrally manage that viewing experience?
- How secure does the solution need to be?
The first question on this list is important. When buying a net cam, you have quite a few options. Some connect directly to the router via a wired Ethernet connection. Some are wireless and connect via Wi-Fi networks.
D-Link offers both kinds of cameras, but most of our newer cameras are able to wirelessly connect via 802.11a/b/g/n networking equipment. That means you can use these cameras with almost any kind of standard home networking router. With 802.11n, you enjoy high speed data transfer, which ensures smoother, flicker-free video and the ability to handle larger video files. With larger video files, you can capture much more detail (which is important for certain scenarios where legal evidence requires a specific dots-per-square-inch (DPI) threshold for admissible evidence that identifies people, reads license plates and so on).
Another thing to consider is the lighting available at the scene you’re covering. If the lighting is not ideal, you’ll need a camera that supports low light recording. D-Link’s DCS-932L camera, for example, features built-in LEDs for no-light environments. It works great even when the lights are out.
The way you connect to the camera remotely is also important. Older netcams used to require some “hoop jumping” when it came to set-up. You’d have to set unique IP addresses and manually configure the cameras. Today, however, this is much easier. With sites like mydlink.com, you simply plug in your camera, discover it on the network, and then you can see it from any Web browser, anywhere.
Some people want to take advantage of monitoring and alerting features. This is where you set motion-detection triggers that record when something moves in a particular area of the screen. The triggers can send you email or SMS text alerts to your phone when motion occurs.
Oh – if you’re planning on monitoring multiple cameras, you’ll need software for this. D-Link IP cameras include this management software for free. The program comes with the set-up disc. The same software can be used to record to disk and archive video. If you’re planning on using a lot of disk space for storing large video files, you might consider a SAN solution, like D-Link ShareCenter® NAS enclosures (DNS-320 or DNS-325) or a bundled solution that includes hard drives (DNS-320-110 or DNS-325-110)
D-Link cameras also feature secure WEP, WPA and WPA2 settings. This ensures that your video feeds are private and controlled only by you. WPA and WPA2 in particular are safe from hackers and Wi-Fi sniffers looking to access private networks. WEP is an older standard that can be cracked with some expertise and a little bit of time.
Another nice feature is WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Set-up) support for setting up the cameras really fast. D-Link routers and cameras have these features. It’s the deal where you push a button on the camera then push a button on the router and they’re automatically linked and set up – ready to go with minimal effort.
That’s a good high-level view of popular features. We’ll get into these concepts more in future posts.