Home automation and security are two subjects that are getting a lot of attention and people are getting new offers from providers almost every day. But this is another area where, depending on your needs, it may be better, and cheaper to build your own. If that thought interests you, you should definitely check out the DCS-2630L HD Wi-Fi Camera, brought to you by the good folks at D-Link.
DCS-2630L HD Wi-Fi Camera Hardware
Since this was our first experience with a Wi-Fi- Camera we didn’t know what to expect, but just from the weight of the box, the DCS-2630L HD Wi-Fi camera had our attention, even before we took off the plastic wrapper.
In the box is the DCS-2630L HD Wi-Fi Camera, a power supply with an extremely long nine foot power cord, the US 120V plug tip to attach to the power supply, a small bag containing two screws and hollow wall anchors, a warranty booklet, Quick Start Guide and a set-up card which contains the SSID and password for the camera with its associated QR code. As soon as you start to lift the camera out of it resting place you can feel how solid it is. This is not some cheap piece of plastic.
The camera is supported by a thin stand, all of which sits atop a circular metal plate covered by a black plastic cover. The metal plate serves double duty as the weighted stand for tabletop use or as a mounting bracket. The camera can rest on any flat surface or can be wall mounted by releasing the plastic cover which sits over the metal base and using the provided screws to attach the metal plate to a wall or other vertical surface.
The main camera housing can only tip up and down but the lens assembly can rotate a full 360 degrees to accommodate the wall mounting if needed.
The overall dimensions of the DCS-2360L HD Wi-Fi Camera are 3.37” high, 3.37” wide and 5.53” deep, and the camera alone weighs .76 lbs. Don’t expect to keep this camera hidden from sight. Also keep in mind that the camera needs to be plugged in to AC power to operate so if you are thinking of mounting it high on a wall, it would be good to have an AC outlet nearby. Otherwise, you will be looking at the power cord running down your wall to the nearest outlet. We should also mention that in addition to the Micro USB port to connect the AC adapter to the camera, there is a Micro SD card slot on the side of the camera body and the Wi-Fi status LED and a WPA connection button on the back. Wall mounting could make access to the slots difficult and access to the WPA button and status LED near impossible. Our advice is to do the set-up and configuration to your network before you mount the camera in its final location.
DCS-2630L HD Wi-Fi Camera Set-up
Set up of the DCS-2630L HD Wi-Fi camera is straight-forward and can be done right from your iPhone by downloading the free MyDlink Lite app from the Apple App Store.
The camera supports up to 802.11ac Wi-Fi. To start the set-up process, open the app and create a new account for the MyDlink.com site or enter your User ID and Password if you already have a MyDlink.com account set up.
Once your account is created, click on “Add New Device” and follows these steps.
- Use the camera on your iPhone to scan the QR code on the set-up Card that is in the box.
- Plug the AC adapter into the camera and a power source.
- If your router supports WPS, select the “yes” button and press the WPS button on the back of your router and then on the back of the DCS2630L HD Wi-Fi camera. If your router doesn’t support WPS, select “No” and go on to the next step.
- Go to the Wi-Fi section in the iPhone Settings screen and you will see the DCS2630L show up as a new network choice. Select it and enter the password on the set-up card.
- The camera will now be joined to your local network. Be patient, this could take a few minute. Once the camera is joined to your network you will be asked to enter your network password.
- Add the camera to your MyDlink account.
That’s it. Your camera should now be active and viewable in the MyDlink app.
This may sound confusing but the MyDlink Lite app does a nice job of guiding you through the steps and as long as you take the time to read and follow each step as it guides you through, you shouldn’t have any issues. Unfortunately, sometimes, we don’t follow our own advice.
Our first attempt to set up the camera failed because we didn’t wait for the camera to join our network properly. That left us in an endless loop and we had to reset the camera to the factory default settings by using our official Apple Tech Talk paper clip. That was actually a little more of a challenge than we expected. The back of the camera has a perforated casing and it took us a minute to figure out which of the many holes on the back was actually the reset button.
The final piece of the set-up was on our MacBook Pro. Opening Safari and logging in to the MyDlink.com site revealed that a browser plug-in called UPlayer was required from the provided link. The install of the plug-in was painless and only took a minute.
DCS-2630L HD Wi-Fi Camera Test Results
With everything set up we fired-up the MyDlink site on our MacBook Pro and was amazed at the clarity of the picture. The DCS-2630L HD Wi-Fi Camera presented a crystal clear view of the room. The colors of walls and furniture were accurately represented. As advertised, the camera gives a full 180 degree viewing angel and D-Link has figured out how to flatten this ultra-wide view to avoid the “fish-eye” effect you normally see with these types of lenses.
The camera has six (6) Infra-red LEDs mounted around the outer edge of the f2.0 1.72mm glass lens and can provide 16 feet of IR illumination. Our testing showed ample detail in the room while in night vision mode with almost no lighting in the area. We also noticed that even during daylight hours with ample exterior brightness, the camera will sometimes switch to the black & white night vision mode to enhance the overall picture. This can easily be over-ridden right from the iPhone app if you want to switch back to the full color, daylight settings but we were very satisfied leaving it on the Auto selection and letting the camera do all the work.
The DCS-2630L HD Wi-Fi camera also supports 2-way audio which can also be controlled right from the iPhone app. We found the speaker, mounted inside the camera to be a little weak and had difficulty hearing the person on the other end although they reported that they could hear what was being said very well.
In the MyDlink Lite app you can easily zoom in to any area of the room using the standard finger gestures you would use in any other app. Although the camera is in a fixed position, our ability to pan and zoom gave us the ability to see exceptional detail.
The picture displayed on the iPhone has a time and date stamp but you can also select an information button in the app which presents a much more detailed description of the video image including detailed exposure information.
A photo button on the app will take a single frame picture of the camera’s output and save it to your camera roll.
The camera has the ability to be set up for sound and/or motion activation, both of which can be controlled directly from the app. The motion detection allows you to define the specific area within the total image of the camera in case you need to limit where the motion detection might occur. This is easily done by swiping your finger across the iPhone screen to define the segment(s) to be detected.
Each camera on your network shows up as a separate entry on the MyDlink Lite app so one app can be used to manage and view multiple cameras.
It’s easy to imagine that for most users, there is little need to ever refer to the desktop. The MyDlink Lite app does most of what the average user will want or need and is designed to be user friendly. For those that may need even greater control, you have the ability to connect directly into the camera from a desktop browser.
From there you can assign a static IP address, forward ports and even make a selection for Apple’s Bonjour service.
You have full control over the image settings including brightness, contrast, saturation and contrast. There are controls to make the image full time black and white, mirrored or flipped, which would be helpful in situations where the camera mounting affected the image view, like a ceiling mounting. While we found the default settings more than acceptable, there could be instances where a particular need requires intentional over or under exposure and these controls allow for that.
As the DCS2630L HD Wi-Fi Camera supports multiple video formats, the user has the ability to pre-define different formats and resolutions for desktop vs. mobile viewing as well as make adjustments for the audio levels of both the microphone and built in speaker. Each of these settings creates a unique url which can be used to communicate with a video recording system.
In conjunction with the sound and motion detection is the ability to send an event video clip via FTP or email. We see this as very helpful in situations where you want to monitor an area, don’t have a video recording system but still need to know when something has occurred.
For those looking to build their own security system, D-Link offers a camera recorder device that allows you to record up to four cameras onto an external hard drive.
The Bottom Line
As our first look at this category, the D-link DCS 2360L HD Wi-Fi Camera has set a pretty high bar. The 180 degree view in crystal clear 1080p is beyond impressive. Add to that the ease of use from the MyDlink Lite app and the exceptional control offered by the web based configuration tool and it’s hard to imagine selecting another camera.
There are certainly benefits to using a home security company that provides round the clock monitoring and we are not suggesting that this, or any stand-alone camera is intended to replace that. But if your needs are less strict, and your goal is to be able to keep on a remote location, an area of your home or business or the many other uses a Wi-Fi connected camera presents, the DCS2630L HD Wi-Fi camera is a solid product with the features and flexibility to allow you to do whatever you need, and maybe more.
The DCS-2630L HO Wi-Fi camera has an MSRP of $249.99 but is available on Amazon for $199.99
We want to thank the folks at D-Link for lending us a DCS2630L HD Wi-Fi camera to us for review.
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