D-Link DCS-5300G Wireless Internet Camera
- Feature packed, remote access works flawlessly
- Could be easier to install, still requires wired power
Once you’ve figured out how to install it, this camera provides all the security options you’re likely to need at home or in the office
Price$ 900.00 (AUD)
The DCS-5300G offers the functionality of a traditional closed circuit television camera in a portable form with the additional bonus of web based access. While it may not sport a rugged design (you're not going to get away with keeping it outside for instance) it will easily perform all the tasks of any standard indoor security camera. The camera's built in wireless connectivity means that you can place the DCS-5300G anywhere in range of a wireless transmitter, eliminating the need for any Ethernet cables. The unit still requires power though, and with battery power not a viable option, it will never be completely wire-free.
One nice feature is the unit's built in motor, allowing the camera to pan through a 270 degree angle and tilt though 90 degrees. In a large office space this is very useful, eliminating the need for separate cameras. There is no optical zoom and this may cause - especially in large spaces. To combat this problem, D-Link does provide a more expensive version of the camera with a 10x optical zoom.
The DCS-5300G's colour CCD sensor can provide video at a maximum resolution of 704x480. Sadly, at this resolution the frame rate is a paltry 10fps and is almost unusable. A better option is to run the camera at 352x240, which supports streaming video at up to 30fps. In this mode the image quality is crisp and clear, easily good enough to be of use as a security camera.
The most important feature of the camera is its internet capabilities. You can tell by looking at the camera that if someone were to break in and see it (as you really aren't going to get away with hiding it), they could render in unusable in no time. To circumvent this obvious problem, the camera has the capability of uploading any captured images to an FTP server, or by outputting images to email. It is clearly undesirable to have endless images emailed to you when nothing is out of the ordinary though, so you can combine this with the camera's motion detection functions. When this is set up the camera will email warnings and photographic evidence when it detects movement. The camera also has a built in microphone. It would have been nice to have sound activated alerts, but sadly this is lacking.
Installing the camera is perhaps a little harder than it need be. The included instructions are adequate when using the camera in wired mode with an Ethernet cable, but prove pretty much useless when it comes to setting up the wireless connectivity. It is also a necessity to have someone on hand who has a decent knowledge of networking.
Once the camera is installed though the configuration software is all very simple to use. Setting up motion detection or email alerts is also incredibly easy. The included software also allows for up to sixteen cameras to be controlled simultaneously from one computer, which is useful if you plan on covering multiple rooms. We were also impressed at the ease in which it is possible to access the camera remotely. Our colleague in Scotland was quickly able to take control of the camera in Australia with no problems whatsoever. One minor gripe is that the only browser supported is Internet Explorer 6, but as it is widely available this shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Whilst the DCS-5300G can never hope to replace a professional CCTV solution, (it simply isn't durable enough) it provides good value for money and an impressive range of features. Just make sure to have someone who understands networking on hand to help you install it.
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