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Keep watch: 5 cloud security cameras for your home

Robert L. Mitchell | June 26, 2013
If you want to make sure nobody's making off with your valuables — or that your dog isn't chewing up the furniture — try one of these cloud-based cameras

I hit a couple of snags with the 932L model. The microphone produced a static hiss in the portal's Live View page that I could not eliminate by adjusting the audio volume settings. With the night vision setting in the default automatic mode, the unit would flip in and out of night vision mode on a cloudy day, rendering everything in black and white and then in color. Fortunately, the sensitivity can be changed from the advanced settings area.

In addition, the 932L uses its lowest resolution setting of 320 x 200 pixels by default. That's workable on a smartphone screen, but you'll want to bump that up to 640 x 480 (via Advanced Settings) for viewing on tablets or personal computers. At the higher resolution, image quality was good overall, although, as with other Wi-Fi cameras reviewed here, image noise created some pixilation on the image. I also could see some slight horizontal banding — faint, wavy lines in the image that were most pronounced on darker areas.

Other cameras
I also tried out two other more feature-filled models: the DCS-5222L ($263), a 720p (1280-x-720-pixel) camera that offers true pan/tilt capability with a 360-degree range, and the DC-6010L (about $325), which uses a fisheye lens to display a 360-degree view of an entire room and can break the image into 90-degree quadrants or 180-degree half-room views and "de-warp" the image to present different views of the area. No other vendor in the group offered cameras with similar features.

That being said, I didn't find the 6010L's curved, sweeping images to be particularly useful for seeing in any detail what was going on at a particular spot in a room. When placed on a tabletop the viewing angle tends to focus at an upward angle, as though looking up through a cone. This unit would work best when mounted on a ceiling, where it would point downwards and provide a general, not too detailed sweep of a room.

Since I tested, D-Link has added several complementary models: The 5020L, a pan/tilt camera, similar to the 5222L, with enhanced range for night vision and Wi-Fi extender capability; and the 933L and 931L, which are similar to the 932L and include those same features plus sound detection and alerting, a microSD slot and H.264 compression.

Bottom line
D-Link offers a wide variety of cameras with the most extensive set of configuration settings and controls of any camera I tested. They are a good choice for users who want more granular control over camera operation.

Dropcam HD
Everything you need to know in order to install the Dropcam HD Wi-Fi camera ($149) fits onto the single, two-sided card that comes in the box. You simply connect the camera to an open USB port on a Mac or Windows computer and follow the instructions.


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