Product Review: D-Link DCS-935L HD Wi-Fi Camera
Wireless networking technology has come a long way and most households now have a Wi-Fi network permanently connected to the internet. Whilst they have been around for a while, wireless cameras are only just becoming a viable and very affordable home security option.
D-Link's DCS-935L HD Wi-Fi Camera allows homeowners to remotely connect to it via the internet or the local network to check for intruders, ghostly apparitions (it's got night vision), spy on the neighbours or make sure that the kids aren't wreaking the place. And all in 720p, and with an inbuilt mic to boot.
Opening the box I found the device, a mini-USB cable attached to an ANZ plug and a “quick-start” booklet. Annoyingly, the device's mini-USB connector is for 5v power only. Also, there's no Ethernet socket either. The only way to communicate with the camera is via Wi-Fi and for that you are going to need a Wi-Fi enabled laptop or mobile device.
The best way to sort it all out is to go on the Apple App Store or Google Play and download the mydlink lite app. Starting up the app and scanning the QT code on the back of the camera will get you connected to the device and into the setup wizard.
Anyone with experience of setting up network devices will know that the process is a bit hit and miss, it'll either go well, or not. Setting up the DCS-935L did feel like a leap of faith, but in following the prompts it all went to plan. Just don't expect the install wizard to offer any reassurance or hand holding.
The final part of the setup process has the camera connect to your home network. The app requires a mydlink account in order to register your camera to the software. Once it is all set up you can access your camera from anywhere.
I wouldn't say that the install process was intuitive, but that could have just been me overthinking the process. It would have been nice to have had a copy of the full manual on CD rather than have me searching for it on the D-Link site. I would have also preferred to have been able to set the device up using a USB connection to my PC rather than have to rely on hit-and-miss peer-to-peer wireless networking.
Whilst the camera comes with a mini-USB cable with a plug on the end, I found that you can use any min-USB-to-USB cable to power it from a USB-equipped device. Your choice of location camera location is going to be determined by the availability of a power supply so this adds a bit of flexibility.
The camera's 720p picture is superb, but it's worth noting that this image is using up your internet bandwidth and the quality of the signal is very much dependent on the distance between the device and your modem/router. Too far away and that perfect 720p picture is going to turn into a slideshow.
For practical use you are going to have to turn down some of the camera's quality settings. For reasons that escape me this can't be done on the app and instead must be performed via the camera's settings page accessed from your computer.
The browser-based camera settings menu that can be access via you PC reveals the device's advanced functions, which are very impressive. At the low end the DCS-935L is a simple plug and play network camera that is easily access via a mobile app. Dig a little further and we have a high definition night-vision equipped camera that can be activated via motion or sound detection. Further still and the camera can be set to record video or take snapshots based on a trigger or a schedule. You can even have the device email the video or photos to you or upload them to a server via ftp.
The D-Link DCS-935L HD is a very affordable solution for anyone wanting a security camera for their property or for creeps wanting to spy on the neighbours. The setup is deceptively simple, but perhaps not for the feint-hearted. Internet usage may be a problem for those with capped internet plans and Wi-Fi strength will affect the device's connection and image quality. Overall, though it's a great value product that does its job well.