I recently bought a D-Link DCS-2121 wireless network camera. It’s a camera that connects to the network directly, records video to a network storage, emails or uploads video/snapshots of detected motion, and provide real-time video monitoring through its embedded web server. As these cameras get smarter and smarter, more functions are integrated into it. It’s pretty handy to implement a simple remote video surveillance system just about anywhere you need.
This isn’t the first such gadget that I’ve had. This DCS-2121 is actually replacing one of my older DCS-950G network cameras. They were basic, simple cameras, but there was one important feature I wanted that led me to zoom in on D-Link products. I couldn’t determine if other brand of IP cameras (at least of those within reasonable price range) supported video recording to a Samba/CIFS network attached storage, but this was an advertised feature of D-Link IP cameras.
This feature is useful to me, because it means I can have video saved directly to my Linux machine that provides a Samba/CIFS share. No need for me to run a Windows machine loaded with some proprietary camera recording software. Clean and simple The recorded video is saved in AVI format, something that is easily viewable in Mac OS X and Linux, again without requiring any special Windows software. Yes, you can tell I want to avoid having to run Windows at all if possible.
This new DCS-2121 records video at up to 1280×800 resolution (15 fps iirc), although honestly I think 1024×768 is more than sufficient. I would have been happy with D1 resolution, but it is not offered. The camera includes an internal microphone too, so it can pick up some audio if it is close enough to the camera.
If you are already familiar with IP cameras, the DCS-2121 does just about everything you’d expect from any decent IP camera. This includes motion detection, configurable detection area and sensitivity, sending of email upon motion, flipping or mirroring of images (in case you mount the camera upside-down), etc. The live camera view is done using a Java applet, which again is something important for me because it means it will work on browsers other than Internet Explorer, and on non-Windows platforms too.
The DCS-2121 is one step higher than their lowest end model. It still doesn’t have PTZ function. But it picks up audio (built-in) and can stream video in 3gpp format. I think it works quite well if you need basic video surveillance using a standalone IP camera.