Reviews, Security, Smart Home

Hands On: D-Link IP Camera/WHS Solution

dlinkbn

I have to applaud D-Link for their efforts to provide a security camera solution for a Windows Home Server.  In the same breadth, I have to chastise D-Link for providing a security camera solution for a Windows Home Server that is not ready for prime time.

During the past year, We Got Served has written a few articles about a D-Link camera add-in for Windows Home Server.  Back in October, Terry discussed the beta release of D-Link D-ViewCam for Windows Home Server.  We decided that with the release of the software, it was time to download the software and see if WGS could get a few cameras from D-Link for a review.  D-Link obliged and sent me a pair each of the DCS-1100 and DCS-1130 IP cameras to use with D-ViewCam for WHS.

The Company

Most readers probably know who D-Link is, but it is always nice to know what is important to a company by reading their “About Statement”.  In the case of D-Link, the Principles and Values of D-Link

The spirit of building connectivity for people is applied throughout all of D-Link.
Principles:

  • To introduce convenience, reliability and savings to SoHo/workgroup/enterprise networking.
  • To deliver high-performance solutions that reflect the commitment of a team aimed at building connectivity for people.
  • To meet people’s demands for easier communication with a fair investment.
  • To design valuable, high-quality, user-friendly products to reach out to all kinds of people.
  • To believe in the desire of individuals to easily access information, entertainment and communication at home, at school or at work.
  • To find ways to connect business partners with new markets and opportunities, helping them to attain success and growth objectives.

Values:

  • World-class quality.
  • Fastest response time on the market.
  • The most competitive costs.
  • The best customer service.

Building Networks for People
The “Building Networks for People” tagline is based on the idea and mission to make technology affordable for the mass market consumer and small to medium business so that everyone can realize the benefits of technology. The company founders strive to empower consumers and businesses to share files, data and access, but more importantly…ideas.
Since 1986, D-Link defines leading edge technology. From a true designer, developer and manufacturer D-Link delivers products that are standards-based, value priced and reliable.

The Review Components

Today’s review consists of three components, the D-ViewCam software for WHS, the DCS-1100 wired IP camera, and the DCS-1130 wireless IP camera.

The software:

The D-Link D-ViewCam is a software add-in for Windows Home Server that provides instant access to your live camera feeds and all the surveillance video already saved to your server. Compatible with the D-Link Network Cameras models DCS-920, DCS-1100, DCS-1130 and DCS-2121, this add-in allows users to easily manage their recording, streaming, and camera settings – all within the Windows Home Server administrative Console. Manage and access up to 4 live camera feeds from home or even remotely via the web.

dlinkbn

The Hardware:

DCS-1100 wired IP camera

The mydlink™-enabled Wired Network Camera (DCS-1100) comes with everything you need to quickly add a surveillance camera to your home or small office network. It works right out of the box. Simply connect the cables, plug in the camera, run the short installation wizard and setup is complete. To view what the camera is seeing, simply log on to mydlink.com, choose your device, and start viewing – there is no need to configure your router* to open up ports or remember hard-to-memorize Internet addresses.

DCS-1100_left

DCS-1130 wireless camera

The mydlink™-enabled Wireless N Network Camera (DCS-1130) comes with everything you need to quickly add a surveillance camera to your home or small office network. It works right out of the box. Simply connect the cables, plug in the camera, run the short installation wizard and setup is complete. To view what the camera is seeing, simply log on to mydlink.com, choose your device, and start viewing – there is no need to configure your router* to open up ports or remember hard-to-memorize Internet addresses.

DCS-1130_right

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Hello. I’m from the heartland of the U.S. Lots of corn and beans, although Iowa is a lot more than just farmland. It also has a few computer enthusiasts (no, not me!). I’ve been around PCs since I got my 1st PC XT aloooong time ago. WGS is one of the first sites I found centered around WHS. And the best. Every once in awhile, I do get away from the KB and enjoy time with and my wife and our 4 kids. And I do have a day job.
  • ernest

    Yeah, I didnt have much luck with the WHS software either. the online (mydlink.com) interface does seem to work okay though, as does going direct IP. but w/o the WHS integration, not worth it in my opinion, there are better cameras/software out there

  • billscarnage

    @ernest, what are some of your other suggestions for cameras/software. For the camera I'd really like one with decent night vision.
    TIA

  • Ha~ The Camera is very nice

  • Ascario

    Nice read! Did you by chance test the audio quality/audibility? Where considering using a few of these cameras to record simulated patient consultations at uni. Since these recordings are for both research and evaluation purposes, sound needs to be of good enough quality.
    Cheers

    • I did not do very much with audio (adjustment-wise). Using the default settings, I was able to easily hear real-time conversations, with a normal 1-2 lag time. On the one positioned behind my computer monitor, it was picking up a signficant amount of what seemed like background noise. It was sitting atop a speaker, which meant I was might have been hearing a bit of a feedback loop?

  • Ascario

    Thanks for the helpful reply Jim! At least this clears things up a bit. None of the ip cam reviews I've read discussed sound, let alone sound quality. Since we have a Home Server at our disposal in our office (mainly as a local backup and workspace server), it would be nice if we could use it with these cams.

    • It will work OK with using a direct IP address. You will have to configure it to save to your WHS.

      Or the WHS software may work just fine using one camera. But no more…

  • scoob101

    I think your being a little harsh Jim to call this alpha software simply because some of your machines dont meet the the hardware requirements for video playback. From your article, the software appears feature complete, and you didn`t mention any serious bugs, so how can you call it an Alpha? Did D-link not mention minimum requirements in the documentation?

    Viewing video over RDP (i.e via the WHS console) is never going to be a good solution, so going down the IE path to view the cams directly on the client seems the only sensible way forward.

    As far as I can see, the only benefit to using a WHS with this type of setup is to have an always-on machine to save your captured video onto, and host remote connections from the internet. Anything else and your best off with a direct connection to the client.

    Were there any other camera features which the WHS helped with??

    • D-ViewCam is part of the WHS software. The single window version is inherent to the camera itself and is not part of the WHS software.

      Per the manual: Min. display mem. requirement is 32MB. A 10 year GPU should suffice. There is no mention of "seperate" GPU required.

      Every machine (except 1) I tried this on had a MB/CPU/GPU less than 3 years old. I stand by my statement. I am not being harsh, simply being realistic. The SW does not work. If I said it worked and you purchased the HW for use with this SW; it did not work; would you not be somewhat upset with me?

      • scoob101

        Did you try accessing the D-ViewCam software from a wired ethernet client? Im wondering if the poor latency/bandwidth of a wireless connection to the WHS console had a part to play in the poor performance.

        • It could be possible, however, one the better working machines (the old Dell) was wireless. My normal workstation, and my self-built WHS are both wired.

          I really wish that was the problem! 🙁

  • Aaron

    I have a similar D-Link ethernet webcam that I use with third party monitoring software called ZoneMinder. Although the camera itself does a great job, I have to say that the packaged webcam software from D-Link is some of the worst quality software I've ever used. I find it laughable that D-Link can include "world class quality" as one of their core values!

    • Yep, the camera seamed to work fine, although I will be the first to admit I do not have much to base a comparison on.

      If the SW had performed better, I would have been rather inclined to work harder to find the limits of the camera capabilites.

  • Feets

    If you have 4xCamera's recording to your WHS surely the CPU is going to get slammed? Off the shelf WHS are (currently) low power CPUs, ideal for always on but not for video encoding. Interested to hear how D-Link have solved this.

  • rpiboy

    Is the software absolutely limited to the Cameras listed in D-Link's documentation? Or would it be possible for the software to connect to some of D-Link's Small Biz cameras? Also, is it possible to for the WHS software to connect to a remote camera, ie through the internet, or will it only recognize LAN cameras? If you don't know, is it possible for you to follow-up with your D-Link contact?

    Thanks!

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