D-link’s pitch for the DCS-932L is that it’s a wireless night-vision camera that connects to your existing WiFi and automatically uploads stills to an FTP server when motion is detected, comes with My D-Link, an online service to keep tabs on your stuff from work, that’s supposed to be easy to use. On paper it’s all good.
The reality however is quite different.
First off, the camera is designed for indoor use, you cannot mount it outdoors exposed to the elements, which means that at best, you will mount it inside a window (like I did, see photo above) to watch your home’s entrance. And it works well, during the daytime. Things go south quickly though as the sun sets. The camera’s nightvision function is triggered by switching it to black and white, which supposedly changes the spectrum of light to which it’s sensitive, and then lighting the area with six infrared LEDs placed around the lens.
Again on paper that’s fine, if you want to watch your baby sleep. But it simply does not work through a window, the IR light reflects on the glass and you’re left watching…
…the reflection of your camera. Sadly, there’s no way to switch the camera to night mode, and shut off the LEDs and use LEDs mounted outside to light outdoors, thus eliminating the reflection.
Thankfully, there’s a manual setting that allows you to leave the camera in normal light mode and keep the LEDs off.
Then there’s the mount. It’s a pedestal, and although you can remove a plastic ring and use the included mounting screws to mount it to a wall, there’s no immediate way to place it on a window. A suction cup mount would have cost Logitech an extra .01$ to include…
…And then there’s the interface, it’s almost exactly the same interface as the one D-Link use for their network routers, which is fine for a network router, but much too complicated and inflexible for a wireless camera. It even includes a PPPoE dialer, which is going to be useless for about 99% of the users who will simply hook this up to an existing home network…
…And you might think that by now I’d be done demolishing the little camera, because after all, it’s a camera, how hard is it to mess a product like this up? Apparently very. You see, the street price for this camera is in excess of 130$ and although it can be had on special from time to time at 119$, it’s still almost twice the cost of its non-night vision version the DCS-930…
…And you might think that NOW I’d be done beating it to a pulp but I haven’t mentioned the My D-Link software and service that ships with the camera. Once again, on paper it’s all fun and games, you sign up to their website, register your unique camera ID, and then on paper you should be able to logon to the site and view your live feed through their website. On paper. In reality what happens is that you sign up to their website, register your camera and lose your DSL connection. Run downstairs, reset the DSL modem, wait for it to resync and have Internet access, then come back to your PC, try registering the camera and BLAM, again the DSL connection cuts.
The second I registered the camera to the D-Link website, it began broadcasting data to it, freaking out my DSL modem, causing it to drop the connection. I tried from another DSL connection with the same result (at work, mercifully afterhours) and then on a cable modem connection at a friend’s house, with similar results, the camera takes up all the upstream bandwidth and cripples your downstream performance. After digging a bit through the Interwebz, I found a firmware update (1.02) that should fix the issue but then if you know that it has an issue, why ship the camera? This is a major issue, not some minor flaw, it simply prevents the camera from working as advertised.
But it doesn’t end there, who here has an old unused Android phone lying around the house? (cue a gzillion hands raised in anticipation, me, me…) Not to beat a dead horse, but there’s a free Android app out there called IP Webcam that will do the exact same thing as the DCS-932L minus the buggy My D-Link service and the annoyance of the unmovable LEDs reflected in a window. And since you’ll have to dish out an extra few bucks for a suction cup mount you might as well skip the DCS-932L and go buy an automotive cell phone mount.
I’ll also let you in on a little secret that’s not secret at all; Almost all digital cameras embedded in cell phones are sensitive to IR light, want to know if yours is? Point it at your TV remote and push a button on it, if you see the IR emitter light up, BAZINGA!
So knowing this, you could make your own IR LED array, stick it outside your window and bathe your entranceway in glorious, invisible IR light.
-Decent night-vision performance indoors
-Night vision doesn’t work through a window because LEDs can’t be turned off in night mode
-My D-Link service flawed out of the box, requires firmware update
-Interface is too complicated for most users
-Still needs a wired ethernet connection for the initial setup
-No suction cup mount included
Sorry D-Link, perhaps you should stick to doing what you (used to) do best, making routers. This one gets 3/10. Not recommended unless you use it to watch your baby sleep. Otherwise keep half your money and get the normal vision version or simply use an old Android phone, heck for less than 150$ you could probably pick up a used Android phone on eBay…