D-Link SecuriCam DCS-5300G review
The fact that D-Link is now number one in the worldwide unmanaged switch market hasn’t stopped it from investigating other avenues. It’s now moving into the network IP camera space with a vengeance. Not only is the DCS-5300G one of the first cameras to support 802.11g operations, it also delivers a host of features that belie its comparatively low price.
Engineering and design have suffered in the bid to keep costs down. The plastic construction isn’t as solid as the cameras from Axis Communications, the motorised action isn’t as smooth and the camera looks like a prop from a 1950s sci-fi film. Even so, pan-and-tilt coverage are good and there’s motion detection, audio and video streaming, both wired and wireless connectivity and a good video-recording software bundle. It also has video and audio output sockets for connection to a TV, plus a four-pin connector block for attaching external alarm devices.
Installation is a snip. The camera’s homepage provides a live video and audio feed with a control pad to one side for moving the lens. You can also move the lens by pointing at a desired position within the video window. Picture quality is as good as similarly priced cameras from Axis, with a sharp image at a resolution of 352 x 240 pixels. Move up to 740 x 480 and quality and sharpness start to soften and the frame rate also drops to 10fps. D-Link quotes a top rate of 30fps, but the web page for modifying picture settings has a maximum setting of only 25fps in its drop-down menu. The digital zoom function is also of limited use, as quality deteriorates badly when the 4x setting is selected.
Up to three windows in the viewing area can be set up for motion detection and each one can have different sensitivities applied. If either this or an external device is tripped, the camera will start to send pictures to an FTP server or multiple email addresses.
Up to 20 preset lens positions can be saved and the camera set to patrol through a list of selected entries with a dwell time in seconds. A horizontal sweep may also be initiated, but as with the patrol this stops after one complete cycle. D-Link even provides an infrared remote control for local access to lens movement, pan and patrol, although this can be disabled from the web interface. Wireless access is easy enough to set up and we had no problems using a ZyXEL Prestige 2602HW access point. The camera also supports 128-bit WEP encryption if you want to stop snoopers looking at your feed.
D-Link’s IP Surveillance software bundle is good, as up to 16 camera feeds may be viewed from the same window. You can take instant snapshots, start and stop recording sessions to a local hard disk and activate motion detection. Microphone sensitivity was high, but a slider is provided for fine-tuning this. A scheduler utility manages automated recordings from selected cameras at specific times of each day.
D-Link delivers one of the best surveillance packages we’ve seen at this price. If the odd design and average build quality aren’t a worry, the DCS-5300G is well worth the outlay.