TP-Link TL-SC4171G review
TP-Link has a reputation for delivering low-cost wireless routers, and it now aims to do the same with IP cameras. The TL-SC4171G sets the scene: a pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) camera that offers impressive features at a low price.
You only get digital zoom, but the camera does have a coverage of 354 degrees horizontally and 125 degrees vertically. There’s 802.11bg wireless, a microphone and motion detection. Surrounding the lens are 12 LED infrared emitters for night vision.
The camera’s web management interface opens with the live view, and you can control pan and tilt by clicking the image. To keep the motion going to its furthest extent, just hold down the mouse button.
The digital zoom is accessed from a button below, and you can drag the zoom window to the area of interest. There’s a quick record button for sending the live view to a local folder as an AVI file.
The top resolution is only 640 x 480 pixels, and we found focus to be too soft, making the image fuzzy. The digital zoom is of limited value, and at maximum reach, quality breaks down. Don’t position the camera with bright daylight behind it since this causes reflections inside the lens that show up as unsightly blotches.
The camera supports 30fps for MPEG4, and motion is conveyed smoothly. For MJPEG the top rate is 15fps, but these are the only two codecs supported, so network usage will be higher than for H.264 cameras.
The guard patrol feature will prove useful for monitoring large areas: you can create up to 32 preset pan and tilt positions, and use up to eight in four different patrol tours. The camera supports three motion detection windows, each with its own threshold and sensitivity, and when triggered the camera can email images and send them to an FTP server.
The infrared illuminators can be switched on automatically when light levels drop, or you can control them manually. Either way, we found the camera worked well at night and the illuminators were good for showing objects up to five metres away.
For general surveillance in a small office, the TL-SC4171G provides good features at a low price. Just don’t expect top image quality.
|Warranty RTB years||3|
|Sensor type||1/4in CMOS|
|Video frame rate||30fps|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Compression scheme||MJPEG, MPEG4|