To look at this camera, one could be forgiven for thinking that it’s a bit of a throwback to earlier generations of “dumb cameras”, however after less than 10 minutes of exploring this camera’s features, it was apparent that looks can be, and are, deceiving. There’s a lot of good tech packed into this tiny camera, and its size is just one of the many advantages it has over bulkier smart-home cameras on the market. Weighing in at a remarkably svelte 80g, it’s a perfect option for mounting to walls in locations that don’t offer much structural support, such as drywall or MDF where the risk of the screws pulling free under load is higher. Because of the lightweight design, it can also be mounted on the ceiling, where the usual material of choice is plasterboard.
The most obvious thing you note when you first unbox the camera is the support stand. Shaped like a ‘Y’, the arms hold the camera pod securely while the tail ends in a ball-joint that was one of the biggest surprises for me. I was expecting some form of tightening system, or the joint to become loose after repeated twisting and repositioning, so to find that it was still stable, secure and tight well past the point I would have expected to see wear and tear was very reassuring for me. Of course, once you find a place to mount the camera and have adjusted it to give you the view you want, it’s unlikely you’ll need to reposition it too often, but it’s the little things like this that highlight D-Link’s attention to detail. Speaking of the little details, the removable baseplate – which acts as the mounting-plate if you decide to put the camera on a wall or ceiling – has little rubber feet on it that will keep the camera stable on a flat surface, but also protect the mounting surface from excessive damage. You’ll only need to patch a few small screw-holes, not repaint the wall if you decide to relocate the unit. An added bonus is that the feet act as very effective vibration dampeners, which can be a significant factor if you live somewhere that shakes a bit, such as near rail lines or main trucking roads.
Setup was a breeze using the mydlink app. Turning on Bluetooth and location services allowed the app to find the camera quickly, and a scan of the QR code on the quick-start guide (or base of the camera, whichever is easier for you) had the app doing the heavy lifting for me. It took just a couple of minutes (there was already a firmware update for this unit which I chose to install right away) and I was able to see almost the entire room in a single glance, thanks to the wide-angle lens. Pairing the extremely clear and sharp 1080p HD video with impressive audio was expected, and achieved. In fact, the microphone was incredibly sensitive – I could hear sounds through the camera that I couldn’t hear directly with my own ears – I never knew my cat snored, until now. Having a speaker somehow crammed into this tiny shell was another bonus, as it allows for 2-way communication as long as your phone has a good signal. Perfect for parents who want to find out exactly who is raiding the fridge for a midnight snack, and telling them to go back to bed. It would also work very well as a nursery cam or baby monitor with its night vision. The specs tout a 5m range, but I found that I was still getting clear images at a range of almost 8m – and I daresay I could have done better if I had a larger space to test in.
The AI image detection in this little beauty is remarkable, utilising edge-detection to determine if a person is in-frame is a lot more reliable and removes the hassle of being woken up in the small hours by your cat wandering through the field of view. The old system of simply looking for heat signatures, or a large cluster of pixels changing values in sync was an important step in the development of motion-detection, but it is good to see that moving into the past and smarter systems becoming mainstream at an affordable price. It is also one of the most responsive cameras I have tested when it comes to dealing with sudden changes in lighting. Older cameras used to suffer blinding for up to 2 seconds when a dark room was suddenly lit up, however, this unit didn’t seem to suffer from that, with an almost instant adaptation to the new lighting conditions. Going from lights-on to lights-off, it was astounding quick to adapt, meaning that you get the best possible view no matter what the conditions.
One of the ways the price is kept down is the removal of the ethernet connection. This unit only requires a standard microUSB connection for power, and all the data moves over WiFi. This is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the up-side, cabling is simpler and the camera can even be made portable through the use of a portable powerbank – ideal for those situations when a temporary relocation is needed but access to a power point is difficult – but the down-side is that you really need to have a solid signal wherever you place the camera, as it doesn’t support the new 802.11ac/ax protocols. 802.11n is the top standard supported by this unit, and if you try to use it on its best quality settings while hooked into a 2.4GHz connection, you’ll soon find things get a bit laggy. If your router supports 802/11n @ 5GHz, that’s going to be your best option. I suspect the next iteration in this line will be ac/ax compatible. With free and paid cloud-recording options as part of the bundle, you can store quite a bit of footage for later viewing, but if your WiFi isn’t up to the task, it won’t solve the judder problem. As a work-around, there is a microSD slot on the camera itself that you can record to at the higher quality, judder-free, but it does mean you need to check the unit regularly – by pulling the card or checking the logs on the mydlink app – to clear away any unwanted footage and download any that you need to retain.
If you have a smart-home hub, such as Google Assistant or Alexa, linking the camera to these is a simple matter via the mydlink app, which will walk you through the process fairly well. I personally do not have such units, so can’t offer more than 2nd-hand testimony as to how well it works. According to a fellow tech-nerd who also had a play with this camera, it works as well as you could expect and was a fairly simple, straightforward process to integrate and operate. Preliminary testing of the ONVIF recording function proved to be a bit tough – the best I was able to get was a still-frame image that would only change if I did a manual refresh. While ONVIF is not a new technology, there still appears to be some wiggle-room in the standard and I have yet to find any device, by any brand, that works first-time. ONVIF still hasn’t really settled into the home-user market so this may not be a huge issue for most potential buyers, especially with cloud-recording and on-device storage options far easier to implement and use.
Overall, this is a good little camera packing a lot more punch than its compact nature would lead you to believe. It definitely gives you good value for money and is an excellent choice for those who want discrete security that is simple to install and use at an affordable price. I would have liked to have seen the newer WiFi protocols supported, especially since it lacks ethernet support, but for the average home user, it will do the job extremely well as long as you have a good router, mesh-network or range-extender nearby. While this is an indoor camera, it could potentially be placed outdoors under cover… but I would not advise that.
Reposted in partnership with: KIWIreviews.nz
Disclosure Statement: This unit was supplied by D-Link expressly for the purposes of review. No fee was offered or accepted for this impartial review.
• Cinematic Full HD 1080p resolution @ 30 frames per second with 120-degree field-of-view
• IR night vision up to 5m lets you see what’s happening even in total darkness
• AI-based person detection intelligently identifies human motion
• Enhanced sound and motion detection add new lines of defence to your home surveillance
• Two-way audio with built-in microphone and speaker
• Supports cloud / microSD (max. 256 GB) / phone and ONVIF Profile S recording
• Supports WPA3 – the latest Wi-Fi Security for more protection
• Built-in Bluetooth Low Energy technology for faster setup
• Adjustable 360-degree base for optimal angle adjustment
• Wall/Ceiling mountable (hardware included)
• Future-proofed with next-generation IPv6 support
• Works with the Google Assistant and Alexa
You can read the original press release [-here-]