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D-Link DCS-930L D-Link Wireless N Network Camera Reviewed

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Introduction

Updated 1/13/2011: Updated D-View Cam info

D-Link DCS930L IP Camera

At a Glance
Product D-Link Wireless N Network Camera (DCS-930L)
Summary Inexpensive Wireless IP Cemera with motion detection and remote web access
Pros • Low cost
• 802.11n wireless
• Good quality video, including low light
• Audio monitoring
Cons • A few quirks
• Recording not built in
• Motion detection setup can be finicky
• No MacOS setup or mgmt / recording support

Over the years, I've had an occasional need for a security camera to watch over my house. I've checked out a few cameras, but found that the inexpensive units on the market were really no more than toys that weren't suited for 24/7 deployment. But times change. These little security cameras are getting better, adding more features as their prices continue to fall.

In this review, I'll check out the DCS-930L wireless IP camera from D-Link, which can be found for around $80 and advertises a wide range of features including 802.11n connectivity, remote-viewing, audio, motion-detection alerting, Windows and MacOS support and more.

The 930L consists of a camera unit and a swivel stand along with the power cord. In use, the camera barely registered on my power meter using a paltry 1 W. The camera itself is about the size of a bar of soap and is quite light, but a bit top-heavy so it's easy to tip over. If you plan on mounting it permanently, the stand has a couple of slots on the bottom to secure it with screws.

On the front, you can see the lens, a microphone opening and a LED that is used to signify startup network status and activity (optionally). On the back panel (Figure 1) you can see a 10/100 Ethernet network port, power connector, reset button and a WPS button for easy wireless security configuration for those with compatible basestations.

 Back Panel

Figure 1: DCS-930L Back Panel

Setup

Even though the box for the 930L advertises "support" for MacOS users, when you insert the included setup CD and read the installation instructions, you'll find that installation is strictly Windows-only. Sigh. Figure 2 shows the initial setup "Wizard" running under Windows.

setup Wizard

Figure 2: DCS-930L Setup Wizard

The main purpose of the Wizard is to configure networking and set up an account on D-Link's mydlink.com service for easy remote access to your camera. My wireless basestation doesn't have the one-touch WPS setup, so when it came time for the Wizard to configure the wireless networking, I started down the manual path of first plugging in a wired connection and then manually entering the key for my home wireless network.

As I started configuration, everything was going smoothly. A site survey located my wireless network, I selected it and entered my encryption key. But no matter what I did, I was unable to get the camera to connect to my basestation even after multiple tries, double-checking the key, rebooting, resetting, etc. (Figure 3).

Wireless Setup Error

Figure 3: DCS-930L Wireless Setup Error

With not much of an option, I chose to continue on with using a wired connection. Once your configuration is complete, further setup can be accomplished via a web browser so I connected with my browser and returned to the wireless setup. There's where I found out what had happened with the original attempt at setup. Figure 4 shows the browser view for wireless configuration.

Browser Interface to Wireless Configuration

Figure 4: DCS-930L Browser Interface to Wireless Configuration

It may be a bit hard to see in this screenshot, but the SSID field reads Time, whereas back in Figure 3, you can see that the correct SSID for my Time Capsule basestation is Time after Time. Evidently the D-Link Wizard doesn't correctly handle SSIDs with blanks. Once I corrected the SSID using the browser interface, I was online wirelessly.

I have it "fuzzed out", but this screen also shows my wireless network pre-shared key in the clear and it was transmitted over a standard, non-encrypted, HTTP connection. This is likely not an issue on a home network, and secure HTTPS connections to the camera are supported, but it was a bit of a surprise to see my private key pop up in the clear on this menu.




Related Items:

D-Link Adds $100 Cloud Webcam
D-Link Releases Pretty Inexpensive Pan / Tilt Network Cam
D-Link Makes Network Cam Recording Cheap
D-Link adds domed indoor network camera
Axis announces HD Network Camera

User reviews

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Average user rating from: 9 user(s)

NOTE! Please post product reviews from actual experience only.
Questions, review comments and opinions about products not based on actual use will not be published.

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Overall: 
 
2.6 Features :
 
2.6 Performance :
 
2.6 Reliability :
 
2.8
 
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Data mining tool, not much more.

Overall rating: 
 
3.0
Features:
 
2.0
Performance:
 
2.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by Art
January 12, 2013
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Problem 1:
If you want to interface with it over a LAN, or otherwise not use the mydlink security disaster offered with it, you must essentially log into a router interface and view the image at the offered resolution without zooming. ActiveX did not work at all, and yes, I have ActiveX installed.

Problem 2 (big one): Even after setting the Microphone to maximum sensitivity, pickup was very very weak. Probably good enough to hear a baby crying, but for remote viewing a board meeting, forget it. It is complete crap compared to the Logitech 9000 series USB device it was meant to replace.

Problem 3: Very difficult to get it to respond properly with VLC media player, Webcam7 or other streaming servers...which just means that I had little success, and I have used these applications with IP and USB cameras many times.

Aside from that, the video quality (with Java plugin) was quite good for such an inexpensive camera...not Carl Zeiss optics,,,but pretty decent. The audio quality and sensitivity (lots of crackles) craps all over that though.

Setup wizard is weak, but there is plenty of documentation on-line. None of the documentation addresses it's weaknesses, and they sure don't give you a screenshot of what it looks like running without using the Mydlink crap.

Suggestion: try something that costs a couple of hundred bucks or more, and advertises that it has awesome audio. Make sure it has a self-contained web server that does not share screen space with the router GUI, or comes with a real client utility.

 

Works OK

Overall rating: 
 
3.7
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
3.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by gzs
March 12, 2012
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Easy to set up.
Works as claimed.
In 1 Lux illumination it is virtually impossible to recognize a person.

 

Not worth the effort

Overall rating: 
 
1.0
Features:
 
1.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Tim Malone
March 01, 2012
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I purchased this camera from Staples in my city. They really didn't know much about it. Upon getting it home, I found out that to do wireless I had to have WPS on my router, which I did not. Then it told me that it could do a wireless connection but would first need to be connected via ethernet. I did this only to waste another 20 minutes waiting for it to connect. In the end, an hour and a half later, the camera would not connect to my wireless network. Funny, because I have a wireless printer that works great, no muss, no fuss. I pugged it into the wall, gave it my wireless network credentials and it just worked.

I work with web development and coding and found this unit to extremely difficult to get to work. I bring this up only to say that I am not computer/technology illiterate. In the end I went ahead and connected via ethernet. When I attempted to create my dlink account through the installer, it hurled. I went directly to the dlink site and it would not send a verification email to my gmail account. It told me to try another email account.

In the end, there were too many compromises for me to even want to use this camera. Not to mention if the "easy" setup was this flawed, then I wasn't sure that my camera would be secure on dlink's site. They seemed to have numerous issues that did not instill confidence. I fear that my camera feed would not be secure.

Too bad this camera didn't work because this was a good idea.

 

It works pretty good for what it costs. If you cant get it to work you are an idiot.

Overall rating: 
 
2.7
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
3.0
Reliability:
 
2.0
Reviewed by ed
February 16, 2012
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Nuff said. Pretty easy to set up and access from the web. It is what it is. image is o.k. for looking in on the home or office.

 

Sucks

Overall rating: 
 
2.7
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
3.0
Reliability:
 
2.0
Reviewed by idiot
January 20, 2012
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This is crappy techno, no plug and play here and like many others, cannot get this to pick up wireless...been told I need a new router, yeah right. Junk.

 
 
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