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Multimedia & VoIP Reviews

Introduction

At a Glance
Product TRENDnet Advanced Day/Night Wireless Internet Camera Server with Audio (TV-IP301W)
Summary 802.11b/g network camera system with Infrared capability
Pros • Nice industrial design
• Clear real-time images
• Industry-standard CS-mount lenses
• IR (Infrared) LEDs for low-light conditions
Cons • Inconvenient setup
• Buggy FTP feature
• Poor-quality recorded video
• Under-powered management program for the price

TRENDnet Advanced Day/Night Wireless Internet Camera Server with Audio

In this age of "digital eyes and ears," if you need video surveillance in your office or a way to beef up security at home, an Internet (network) camera may be a cost-effective solution. In this review, I'll take a look at the TRENDnet Advanced Day/Night Wireless Internet Camera Server with Audio (TV-IP301W). While the name is probably one of the longest I've ever encountered, it does describe the product well—the TV-IP301W is an 802.11b/g wireless Internet camera.

TRENDnet offers both wireless and Ethernet-only versions of the camera. The TV-IP301 version, which connects directly to your 10/100 Ethernet network, sells at about $50 less than the wireless one that I'll review.

The heart of the camera is a Sony 1/4-inch progressive CCD rated at 0.5 Lux. In normal lighting conditions, the TV-IP301W functions as a color camera with the ability to record VGA-quality streaming video with a resolution of 640 x 480 and frame rates of up to 30 fps. The camera is also designed to provide InfraRed (IR) illumination for night usage. The camera also contains a built-in microphone that enables audio streaming so that you can listen while you watch the video.

Figure 1 shows the 12 IR (InfraRed) LEDs and the light sensor of the TV-IP301W for low-light usage.

TV-IP301W Front View

Figure 1: TV-IP301W Front View

In dark low-light situations, by turning on the ring of 12 IR (InfraRed) LEDs that surrounds the lens, the camera is able to switch to providing "clear" black and white images.

TV-IP301W Rear Panel
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: TV-IP301W Rear Panel

The rear panel (as shown in Figure 2 above) contains the I/O connector, Mic-In port for an external microphone, Line Out port, Ethernet connector, Reset button, Iris Level control, pair of LED indicators for Power and Link, and DC Power connector.

The eight pin connector in the upper left corner of the panel provides input and output from the camera.

  • Pins 1 and 2 are relay inputs that can be used to trigger the camera. An example of a trigger might be a switch on a door.
  • Pins 3 through 6 provide two pairs of normally open relay outputs that are capable of handling 100mA DC. Using an external relay, you might turn on a light or ring an alarm if the camera is triggered by either motion or by input from pins 1 and 2.
  • Pins 7 and 8 are reserved for an RS-485 Interface, which you would typically use to configure and control devices that enable the camera's special features such as motion, pan, tilt, and zoom.

If the DC-Iris lens is connected to the camera, the Iris Level control enables you to adjust the brightness of the video images from the DC-Iris lens. The camera uses a standard CS mount, so the supplied lens can be replaced with any CS or C mount lens commonly used in surveillance.

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