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Once the initial setup is complete, non-Windows users can connect to the camera via web browser to use and configure it further. It appears that the only Windows-unique setup item is the account creation and registration of the camera at the web site, which is used for remote access (more later).

Figure 5 shows the initial live-video menu that appears once you connect via your web browser.

 Live Video view

Figure 5: DCS-930L Live Video View

In this case, I have a 320x240 live-video selected. You can't see it here, but the bottom status of the browser window shows a frame-per-second (FPS) reading. With 320x240 on a local network I was getting anywhere from 19-30 FPS in this fairly static scene. If I bumped the resolution to the maximum 640x480 I dropped down to a rate between 7 and 15 FPS.

At the bottom of this window, you can see buttons for (digital) zooming in on the image and controlling audio (on/off). These worked fine, but the zooming was just a pixel replication so it was not terribly useful.

It's a bit hard to see in this screen capture, but the image itself was quite good. D-Link advertises low-light support (one Lux) and I found that it did well as it got dark outside. Figure 6 shows a snapshot taken from my front window about 30 minutes after sunset taking advantage of a little illumination from our outdoor Christmas lights.

Low-Light Capabilities

Figure 6: DCS-930L Low-Light Capabilities

The audio quality coming from the camera was OK and sufficient to listen to conversations near the camera.

I won't have space to cover every item in the configuration menus, but there are options for creation and maintenance of individual user accounts, updating the firmware, permanently turning the blinking LED off, setting the time, etc.

I will cover some of the more interesting features, though. First, I set up a dynamic-DNS service. This will allow me to address my camera by name when I'm away from home. Figure 7 shows the setup menu.

Dynamic DNS setup menu

Figure 7: DCS-930L Dynamic DNS Setup Menu

Support is provided for several different external services and once I had my info entered, it worked fine. To use the camera outside your home network using this method, you'll be responsible for doing the port-forwarding from your home router to the camera itself. I set this up so that I could access all features remotely without having to rely on the web portal.

The next item of interest was motion detection. This feature monitors part of the image for changes and, when detected, emails you a snapshot. The first step in getting this going is to enter your email info (Figure 8).

Email Setup

Figure 8: DCS-930L Email Setup

You can see in this screen that the camera can be set up to periodically email images regardless of motion on a schedule. Unfortunately, you can't schedule motion detection during certain hours. Once you get your email info entered, you'll need to set up motion detection parameters. Figure 9 shows the motion setup screen where I had selected several regions of the image that would be important for detecting motion.

Motion Setup

Figure 9: DCS-930L Motion Setup

I found that this feature worked, but selecting the right sensitivity for all occasions was a bit of a challenge. When I first set the camera up, a light snow was falling, so I had to turn the sensitivity way down to prevent getting inundated with email alerts. But when the snow stopped, I had to turn it back up or else I wasn't getting any detections.

I also had a number of false alarms as shadows moved across the image during the day. So, this feature worked but if you are planning on using to view an outdoor scene, be prepared to get a number of false-alarm emails or miss some events if your sensitivity is set too low. You'll also notice that the motion-areas you define aren't exact. I'd get alerts even when the motion was only close (but not inside) my defined areas.

Another problem I saw with the motion-detection feature is lag between the time that motion is detected and the video frame is grabbed. While watching live video when the camera was pointed out my front window, I noticed my neighbor backing out of his driveway. I received two motion email alerts, but neither included the car that tripped the alert.

Note that you can also set the box up to FTP image events to a specified server using much the same type of parameters as for email. But be aware that the emailed or FTP'ed image does not have a time-stamp embedded in the image, so you'll need to rely on the email metadata or FTP file timestamp to tell you when the event occurred.

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

One thing the camera can't do is record video directly. D-Link includes a copy of its D-ViewCam software on CD, which supports recording directly from the camera to a local hard drive or NAS, triggering motion detection, setting recording schedules and setting e-mail alert notifications. The software will do all this for up to 32 cameras.

D-ViewCam requires Windows XP pro SP3 / 2003 / Vista SP1/ Win 7 and I'm a MacOS guy. So it didn't do me much good. Also note that the CD doesn't install the application by default.

D-View Cam screen

Figure 9a: D-View Cam screen

D-ViewCam appears to be geared toward management of many cameras and supports many different models (note the controls for pan/tilt/zoom). It allows the operator to switch among cameras or view several on screen at once. The app has a distinct business feel and isn't as user-friendly as the web-based view. So unless you really need camera recording you probably won't use it.

You can download a copy of the User Manual to explore further.

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