|At a Glance|
|Product||Business Internet Video Camera with Audio and PoE (PVC2300)|
|Summary||Internet camera with Power over Ethernet option and VGA (640X480) resolution|
|Pros||• 802.3af Power over Ethernet
• Two-way audio
• Dual video codecs
• HTTP and HTTPS browsing
• I/O ports including TPZ support
• Multiple alert options
|Cons||• Poor audio quality from built-in microphone
• Camera can't save directly to network share
• PC running monitor application required for monitoring and capturing clips longer than 10 seconds
• Video stored in non-standard video format that requires using the playback application
Many small businesses overlook the need for video surveillance. Whether you need to monitor the activities at a cash register or provide security for an inventory storage area, Internet cameras can be an attractive option when compared to installing cameras with a dedicated video surveillance server.
Internet cameras are similar to web cameras that are in popular use for video chats. However, instead of plugging into a computer, Internet cameras have a complete operating system, typically Linux-based, some amount of onboard memory, and a built-in web server that allows you to connect to it and view images, and, in some cases, hear audio, from anywhere on the web. With the proper configuration of firewall and port settings, a small business manager or owner could monitor his or her business anywhere there's an Internet connection.
In this review, I'll be taking a look at the PVC2300 Business Internet Video Camera with Audio and PoE from Linksys. Whew, that's a long name; hereafter, I'll refer to it as just the PVC2300. I'm not sure what's up with manufacturers of Internet cameras and long names. Last year, I reviewed the TRENDnet TVIP301W, and it had a similarly long formal product name.
Linksys also sells the WVC2300, a wireless version of our review unit. In addition to the features found on the PVC2300, the WVC2300 can connect using its built-in 802.11g wireless network adapter. It includes all of the security options you'd expect in a modern wireless network including WEP, WPA/WPA2 personal, and WPA/WPA2 enterprise with authentication to an external RADIUS server. According to Linksys, it's the first wireless Internet camera to be Wi-Fi certified. Priced at $399.99, it sells for $50 more than the PVC2300.
The PVC2300 is housed in an attractive black and matte aluminum case. It measures 4.72" X 0.99" X 1.81" (120mm X 76mm X 46mm) and weighs in, according to my scale, at 555 g or just a little under 1.25 pounds. It comes with a weighted stand that you secure with three screws (supplied) and a ball and socket swivel that allows you to easily position the camera.
In the product shot above, you can see that Linksys also wisely included a slot for securing the camera. The supplied lens is an f1.7 lens with a 60-degree field of view. The camera uses a standard CS mount for the lens, so you can replace it with other CS mount lenses commonly used in video surveillance. In addition, the 4 Pin IRIS port can adjust brightness if you're using a DC-Iris type lens.
Figure 1: PVC2300 rear view
On the rear of the camera, there are five pairs of pin connectors. One pair is reserved for RS485 that's used for Tilt/Pan/Zoom camera mounts. The RS485 port supports the standard Pelco-D commands. Two pairs are used for input trigger ports, and the remaining two pairs are used for output ports. Input trigger ports could be connected to either IR motion detectors or perhaps switches on doors.
Output ports, which can sink a maximum of 100 mA, could be connected to a relay that turns on a flashing light or sounds an audible alarm. There is also an audio input jack for an external microphone as well as a speaker output jack for powered speakers.