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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.

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