Features / In Use
Maximum resolution of the TV-IP551WI is 640x480 in MJPEG format, making it a VGA quality camera. It can supply 640x480 at a 20fps framerate, or 30fps for 320x240. I was unable to verify this in Blue Iris as the specific camera is not supported yet.
The web interface was simply and functional. The camera's Home page simply has a live video feed with no other options. Additional View Video screens have the choice of Java or Active X. Functionality on the View Video screens consisted of 1-4x digital zoom, enabling/disabling audio, enabling/disabling night mode (if not set to Auto), and uploading and emailing images.
The "Setup" configuration pages were quite a bit different than that of the TV-IP572PI, however functions were very similiar. Recording could not be configured to record to an SD card or to a Samba network share like it can on the TV-IP572PI. Recording on the TV-IP551WI is by motion detection, schedule, always, and manually and is either to an FTP site or an email address. Recording could not be done on things such as Audio detection, which was the same as the TV-IP572PI. Wireless security included WEP and WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK and also includes a WPS button. I verified connection to my router via WPS.
Configuration of motion detection was via "grids" as you can see in Figrue 4 below. Motion area is enabled by selecting the large box, thereby enabling it. I thought that the smaller boxes might allow greater configuration of the motion area with their selection, however I found that clicking on a small box simply disabled the large box. Sensitivity could be set between 0% and 100%. However, as we saw with the TV-IP572PI and many network cameras, sensitivity is trial and error, with no real indication of current levels on the motion detection screens. If you want to see a great example of motion detection done well in regards to feedback on sensitivity thresholds, take a look at the AXIS M1054 review.
Figure 4: Motion detection screen of the TRENDnet TV-IP572PI
With the TV-IP572PI, motion detection was great. I looked forward to watching any alert because I would alway see motion. I wasn't so lucky with the TV-IP551WI. I sat and stared at the video for any signs of motion with the first barrage of emails I received from the camera. Seeing none I kept dropping sensitivity to try and hit the magic threshold. When I got to around 60% and still kept getting motion detection emails I simply disabled that setting.
The TV-IP551WI had a little trouble transitioning from day to night mode, which we've seen with some other network cameras. I had the TV-IP551WI sitting right beside the TV-IP572PI for most of the testing and I found the TV-IP551WI would often be in night mode during the day when plenty of light was available, but other times it seemed to work just fine. Fortunately it didn't continually click in mode transition as some other cameras have, it was simply stubborn at times. In figure 5 below you can see the camera in night mode even thought the lights clearly are showing as on in the mirrors.
Figure 5: Day image from the TRENDnet TV-IP551WI showing the camera still in Night mode
The complete screen captures of the TV-IP551WI admin screens can be seen in the gallery below.
I found the image quality of the TV-IP551WI to be good considering this camera is under $100 with smart shopping. For comparison's sake, we'll look at the control shot of our junkroom, taken with a Nikon D5000 DSLR. We'll then compare it the Nikon control image to the the TV-IP551WI's day shot and the TRENDnet TV-IP572PI's day shot.
Figure 6 is the Nikon D5000 DSLR control shot.
Figure 6: Control image from the Nikon D5000 DSLR
Figure 7 is the TRENDnet TV-IP551WI day image
Figure 7: Day image from the TRENDnet TV-IP551WI
Figure 8 is the TRENDnet TV-IP572PI day image
Figure 8: Day image from the TRENDnet TV-IP572PI
The 38deg horizontal field of view of the TV-IP551WI definitely shows less of the overall room vs the 51.8deg of the TV-IP572PI, but what you do see appears closer and more distinct in some instances (look at the 10 foot marker) despite the TV-IP572PI being HD and the TV-IP551WI being VGA quality.. Image clarity is definitley sharper overall on the TV-IP572PI, but it is HD and is more expensive. Neither of the TRENDnet cameras show penetration back into the dark furnace room beyond the 20 foot mark, where the control image does provide a view into it.