7.5our score

As D-Link continues to innovate in the security industry, there has been a significant growth in the amount of security cameras that take advantage of the cloud. 

Previously, we’ve looked at both the D-Link DCS-2332L and the D-Link DCS-942L, which were both solid IP cameras. Now we’re going to take a look at the D-Link DCS-5020L’s Setup, Design & Hardware,and its Features & Performance.

Specifications:

Hardware

  • Chipset – Ralink RT3352F – MAC, 2.4Ghz radio, ethernet and CPU
  • SDRAM – 64 MB
  • Flash – 8 MB
  • Microphone – Yes
  • Speaker – No
  • Wireless – 802.11 b/g/n-w/ WEP/WPA/WPA2 and WPS
  • Ethernet Plug – Yes
  • PoE – No

Video

  • Lens – Focal length: 2.2 mm, F2.0
  • Horizontal viewing angle – 66 degrees
  • Pan/Tilt – Yes
  • Zoom – Digital, up to 4x
  • Video codecs – H.264, MJPEG, JPEG for still images
  • Max resolution – 640 x 480 up to 30 fps
  • IR LEDs – 10 LEDs, Night vision

Features

  • Motion Detection – Yes
  • Sound Detection – Yes
  • Email notifications – Yes, still images and clips
  • Text notification – No
  • Record to share – No
  • Record to FTP – Yes
  • Record to SD – No
  • App support – Android and iOS

Setup:

Getting through the setup wizard for the DCS-5020L was simple, but time-consuming.

D-Link Setup Wizard - Welcome

The instructions were straightforward and didn’t make me feel technologically inept. What was surprising about the setup was how slow it was. The accessible interface makes it easy to understand what needs to be done to complete the setup, but the time it takes for those tasks to complete was troublesome. It took me about 15-20 minutes to get it setup on its own using D-Link’s standard setup procedure. I also wanted to try configure the camera with Camcloud’s cloud recording service which took another 10 minutes, mostly due to the router port-forwarding process but I can’t blame D-Link for that.

In terms of privacy, D-Link requires you to add in your own password. This means that if someone at work managed to stumble into your camera, they wouldn’t be able to get in without your password.

I liked that D-Link gives you the flexibility to access the camera the way you want to use it. If you want to use D-Link’s myDlink service and not bother configuring your network, then you’re good.

D-Link Setup Wizard

After the camera gets plugged in for power, it can connect to the internet wirelessly. Once that’s done, you can use the free myDlink application in your smartphone to start recording videos and capturing images immediately. There are limits to the myDlink service, for example it doesn’t offer any cloud storage, but the camera is flexible enough to allow the use of a 3rd party service like Camcloud (note: here’s our setup guide that explains how you can get Camcloud running with D-Link). If you are interested in cloud storage, I highly suggest you sign up for a free plan on Camcloud. You can get more out of your camera, without any extra cost.

Design & Hardware:

With a 5 by 4 inches (height and width) with a circular shape, the DCS-5020L can be easily moved around if you ever feel like switching locations. You can get it to sit on your table, shelf, or mount it on a wall using the plastic bracket included in the box. It has both an antenna and an ethernet port in the back, which is required during the camera’s configuration process. There is a green LED light with the label PWR right on top, indicating when the camera is ready. It’s a small but very useful touch that helps a user recognize whether or not their camera is working.
D-Link DCS-5020L

You’ll also notice 10 silver led lights around the lens, those are infrared lights that are activated once night vision is turned on. The camera’s resolution is a low definition 640×480, while the frame rate runs at 30fps. I found the camera’s low definition surprising given that the camera was released in 2013 and, as of this writing, costs $120.

Although I’m not planning on testing out its durability, the camera has a cheap feel to it. I found myself trying to be as careful as possible with the camera to avoid any potential malfunction that would force me to send it back to the shop. Again I haven’t tested this out, but this thing isn’t made of metal, and if it falls a major internal component may get damaged. For 120$, I expected slightly better quality.

D-Link DCS-5020L Build

Features and Performance:

The DCS-5020L has a 340 degree pan and a 120 degree tilt, which gives the camera lots of room for the user to move it around. The 10 Infrared lights on the front end allows it to see up to 8 meters in the dark, which is pretty good for a home or small business.

The DCS-5020L doesn’t have an optical zoom, although it has a digital zoom that can zoom-in up to 4x. Unfortunately with a maximum resolution of 640×480, the DCS-5020L is limited to VGA streaming. If you’re familiar with VGA, things never look good once you zoom-in more than once, as the quality significantly deteriorates beyond that. The pan and tilt feature works just as advertised, and apart from the slight (but expected) delay, it’s very responsive.

D-Link VGA

With a low resolution of 640×480, the camera’s biggest downfall is its resolution. I was confused to why D-Link would continue to sell a non-HD camera for that price given the “high definition” expectations of today. Now I’ve come to a point where I expect my devices, even if its portable, to be in HD. The VGA stream is by no means bad, but when you look at the D-Link DCS-2332L, which has HD capabilities and costs only $25 more, it’s hard to justify the low resolution.

The D-Link DCS-5020L can be switched to night mode, although it does this automatically depending on the amount of light in a room. It does have a night vision camera lens which will trigger the color of the infrared lights in front of the camera. I was impressed by how well it worked in the dark.

D-Link DCS-5020L Night Vision

Inside the camera is a web server that lets you control the camera, set the pan and tilt rates, and setup some security features such as motion detection for certain zones on the camera. You can also receive email notifications of images or videos whenever the motion or sound detection gets triggered, which are both customizable. You can customize the sound detection feature by, for example, changing the detection to 60 db instead of 20 db which can be extremely useful when monitoring at night.

The Verdict:

The DCS-5020L is another good IP camera by D-Link because of its pan/tilt capabilities, working well with a VGA stream, and great night vision, all for $120. The lack of a high definition video quality and the long setup process are my biggest gripes with the device. Overall, this is a solid and affordable camera with a lot of features. If the lack of a high definition doesn’t bother you, I would highly recommend these, otherwise look elsewhere.

If you’re looking for an affordable video monitoring service with cloud storage, give Camcloud a try and sign up for a free plan! It only takes 2 minutes to set up.