D-LINK DCS-942L REVIEW
Now that Camcloud has integrated its cloud service with more H.264 IP cameras, we’re going to start regular reviews of the cameras we support, giving our users the pros/cons of these various devices. Hopefully this will help them decide which camera is the one they want to use with our cloud video monitoring service.
First up, is the D-Link DCS-942L. I took a look at the camera’s Setup, Configuration and General Use. To make a long story short, go buy this camera. I love some of the features it provides (night vision) and setup couldn’t be any easier. Motion detection with Camcloud works very well and the live view has the quality I would expect. I found this camera with a deal for under $135, so for me this camera is an absolute steal. For more details, read on.
Wow this couldn’t be easier. D-Link really gets this right and everyone needs to take note of how this is done. First off I should mention I did go a different route than most people with setup. Like most modern IP camera manufacturers they are including a WPS button. This is great if your router supports it, but frankly I like rolling up my sleeves and configuring the camera for my network the way I want.
The first thing you do is go to mydlink.com/download and install the setup tool. This brings you to a wizard that takes you through the process.
As you step through the wizard it finds your camera on the network and it configures the wireless. That’s it, I’m done. My camera is now on my wireless network and I’m ready to move it to a spot to monitor my home. I actually ended up pointing this camera outside my window just because I wanted to test motion from my busy street. If I did want to pick on something, it is not with the setup, it is the actual hardware. The power cord is too short. Sure, I can get a extension cord but should I have to?
Unlike this review which had problems with camera settings I found it very easy, intuitive and it just worked. When you finish setup you will be given the IP address to access the camera’s configuration. In my case it was: 192.168.1.64, so just type this into your browser and you are off.
Here is where you can change any network settings (I always suggest adding DNS servers) and add any kind of event such as motion detection. You can see the full explanation of how I setup the camera with Camcloud in our D-Link Setup Guide. There are a couple of gotchas I should mention. First off when you start the D-Link web configuration it starts a Java applet to show you a live view of your camera. You need to accept this Java to move forward. However I noticed that in Firefox I was always able to crash my browser because I would click another tab. My problem is that I didn’t wait long enough for the Java message to appear and that would cause Firefox to go to la-la land. Simple solution, wait or just always accept Java (better solution).
The other annoyance I had was that when I setup Camcloud with motion detection via the FTP, they don’t have a “Test” button. There isn’t a single IP camera I know of that doesn’t have this button. Again not a big deal, just make sure you enter the FTP credentials properly.
Overall it does exactly as I want. The live view is perfect, the recordings of motion are great. I hate that I can only get a 10 second recording but that is not a limitation of D-Link. Every IP camera that I know limits this seemingly because of the size of the video might get too big. That’s unfortunate as Camcloud IP camera cloud storage will take any size we throw at it and in some cases I wish it kept recording.
My favorite thing about this camera is the night vision. Take a look at the image of my office at night.
This looks dark right now I guess because this is generated from an image snapshot but you can definitely see in the pitch black. You will have to take my word for it that it looks great when you watch the live view.
How does it look during the day? I pointed the camera out the window, so you get some great videos of motion detection.
So how about pointing the camera out the window at night?
That simply doesn’t work. Looks like I have a really dirty window (well, it is dirty but not that bad). It is the reflection of the window that is messing this up. Unfortunately you can’t use this camera with infra-red pointing out the window. Even worse, D-Link doesn’t provide an option to turn infra-red off.
Overall this camera is brilliant. At its price point you just can’t beat it. Stay tuned, I hope to review a few other cameras that Camcloud supports and eventually I hope to give a review on my absolute favorite.
Update Aug.27, 2013
This camera is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Since I originally wrote this I’ve had a couple of really nagging problems.
1. Date keeps resetting
2. Test for FTP
The first problem is that even though I set the time to match my computers time it would keep resetting. The second issue was something I highlighted in an earlier post, there is simply no way to test your FTP is valid.
The good news is that this seems to be addressed in the latest firmware. I updated to 1.22 and it is great. Still have some date/time issues but overall I can’t complain.