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Keep watch: 5 cloud security cameras for your home

Robert L. Mitchell | June 26, 2013
If you want to make sure nobody's making off with your valuables — or that your dog isn't chewing up the furniture — try one of these cloud-based cameras

Even then, end-to-end connections — from the wireless camera to the router, through the Internet to the portal and out to a personal computer by way of broadband or to a mobile phone via cellular connection — can be slow, noisy and brittle. Low bandwidth at any point in the chain can result in degraded image quality, lower frame rates and dropped connections. On more than one occasion, I experienced issues with broken connections, some of which required resetting the camera. But when the camera is remote, you can't just walk over to reboot it.

And while some models technically support full-motion video at 30 frames per second (fps), I typically experienced real-world end-to-end throughput in the range of 9 to 20 fps with a wired Ethernet connection and as slow as 3 to 4 fps when using wireless, particularly when monitoring from a mobile phone app. I also sometimes experienced delays as long as 10 seconds when using a smartphone app — even when using the phone in Wi-Fi mode in the same location as the cameras.

One more tip: According to vendors, you'll get best performance from cameras that support the H.264 standard for video compression, which is more efficient than the MJPEG format.

If all that isn't enough to scare you off entirely, there are some great benefits to these cloud-based security cameras. Read on for a full hands-on review of each model.

D-Link Day/Night Network Cloud Camera (DCS-932L)
D-Link offers a wide range of IP-based cloud security cameras for the consumer market in its Cloud Camera line. For this article, I reviewed the entry-level 932L, which is an older model in the D-Link line, with resolution of just 640 x 480 pixels. It uses MJPEG for compression rather than supporting the more efficient H.264 standard, and while the camera does include a microphone for an audio feed, it does not support two-way communication or sound-activated alerts, as some other models do. But the $80 price tag makes it by far the least expensive camera in the group.

D-Link Cloud Camera DCS-932L
The camera comes with a power supply, network cable and quick install guide. The installation process includes temporarily hardwiring the camera to your router to sync it, setting up a user account and password on the free Mydlink.com portal and configuring an additional password for each camera you want to access. As with other portals reviewed here, Mydlink.com also requires that you install a browser plug-in.

Mydlink portal
The Mydlink portal includes a My Devices page where you can select and view the feeds for up to four cameras and manipulate the most extensive list of configuration settings of any camera reviewed here. For example, there are settings not just for image brightness and contrast, but also for white balance, saturation and hue. You can set the days and times when you want motion detection active and you can set up different video profiles, each with different encoding, resolution and frame rates.

 

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