Hands On: D-Link DCS-932L
After unboxing, attaching to my network was very easy but it did take a few tries. Mainly this consisted of clicking a button in the router software and pushing the WPS button on the back of the Camera…. and waiting. Eventually it worked. In order to do all the necessary configuration, I had to run and install a program from a CD. These days, I try to keep my computers relatively clutter free so having to install some additional software was a only a bit frustrating. Really not a big deal but seemed unnecessary. I assumed there would be a manual way to configure things but nothing was immediately apparent.
After installing the software, I ran through the included wizard on the CD. All the steps were pretty straightforward but when I got to the part where I had to connect to the net to register, it literally took me over 20 (maybe 30) times to connect and send the data. I just kept retrying until it went through because in order to view the camera’s feed over the internet you have to have a membership to mydlink.com. This connection step was setting up my id and registering the camera so it had to be done in order to test the mydlink software.
I’ll admit it took me a while to sign up with mydlink for one other reason. Reading through their Terms of Service, I noticed the following (my emphasis), so I paused:
We may monitor the use of our service for violations of this agreement. We may remove or block all communications if we suspect a violation of this agreement, or if we think it necessary in order to protect our service, or D-Link, its parent, affiliates, directors, officers, agents, and employees from harm.
(iii) Providing information to authorities and third parties.
If we believe that you have used our service or your device for an unlawful purpose, we may forward the relevant communication and other information, including your identity, to the appropriate authorities for investigation and prosecution. You consent to our forwarding of any such communications and information to these authorities. In addition, we may disclose your name, telephone number, credit card information, and other personal information, any communications sent or received by you, and any other information that we may have about your account, including but not limited to, types of service, length of service, MAC address(es), IP address(es), email address(es), and all other account information, as follows:
1. in response to law enforcement or other governmental agency requests;
2. as required by law, regulation, rule, subpoena, search warrant, or court order;
3. as necessary to identify, contact, or bring legal action against someone who may be misusing the service, the device, or both;
4. to protect D-Link’s rights and property; or
5. in emergency situations where disclosure of such information is necessary to protect D-Link customers or third parties from imminent harm.
I envisioned some room full of monitors where D-Link representatives are watching camera feeds for violations. I assume this is just a way to protect from lawsuits in the event that something was reported or they did have to take some action as a result of something captured on one of these cameras. I’m no lawyer though so I figured I would reach out to the D-Link team to see if they could give me some insight. I received back this quote “D-Link does not monitor end-users or their activities. D-Link will cooperate with law enforcement or other governmental agency requests, such as required by law, regulation, rule, subpoena, search warrant, or court order.”
I do not know the source of the quote from the company since I received through an intermediary, but this statement does make be feel better about continued use of the camera.
From a usage perspective, the camera is pretty easy. Once you get it configured to connect to your network and sign up for mydlink.com, it’s all pretty straight forward from a default configuration perspective. The mydlink lite software is free for iOS so you can view the camera feed on your phone while you are either at home or away from the house. I was able to view the output on my iPhone 4S while out with my wife with no issues. It picked up sound and video with only slight choppiness. Later we moved it to monitor the kids. We have video baby monitors so I wanted to compare the quality. The infrared worked great with no problems with the pictures. The only issues I experienced were some choppiness in both the sound and video either when at home viewing over wi-fi or out viewing over the phone network.
Combining with motion detection notification is slightly more complex because you have to log in to the actual camera and configure email settings. If you’re a novice user, this could be a small challenge. There are actually a TON of options in the camera’s software. I learned that you don’t have to sign up for mydlink if you want to poke a hole in your firewall to give access to the camera. I don’t recommend this but it’s possible.
Since there are multiple transfers of data (from camera to router, from router to mydlink, from D-Link back to phone via wifi or phone network, with other stops in between), I don’t expect this thing to be error free. I don’t expect real-time HD video streaming over the phone network -we’re just not there yet. So, my expectations are not over the moon regarding how well this performs when viewing over a 3G network. It met and exceeded my expectations though. I like what I see and hear from the DCS-932L and plan to keep testing it out over the coming months.
- Remote access with multiple options – PC, iPhone, android, iPad
- Motion detection – emailing of images before and after motion.
- Scheduling of emails – when do you want to receive emails from the camera
- Multiple user accounts – see who is accessing the camera.
- Optional video quality – with a good connection, you can go for better quality
Could be improved –
- Don’t require install of software from CD (for advanced users)
- See if the sign up process for mydlink.com can be improved since it took repeated attempts
- Investigate improving sound throughput
- Possibly revise the TOS so the intent is more clear