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Linksys has never been a big cheese in the IP camera market with the WVC200 being its solitary offering for some time now. The latest PVC2300 signals a move into business surveillance territory as this chunky little camera delivers an impressive range of features at an affordable price. This puts it right up against leviathan Axis Communications and here we see whether it offers a suitable alternative to one of the biggest and most sophisticated ranges of business IP cameras on the market.
Two models are available with the wired version on review but Linksys also offers the WPVC2300, which brings 802.11g wireless into the mix. Other than this they are essentially the same and one feature that makes the PVC2300 stand out is support for PoE (Power over Ethernet) enabling the camera to be powered over standard network cabling when connected to a suitable 802.11af PoE compliant Ethernet switch.
The camera body is made of solid brushed aluminium and certainly looks and feels sturdy enough. Its hardware specification is reasonable as well, as you get an F1.7 CS-mount lens at the business end and this is teamed up with a 1/4in. CCD sensor. The lens needs to be manually focused using the outer ring and is also removable. You can use other CS-mount compatible lens and the body has a power receptacle for auto-iris versions although at the time of review Linksys itself didn't offer any other models. The camera supports both MPEG-4 and Motion JPEG and a frame rate of up to 30fps means it should pick up the action well.
Motion detection is on the menu and the microphone in and speaker out audio sockets means you can listen to the area under surveillance and communicate with those being observed as well. The 10-pin I/O connector block at the rear offers 12V of power to devices such as alarms and it also links the camera up with other external security systems such as door sensors enabling them to trigger video capture if activated.
For testing, we powered the camera successfully from the lab's HP ProCurve 2626-PWR PoE switch. Installation moved along at a swift pace with the bundled Setup Wizard hunting down the camera on the network and presenting it ready for initial configuration. Provide a time zone and a static IP address if you wish and then it's over to the browser management interface where an ActiveX control is automatically installed on first contact. The home page opens with a live view with controls for the digital zoom while the snapshot button takes an instant picture that can be saved as a JPEG. If you have external devices attached to the I/O block outputs they can be activated directly from here and the night and day icons enable the lens filter to be manually activated.
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