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To use the digital zoom you select the button and click on the location you want to magnify. Prepare to be disappointed as the WVC200 shows clearly why most digital zooms are a poor substitute for the real thing as focus is a big casualty. Overall picture quality isn’t great either and this camera won’t be worrying Axis with disappointingly grainy image quality. Colour balance was reasonably good but we found the auto-iris coped poorly with bright sunlight and we needed to play with the sharpness settings before we could see any detail in distant objects. Nevertheless, to get better image quality from a PTZ camera you will need to cough up a lot more cash than this.
For wireless operations we had no problems connecting to a SpeedTouch 780WL and the camera supports WEP and WPA Personal encryption. Both MPEG-4 and Motion-JPEG modes are supported and can be swapped over from the web interface. The former delivers a smoother video display thanks to superior compression but the latter is better where bandwidth is at a premium as it merely drops its frame rate to compensate.
The quick setup wizard locates the camera and offers to set up wireless access and security.
Motion detection options aren’t as good as those offered by Axis as you can only email video clips of up to five seconds when this is activated. Most Axis cameras also allow snapshots to be sent to an FTP server as well. However, the WVC200 can upload snapshots to an FTP server but only as often as every thirty minutes. If you can afford more than one Linksys camera then the bundled Viewer and Recorder utility will come in handy as this provides a single interface for monitoring multiple cameras and tools to set up recordings at scheduled times.
The patrol function could prove handy for watching a large area as you can save lens positions and add them to a list where the camera will move to each one at preset intervals. Up to nine pan/tilt combinations are maintained and you can assign different dwell periods of up to sixty seconds for each one. The only drawback is the camera only cycles through the list once and stops at the last defined position. The camera has a socket for attaching an external microphone but we did find the internal one produced some good results. A volume slider is provided on the live view page and, apart from a lag of around one second, quality was clear enough to easily hear any action in the area under surveillance.
It’s inevitable that there will be some sacrifices to achieve PTZ functions at this low price but the WVC200 does a reasonably good job nonetheless. The digital zoom is largely redundant but picture quality is reasonably good while the camera offers a useful range of general surveillance features.
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