IP cameras can offer all sorts of sophisticated extras, such as pan, tilt and zoom adjustability, IR sensitivity, and even mobile phone access. However, often all that is required for basic surveillance is a fixed camera that reacts to basic triggers. It is this kind of camera that I’m looking at today.
The TV-IP201W from TRENDnet is a wireless IP camera that features a 1/4inch progressive scan RGB CMOS sensor that's capable of handling light levels as low as 2.5lux and can capture at up to 30fps at a resolution of 640 x 480. It has in-built motion detection as well as inputs for external triggering and outputs for triggering other devices, like alarms or light switches, and RS485 connections for controlling external pan/tilt devices. There’s an internal microphone that enables you to hear what’s happening at the other end of the line though there aren’t audio outputs so you won’t be able to have a two-way conversation. As is to be expected, the TV-IP201W is powered by a conventional mains power supply, rather than using PoE, and the adapter cable is only two metres long so, straight out of the box, you are somewhat limited as to where you can place it.
The camera is comparatively large, at 177mm x 45mm 84mm, but it is fully compatible with TRENDnet’s own outdoor camera housings - which I must say are particularly elegant - so external mounting shouldn’t be a problem. If you want to mount the camera indoors, a sturdy adjustable mounting arm is provided in the box which also contains a short length of CAT5 cable, a quick install guide, a software CD, and, of course, the power supply.
Installation is very straight forward as you simply connect the camera to the mains, and to your local network, then run the bundled setup utility. The software will search for your camera (or cameras) and display them in a list. You then double click one of the cameras to open the web interface for that camera. From here you can view the video stream using either a Java or an ActiveX based interface or you can enter the system administration screen.
While viewing the image you can turn the video and audio on and off or set the camera to trigger mode. There are buttons for capturing a still of the current image and specifying what folder to put the captured files into. All other settings are handled by the system administration page, which has a very comprehensive list of settings that includes audio and video adjustment, network settings, triggering, user access, and upload configuration.