The camera comes with D-Link’s IP Surveillance software which allows you to monitor the live feeds from up to sixteen cameras simultaneously. Controls are provided for taking instant snapshots from the selected camera, activating motion detection and starting a recording session to a predefined folder on the local hard disk.
For normal usage with the camera being accessed by PCs we found overall image quality to be comparatively good. It wasn’t quite as sharp as the Axis 207W and the blue colour caste make it look rather cold but for a £150 IP camera it was pretty good. Unfortunately, D-Link didn’t fare so well in the action stakes as we found the camera was unable to convey smooth motion when set to the maximum resolution and frame rate. At the highest resolution the image was much smoother when the frame rate was dropped to 20fps with the top rate only working properly at 320 x 240 pixels.
”’Axis’ 207W to the left and the DCS-2120 to the right – apart from the different colour castes there’s not much in it.”’
Configuring the camera for remote access from 3G mobiles and PDAs is simple enough as you decide on a filename for RTSP streaming and either use the default port or enter a custom value. The biggest issue with the DCS-2120 is that you will have to make some sacrifices if you want to access it from a mobile. The camera can be configured to serve up surveillance to PCs and notebooks over a normal network or for mobile viewing but not both together. If you choose the latter from the management interface it drops the picture size down to 176 x 144 pixels and cuts the audio bit rate down to 12.2 Kbps. This works well enough for mobiles and PDAs but the picture quality on a PC is unusable so you’ll need to keep swapping modes depending on the type of access you want to provide.
For wireless connectivity the camera supports both Infrastructure and Ad Hoc modes but note that it does not function as an access point. In Infrastructure mode you’ll need a separate wireless access point and the camera must be configured with its SSID and security settings. We successfully connected a laptop over a wireless link to the camera using a Thomson SpeedTouch 807WL router via a WPA encrypted link. As we saw with our performance tests on the Axis 207W, an 802.11g link is more than enough to handle the video stream even at 30fps and will support multiple users accessing the camera.
D-Link is offering quite good value for a wireless IP camera and support for 3G mobile devices makes the DCS-2120 stand out from the crowd. Streaming quality isn’t that great but there are few competing products on the market that can currently offer this level of features at this price point.