The DCS-8000LH provides crisp HD 720p video to help users keep an eye on their homes at all times. A built-in IR LED provides 5 metres of night vision in total darkness and automatic push alert notifications, so nothing gets missed. At only 9.7cm tall, the camera's ultra-compact and inconspicuous design makes it ideal to fit in with any decor.
Allowing users to see their space in high definition, the Mini HD Wi-Fi Camera also comes packed with a 120-degree wide-angle lens. These features give users the ability to see more of their rooms, pets and kids while capturing even the smallest of details. With a 9.7cm height, similar to that of a deck of playing cards, this camera's miniature style makes it the perfect shelf or countertop Wi-Fi camera.
Whether it's the 4x digital zoom, cloud recording or 5 metres of night vision, all of the camera's features can be accessed remotely through a smart device using the new mydlink app. Simply set up the Mini HD Wi-Fi Camera on the existing Wi-Fi network and start using it right away.
I always find it amusing how little people understand the connection between screen resolution and the sensor megapixel rating. Were you to say to someone "This records in 7'120 HiDef" they may be somewhat impressed... tell that same person that this camera does it using a 1 Megapixel sensor and they are likely to assume you're talking about a kids toy... yet 1280x720 = 0.92 Megapixels - not even a full "1MP". This goes to show that when it comes to selling a device, the wording can make or break it. Now, you probably think I'm about to start bagging this little camera... but I'm not. It's got issues, sure, nothing these days doesn't, but it does a reasonable job even if it has price-peers that offer more. The saving grace is the sheer range of devices that are in the marketplace, or are coming, that use the new app. Having all your devices controlled by a single app makes things a LOT easier!
Let me talk about what it has going for it first... Setup proved to be a little troublesome using an Android smartphone, however switching to the iPhone made a huge difference. Sure, I got an early version of the device, and I am sure the feedback given to their technical advisor over the phone will help guide, in some small way, future upgrades, so you can expect ease of use to increase over time. I have to highlight the amazing QR Code scanner module in the app though - not only did it accurately read the setup QR Code faster than any other app I tried it on, it was also able to do so while the image was still out of focus. My handset is slow to lock on to a sharp focus on objects that are closer than 10cm from the lens, so the fact that the app was able to initiate setup with a blurry, out of focus image of the code, was something amazing to me. I also liked how the app had preset auto-run features for different scenarios. You can pre-set actions to trigger upon departure or arrival, when you go to bed and when you wake up too. For example, have it automatically activate Privacy Mode when you get out of bed, so that the camera isn't recording you wandering the house in your "Bare Costume", or have it switch motion and sound detection to high-sensitivity when you leave the house, and fall back to standard settings when you get home again.
In terms of style, this camera is reminiscent of the delightfully-functional [^link^7615^D-Link OMNA^link] with the huge advantages of being smaller, and that you don't need multiple apps to get the most from it. Utilising the app, you can snap and save still-frames directly to your phone, making it easy to quickly grab a snap and flick it on to a third party... like letting the kids know their "secret" party while you're away has not gone undetected, or to a friend to let them know your pets are in distress and need to be given attention, food or a walk outside before your couch ends up looking more like an abstract art installation. This unit is very smaller, far smaller than you would think. Standing less than 10cm tall and 3.5cm in diameter, this is a very discrete unit easy to tuck away on a shelf or between some decorations on the mantlepiece. While not in any way "invisible", careful and thoughtful placement will make it blend into the background. That said, I would have really liked to have been given an option to wall-mount it. It would have taken only the inclusion of a keyhole cutout and a slight redesign of the USB plug area.
Though having integration with IFTTT, Google Assistant and Alexa, this unit is open to a limited range of voice commands, but that does rely on you already having the other hardware for that. IFTTT on your smartphone is good, but you may find that functionality is a little more limited if you don't have a good router/access-point with IFTTT integration built in. I didn't test it with Alexa, since I don't have the appropriate hardware here, but I was able to install and test this at a location fitted with a good Google Assistant setup, and it worked quite well. Commands recognised and actioned were few, but with updates and advancements being an almost certainty, you can expect the range of commands to grow. That said, there isn't a lot you would really want to do via voice anyway when the app is so easy to use once you get to grips with it.
As you can see from the linked image, the camera works well across the range of lighting. While this camera is an indoor camera, there's also no significant reason not to use it for outdoor viewing through a well-placed window. The three sections of the image show it viewing the side entrance to the building, looking out on my parking spot. On the far left, in darkness with night-vision mode OFF. When it's on, the reflected glare of the infrared LEDs washes the image out almost entirely. In the middle portion, the parking bay at night lit by the motion-sensor lights mounted externally on the building. This was more than sufficient to trigger motion sensor alerts and start recording, plus gave full-colour images for use with the police later. On the far right of the image is the view under 'overcast afternoon' lighting - a crisper, cleaner image thanks to the extra illumination. Under full sunny conditions - a rarity at this time of year - the image was even better... as good as would be expected from such a small sensor, so there wasn't any need to include it here. I should note that for a 120-degree field of view, the resulting images were surprisingly easy on the eye - no overwhelming optical distortion was evident, meaning the footage is more than good enough to make out a recognisable face at 5m in the pitch dark. The colours were also quite saturated, meaning you won't be wondering what colour her dress was.
As to what fell a little short of the goal for me, there are more issues than would be ideal. For a start, I would have liked to have seen an onboard microSD card slot for local storage. There are times when the data cap on my mobile plan means that feeding a livestream to my phone isn't viable, so having the camera switch to local storage would be better, or allow me to save to a dedicated online storage facility via FTP, rather than have to pay for cloud storage as the only option. I have a private cloud set up, and used to use it with previous devices, but alas... not able to with this one. I also would have liked to have had a cable-connection option, because a Cat-6 cable is still faster than WiFi. That said, the low resolution and high compression of the bitstream means that even moderate WiFi is still fast enough in many situations. On the WiFi landscape, I had this camera installed in a 'noisy neighbourhood' when meant that there were moments when the camera would drop off and fail to reconnect quickly due to noise in the band, and I could not find a simple way to get the camera to switch to a new WiFi channel. The lack of an ethernet port also means that setup can ONLY be done using a mobile device with the app installed and Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities. Yes, Bluetooth - that's what the app uses to instigate a secure connection to the device and initialise the WiFi connection during setup.
The digital zoom is a great idea on paper, but in practice, it fell quite a ways short of ideal, mainly due to the small CCD sensor. Had they used a 3-4MP sensor, there would have been a lot more raving and less lamenting, and with sensors ranging up to 20MP showing up in smartphones and even kids toys these days, there is no way anyone can convince me it wasn't economical to use a higher-grade sensor. I would have happily seen a price tag $10-$20 higher for the sake of a vastly superior image capability, and a digital zoom that was actually a crop, instead of a digital expansion and the subsequent loss of quality. I was also annoyed that it had no apparent web interface. When I am in the workroom, it would have been good to have popped open a browser window and had a live-view always up on one of the workstation screens... but instead, I get nothing more than a "File not Found - re-enter the URL" error pop up. While it may be an 'old' thing to do, I really did appreciate the vast scope the previous software offered, and I genuinely hope to see future hardware supporting a solidly secure web interface again.
I would also like to know why, after setting the motion-detection areas, the unit keeps defaulting back to 'full-screen sensing' and firing off false alarms due to someone walking past the end of the parking lot. Turning off those areas of the image from motion-check felt like an exercise in pointlessness. This is not the first time I have encountered this issue with security cameras from a number of brands. I would have thought it was my smartphone at fault, but this issue continued despite multiple handsets, on multiple OS's, all encountering the same issue. It appears to be a fundamental flaw in the software, so if you want to adjust the field of interest for motion-detection... forget it... just physically reposition the camera instead. It will save you a tonne of stress.
Overall, while this camera has a lot going for it, some key features being omitted will do it no favours. While none of the missing things is a complete deal-breaker, they may be enough to give extra weight to other products in the final balance. Personally, I would be likely to lean towards another device for my needs, but I would stay within the D-Link family simply because of the ease of using a single app to rule them all. This device will find it's niche with those who want something smaller that fits with a 'cleaner' decor than most other devices in this range. Being smaller, and in a colour that isn't black or silver, is going to make up for a lot.
Random listing from 'Safety and Security'...
- High Resolution Color CCD camera
- Plugs directly into TV, VCR, DVR, monitor or quad processor
- Ideal theft deterrent - research shows 70% reduction in crime
- Color pictures during the day, infrared night vision after dark
- Auto-Iris function (requires alternative lens) ... more...
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