Most IP cameras have limited angle of view, generally around 120-degrees. For those who needed a wide coverage, they usually get cameras that can pan and tilt, though they can look bulky and intimidating. Here on review is the D-Link DCS-8100LH home camera that offers 180-degree view. What it means is that the camera can capture everything from wall to wall, without any blind spots.
The design is quite unique, with the stand integrated into the unit. I can tilt the camera to about 100-degrees, and the stand is also heavy enough to counter the weight of the camera unit, hence it does not easily topple over. The stand can be rotated around the camera circumference, so you can mount the base on the walls and tilt the camera to level up.
The micro-USB connector to the AC power is angled and the cable runs underneath the stand with a gap. Excellent little design attention.
The DCS-8100LH content and settings are managed using the mydlink Lite app, which is the same app for all D-Link consumer security cameras and routers. From the app, you can
- Take a snapshot
- Trigger a video recording
- Adjust resolution
- Do a 2-way conversation
- Set the infrared mode
- Playback recorded footage
- Configure event trigger
- Configure push notifications
- Enable or disable camera LED
- Upgrade firmware
Footages are recorded and stored on the microSD card inserted onto the camera.
The most painful part of using the DCS-8100LH is loading the app screen, which is the live view. The app UI design flow dictates that the live view must be loaded successfully before I can go into other menu. The other security cameras I have do not have this exceedingly slow load issue. Occasionally when network connectivity is poor, I will not be able to access the camera page, even though I am receiving push notifications.
The nice feature about the DCS-8100LH is that other than motion detection, it also can trigger recording by sound detection. On the dB threshold page, the app will show the current dB level so that you can determine the threshold level to set lest the level is too low to trigger too frequently. Trigger by sound detection has some advantages, e.g. if there was an unlikely gas stove explosion, or something crashed. I will even know the times that thunder struck.
For motion detection, I can select the active area that the camera should detect and trigger event, but the areas are segmented in 5X5 large blocks, unlike some other security cameras that have greater granularity.
The other feature oddly missing is that I am unable to set a schedule to activate the event trigger, which was inconvenient as I need to remember to turn off the trigger when I am home. But I found that even though I am home, the camera does not over-trigger. In fact, it fails to trigger at times even when there was some activity (sensitivity setting at 30%). My conjecture is that the motion must fill up the detection block substantially. So if the object is a distant away and occupies only a small area when moving, the camera would not trigger. I thought this was a good problem, as I hated security cameras that were over-sensitive. Having said that, there is an option to set the sensitivity level, so it will take some time to get the right balance if you prefer the camera to be more sensitive in detecting movements. For that, I’m not going to say whether this is a good or bad thing, but this is something you might need to be aware of if you decide to buy this security camera.
Given the camera has its good features and poor areas, I have to say the best feature that makes or breaks a security camera is the camera quality. The DCS-8100LH is able to capture accurate exposure and colour tones at indoors. It also supports night vision via infrared, though I always disable this because it makes an audible clicking noise when it switches between the modes, which I find irritating. The camera tends to switch to night mode too often for my liking, and in night mode, the footage becomes black and white. If you have no need to watch over dark areas, then I recommend you disable night mode, as the camera captures relatively good footage at indoor settings, as long as there are some lights turned on.
I have owned a few security cameras in the past from D-Link and Aztech, and recently replaced them with battery-operated security cameras (Blink Home and Freecam C330A) for the convenience to put them anywhere without worrying about power source. The D-Link DCS-8100LH offers 180-degree view of the surveillance area, allowing me to watch over the entire area without missing a spot. The 720p resolution might not be enough to pixel-peep to get an absolute clear image of the questionable object or person, but if you are looking for a security camera, it has to be one with 180-degree view. Retail price: S$199.