D-Link DCS-930L Preliminary Review

I’ve been gradually building a collection of DCS-930L Wireless N Network CamerasNewegg has had them on sale regularly for $59.99 to $76.12.

The camera sports a typical noisy 640×480 CMOS sensor, but includes some nice features such as streaming audio, motion detection, dynamic DNS support, FTP and SMTP image uploads, and free streaming access through the mydlink service.

I like the camera enough to keep buying more, but there are some drawbacks.

  • The power cord is only about 4 feet long, so I’m generally stuck with wall warts dangling halfway down my walls.
  • The audio feed pops loudly if there’s not enough bandwidth to keep it streaming continuously, and there’s a bit of high-pitched noise.
  • Even at very high sensitivity, the motion detection takes about 1 second to kick in, so fast action is sometimes missed entirely.  High sensitivity increases the likelihood of false positives due to the sensor’s noise.
  • I had to get 1 of my 8 cameras replaced because the wireless reception was awful.  It indicated 50% to 70% lower signal strength than other cameras for a given location.

I tried out the mydlink service, but ended up just connecting to my cameras directly through my router.  A word of caution: if you register a camera with mydlink, and then unregister it, the camera becomes unreachable, even locally, until it is reset to the factory defaults.

For mobile access from an Android phone, I use tinyCam Monitor.  There are free and paid versions.  The free version prohibits recording to the phone, supports fewer screen layouts, and limits audio to a 1 minute demo.  I use the paid version daily to keep an eye on my dog while I’m at work or out for long periods of time.

Two of my DCS-930Ls are mounted outdoors.  One is hanging under my porch in a way that makes it unlikely to get much exposure to the elements.  The other is hanging on a wood post in a corner of my yard, mounted inside a polycarbonate food storage container.  It might be possible for rain to reach the cameras if the wind is really strong, but based on this video, I’m not too concerned.

Take a cue from the DCS-930L web administration interface’s Helpful Hints, and only select Image Setup > Image Settings > Enable Anti Flicker if you find it’s necessary.  When it’s enabled, the cameras produce completely washed-out images if they’re outside, or even pointed towards outside.

I’m quite pleased with my DCS-930Ls, especially compared to my old composite cameras that required me to run wires to a video capture card in my PC.

Leave a Reply