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Affordable security camera for the home

Users can select the level of noise (in decibels) required to trigger the D-Link DCS-936L camera's video recording.
Users can select the level of noise (in decibels) required to trigger the D-Link DCS-936L camera's video recording.PHOTO: D-LINK

The last time I tested a home security camera from D-Link, it failed to connect to my Wi-Fi network. Thinking that the review set was faulty, I got a replacement unit from the manufacturer. Unfortunately, the replacement set still would not connect to my router.

Hence, I was braced for troubleshooting if the D-Link HD Wi-Fi Camera (DCS-936L) exhibited similar problems.

Thankfully, it connected to my home Wi-Fi without a hitch. Like many home security cameras, it can be set up with a mobile device using its companion mydlink Lite app (available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone). All you need to do is to open the app, sign up for an account and scan the QR code provided in the package.

Alternatively, users can connect the camera to their Wi-Fi networks using the Wi-Fi Protected Setup feature on their routers. This involves a sequence of button presses on the camera and router.

D-Link has added a Wi-Fi signal strength LED at the front of the camera to tell users if the camera's connection to the router is good (the LED will show a solid green colour if so), fair (solid orange) or weak (flashing orange). This useful feature is typical for network extenders, but is not standard for home cameras.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $109

    VIDEO RESOLUTION: Up to 1,280 x 720 pixels

    VIDEO FORMAT: H.264

    FIELD OF VIEW: 120 degrees

    NIGHT VISION: Yes (up to 5m)

    MOTION DETECTION: Yes

    MOBILE APPS: iOS and Android

    WEIGHT: 140g

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

A couple of taps on my phone later and I was able to see through the eye of the camera in real time using its Live View feature.

Image quality (up to 720p) was on a par with other cameras in its class, though I felt that the DCS-936L was slow to display what it was seeing.

In Live View, you can save a photo taken by the camera to your mobile device. But there is no option to manually start a video recording. This is because the camera comes with no internal storage, and D-Link probably thought that it would be inadvisable to use the limited storage on your mobile device.

But the DCS-936L has a microSD slot (up to 128GB capacity). When the camera detects motion or loud noises, it can automatically record a video clip to the microSD card.

The app lets you select the level of noise (in decibels) required to set off the camera's video recording. You can pick an area for the camera to focus its motion-detection efforts, as well as adjust the sensitivity level of the detection.

The camera can also send a notification via the app if it detects motion or audio. Unfortunately, this did not work in the beginning - I had to reboot the camera a couple of times before I started to receive notifications on my phone.

The DCS-936L does not support two-way audio, though it records audio in its videos. This is probably for the better, as the microphone seems to pick up a lot of ambient noise in my testing, which affected audio clarity.

The mobile app is functional but offers fewer features compared to the camera's Web-based interface.

• Verdict: A no-frills but affordable home security camera.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'Affordable security camera for the home'. Print Edition | Subscribe