D-Link camera is feature-packed yet affordable

D-Link is a household name when it comes to inexpensive home security cameras, but its software often leaves much to be desired.

The Taiwanese firm tackled this issue last year with a new mydlink mobile app (for iOS and Android) that ties together its growing range of smart home devices.

Setting up D-Link's latest Wi-Fi camera (DCS-8300LH) with the mydlink app was as simple as scanning a QR code located at the bottom of the camera. A few taps later and the camera was connected to my home Wi-Fi network and streaming a live video feed to my Android smartphone.

But while D-Link has spruced up the look of its app, the interface is still not the most intuitive. My tip to D-Link: do not offer more than one way of accessing the same settings because it merely confuses users.

To be fair, the app is more complex than a basic camera app because it is a one-stop smart home app to control D-Link's smart plugs, sensors and cameras.

In other words, the DCS-8300LH can be part of a smart home scene. For instance, a bedtime scene could involve turning off smart lights and enabling the camera's motion detection feature.

You do not need to have any other D-Link smart home devices to use the DCS-8300LH in smart home automations, as it supports the popular IFTTT smart home service that works with many third-party smart home devices.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $129

    VIDEO RESOLUTION: Up to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    VIDEO FORMAT: H.264

    FIELD OF VIEW: 137 degrees

    NIGHT VISION: Up to 5m

    MOTION DETECTION: Yes

    MOBILE APPS: iOS and Android

    WEIGHT: 105g

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The camera has to be connected to the electrical outlet and is intended to be used indoors. It can be mounted to the wall.

Its wide-angle (137-degree) lens can cover a typical living room in an apartment. It shoots full-HD videos that are sharp, albeit slightly dimmer than the Arlo cameras. It works well in the dark, too, thanks to its infrared LEDs.

In addition, it has both motion and audio detection capabilities. You can adjust the sensitivity of the motion detection, as well as the field of view that the camera should focus on (such as a doorway) to reduce false alarms.

Upon detecting motion, the app can send a notification on your smartphone while the camera automatically records 15 seconds of footage.

Recorded videos are uploaded to the cloud, where they can be viewed, shared or downloaded for between one and 30 days, depending on the subscription plan.

D-Link offers a free trial plan that supports cloud recordings from up to three cameras, though you can only access videos taken from up to one day ago.

The basic plan increases this length to seven days for a monthly fee of US$2.49 (S$3.37) or a yearly fee of US$24.99. Higher-tier plans increase the number of supported cameras and the duration that the videos are available on the cloud.

The app's live view shows what is happening at the moment - photos and videos manually taken in this mode are saved to the smartphone, not to the cloud. You can also interact with someone on the other side of the camera using the built-in microphone and speaker, though the speaker is not very loud.

Unlike many cameras in the market, the D-Link has a microSD card slot for local recordings. It is a handy option for those who are uncomfortable with their videos being uploaded to the cloud. You can choose either local or cloud recording, but not both at the same time.

The D-Link camera supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, though the usefulness of this is limited. It has only one good trick - I can ask the Google Assistant to stream the live video feed from the camera to my TV via a Google Chromecast dongle.

• Verdict: For its price, the D-Link camera offers plenty of features, notably the option of local or cloud storage for recorded videos.

Vincent Chang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline 'D-Link camera is feature-packed yet affordable'. Print Edition | Subscribe