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Home security camera that is also a smart home hub

The D-Link DCS-8330LH Wi-Fi camera can connect wirelessly to Internet-of-Things devices.
The D-Link DCS-8330LH Wi-Fi camera can connect wirelessly to Internet-of-Things devices.

D-Link's latest Wi-Fi camera (DCS-8330LH) may look like a typical home security camera, but it has a neat trick up its sleeves.

The camera has a built-in smart home hub that uses the Zigbee standard to connect wirelessly to Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices.

Users can create their own home automation scenarios, such as receiving a smartphone alert from a sensor when a door or window is opened.

While manufacturers have integrated smart home hubs in devices such as mesh routers, this is the first security camera that I know of with this feature.

As is the norm in the fragmented smart home scene, this integrated smart hub works only with D-Link's smart home gadgets, which include door and window sensors, as well as smart plugs.

Besides adding a smart home hub, D-Link has also improved the camera features in the DCS-8330LH.

Most security cameras automatically record video when they detect motion or sound.

More advanced ones can distinguish between people and other moving objects such as pets or vehicles through the use of artificial intelligence. The DCS-8330LH belongs to the latter.

Hence, you can expect fewer alerts (from its mydlink app, available for iOS and Android) compared with security cameras with simple motion detection, especially if you have pets at home.

The camera also offers two other types of detection scheme - boundary crossing and priority zone - besides the standard monitoring zones found in most security cameras.

Boundary-crossing detection lets you draw a line across the camera's field of view. If an object crosses this invisible line, the camera will alert you. For the priority-zone detection scheme, an alert is triggered when an object appears inside or departs from a user-customisable area in the camera's view.

  • FOR

    • Video quality is decent

    • Affordable

    • Options for either cloud recording or local storage

    • Can distinguish between people and other moving objects

  • AGAINST

    • App is non-intuitive and confusing

    • Notifications are delayed and erratic

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $149

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

    Field of view: 151 degrees diagonal

    NIGHT VISION: Yes (up to 5m)

    MOTION DETECTION: Yes

    MOBILE APPS: iOS and Android

    WEIGHT: 140g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4.5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3.5/5

    VALUE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The alerts from the camera appear in your smartphone as rich notifications that show a screenshot of the camera's view, along with options to call two designated contacts - using the phone - directly from the notification window.

However, the notifications are slower than expected, appearing up to a minute after the event had taken place. Despite switching on the camera's privacy mode, which disables all monitoring features, I still received a notification, albeit only once.

As I did not have any of D-Link's smart home devices, I was not able to test the smart home integration ability. But the mydlink app interface, which I had tested with previous D-Link cameras, remains as non-intuitive as before.

While setting up the camera is as simple as scanning a QR code and keying in the password for your Wi-Fi network, the app is confusing to use, with too many sub-menus to navigate.

Thus, it took me longer than usual to figure out how to create an automation rule to govern the camera's behaviour or to customise the type of motion-detection scheme.

To be fair, the camera itself is decent for its price. Video quality is smooth and decent at 1,080p. It supports cloud recording and local microSD card storage, though you can select only one method at any time.

There is even a free cloud storage option that stores videos from up to three cameras for 24 hours, which is increasingly rare as companies push users towards subscriptions.

If you can get used to its less than user-friendly app, this unusual security camera that can also double as a smart home hub is worth checking out.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2020, with the headline 'Home security camera that is also a smart home hub '. Print Edition | Subscribe