Tech review: D-Link DCS-8330LH security camera is smarter than average

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. PHOTO: D-LINK

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 a 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 only works 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 to security cameras with simple motion detection, especially if you have pets running free in the 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 a person 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.

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 actual event has occurred. And despite turning on the camera's privacy mode, which disables all monitoring features, I still received a notification, albeit this happened 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 unintuitive as before.

While setting up the camera is as simple as scanning a QR code and inputting the password for your Wi-Fi network, the app is confusing to use, with too many submenus 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 very decent for its price. Video quality is smooth and decent at 1080p. It supports both cloud recording and local microSD card storage, though you can only select one method at any time.

There is even a free cloud storage option that stores videos from up to three cameras for the past 24-hour period, 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.

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 unintuitive 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

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