Tech review: D-Link DCS-8515LH camera tracks your every move

This pan and tilt camera can move up to 170 degrees to the left or the right, as well as tilt by up to 105 degrees.
This pan and tilt camera can move up to 170 degrees to the left or the right, as well as tilt by up to 105 degrees.PHOTO: D-LINK

Staring unblinkingly at me and swiveling to track my every move with a soft whirl is D-Link's latest home security camera, the DCS-8515LH.

It is disconcerting how it fixates on its target - the first moving object that enters its field of view - though I suppose this is a plus for its intended audience.

This pan and tilt camera can move up to 170 degrees to the left or the right, as well as tilt by up to 105 degrees. The camera itself has a 120-degree field of view. In other words, there is no escaping its panoptic gaze, especially when attached to the ceiling for an unobscured view of the room.

Like most modern home security cameras, notifications are sent to the user's phone when the camera detects motion or sound. It also automatically records a short video clip, with the camera following the movement of would-be snoopers.

The videos are recorded in 720p resolution, which is on the low side compared to the 1080p quality offered by other security cameras. But it is hardly a deal-breaker.

Videos can be stored in a microSD card (not included) or uploaded to D-Link's servers. A subscription is required for cloud storage, though the free tier - which covers up to three cameras with videos available (for download or sharing) for up to 24 hours - sounds adequate for home users.

While its tracking capability is excellent, it would have been useful if the camera could distinguish between moving objects, such as a house pet and a human, and respond accordingly. Who needs alerts about the antics of their dog or cat while at work?

If you find the auto-tracking feature unsettling, you can disable it in the camera settings, accessible via the mydlink smartphone app (available for iOS and Android). The camera, too, can be disabled with a privacy feature that physically covers the camera lens.

During the initial setup process, the camera creates a panoramic image of its surroundings. You can set a home point, which is the default camera orientation that it will return to if there is no activity for a minute. Four other such fixed points of view can be set in the app.

Having these presets are handy because manually swiping on my phone to control the camera using the mydlink app is finicky and inaccurate. Alternatively, you can use on-screen directional buttons.

A two-way audio feature lets you communicate with someone at the other side of the camera. But there is some static and distortion, depending on the ambient noise.

Compared with some competitors, D-Link's smartphone app is functional but not as snazzy. It is also easy to get lost while navigating its interface.

The D-Link camera works with virtual assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, albeit only to stream its live video feed to a screen with a Google Chromecast dongle or a smart display like the Google Nest Hub smart display that was launched recently in Singapore.


FOR

Good tracking of moving objects

Privacy mode physically covers the camera lens

Can be mounted to the wall or ceiling

AGAINST

Video resolution could be higher

Smartphone app not intuitive as others

SPECS

Price: $159

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: 340g

RATING

Features: 4/5

Design: 4/5

Performance: 3.5/5

Value: 4/5

Overall: 4/5