IP camera review: D-Link DCS-2136L

IP camera review: D-Link DCS-2136L

$299

Do not let its diminutive appearance fool you. Despite weighing less than 130g, the D-Link DCS2136L packs a powerful punch with its video-image quality and variety of functions.

Set-up is quick and simple. It takes about five minutes, with clear instructions provided every step of the way. It has support for Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), simplifying the installation process even further. During the process, a free mydlink account will be created to let you remotely access your camera over the Internet.

The camera has two-way communication and motion detection settings, with push notification support so that notifications can be sent to the mobile app or to your e-mail address. A microSD card slot supports SD cards of up to 32GB.

The camera also supports the latest wireless standard, 802.11ac.

The mobile app has a smooth, clean layout and is updated regularly, occasionally with new features. It can save snapshots directly to the phone's gallery, set motion detection on and toggle night-vision mode.

With the mobile app, you are limited to lower resolutions of 320 x 176 pixels and 640 x 360 pixels, but colours are still accurate. Even on 3G networks, the frame rate remains solid. The audio quality is clear, with little ambient noise to obscure conversation.

A two-way communication feature is present as well, but it mutes the camera's microphone when you talk through the mobile phone. This is a double-edged sword. While you avoid the common screeching sound of audio feedback, it means that you are effectively deaf while talking.

A big drawback is the limited recording ability. You can save videos to the microSD card in the camera but you need to use the PC to start the recording.

As with most IP cameras, accessing the camera via the PC provides deeper customisation with extra settings, such as motion sensitivity, wide dynamic range and, more importantly, the option for high-definition (HD) viewing at 1,280 x 720 resolution. When the HD viewing option is activated, the video image quality jumps up, growing sharper with more vivid colours.

For viewing at night, the camera comes with a high-powered white LED with an effective range of up to 15m, filling most rooms with light. Although powerful, this can be disconcerting at night.

Fortunately, the night vision is a great substitute. The camera boasts colour night vision, which works surprisingly well - it manages to retain and display colours well in a darkened room, accurately distinguishing green, red, blue and yellow cushions on a sofa.

Those looking for a well-designed camera with unique features such as colour night vision will enjoy this D-Link device. The constant updates to the mobile app also point to continued support for this camera in the future.

TECH SPECS

Type: Fixed position

Video resolution: 1,280 x 720 pixels (up to 30 frames per second)

Connectivity: Ethernet port, 802.11ac/b/g/n Wi-Fi

Recording medium: microSD (up to 32GB), PC

Viewing angle: 46.5 degrees

Night vision: Yes

Two-way communication: Yes

WPS connectivity: Yes

Mobile app: Available on Android and iOS, free

RATING

Features: 4/5

Design: 4/5

Performance: 4/5

Value: 3/5

Overall: 4/5


This article was first published on June 25, 2014.
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