30 November, 2011

D-Link DCS-930L wifi surveillance camera

My dealings with surveillance cameras go back to the days when an anologue camera on the end of a long thin coaxial cable connected to the sitting SCART socket on the family TV in the sitting room.
 Many years later I picked up a second-hand D-link DCS-5300G. A motorised wifi device enabling surveillance over the Internet, its features included the possibility of controlling it remotely. The downside was: it was a headache to set up and I eventually gave up.

Now this new machine, the D-Link DCS-930L,  is a doddle to set up. No need to know or care anything about routing ports, DHCP or whatever. The price has come down a lot too, at just €99. It can be used with the MyDLink system. Basically you just log into the MyDlink web site and you can watch (provided you have Java Runtime installed) what's going on back home.
There are MyDlink apps for both Android and IOS.
This camera is not motorised though. Nor does it have the snazzy features of the other machine I reviewed here a year ago, the Logitech Alert 750i, which had motion detection, could initiate email alerts in the event of intrusion and store images on a memory card.
In other words, it is a distant surveillance camera, full stop.

The Down side 

It's not compatible with my netbook which is Linux based. I contacted  DLink support about this. They told me to use a different computer!

The Android app installed without any difficulty on my ZTE Skate and worked straight away. But I still haven't managed to install it on a non-Google approved Android slate.

Finally, this device is really a monitoring camera rather than a surveillance camera. It doesn't work in low light levels, so it can't be used to monitor an appartement with the curtains or shutters closed while you are away  - unless you leave the lights on the whole time. It is fine for monitoring a baby's bedroom, but for burglary surveillance, the other camera I reviewed earlier is a far better bet, with motion detection, recording images and email alerts, but it then it costs three times as much. 

26 November, 2011

ZTE Skate android phone

I've just been given one of the new ZTE Skate phones to play with.
There are plenty of reviews on the net so I won't harp on about the basic specs. Suffice it to say that it has a large 4.3 inch screen, and sports Android 2.3.1. Rather, I will talk about some of the aspects that don't generally get into the reviews. Small, features that are not particularly expensive to implement, but which make a difference.

I really liked the possibility of disactivating data via mobile: seems really obvious. But I've come across many phones, including the earlier ZTE Blade,  that don't allow you to to this. I suppose the manufacturer's thinking is that the user wants to be always connected - even if it means paying exorbitant mobile data rates.Obvious, but I couldn't believe ít when I come accross  phones I've tested on.

Built -in SIP that links seamlessly to the phone: I was delighted when it registered in a jiffy after entering the ID, password and SIP host. But then when I tried to actually use it, the phone rebooted as soon as the person I called picked up the phone! I'll download another SIP app later on. Meanwhile, there's always Viber - when it works..