D-Link's DCS-1000W has wireless appeal plus a low price

Putting digital cameras on the Web was a good idea. Freeing them from PCs by turning them into standalone networked devices is an even better one. Still better is untethering them completely via wireless connections, a move that a handful of vendors has recently made.

Among the new cameras that support the IEEE 802.11b, or WiFi, wireless LAN standard is the DCS-1000W Wireless Internet Camera introduced by D-Link early this year.

A notable feature of the DCS-1000W is its $449 price tag, several hundred dollars below what Panasonic, for example, charges for its KX-HCM270 802.11b camera, though that is a ruggedized, outdoor model.

The DCS-1000W has other charms. You can alternatively connect via its RJ-45 Ethernet port'D-Link recommends this for configuring the device'and the port handles Fast Ethernet at up to 100 Mbps, not just the 10-Mbps Ethernet of most other cameras.

Like other networked webcams, the DCS-1000W is a Web server, complete with a dedicated IP address and browser-enabled administration, control and viewing. A built-in e-mail server can notify you when certain events are captured by the camera's 640- by 480-pixel image sensor.

Like all webcams, it gives you 20 and 30 frames per second at far lower resolutions.
To communicate with it, you need an 802.11b access point or adapter, both of which D-Link also sells. Be forewarned that the DCS-1000W lacks the remote-control pan, tilt and zoom features of more expensive cameras.

Simple and lightweight

I easily set up D-Link's card deck-sized wireless adapter and the larger access point to communicate with the camera, itself a simple, lightweight, brick-shaped box of silver plastic with a tiny plastic lens body and LED indicators.

The images looked washed out and jaggy, though acceptable at the sweet-spot resolution of 320 by 240 pixels. Frame rates were predictably slow, with refreshes coming about every two seconds, even over my 10-Mbps wired LAN. When I upped the resolution to its 640-by-480 limit, frames lurched along every six seconds.

But such performance issues are inherent in the technology. Otherwise, the DCS-1000W is pleasant to use and administer, though its technically advanced documentation and numerous networking options make it decidedly a tool for network administrators, not casual users.

The DCS-1000W's raison d'etre is the same as for most wireless installations: It virtually eliminates wiring hassles. Consider it if cost is a concern, and you need a network camera for security or monitoring without wires.

Contact D-Link at 949-788-0805.

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