IP-Based Video Surveillance Gets Easier

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

Need to keep an eye on things? Need to protect some assets? Short of a security guard, nothing works better than live video for protecting property. D-Link's latest IP cameras bring the security of video to almost anywhere.

Video surveillance technology has long been a tool for security personnel. Just visit any major retailer, warehouse club or new car dealer to spot TV cameras all over the place. Today, most of those systems use traditional closed-circuit television technology and are often hooked up to a time-lapse or stop-motion VCR to record activity. However, many business owners are finding that CCTV solutions have limited capabilities and can be expensive to purchase and deploy.

Security-minded folks looking for something better and IT vendors are heeding the call. Simply put, the future of video surveillance is IP-based, while CCTV is clearly the past. Several vendors have stepped up to the plate to offer IP-based video cameras, but only a few seem to understand the real needs of security personnel. While most of the IP cameras on the market are designed as indoor "nanny cams," IT hardware vendor D-Link is looking at the big picture and offering commercial-grade cameras that do everything a dedicated CCTV system can and then some.

Take a Channel Labs Walkthrough of the latest D-Link IP video gear 

The company offers no fewer than 15 IP cameras that should fit most anyone's surveillance needs. We took a look at some of the higher-end models, which feature remote zoom, along with remote positioning, which supports moving the cameras on three different axis points. The cameras we looked at also have optional all-weather outdoor enclosures that allow the cameras to be used most anywhere.

DCS-6600 Series:

The DCS-6600 series consists of two cameras, which for all intents and purposes are exactly the same, except that the DCS-6620G features Wi-Fi connectivity and has an MSRP of $999.99, while the DCS-6620 is only available for a wired Ethernet connection and has an MSRP of $899.99.

Both units feature motorized pan and tilt and a 10x optical zoom auto focus/auto iris lens. The optical zoom capability is an important feature. Most IP cameras rely on digital zoom, which suffers from very poor clarity and image quality. With the optical zoom, users can zoom in on license plates, faces or other elements to positively identify potential security issues. Image clarity will be an important element if video needs to be used as evidence during a legal proceeding.

Both cameras feature better-than-average resolution. The highest resolution on the cameras is 704 by 480, which supports an adequate 10 frames per second. A 352 by 240 mode supports 30FPS if needed, but for most security purposes, 10FPS should be more than adequate and is a big improvement over CCTV-based systems' stop-motion recording capabilities. Two video codecs are offered, MPEG-4 and MJPEG. Most users will opt for MPEG-4, which is a more popular standard.

Installation and operation of the cameras proves to be simple. Management and monitoring is accomplished with a Web browser. For the DCS-6620, setup consists of little more than plugging in an Ethernet cable and a power source. Once connected, installers can use a setup wizard, which locates the camera on the network and launches utilities to complete the configuration. Installers will want to set a static IP address, name the device and implement security on the camera. All of those tasks are exceptionally easy using the setup wizard. The DCS-6600 series supports as many as 20 user accounts and 10 simultaneous users. Security rights can be set to allow view only or administrative use for each of the user accounts. The browser-based interface offers context-sensitive help, and the options and controls are very intuitive. The cameras seem to work best with Internet Explorer, which automatically downloads the appropriate codec to display live video.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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