IP-Based Video Surveillance Gets EasierBy Frank Ohlhorst | Posted 2008-06-13 Email 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.
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.
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.