D-Link DCS 933L: WiFi Cloud Camera for home surveillance

All it takes to keep a video watch over your home -- or  your baby -- is a wireless camera, a WIFi network and your smartphone.

 D-Link's  DCS 933L  provides a  home surveillance system  that  you can set up in five minutes --for under Rs 4300

When Vint Cerf, the "Father of Internet" visited India a few years ago,  he sported a T shirt that said "IP on everything".   IP stands for Internet Protocol,  the numerical label  that every device accessing the Internet is assigned. The 70 year  Cerf old is nothing if not naughty and  when he read out the words on his chest,  he  stressed the second letter, which   opened up an  interesting  alternative interpretation.

Cerf was  right: With most of us  owning a smart phone, the ability to  ride on  IP  and connect to any device, anywhere, is  an agni asthra in our hands.  And now companies which  used to provide CCTV  surveillance solutions in an earlier analogue era, have  leveraged IP to create simple, wire-free  surveillance solutions for the home that  non-geeks  can set up on their own.

I recently tried out   one such  affordable solution from D-Link  -- the DCS 933L WiFi   Day/Night  Cloud Camera (NH.264).  It  is made for us  tech-challenged dummies,  who can get it  up and working in 5 minutes, if you already have a modern WiFi router in the house.

The camera  which weighs less than 100 gms  can sit  on top of a shelf  if you want to cover areas indoors-- like  a baby cot .  It can also be fixed outside the main door.

All WiFi routers today  are WPA-ready, which means you can use the WIFi Protected  Access  feature which secures  your network with a password. If your  home router is  a D-Link  cloud router or a similar recent product,   it will be have a  WPA   button. The 933L has a similar button and pressing it  instantly links it  to your existing network. If your router is not from D-Link, you can use the CD provided to install the camera using any  Windows or Mac PC or laptop.

The 'mydlink' app downloadable for Android and iOS allows you to  see what the camera is seeing and hear what it is hearing -- live-- on your smartphone or tablet. Which means you can keep an eye on your home from anywhere. The app sends you an alert message -- with a  snapshot of the scene when it detects a movement or a sound.  It divides the  view from  the camera into a grid  so that  you  mark off portions where you don't want to set off the alarm just   because the motion sensor detects your  ceiling fan  spinning or a curtain moving in the breeze!

If you are  installing the camera indoors --  overlooking a baby cot say -- you can set the threshold sound level  to alert you  when the baby cries.  You can also zoom four-fold,  from your phone.  The camera has a night vision mode, which works in darkness,  up to 5 metres. Buying the camera  gets you free use of the mydlink cloud feature to monitor your home in  real time.  For Rs 4299, this is about as good as it gets in wireless home surveillance. At this price you don't get automatic storage of the video content like  some pricier models -- though  clever people have figured that you can open tweak it to send the video to a storage disk you have to buy separately.  If you want to remotely pan and tilt the camera, you need to buy another D-Link camera the DCS-5020L which costs Rs 8499.

The image (640 by 480  pixels) is on the small size for such devices and  you will find  costlier options on online sites which offer  both 720p HD quality and two-way audio -- that means you not only hear what the camera is hearing -- but can  talk back and be heard. 

 But I'm  still trying to figure out how this last feature would be used.  You see an intruder trying to break into your home. Do you raise the alarm/ call the police/ watchman  or do you enter into a dialogue and  politely  tell   the badmaash to go away? -- Anand Parthasarathy