Testing IP cameras – pt.1

dlink dcs-900

Since ERA already has some IP cameras from previous years, it’s probably time to dust them off and try them out with the new Asus 901s. We have a pair of D-Link badged items – a DCS-900 wired-only Motion-JPEG camera with a maximum resolution of 640×480 pixels, and a much fancier DCS-3220g which has 802.11g WiFi as well as wired ethernet, full PAL -sized MPEG-4 as well as Motion-JPEG output, sound support via an internal mic and line output socket and an interchangeable CS-mount lens.

The snag is that these cameras are designed and marketed for a Windows-centric environment, which is odd, since they’re Linux-based embedded devices, apparently made by Vivotek. No support for other operating systems is offered by D-Link. Let’s have a look at them, starting with the DCS-900:

DCS-900 front page

The default IP address of a DCS-900 is 192.168.1.20 ,  and if you point your browser at this adress, you’ll page that looks like this, with ActiveX controls on it, but with a very useful ‘Java’ button, which selects the alternative video display method that we can use without having Internet Explorer. Now you should be able to see some kind of image, and you should now be able to configure the video stream and network settings to your liking:

DCS-900 video pageDCS-900 network page

We did some image quality and bandwidth tests. The  complexity of the picture transmitted has some effect on the size of the stream, so we did some comparisons between a simpler indoor scene and a more complex scene through the office window.  Here are our results:

320×240 15fps compression level medium 700kbps (out of window 1.1Mbps)
320×240 5fps compression level very low (out of window) 890kbps

640×480 5fps compression level medium 780kbps

640×480 5fps compression level very high (out of window) 980kbps
640×480 5fps compression level low (out of window) 1.9Mbps
640×480 5fps compression level very low (out of window) 2.Mbps

640×480  15fps compression level very low  3.3Mbps (out of window)

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