No cloud storage, limited to 128gb of local storage
We've talked about this before, but home security is a growing industry, with millions people dumping thousands upon thousands of dollars into it every year. This is largely because technology has finally made it that people can get their hands on a home security system, though for a lot of people it's just not worth having their whole home hardwired into a Fort Knox-like vault. If you're just looking for an easy way to keep an eye on your home, we think that the D-Link Full HD Ultra-Wide View Wi-Fi Camera, or the D-Link 2630L for short, might be the way to go.
One of our favorite things about the D-Link DCS-2630L is that, even though it's a shiny black spherical ball, it's small enough and unassuming enough that you could potentially get away with hiding it in plain sight if you had to, among a potted plant display or between stacks of books on a bookshelf. We had checked out the SpotCam earlier this year and couldn't seem to make the white cylindrical camera blend into it's surroundings. The D-Link DCS-2630L also comes with mounting hardware, but like other cameras, must be mounted near an outlet as it cannot be hardwired into your home's electrical system.
One of our first webcams back in the early 2000s was a D-Link camera, though it didn't have the same sort impressive specs as this one does. The D-Link DCS-2630L is full HD, with a 1080p resolution (though can be switched to 720p) and an eight-time digital zoom. The camera also boasts a 16 foot night vision range thanks to the six infrared LEDs.
Probably the biggest drawing point of this specific camera is it's 180-degree camera lens, which works exactly like a fish-eye lens, but has been modified to have a wide-view instead of a spherical one. It's still a little distorted at the edges, but not terribly so -- we'd equate it to looking at a panoramic picture, rather than looking through a fish-eye lens. It's nice, because it gives you a full view and eliminates some of the large blind spots of other cameras like the Google Nest camera and the Samsung SmartCam.
Like other cameras, this webcam features 2-way audio, and unlike the SpotCam that we reviewed earlier, the speaker on the D-Link isn't downright abhorrent. Is it fantastic? No, but it's manageable. And speaking of sound: want to be alerted to any activity in your home? This camera features both sound and motion alerts, which is still somewhat rare for comparable camera models.
The Setup Struggles
One of our biggest issue with anything that features the word "Wi-Fi" has got to be the amount of guff that's involved with setting it up. When we had tried to set up the SpotCam, it required multiple tries and took upwards of a half hour to get it set up. Was the D-Link better? Well, sort of. During the beginning of your setup, you're able to connect it with your router by pressing your routers WPS button and then a small button on the back of the camera, or at least that's the theory.
We couldn't get it to work, and then we couldn't figure out how to reset the camera. Turns out there's a small reset button on the back of the camera, which allows you to force your camera back into setup mode. We pressed it with a mechanical pencil, waited an excruciatingly long 45 seconds, and then tried the alternative method which involves setting it up by connecting your iOS device, Windows Phone, or Android device to the camera directly in your Wi-Fi settings. This way is actually relatively painless, and we encourage using this right off the bat if you're worried that your router might not be willing to play nice.
Apps What I'm Talking About
The primary reason you'd buy this camera is for the app interface. The D-Link app, called Mydlink Lite is just about as friendly as possible with a streamlined interface that allows you to control the camera remotely, switching it between 1080p and 720p, day and night mode, turning on and off the audio features. It's exactly what you want to see in a product like this, and we don't feel like we have to say too much about it. It's well designed, and if you like well designed apps, you'll appreciate it.
Get Your Head Out of the Cloud
While other similar webcams, including Google Nest, boast cloud recording, it's worth noting that the D-Link DCS-2630L does not. However, unless you're running a business and need to constantly look back on your footage, we're willing to bet that the average user might not need this feature. If you're using this as a nanny cam or something to keep an eye on your home while you're on vacation, we think that checking the app from your iPhone will probably suffice.
If you need to store backup footage on this camera, you still can, though you'll have to locally record it. The camera is capable of recording to a 128GB microSD card, but if that's not enough you can purchase one of D-Link's camera video recorders for an additional $90 or so, which allows you to connect an external USB hard drive and record to that. Is it the cheapest option for a home? No, not by a long shot. Is it reasonable for a small business? Well, it seems a bit more feasible.
A Word to the Wise
We'd like to take a second to discuss the safety of Wi-Fi home security cameras for a moment. Because these are cameras that are actively connected to the Internet, it's of the utmost importance that you take the time to make sure that your home network is as secure as possible. Do not leave your router's administrative passwords set to the default, make sure you've got some form of secure password on both your router and your D-Link DCS-2630L -- essentially do all the things that you already know that you should. There have been many cases of Wi-Fi security cameras being hacked by both merry pranksters and not-so-merry ne'er-do-wells. This specific camera boasts night vision, a two-way microphone, and a wide field of view: in short, it's an extremely effective way to monitor your home, be it by you or anyone else who manages to take control of it. We're not steering you away from it by any means, but we do want to make sure that you take every precaution to maintain your privacy and safety.
The Final Call
While we're not 100% sold on the in-home Wi-Fi security camera, we will say that we did find the D-Link DCS-2630L makes a strong showing for such devices. It's relatively easy to set up, inconspicuous, easy to use, and seems solidly built. The fact that you secure the camera with a password as well as a D-Link account that you must create also makes us feel a bit better about having it in our home. If you're interested in snagging a camera to keep on hand for those times you want monitor your house from a distance, the D-Link Full HD Ultra-Wide View Wi-Fi Camera is available from Best Buy for just under $200.
Who the D-Link DCS-2630L is for: Small businesses and homeowners who are looking for an easy way to keep tabs on their property when they are unable to be there should find this to be a rather cheap and cheerful solution.
Who the D-Link DCS-2630L isn't for: If you're not ready to make sure your wireless Internet connection is as secure as possible, we would steer you more toward a professional system instead.