D-Link Outdoor HD Wireless Network Camera Review (DCS-2330L)

Rating:

If you’re looking to set up a serious home monitoring system, you’ll probably want to invest in a multi-camera setup, either connected to a PC, or with a dedicated hard-drive-based DVR to capture all that footage, so that it can be reviewed after the fact in the event of a crime.

But if your needs are a bit more modest, and you’re mostly just looking for a single camera that connects to the Internet, so you can keep tabs on your garage, front door, or you’re pets while away, there are much simpler, more affordable options.

D-Link’s Outdoor HD Wireless Network Camera (DCS-2330L) is a good option if your needs are closer to the latter camp. The camera has a 720p sensor for clear images during the day, and can switch over to IR mode at night, so you can still get a clear (though black-and-white) image, even after the sun goes down.

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If you have a large area that you want to monitor, this camera isn’t the best option, as it doesn’t have a motorized mount for panning and tilting around. But with smart mounting, it can still cover a fairly large area.

Setup is also quite simple (for an Internet-connected camera), and it’s easy to monitor the camera’s feed from anywhere in the world via the Web, or the “mydlink Lite” app, available for free on iOS, Android, and Windows phone.

But what helps make setup so simple is the fact that the camera is designed to pump your video feed through D-Link’s servers, which privacy-minded users may not find acceptable. The camera can be configured to bypass the company’s servers, but you’ll lose a lot of features, and setup will be more complicated as well.

It’s also important to point out that, while the company markets this as an outdoor camera, its operating temperature range is between -25 to 45 degrees Celsius. So in many places, you’ll need to bring the camera inside for the worst months of winter.

Setup & Use

The D-Link camera can be configured to work either wired with an Ethernet cable plugged in the back, or without the cable, using WiFi. The camera does need power from an outlet to function. And while the power cable is roughly 10 feet long, it’s permanently attached to the back of the camera. So if you’re planning on running the cable through a wall, you’ll need to cut a hole a couple inches wide, rather than just drilling a hole to pass a cable through.

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Even if you plan on connecting the camera to the Internet via WiFi, you’ll still need to plug the camera in to your router using the provided Ethernet cable for initial setup. You’ll also need to download and install the mydlink software. With the camera plugged in to your router, the software should find the camera on your network. You’ll then be prompted to create an account or log in to a mydlink account via a Web browser.

Once that’s done, you can access the camera and change settings at any time by pointing your browser to www.mydlink.com, and logging in to your account. You’ll need to also install Java on your computer to see the camera’s live feed, as well as tweak settings. Using the Web-based interface to control the camera’s myriad of features can definitely be confusing, though part of the problem is that there are so many adjustable features available.

You can also record images and video onto a MicroSD card, which you’ll have to first insert into the back of the camera, after removing a water-tight panel held on by two screws. Cards up to 32GB are supported, but be sure that you buy an SDHC card and not the newer SDXC card format. A D-Link representative told me the latter format isn’t supported.

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Once you have a card installed, you can choose granular settings, such as how many frames per second are recorded, what resolution, and whether or not you want to schedule recordings at specific days and times, or use the built-in motion detection to trigger recordings. You can also select specific areas in the camera’s view that won’t trigger the motion detection—helpful if, say, there’s a swaying tree branch, or some other object that you want the camera to ignore.

You can also set the camera up to send email alerts when motion is detected, if the camera loses power, or if the SD card is full. Alternatively, you can have the camera continually write over the SD card when it’s full.

The camera records short video clips and periodic image snaps, rather than recording a constant stream. This is okay if you have the camera set up to be triggered by motion, but still not ideal for security purposes. Memory cards aren’t up to the task of being constantly written to and overwritten. And they aren’t spacious enough to store a steady stream of video. For that, you’re much better off with a higher-end camera fed to a high-capacity hard drive.

Phone Application

Where this camera excels most is its ability to let you check in on what the camera is seeing on most mobile devices. There is an app available for iOS, Android, and Windows phone. I tested the Android app, which worked quite well.

Once you log in with your account, you can see a live video feed, complete with audio. The audio quality isn’t great in my experience; it was often choppy, and overly loud. But the video looks good, and you can switch between 240p and 480p resolutions, to best fit your Internet bandwidth or signal strength.

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The app also lets you switch the camera from day to night mode from afar. You can set the camera to do this automatically as well, but in my experience, this didn’t always work, resulting in the infrared night mode staying on during the day. You can also snap pictures from within the app and save them on your phone or tablet, as well access video clips stored on the SD card, and change the motion trigger settings, all from within the Android app.

While the app doesn’t give you access to all of the camera’s features, I found it much easier and more intuitive to use than the more feature-packed Web interface. The only real complaint I had, both with the Web interface and the app, is that the live feed always starts with the audio enabled, which can be jarring. And often, even after you mute the audio, if you change some other setting, when you jump back to the camera’s live feed, the audio switches back on again.

This is especially annoying during setup and testing. If you launch the app in the same room as the camera, it can produce a feedback loop, resulting in echoing, squealing audio emanating from your handheld device or computer.

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Conclusion

The D-Link Outdoor HD Wireless Network Camera (DCS-2330L) isn’t for everyone looking for a basic security camera setup. In particular, those who want a reliable, hassle-free way to record security footage will want a camera connected to a hard drive or some other high-capacity storage that’s better suited than a MircoSD card to the constant stress of being written to and overwritten.

But if you want a simple, reasonably priced camera that can easily be accessed when you’re away, via a Web browser or apps, this camera is a good choice that provides very good image quality (provided, of course, that your WiFi signal and Internet speeds are solid) both during the day, and in the darkness of night.

Just remember that, while the camera provides good seals over its various ports to withstand the rain and snow, it’s not meant to be operated at temperatures below -25 degrees Celsius. So while it should function well outdoors most of the year, you’ll definitely need to bring it inside during the winter if you live in colder areas.

Included in the Box:
Camera and power cable
Ethernet cable
Mounting screws
Quick setup guide and warranty card

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
D-Link Outdoor HD Wireless Network Camera (DCS-2330L)
Author Rating
3
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Matt Safford

Matt Safford spends his days testing gadgets and writing about technology. He has written for Popular Science, Smithsonian, Consumer Reports, and Wired.

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