D-Link DCS-2100+ wireless Internet camera review: D-Link DCS-2100+ wireless Internet camera

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design and ease of use: 7.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Streams video to a connected computer; excellent surveillance software; good range; records video and snapshots; motion detector with e-mail alerts.

The Bad Short one-year warranty; can’t zoom or control camera remotely.

The Bottom Line The DCS-2100+ offers affordable, capable wireless surveillance for the home or a small office, but it lacks the features for truly sensitive situations.

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Review summary

If you want to keep an eye on your home or office without stringing wires everywhere, D-Link's DCS-2100+ wireless video camera can help. It gives you acceptable pictures and the ability to receive an e-mail alert if anything moves. Getting it all to work is a two-hour job, but it's worth it because the excellent suite of surveillance software can monitor as many as 16 different cameras. D-Link's DCS-2100+ has built-in Wi-Fi, and it connects directly to 802.11b or 802.11g networks. It lacks a zoom function and a remote control, but the DCS-2100+ is the best low-cost surveillance system we've seen. The package comes with a camera and a stand, an AC adapter, and a six-foot Cat-5 cable. A CD contains the installation and surveillance software; for documentation you get a well-organized and thorough, 102-page manual and a handy, 10-page start-up guide.

The initial installation requires plugging the camera into AC and connecting it via a wired Ethernet connection to a PC running Windows 98 SE or later (sorry, no Macs). Then you run the IP Installer from the CD; it sniffs the network for the camera, then launches a wizard that lets you change the IP address and configure the camera's wireless settings. After you have configured the camera to join your network, you can pull the Ethernet plug and install the camera anywhere within range of your wireless network. The included stand and mounting bracket make the physical installation easy. The camera doesn't take batteries, so you'll need to have an AC outlet within range of its six-foot power cord.

The camera's single, green LED glows, showing it's ready. Open an Internet Explorer window (the camera requires IE 5 or higher) and enter its IP address; a stream of 320x240-pixel video appears, complete with a time and date stamp. It can also send 160x120 video.

The core of the software package is the IP Surveillance suite, which has Monitor and Playback programs and provides a slew of recording and viewing features. The application is easy to install and run, but it takes up the entire screen, and the image stretches awkwardly to fit anything other than a traditional 4:3 display. You can view as many as 16 different video streams in a variety of formats. The DCS-2100+ has a good feature set that includes a motion detector and the ability to monitor up to 16 cameras simultaneously. It can alert you of intruders via e-mail, or it can start an external application that can make a recording or play an alert sound. You can't remotely aim, focus, or zoom it, though.

The DCS-2100+ transmits acceptable-quality (30 frames per second) video, with excellent sound synchronization. Under the best of circumstances, its output has a red cast to it in spite of an automatic white balance, and in a dark setting, the output is grainy, black-and-white video. The camera is not weatherproof, so you must mount it behind a window to monitor outdoor areas.

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The camera's sturdy stand makes the DCS-2100+ easy to mount and point.

Security is decent, with up to 256-bit WEP encryption, but to go beyond the standard 128-bit protocol, you'll need a D-Link access point. The company will soon release an update that includes Wireless Protected Area (WPA) security. While the Monitor and Playback programs are password-protected, viewing the camera's output with Internet Explorer is not. There are physical security concerns, too: The camera simply plugs into a standard AC outlet. All an enterprising intruder has to do is disconnect the power to mask a break-in.
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You can attach directional antennae to the DCS-2100+ for increased range.

We tested the D-Link DCS-2100+ by setting it up to monitor a rear delivery door, a playroom, an office, and a hallway. It sent video reliably up to 95 feet from our network's access point, and it stayed in contact one floor above and one below, making it suitable for a three-story installation as large as 60,000 square feet. The camera's removable antennae make it easy for you to add a more-sensitive directional antenna, such as the D-Link Ant24-0801 Pico Cell Patch antenna for even better range. The DCS-2100+'s data stream imposed no noticeable burden upon our network, even while we had six additional data streams running. We wish the D-Link DCS-2100+'s one-year warranty were longer, like the three-year warranty that the company offers on some of its other wireless networking products. The D-Link Web site is very helpful. It's searchable and organized by product. It offers downloadable firmware, replacement applications, and diagrams that explain how the camera fits into your network. At any time, you can tap into the company's extensive knowledge base or call its 24/7 phone support for help. Unfortunately, the Web site lacks a video-based training guide, something that the company offers for several other products.

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Where to Buy

D-Link DCS-2100+ wireless Internet camera

Part Number: DCS2100PLUS Released: Aug. 1, 2003

MSRP: $299.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Aug. 1, 2003