The DCS-5300G is a wired or wirelessly connected security camera that uses any existing internet connection to connect and run its single camera, with the clear focus on security purposes. The main camera unit brings to mind Robocop's foe ED-209, as it's a silver and black camera on a rotating motorised axis that can be set to sweep and patrol a room through two hundred and seventy degrees. If you're after a security camera that the bad people (whoever they may be) won't spot, then this clearly isn't the unit for you - although there's nothing to stop you setting it up in a clearly obvious place in order to deter theives due to its very intimidating nature. If you're operating the DCS-5300G via a wired link to a router, then the two wireless aerials that screw onto the back are strictly unnecessary, although again we'd suggest it's worth screwing them into place, if only because they do make the unit more visually impressive, and thus hopefully more of a deterrent.
Setting up the DCS-5300G could be a challenge for many users, even with the included quick start guide. Physical setup isn't that tough, and at this stage it's best to have a wired link to a router, although once it's operational it could be placed virtually anywhere you could feed the camera power. Even the accompanying software setup isn't that tricky, although it would be nice if the quick setup guide pointed out what the default administrator username actually is. Where it gets tricky is in setting up the unit for access from the Web itself, presuming that you're setting up a camera that you can view from an external Net-based location. If you happen to have the specific D-Link router mentioned in the PDF manual, then you'll find it rather painless, as it covers exactly which ports to open and how to do it, but anyone else will have to fall back on their router documentation and perhaps do a little firewall tweaking as well. If you're a network guru this won't be too taxing, but if you're not, it'd be a good idea to make friends with one before installing the DCS-5300G - or indeed any other Net-enabled security camera.
The DCS-5300G's camera supports a variety of moving resolutions, from 30fps at 160x120. The camera itself can pan up to 270 degrees and tilt up to 90 degrees. If you do happen to spot a desperado after your valuables while you're in the office, you can remotely zoom up to a magnification rate of 4x, although it should be noted that this is only a digital, not optical zoom.
The DCS-5300G's software will let to connect to and configure up to 16 cameras. It works slickly enough to allow you to either manually control the camera or set it to patrol a predefined area. It's also motion sensitive, and with the proper settings in place you can set it to e-mail alerts whenever the motion sensor is tripped. We were mildly annoyed to discover that the software launches to Internet Explorer by default, even if that's not your default browser. Oddly, launching the camera via its IP address with Firefox gave us no headaches whatsoever, so there is at least a theoretical workaround to this minor issue.
The DCS-5300G's video performance was very good in basic lighting conditions, although at that low resolution it is a touch tricky to work out the specifics of objects moving in the distance. In theory, the zoom should help here, but because it's only a digital interpolation of a zoom, what you're getting is an even lower resolution picture of what's going on. That's fine if you're just checking in on what your cats are up to in the distance, and you'll certainly know that someone's creeping around in front of the camera's lens, but you may not end up with a picture that's really smooth enough if it came down to presenting evidence against a specific individual. Those of a particularly paranoid bent might not like the fact that the camera's power comes from a removeable cable, although careful placement of the camera could hide this particular issue.
Ultimately the DCS-5300G does a good job at what it's aimed at doing - alterting you to what's going on in your property. It's not the be-all and end-all of security solutions, but it will give you a certain quantity of extra security on your property. There are drawbacks to wireless cameras of this type when it comes to security, and certainly a hardwired and more discrete solution that's harder to nobble will offer you even greater security, but if you're keen on the idea of self-managed home security, the DCS-5300G makes a good point to start from.