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Maximum PC Staff Jan 23, 2013

D-Link DCS-5222L

At A Glance

Argus

Doesnt require monthly surcharge to run.

Medusa

Clunky web interface; switches to night mode too easily.

Build your own 1,000-eyed beast

D-Link’s strategy to get you into its MyDlink IP cameras is quite insidious. First, you buy one of the company’s low-cost cams to look at the baby in the crib. Then, you buy one to point out the front door. Pretty soon, you have a 1,000-eyed beast that would make Orwell envious.

There’s no need to poke holes in the firewall with the DCS-5222L.

Well, D-Linker, prepare to add the new DCS-5222L to your many-eyed monster. The DCS-5222L is the latest camera in the MyDlink fleet and brings with it pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities as well as onboard storage for video and still images, visible infrared night-vision imaging, and a passive infrared motion detector.

Pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ) isn’t new to D-Link’s webcams, but the DCS-5222L is the first with “HD” resolution. In this case, that translates to 1280x800 pixels.

MyDlink-enabled cameras are different from many webcams in that you don’t have to poke holes in your firewall or any of that rigmarole. The camera requires that you set up an account with MyDlink, which lets you stream live video and sound to a browser that supports Java.

Setup isn’t as horrible as with older IP cameras, but also not always snag-free. We had to update the firmware on the camera before we could get it up and running. If ease-of-setup on the Dropcam that we reviewed in September is a 10, the DCS-5222L is probably a 7.

Image quality of the DCS-5222L is OK, but also not on par with the Dropcam. In fact, it’s difficult to even get HD out of the D-Link at all remotely. We could only access higher resolutions by going into the camera’s setup screen. Like the two previous D-Link cameras we’ve tested, the DCS-942L and DCS-932L, the camera tends to switch to night mode too quickly, leaving you with a black-and-white image rather than color. D-Link provides a free Android and iOS app for viewing and
controlling the camera—but also only at low resolutions.

The camera includes 802.11n, Ethernet, an external speaker jack (so you can talk through the camera), and a microSD slot for recording images and video. Since the camera doesn’t actively stream all video all the time like the Dropcam, capturing video to the microSD card is key. You can also set up a local machine using free D-Link software to record all video, but most folks will likely access video remotely.

We must also note that the DCS-5222L doesn’t carry the monthly service fee that seems to be a trend among IP camera providers these days.

Control of the camera is acceptable. There’s about a three-second lag between telling the camera to move and when it does.

Overall, the DCS-5222L is a decently priced and decently featured IP camera. The installation is workable and the image quality and access are actually pretty reliable from either phone or web browser. The DCS-5222L’s best place is probably alongside others in a whole network of MyDlink cameras.

THE VERDICT

D-Link DCS-5222L

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