There are two types of webcams: the cheap devices used for online chats, and the expensive models used for video surveillance. Toshiba’s new IK-WB15A Network Camera falls squarely in the latter category, but it offers some features you won’t find on products costing twice as much.
A 1/4-inch, 630K-pixel, Fuji Super CCD at the heart of the IK-WB15A enables it to deliver very high-resolution streaming video—1280x960—at 7.5 frames per second, or 640x480 resolution at 30fps. Compare that to Panasonic’s $1,400 BB-HCM311A camera, which tops out at 12fps at 640x480 and drops to 320x240 to achieve 30fps.
Toshiba’s cam has a long list of other whiz-bang features, too, including motorized pan and tilt, 2.6x optical zoom, motion detection with alarm, mic input/speaker output, an SD memory-card slot, and a built-in web server. Install Toshiba’s software and you can monitor and control the camera from any networked PC or over the web.
The IK-WB15A was a breeze to set up, and it delivered remarkable results even in low-light conditions (minimum illumination requirement is just 0.18 lux). The camera is water resistant and can be used outdoors, but Toshiba recommends installing it under an eave or in some other sheltered location.
Support for IEEE 802.3af means you can rig the IK-WB15A in a location where there’s no electrical outlet; the camera can draw power over a simple Cat-5 cable. Unfortunately, Toshiba decided to include a conventional AC power supply with this camera, but not the type of “power injector” needed to take advantage of the Ethernet feature. Fortunately, you can pick up one of those for about $40.
Month Reviewed: December 2006 + 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY: Jam-packed with features, including power over Ethernet and a CCD with awesome resolution. - EYES WIDE SHUT: Weak optical zoom; doesn’t include an Ethernet power injector. Verdict: 8 URL:www.toshiba.com