Execellent tilt/pan, intercom, and night-vision features.
Low resolution with fuzzy image quality; unintuitive software; difficult to manage remotely.
Trendnet’s TV-IP422W wireless IP camera reminds us of the
camera we reviewed a few months back. Both cameras have night vision, both offer the same fuzzy video at VGA resolution (640x480), and both use the same unintuitive software. Trendet’s camera costs about $50 more, but it offers two important features that Zonet’s doesn’t: motorized pan and tilt.
The pan and tilt functions enable one camera to cover much more area, which can reduce the total number of cameras you need to deploy. The TV-IP422W can pan in a 330-degree arc, tilt up 90 degrees, and tilt down 15 degrees. Trendnet includes a kit that allows you to mount the camera to any vertical or horizontal surface, but you’ll need a weatherized enclosure if you decide to install the camera outdoors.
You can remotely control a single camera using Internet Explorer and an ActiveX control. Multi-camera management must be performed using the bundled SecurView software. Repositioning the camera’s focal point with this tool is a simple matter of clicking anywhere in the video window. You can also have the camera memorize up to eight positions, enabling you to quickly swing the lens around to focus on a specific spot. A “patrol” mode will automatically cycle the lens to each of its extreme once. Infrared LEDs encircling the lens delivers very effective night vision.
A built-in mic enables you to monitor what’s happening around the camera; plug a powered speaker into the line-level output and you have a functional intercom (in multi-camera configurations—the software supports up to 16—only one can record sound at a time).
The camera has a 100Mb/sec Ethernet interface, but it can also operate wirelessly over an 802.11g network; unfortunately, this will prevent you from operating your 802.11n network in N mode only. A motion detector can activate the recording of video sequences or snapshots; you can also schedule recordings. The software can send event-based email alerts (with still images attached), and a trigger output can be used to activate an external device, such as an alarm. There’s a USB 1.1 port for local storage or for uploading the settings the camera needs to connect to your Wi-Fi network.
You can access the cameras remotely, too (i.e., over the Internet or on a cell phone that supports the 3GPP specification), but if your broadband ISP uses dynamic IP addressing, as most do, you’ll need to sign up with a dynamic DNS hosting service (establishing a unique hostname for each) and configure your router for port forwarding to make this work. And then you’ll need to open a separate browser window to view each camera.
We really dig the Trendnet TV-IP422W’s pan/tilt and intercom features, but the bundled software is the same dreck that Zonet ships with its product. As we mentioned in our Zonet review, Logitech’s Wi-Life camera system has far superior software, particularly in the areas of remote management and multi-camera support; that’s the one reason we remain so enchanted with Wi-Life.