If you need home or small business security cameras, D-Link has a kit that will have you set-up in no time. The Omna Wire-Free Indoor-Outdoor Camera Kit makes what could be a tricky task dead simple.
It took about as long to get the home surveillance system working as it will take you to read this review. About six minutes from opening the box to being able to check two remote wireless cameras. Of course, mounting them in a permanent spot will take a little longer.
Not cheap, but D-Link camera kit is worth it
At NZ$900, Omna Wire-Free isn’t cheap, but if you need security in a hurry, it’s hard to go past D-Link’s kit.
The ensemble comes in a sizeable box. Inside there’s a base station, D-Link calls it a hub. If it looks a like a WiFi router, that's because, in effect, that is what it is.
You need a spare power socket for the hub and an unused Ethernet port on your router. Neither of these are givens in modern homes. It makes sense to place the hub close to your router. If your router is near your home entertainment hardware, you’ll have to live with more distracting flashing lights.
The box also contains two spherical wireless cameras. They’re about the size of a large apple or orange. Both are curvy, but have a flat base. D-Link supplied some mounting hardware, but there is only a single outdoor mount.
You connect the hub to power and your home network. Then, you hit a sync button on the side of each camera and it will connect to the hub.
The next stage is downloading the Mydlink app. There are versions for iOS and for Android.
This brings us to the trickiest and most long-winded part of the set-up. You need to sign-up for a mydlink account and wait for a confirmation email to arrive. You may also need to scan the QR code on the back of the hub to get the software running.
At this point you should be in business and able to see what the two cameras are picking up.
Both cameras can handle motion detection. This feature can work in darkness. The cameras are robust and waterproof enough to put outside. That includes, say, up a tree in the garden.
When the cameras detect movement they capture the scene in 1080P resolution. It’s higher definition than you’d expect. You can choose to send the video footage to D-Link’s cloud storage. Or, you can capture it on a local SD-card or even an old-fashioned hard drive.
D-Link is following the now-common practice of adding online services to hardware. You get a year’s subscription to a basic cloud storage service when you first install the system. After that it costs. The price goes up depending on who long you want to store videos. If you have ten cameras and want to store 30 days of video the cost is US$100 a year.
There’s obvious value in this. If criminals rob or trash your place, there’s a chance they will find or even steal your hard drive or the SD card. If they are at all clued up about home security they may even look for it so they can destroy the evidence.
The flip side is local storage is free. There’s no subscription to remember and you can get immediately at the data.
It wasn’t possible to test D-Link’s claim that the camera batteries will work for 11 months between charges. Yet after a few weeks there was no sign of them running down. Even so, if you mount the cameras in hard to reach places, recharging them could be painful. You have to unmount them and take them close to a power supply.
One nice touch is that you can buy extra cameras to expand your security network. D-Link doesn’t appear to sell spare matching cameras. It offers a range of options from A$150. It’s not clear from the documentation if you can add any existing home cameras to the hub.
D-Link’s Mydlink phone app works well enough. Yet the 1080p resolution is overkill given the size of most mobile phone screens. The pictures are crisp and clear, even in low-light conditions. It’s hard to fault the product in the set up of video capture department.
That said, there doesn’t appear to be an option to watch live footage on a PC or laptop. If there is, it passed me by. It does work with Google Home, so it may be possible to Chromecast images to a large screen TV. I didn’t test this.
A more subtle shortcoming is the weird latency in the system. It can take ages for the camera image to appear on the app.
In testing on different occasions it would take two or three minutes to get from waking the phone to a live feed. Sometimes the app would appear to hang at this point only to spring back into life. Even a two-minute hold up feels like this could be long enough for a home invader to get through the front door and on their way to your bedroom.
As an aside, I’m also not comfortable with the assumption I keep my phone next to my bed at night. I’ve found that’s a surefire way to interfere with a good night’s sleep.
One last niggle, D-Link needs to work on the phone app. The user interface is poor at the best of times. If you’re panicking as someone crawls about outside it isn’t good enough.
Verdict: D-Link Omna Wire-Free Indoor-Outdoor Camera Kit
D-Link’s Omna Wire-Free Indoor-Outdoor Camera Kit takes the hard work out of getting a home security system up and running. Buying separate devices, mixing and matching them, then making them work with software is not for the fainthearted. The price is good considering the amount of work you won’t need to do.
The hardware performance is impressive. It’s better than I’ve seen on any home system. D-Link still needs to work on the software; both the user interface and the time lag to get images on screen. Still, I’d recommend this for anyone who needs home or small business security.