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D-Link DCS-936L HD security camera review

D-Link DCS-936L HD IP security camera

£80
8.2

Build quality

8.0/10

Design

8.5/10

Ease of use

8.5/10

Performance

8.0/10

Value for money

8.0/10

Pros

  • Compact
  • Records to SD card
  • App's ease of use
  • Simple set up
  • Positioning options

Cons

  • No speaker
  • Night vision mode overly sensitive on auto

dlink-dsc-936l-angleGadgetyNews has had D-Link’s DCS-936L HD security camera patrolling the living room. We’ve previously had the mydlink Home Monitor HD performing duties there (it has since moved to the office), so how does the new kid shape up?

Home security IP cameras are becoming increasingly more popular, and it makes sense. Your home may or may not have a burglar alarm – if you’re renting, you might not even get any say in this.

So, short of getting creative in a Home Alone stylee, adding some networked security devices is the next step. I must add at this point that most of you will have spotted the first weak spot of these devices already. If your network goes down, these devices are rendered useless.

Well, not so with the DCS-936L HD. I shall tell you more about that later on.

D-Link DCS-936L design

The most obvious difference between this camera and the others I have had here is that it this one is black.

dlink-dsc936l-compactNow, if anyone was to ask which colour is more stealthy, black or white, it would normally be black. The thing is, I understand why a lot of the consumer cameras are white. This goes doubly as someone who rents their place. Most walls and/or ceilings will be painted white.

The thing is, if you wanted to hide a camera in a good shady spot, then a gloss white plastic eye isn’t really going to get in to the Ninja Hall of Fame. The DCS-936L, however, will.

This camera also has more placement options as there’s a whole lot of swiveling going on.

Swivel

Let’s start with the base. This can not only flip out and be angled, but the ring around the base allows it to swivel and point in exactly the right direction.

dlink-dsc-936l-angleThis means that, if you have limited mounting options, you can still cover the area you need to.

There’s more though. The camera itself can also be rotated.

dlink-dsc-936l-frontA very handy trick indeed, especially if you are planning to mount the camera from the ceiling or on a wall. True, you can set up the software to flip the video, but this is a more hands-on and intuitive way to get an image the right way up.

microSD and microUSB

The camera is powered by the ubiquitous microUSB port in the rear of the camera.

dlink-dsc-936l-backThe cable terminates in to a power plug with the usual slide-off 2 and 3-pin plug options.

The base of the camera has a channel for tidy cable routing.

dlink-dsc-936l-dscard-slotThere is also a microSD slot in the camera. This allows you to record video footage and store it locally on the camera, as well as having it pushed to your NVR (networked video recorder).

I really like how the DSC-936L looks. The base really does open up the options for positioning the camera. I just had it sat on the top of a bookshelf and the wide viewing angle can cover my living space really well.

D-Link DCS-936L performance

Just like the mydlink Home Monitor HD, the DCS-936L captures 720p (1280 x 720) video in 16:9 ratio format.

What has changed is that the view is not only wider, but the quality of the optics are also improved on the DCS-936L. The stats for the camera is that it packs 4x digital zoom and the sensor has a focal length of 2.45 mm and a F2.4 aperture.

Angle of view is (H) 100°, (V) 54° and (D) 120°.

The app

The app is really straightforward and easy to use.

As you can see, there are other D-Link smart devices at Gadgety HQ that are also controlled by the same software.

dcs-936l-app-devicesThis makes it even easier to keep tabs on your D-Link kit.

The D-Link software even allows you to view all the video stored on the SDcard, as well as live monitoring.

This also means that if you record on to an NVR (Networked Video Recorder) and someone breaks in to your business/home, you don’t really have to worry if they do your NVR over. Because, if the criminals think they’re being clever by busting up/stealing your NVR, you have the SDcard in the camera which has been used to back up all the action. Boom! Back-ups all sorted.

dcs-936l-notificationsYou can set the app up to notify you each time the camera either detects movement or sound. These push notifications will then pop up on your mobile device as a text or email. You can also get your device to give you audible alerts.

The camera has a microphone in order to detect any noises. The mic is pretty good but there is no speaker in the unit. So, no two-way chat with your pets or crims when you’re out and about.

Settings

Enable camera LED – this is a real neat feature. This allows you to turn the LEDs on the front of the camera on or off.

dcs-936l-app-settingsSo what? Well, if you have hidden the black camera in a dark corner, you don’t really want a bright green LED ruining all that stealth.

The camera in this shot has the green power LED switched off. The red lights you can see are for the infra red night vision.

dlink-dsc-936l-infra-redAs you can probably tell, the night vision is on and yet there are lights on in the room. This is down to the sensitivity setting which can be altered.

Night vision sensitivity

So, if you can still see the room in your video capture in colour yet your camera seems to want to flick over to the black and white night mode – you might want to sort that out.

The camera has 5 metre night vision with the infrared LEDs.

dcs-936l-nightvisionThe night vision is really clear though. This is a screen shot straight from the app. You can take stills direct from the app though.

The room was actually in total darkness at this point and everything can be clearly made out. Yes, it’s untidy but I’m busy!

Another handy thing is that you can actually mark a particular area to trigger notifications.

dcs-936l-active-areaSimply draw on the screen with your finger the area you want the camera to pay attention to. The red area in the shot above is what I want to trigger if it spots any motion. This means my nocturnal flying monkeys can still glide about without bothering the camera. Other scenarios are just as valid – such as ignoring the area around the windows if you have cats or foxes regularly pressing their furry faces against them, for instance.

More info

You can toggle to get extra detailed information from the video capture, depending how much of it you need.

dcs-936l-detailsI guess if you’re a security or video nut or just really need all the information about everything, then this might be right up your street.

With all the info showing you get the device name, model number, the D-Link ref, resolution, encoding, frame and bit rates, and whether or not audio is on.

Web interface

The web interface will most likely not be needed by more users. I think the whole mobile app plus camera scenario would be plenty for me.

But, in the web interface there are more advanced settings to be had.

Fort instance, if you would rather set the camera up on the network, or a particular network, you can certainly get your hands dirty in here. Personally, loading up the app and using a QR Code is my ideal way of ‘setting’ tech up.

If you plan to record the captured footage to an NVR then this is where the static IP settings will be useful.

This is also where you can flip the video, as well as adjusting the Brightness, Contrast, etc. The light frequency is handy if you’re getting flickering on your recordings due your lighting.

Recording settings

For both MVR and SDcard you can set it to record when triggered or, through the web interface, you can actually set the SDcard recording to be Always. This is not an option in the smart app.

D-Link DCS-936L HD camera review conclusion

The DCS-936L is certainly a great security camera for its size and price.

It looks good, and has a wider-angle lens than other products from D-Link or similar companies. For me this comes second only to the Arlo Q.

The optics are excellent, the video quality is good, and the mic captures decent audio too.

Throw in the usefullness of recording to SDcard then I reckon D-Link have a winner here.

D-Link DCS-936L HD pricing and availability

The camera has a RRP of £70.83 (Exc. VAT). You can grab one on Amazon for £102 plus delivery. I have seen them elsewhere on the web for around £80.

For more information, please visit: http://www.dlink.com

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D-Link DCS-936L HD security camera review

by Jay Garrett time to read: 6 min
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