D-Link DCS-930L (AKA Cloud Camera 1000) Review

41aMMB8UpBLThe Good: It’s cheap.  With its one way audio it can be used as a budget video baby monitor.  The MyDlink app is clean and straightforward.

The Bad: Poor video quality.  Narrow viewing angle.  Video gets significantly worse in low light.  Setup is tedious.  Viewing the camera on a computer requires downloading a non-standard plugin.

Overall: You get what you pay for.  While I may be asking a lot from an entry level camera, this one is particularly sub par by 2015 standards.  I wouldn’t be surprised if D-Link planned to sunset this camera soon.

This wasn’t my first choice in wifi security camera.  It actually wasn’t even on the list, but to be totally honest the list started and ended at Dropcam.  My coworker had bought too many of these for his house and offered me one for the bargain basement price of $20 (it currently retails for $30), so I couldn’t say no.

The D-Link DCS-930L is at best an entry level wifi camera, as the price would suggest.  I find that most of D-Link’s products are entry level at best, but I try to keep an open mind.  The unit seems a little bigger than it needs to be, but the design is nice enough and although you can’t exactly hide it anywhere, it’s not unpleasing to look at.  It comes with a power cord, ethernet cable and hardware to mount it on the wall.

The setup procedure was an interesting one.  The booklet that came with the camera directed me to a website where I was supposed to download a utility and then run the setup from there.  I dutifully went to the website and found the link for the utility.  The link, however, told me that there was an even better, faster way to set up the camera with the app, and directed me to the app store.  I then loaded the MyDlink app on my iPhone and was thankful it didn’t direct elsewhere.

After finding the correct method of beginning the setup, I was instructed to plug my camera into my router (a step I would like to see go away forever), and search the network for the camera.  Although I was able to find the camera, I was unable to proceed to the next steps because the option was not available in the app!  I wound up going back to the website, downloading the computer setup files and setting it up successfully with that program.  This alone was too much of an annoyance for me, but we wanted something in place to monitor the dog when we weren’t home, so I pressed on.

Once the camera was set up on the network, I installed it in my well lit living room with a clear shot into my den.  These are the two places my dog is most likely to be when I’m not home, and the entire purpose of the camera is to be able to check on her when I’m not around.  It’s important to note that my living room is well lit.  There is a big sliding glass door behind the camera, a bay window next to the door.  The resulting picture from my D-Link DCS-930L is…


…pretty crappy.  Even in landscape it is very hard to make out anything in the den (the room in the back).  To be fair, I had to draw the shades in the den because the sun was messing up the picture, but there is an aquarium in that dark space with a bank of LED lights lighting up that area.  Also note the big “240p” in the screenshot.  The package says that the camera works at 480p, but getting it to work at anything but 240p has eluded me.  I have to assume that it only works at 480p when wired directly to a router or switch,unless of course my Asus AC68U router isn’t up to D-Link’s lofty specs.

The MyDlink app is decent.  It’s clean and straightforward.  It has ample room for multiple cameras or devices.  The website, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired.  In order to view the camera it requires you to install a nonstandard plugin.  Why they couldn’t use Flash, Java or HTML5 like everyone else is beyond me, but they did.  I have been able to access my camera from both of my laptops using Chrome, Firefox and IE, but no matter how many times I install the plugin on my desktop it doesn’t work.

I’ve been very disappointed with the camera on the whole.  The picture quality is poor, the setup is dizzying and the field of view is far too narrow.  Previously I was using an old netbook in the same exact spot and had a significantly better picture and field of view.  There are far better options in the low end range for wifi cameras, and given all its shortcomings I honestly couldn’t recommend this for any application.  It works better as a remote microphone than a camera.