What defines an IP Camera? Price? Features? Design? Quality? As a spectator and dabbler in this developing home automation market, I think a good IP Camera has to have features that enable it to work together with other home automation products. The Belkin WeMo NetCam HD+ (NetCam) and the D-Link Wireless HD Pan & Tilt Network Surveillance Camera (D-Link) can do just that and play with other home automation products.
What else can these two products do? That is exactly what we are about to explore in this head to head review. Read on to find out more.
The first thing most of us do when shopping is to look at the price tag of the product we are considering to purchase. Price is a huge determining factor when we buy new things and while it shouldn’t be your only decision purchase decision drive, it might be part of the equation for you. Shown below are how the two cameras compare from a pricing standpoint.
- Belkin WeMo NetCam HD+: around $129.99 (Available at Amazon)
- D-Link Wireless HD Pan & Tilt Network Surveillance Camera: around $169.99 (Available at Amazon)
Next, we’ll look in more detail at camera features. I’ve subdivided the features into multiple sections to make a clear comparison between the two cameras. Are you ready?
Both the NetCam and the D-Link record in 720p and both use H.264 video compression, though the final video resolution will depend upon the speed of your Wi-Fi connection. The NetCam can only produce up to 25 fps (frames per second) while D-Link can produce 30 fps. That being said, the difference is almost undetectable.
Although both cameras can detect motion, the D-Link includes a special feature where you can choose specific zones that will have motion detection. You can set this up using your browser or the included mobile app, which has a free and paid version. The screen will be divided into 25 equal-sized rectangles and you can choose within the field of view what areas should be monitored for motion and what areas should be ignored. Alerts can then be sent via push or email notification.
The NetCam does not offer smart motion detection, but you can adjust the sensitivity to fit your preference. It has five sensitivity levels from low to high, but unfortunately some of other features require that you pay to be able to use. For example, although the NetCam offers live streaming and email alerts for free, more advanced alerts require a subscription to their Cloud+ service (more on that later).
WINNER: D-Link (Note: it’s tough to get a good motion detection experience from a camera but having smart software can make all the difference. Also, D-Link offers this service for free but Belkin makes you pay.))
The NetCam and D-Link both have 4 infrared (IR) LEDS which can illuminate a dark room 8 meters from the camera. One advantage the D-Link has over the Belkin NetCam is that it uses a passive IR or PIR, most commonly used in motion detectors. Thus its night vision, added with the benefits of PIR, makes the D-Link not only a good night vision camera, but also an excellent motion detector when monitoring in dark conditions.
D-Link has a couple of unusual options for video storage. One of their products is called ShareCenter ™ Network Storage Enclosure which is used to essentially create a personal cloud. You can upload your D-Link files, videos, images, music, and more straight to the ShareCenter. The ShareCenter is connected to your home network and can backup files from all your devices connected to the same network, including cameras. The second option D-Link provides is the mydlink Network Video Recorder (NVR). It is a standalone NVR that can record footage from up to nine network cameras at the same time. You can view footage recorded to this device while at home or remotely using a web browser. If you’d like to use a real cloud service, there are independent options that work with D-Link. For example, one that I found is called CamCloud. It has different plans for cloud storage, ranging from $8 per month to $50 per month.
On the other hand, the Belkin has its own cloud service called Cloud+ Premium Service, and it works with the NetCam. Cloud+ will allow you to record motion based events for future reference or playback and will add push notifications to the already included email alerts. The Belkin Cloud+ Premium Service costs $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. If you prefer local storage, D-Link has a built-in micro SD card for direct recording but it only supports SDHC 6 cards or higher. How much data can the NetCam store? D-Link can accommodate up to a 32GB microSD card. When it comes to recording to the card you can either record continuously until the microSD card runs out of space, record on a weekly schedule, or when motion has been detected. From there, you can also upload snapshots or videos through email and/or FTP.
Whether you want to let your children know when you’ll be home, tell your maid what to do, comfort a pet, or scare away an intruder, a two-way audio feature comes is a useful feature to have. Two-way audio is activated within the mobile app, simply press to talk. Both cameras include the two-way audio feature, the only difference is the placement of the speaker, but I don’t see this as an advantage for either camera. The D-Link’s speaker is on the side of its base and NetCam’s speaker is on the back of the camera.
Connecting the NetCam to your Wi-Fi network is simple and easy. Simply slide up the switch at the back of the camera. This configures your camera’s connection. It may take a moment, but once connected, your camera is ready to record.
The D-Link has an Ethernet port and Wi-Fi antenna receiver. For easy setup, the user manual has instructions for zero configuration settings. To connect it to a Wi-Fi network, simply press the configuration button and hold it for 5 seconds. The configuration button is located on the right side of the base just below the antenna. Pressing the button should make the right indicator light flash blue. Once successfully connected, the right indicator light should turn green. This means that your D-Link camera is ready to use.
For this feature, I will once again recommend D-Link because it also has a Wi-Fi extender. A Wi-Fi extender widens the coverage of your wireless local network. If you position your D-Link camera on the edge of your Wi-Fi’s range, it will amplify the signal to accommodate more cameras, even if the cameras are outside the original range.
Pan and Tilt Options
The Pan and Tilt feature is the ability to move horizontally and vertically in order to change the camera’s view. It’s a very useful feature when you want to check in on an alert. Nothing is more frustrating than worrying about your place and being confined to stare at one small area of space.
The D-Link can pan or rotate to give you a full 360 degree view and is backed by 10x digital zoom. It can also tilt or rotate vertically 20 degrees below the center and 100 degrees above. That’s 120 degree tilting angle power. D-Link’s Pan and Tilt feature can be controlled by the app or browser. The app includes a directional keypad on the left side of the screen. You simply press up and down for tilting, or left and right for panning. You can even change the speed of movement by configuring your app settings. On top of that the camera offers a 92 degree diagonal field of view.
Sadly, the NetCam doesn’t have this feature but it can be wall or ceiling mounted. You can also manually adjust the cameras angle for a full 360 degree and vertically for 180 degree but once the position is set, it’s locked. The camera offers a 95 degree diagonal field of view which is limited compared to other cameras like Piper and Canary.
Integration with Other Home-Automation Products
D-Link has a wide range of home automation products. From Wi-Fi connected Smart Plugs that monitor energy usage to motion monitors, and even a hub that can connect them all together. D-Link even has its own app and IFTTT (If This Then That) channels for even greater home automation integration. For example, let’s assume that the lamp in your room is connected to the smart plug, you can configure it like this: If – D-Link camera senses motion – then – D-Link Smart Plug turns on. You can choose from many similar options, limited only by your creativity or ability to copy the creativity of others.
The NetCam also integrates with home automation products, specifically, WeMo. NetCam is a part of the Works with WeMo program. WeMo accommodates connected lighting, motion detection, smart plugs, smart switches, a coffeemaker brand, slow cooker, humidifier, air purifier, smart heater, window and door sensors. WeMo also supports IFTTT. The only disadvantage is that you need a separate app to fully integrate the NetCam to other products. The features are scattered around and you will have to configure each. The advantage here is that WeMo is currently one of the larger players in the home automation space, so the edge goes to the NetCam.
The tally is pretty much neck and neck, so the final decision is up to you as it depends upon what features matter to you and what you are trying to achieve. The NetCam is less expensive and offers greater home automation capability. On the other hand, the D-Link has better specs and the ability to monitor a larger space.
Keep in mind that the NetCam has both an iOS and Android app called Belkin NetCam. It works for Android 2.2 or higher and iOS 4.2 or higher. I just want to emphasize that although it works with iPhone, iPad, and iPod, this is a native iPhone app, so you might need to change your settings to show iPhone apps when searching for this app.
D-Link supports browser view, but you should be using at least Windows Internet Explorer 8, Firefox 12, or Chrome 20 for Windows. If you are using MacOS, it has to have a Safari 4. It also works with less popular Java-enabled browsers. Aside from browser viewing, you may also download the mydlink ™ Lite app or mydlink ™ + from the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store. For iOS devices, it has to be at least iOS 6.0 or higher and for Android devices, it has to be at least Android 2.3 or higher.
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This article was written for PCMech.com by Vanessa Stanley, a contributing author for ASecureCam.com. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and eating vegetables. She’s also very passionate about safety, security, and the latest technologies.