D-Link Cloud Camera is Good Hardware Hampered by its Software

Geek Culture

D-Link Cloud Camera 5000

I’ve been getting into home automation quite a bit lately. Anything that puts aspects of home security or energy monitoring online for my control is fascinating to me. Products like the Nest thermostat to the Lowes’ Iris system have my interest. Which is why I was happy to take a look when D-Link offered me one of their Cloud Camera 5000 units to test.

The Cloud Camera 5000 is pretty much like having a mall security camera for your personal use. The 720p-capable camera is mounted on a gimble inside a solid plastic housing that feels solid and reliable. It has infrared LEDs mounted around the camera so it can be used at night as well as day. The unit comes with a mounting plate and screws so you can install it pretty much wherever you can get power to it, like over a front door. It seems like a quality product.

And then you get to setting it up, and you get just a bit disappointed.

The first problem is that we are an Apple household. This means I was setting it up on my Macbook Pro with OSX, on our home network with our Airport Express. Yes, there is a Max OSX-based setup program on the installation disk, but that didn’t help much overall. The problems I experienced included:

  • The current Airport Express utility does not include WPS capabilities due to security concerns, meaning I had to physically hook the camera up to our router to do the initial setup (like giving it access to our wireless network).
  • Except, when it got to the place where it scanned for available wireless networks, it wouldn’t actually recognize our primary network. It did pick up our “guest” network, which runs off the same router, so I had to use that, instead.
  • Once I had it up and running on our network, I went to the MyDlink.com portal to use the web interface to view the camera’s video. But the web portal uses Java for its applet, and Mac OSX doesn’t include Java in the standard installation anymore.
  • Of course, I’m an up-to-date kind of guy, and had the most recent version of Java runtime loaded. Version 7. But I’m using the Chrome browser, and for some vague 32-bit/64-bit conflict reason, I actually need the Version 6 runtime working instead. Which took a series of Terminal commands to make work. Not stuff everyday users would be comfortable dealing with.
  • Once I got that worked out, and could use the web-app to watch the video, I realized it was 360p resolution. The camera is supposed to support 720p, but there was no simple way to adjust it in the basic settings.
  • Then you go to the Advanced Settings, and everything changes, because you’ve been taken to the firmware control panel that’s part of the hardware. It’s basically the same interface you’ve ever seen if you’ve dealt with the settings on a D-Link router: bare-bones, pretty technical, and not for the faint-of-heart.
  • There, you can find the Audio/Video settings, and you see that there are 4 different profiles for visuals. Profile 1 is what you see on the web interface. It defaults to the crappy 360p I told you about. Here is where you can tweak it up to 720p and 30fps. Profile 3 is used for taking snapshots with the camera. Profile 4 is what you see from the mobile app (more on that later). I have no idea what Profile 2 is for (and nothing tells you).
  • I was able to connect to our primary wireless network via the setup here in the Advanced settings, which was nice. But it’s hard to understand why I couldn’t in the first place.
  • There are mobile apps for Android and iOS. I put the apps on my iPhone and iPad. As I mentioned above, the mobile apps use only video Profile 4, which you usually set at 360p for use when you’re out-and-about. This makes sense. But I also like to have my iPad on in the kitchen, and using it as a monitor for the camera set at the front door makes sense, but it would be nice to run it at 720p when it’s on my home network. But there’s no way to achieve that. Also, the iPad app was crashy.

Okay, so the problems I experienced would affect just the 15% or so of folks using Macs, though I imagine there might be similar problems on the Windows side. Whatever the case, I do note that the firmware is v1.0, so hopefully there will be improvements in the future (no idea about the release level of the Java applet). All I can say is that at this point, I can only recommend this product for people with the patience and level-of-comfort to work through some peculiarities to get it functioning the way it should be out of the box.

Read more about the D-Link Cloud Camera 5000 here.

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