Installation & Setup:
Once powered on, to configure the D-Link DCS-825L HD Wi-Fi Baby Camera you merely have to take your Apple iOS or Android mobile device of choice, download the free mydlink Baby Camera Monitor app. Once the app is installed, it’s a 10 step process to get the D-Link DCS-825L HD Wi-Fi Baby Camera configured for your local Wi-Fi and have it accessible to your mobile devices already configured to use the same network. I could post pictures of each of the 10 steps required, but their pretty straight forward and D-Link did a great job of keeping this process simple. Unfortunately, D-Link offset the simple process with an app that doesn’t feel quite flushed out. For a real world test, I had my wife attempt to configure the camera, and she unfortunately hit a snag when prompted to enter the password for the integrated D-Link DCS-825L HD Wi-Fi Baby Camera wireless network. Neither the app or the documentation specify the password is case sensitive, minor issue and common sense when you think about it, as proven easily overlooked and could be your first stumbling point. Once we overcame that issue, each step and subsequent screen took an unusually long time to load and even completely froze in a couple spots. I attempted the setup several times on both Android and Apple iOS devices, and it seemed to me that the experience was “better” on an Apple iOS device. With the D-Link DCS-825L HD Wi-Fi Baby Camera configured on our local wireless network, it was time to put the camera to use and see how well it performed.
Functionality and Performance:
For our first test, we placed the camera about 3-4 feet away from the baby’s crib. At this distance, the default sound and video quality was exceptional in both day and night scenarios. The night video quality really excels and doesn’t leave you squinting to make out any of the important details critical for feeling secure that you can see what you need to see to properly monitor your baby. In our second test, we wall mounted the camera high on the wall a few inches from the 8-foot ceiling. The default video setting was still really good at this height and distance, however there was a drastic drop off in the ability for the camera to pick up sounds. This translated in having to have the volume set to high on the mobile device and app (as both of these can be independently set) and even then it was hard to hear the baby, unless he was in a full cry. As most parents like to avoid their babies getting to that point, this was disappointing as the limited audio pickup will constrain your options for camera placement. Since this is an HD camera, it’s important to note that the default resolution is 360P (which is less technically less than the 480P SD). As previously mentioned, at this default setting the picture quality is exceptionally good, but than again mobile devices have small screens so this isn’t all that surprising. Changing the resolution to 720P HD, I will say that the picture quality was not drastically improved. Given how good the picture quality was at 360P, I wasn’t expecting the picture to be twice as good by doubling the resolution. An unfortunate drawback to changing to the 720P HD resolution was the resulting latency or lag with both the video and audio. With the video, there was at least a 1-2 second delay. Now a 1-2 seconds delay may not sound like much, but when it comes to monitoring your baby, I personally want it to be as real-time as possible. Now I am fully aware that some delay is to be expected over a Wi-Fi connected video camera, but this was considerably more than I was expecting. To rule out wireless signal strength, I ran a seperate test with the camera sitting right next to our wireless-N AP, and the performance was unchanged. This left my wife and I really no choice but to go back to the default 360P resolution. The silver lining, even at this resolution, the picture quality is still superior to most other baby camera’s we have worked with in the past. Aside from the lag/latency with 720P viewing, the only remaining nitpick with the video picture is the Paranormal Activity inspired date/time stamp. Made me mention to my wife several times that I expect to see something start moving in the room by itself. With camera performance out of the way, I wanted to expand on some of the key features this camera has to offer.
- The motion and audio detection, while potentially a little gimmicky, work extremely well. At first I questioned the value of this feature, but after evaluation it’s helpful to see the running total (as it counts the number of detections) of how often our baby was moving and making noise significant enough to register. The detection level thresholds are configurable, so you can fine tune it for your specific environment to get the most out of this feature.
- The temperature sensor is also a very nice addition to this camera. The temperature is displayed within the mydlink baby camera monitor app and there is a colored LED light on top of the camera that is either green when the temperature is within acceptable thresholds or red if it is not. Camera placement can influence it’s readings, so you will need to be aware of that when choosing where to place your camera. In our two placement tests, the camera read the room temp warmer when it was mounted high on the wall near the ceiling, but since hot air rises, this is to be expected. So, you need to be aware that the temp near the ceiling may not be indicative of what your baby is feeling down in the crib.
- The mydlink app has a nice feature to play background noise while the app is not active. So you can still hear your baby, if you need to power off the screen or use the mobile device for something else.
- Taking snapshots and video directly from your mobile device and those being saved directly on your mobile device is a nice feature, however it’s only supported on Apple iOS and is not currently available on Android devices.
- Multiple mobile devices can access the camera at the same time. At 360P resolution, I didn’t notice any noticeable lag/latency with multiple devices accessing the camera.
- Remote viewing was quite simple, once I created a free mydlink account. If you’re looking for remote access, this secure portal will more than sufficiently meet your needs.
- Not overly advertised, but you can plug the camera into a USB attached battery for cases when traveling.
- 2-way communication is a nice feature, but we also noted a similar 1-2 second lag in the audio. Again this isn’t deal breaking, but it’s odd to talk into the app and hear your voice a couple seconds later sound in the baby’s room.