Testing D-Link's IP Camera (DCS-920)

Author: Benros Emata, Published on Jul 19, 2010

D-Link is one of the most commonly selected IP cameras in the budget/home market. In this report, we test the D-Link DCS-920, an inexpensive cube camera that we purchased from Amazon.

One of the least expensive IP cameras available, we examine the use and limitations of the camera including integrating the camera with D-Link's own VMS as well as multiple 3rd party VMS systems.

We found a number of positive and negative points with the camera/solution and not a simple fit (good or bad). As such, we recommend carefully weighing the trade-offs in your environment.

Contrast to our test results of the Cisco-Linksys WVC80N for a camera with similar functionality and price point.

Recommendations

For home users that want an inexpensive way to view and record a few indoors cameras without remote monitoring, we find the D-Link DCS-920 to be an attractive fit. With its simple setup, wireless capability and provided VMS software, it provides the key components for a home surveillance solution at a low cost. On the other hand, for remote access functionality, the manual port forwarding tasks and lack of detail in the wizard may prove challenging or frustrating to non-technical users.

For a small business (with less than 8 cameras), the DCS-920 would just be an 'ok' fit, assuming that it is integrated in a location with even lighting and limited darkness. A small business user could take advantage of DView Cam, the included video monitoring software, and have a relatively simple experience in conducting live monitoring, recording, and investigative tasks.

For a larger deployment (over 8 cameras), the DCS-920 may fit if the system is not meant for security intensive purposes. The fixed lens and low light performance could hinder from identifying features of subjects within the field of view. While its low price point is attractive, the trade-off is the limited places where the camera could be useful. In addition, most of the 3rd party VMS support was limited to "budget" VMS offerings, and lacked in support for professional VMS systems. 

Key Findings

Setup: Setup of the D-Link DCS-920 was easy. In our tests on multiple PCs, the included wizard  was consistently successful in detecting and identifying the camera over the network.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Monitoring Software: The included version of the DViewCam monitoring software (ver 2.03) on the CD is not compatible with 64bit OS. D-Link recommends downloading version 3.0 (64bit compatible) via their public ftp site (not currently available on the main website). 

Bandwidth: The bandwidth consumption during the day was measured at 1.3Mbps, and 650kbps at night.  The camera's video settings were at 640x480, 15fps, MJPEG codec.

Details of Subjects: With the camera's 5mm fixed lens, it will be difficult to get facial details of a subject within a large room but enough to identify the subject as a human.

Nighttime Performance:  In an indoor low light test, where the light level was controlled and measured at 1lux, the image was too dark to make out distinguishing features of our subject in the field of view; He appeared as a silhouette in the image. 

Third Party VMS Support: The DCS-920 was able to connect to the Luxriot DVR software using it's MJPEG stream. Although Milestone Enterprise does have support for D-Link cameras, we verified that the DCS-290 model is not supported.  In addition, we verified ExacqVision VMS did not support the camera.

For budget VMS systems, we were able to successfully integrate the camera to Argus Surveillance DVR, Blue Iris, WebcamXP, and I-Catcher Console.

Remote Access & Monitoring: The DCS-920 does not have any processes to automatically setup your network for remote access; All port forwarding tasks must be performed on your network router manually.

D-Link does have their own DDNS service, but the included documentation does not make any reference to this service, nor does the wizard on the camera's web interface perform any registration to the service.

Product Overview

While testing the D-Link DCS-920, we verified these product points:

  • Supports only MJPEG codec
  • 5mm fixed lens, 1/4" CMOS sensor
  • Maximum resolution of 640x480 at 15fps
  • Setup wizard included on CD and additional setup wizard on camera's web interface
  • Supports wired or wireless connectivity; wireless is 802.11g only
  • Monitoring software included on CD, but only supports 32bit operating systems (unless version 3.0 is downloaded from D-Link's ftp site)
  • DView Cam is a stripped down OEM of NUUO's VMS (refer to our report on NUUO software), which provides basic live monitoring and playback functionality with notable features like searching via date/time, map support, scheduling, and video exporting (using cue in/cue out timeline markers)

Price

The D-Link DCS-920 is available through direct retail channels at an MSRP of $119.99 USD or online for approximately $95 USD

Physical Overview

The following screencast highlights the physical form factor and accessories of the DCS-920.

Key points include:

  • Camera has wireless or wired connectivity
  • Wireless supports 802.11g only
  • Camera has 5mm fixed lens
  • Maximum resolution of 640x480 pixels at 15fps
  • Supports only MJPEG codec
  • AC adapter is 6ft long
  • Documentation for support information is readily available 

Setup & Configuration

The following screencast covers the setup procedure from using the included CD to accessing the camera's web interface.

Key points include:

  • Setup CD includes a setup wizard
  • Setup wizard installs on your PC's hard drive
  • On all of the PC systems we tested, the setup wizard was able to locate the camera on the network
  • Setup wizard goes through the configuration in a step by step process
  • D-View Cam is D-Link's video monitoring software
  • The version of D-View Cam that is included with the CD is not compatible with 64bit operating systems
  • Version 3.0, which is 64 bit compatible, can be downloaded on D-Link's FTP site
  • In the web interface, to view live video, choose either the ActiveX or Java function
  • Camera does not have many advanced features and the setup interface reflects that
  • Web interface includes a wizard to change configuration options
  • Resolution and frame rate can be configured in the Video section
  • Brightness, contrast, and saturation is configured manually in the Image Setup section

Image Quality Analysis

The DCS-920 was tested in different environments and light levels.  The exported video is analyzed on in comparison to the quality of competitor home network cameras.

Download our sample clips (30.7MB download)

Key points include:

  • In a daytime indoor scene, image quality was fair, but detail on subject was soft and colors were a little muddy
  • In a low light indoor scene (1 lux), subject shows up as a silhouette, but environmental details can still be seen
  • In a wide dynamic range scene, outdoor light washes out details, when subject walks indoors, he is too dark to be seen

3 reports cite this report:

Small Business Surveillance Challenges Examined on Jan 26, 2011
For small businesses, deploying the right surveillance can be challenging. Usually, they do not have a lot of money available nor do they benefit...
Bar / Bowling Alley Surveillance Case Study on Jan 18, 2011
In this case study, we examine an end user who owns two very different local businesses and decided on different surveillance solutions for each...
Testing WebcampXP Pro's VMS on Jul 27, 2010
For those looking for an inexpensive video management system online, WebcamXP Pro has been frequently cited for many years. At no more than $120...

Related Reports

Magos Radar Company Profile on Nov 12, 2018
Magos America General Manager Yaron Zussman admits when he first came across Magos, he asked himself: "What's innovative about radar?" Be that as...
Genetec Privacy Protector Tested on Nov 12, 2018
Genetec has built Kiwi Security's Privacy Protector into Security Center, an analytic which anonymizes individuals in cameras' fields of view...
Axis 2N Intercom Tested on Nov 08, 2018
Axis expanded its video intercom business buying Czech-based 2N in 2016. Despite competing against owner Axis' intercoms, 2N recently registered as...
Ubiquiti Protect Video Surveillance Profile on Nov 07, 2018
Ubiquiti has now been in the video surveillance market for 7 years (see our first coverage back in 2011). In that time, the company's revenue has...
Dahua Dual Imager Dome Camera Tested (HDBW4231FN-E2-M) on Nov 07, 2018
Dahua has introduced a dual-imager dome model, the HDBW4231FN-E2-M, with two independently positionable sensors including integrated IR, not found...
Directory Of Video Doorbells on Nov 06, 2018
Video doorbells are one of the fastest growing categories in video surveillance, especially among residences. The optimal placement of these...
Avigilon Opens Up Analytics And Cameras on Nov 06, 2018
Avigilon is opening up. The company historically famous for advocating its own end-to-end solutions and making it harder for 3rd parties to...
Winter 2019 IP Networking Course on Nov 05, 2018
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals.  Lots of network training exists but none of it...
Worst Products on Nov 03, 2018
Security integrators periodically report on their favorite and worst products to IPVM. These are known integrators who IPVM pays to answer surveys....
Solar-Powered, Smart-Phone-Based Access Kit (VIZPin) Examined on Nov 02, 2018
Cloud-based access control company VIZPin is releasing a solar-powered and smart phone based access control system for gates and other remote...

Most Recent Industry Reports

'Sticker' Surveillance Camera Developed (CSEM Witness) on Nov 16, 2018
The Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) has announced what it calls the: world’s first fully autonomous camera that can be...
ISC East 2018 Mini-Show Final Report on Nov 16, 2018
This is our second (updated) and final show report from ISC East. ISC East, by its own admission, is not a national or international show, billed...
Facial Detection Tested on Nov 16, 2018
Facial detection and recognition are increasingly offered by video surveillance manufacturers. Facial detection detects faces in an image/video...
Throughtek P2P/Cloud Solution Profile on Nov 15, 2018
Many IoT manufacturers either do not have the capabilities or the interest to develop their own cloud management software for their devices....
ASIS Offering Custom Research For Manufacturers on Nov 15, 2018
Manufacturers often want to know what industry people think about trends and, in particular, the segments and product they offer.  ASIS and its...
Hikvision Silent on "Bad Architectural Practices" Cybersecurity Report on Nov 14, 2018
A 'significant vulnerability was found in Hikvision cameras' by VDOO, a startup cybersecurity specialist. Hikvision has fixed the specific...
French Government Threatens School with $1.7M Fine For “Excessive Video Surveillance” on Nov 14, 2018
The French government has notified a high-profile Paris coding academy that it risks a fine of up to 1.5 million euros (about $1.7m) if it...
Integrator Credit Card Alternative Divvy on Nov 13, 2018
Most security integrators are small businesses but large enough that they have various employees that need to be able to expense various charges as...
Directory of Video Intercoms on Nov 13, 2018
Video Intercoms, also known as Video Door-Phones or Video Entry Systems, have been growing in the past decade as more and more IP camera...
Beware Amazon Go Store Hype (Tested) on Nov 13, 2018
IPVM's trip to and testing of Amazon Go's San Francisco store shows a number of significant operational and economic issues that undermine the...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact