Why You Need a Network Camera

Insert spy music here, because that’s what came to mind as I wrote the title of this post. But that’s just me. You might hear the Jeopardy theme as you contemplate why you could possibly need another piece of network gear.

If for no other reason, you need a network camera because it’s just so dang cool. We’ll get into more practical reasons in a moment, but first I want to make sure you know what I’m talking about. You’re probably familiar with webcams in one of two varieties: that old honkin’ thing that you have to practically tape to your monitor for your far-flung relatives to see a pixilated version of you via video chat, or that tiny little HAL 9000-like eye that stares at you from right above your laptop’s screen. A network camera is related but different in a major way: It has a network address, so it can stream video to the network and accepts control signals from the network.

What’s it good for? Say you have a house pet and you want to keep tabs while you’re away. Or you have a vacation property you want to watch during the off season. Or you want to find out what kind of critter is living in your attic, or which neighborhood dog overturns your garbage can every night. Trying to pull a live feed from a consumer-grade webcam can be tricky unless you know a few geeky tricks. And even then, do you really want to have to leave your desktop PC or laptop powered on all time just to keep the live feed going? That’s neither stealthy nor power-friendly. One or more network cameras — especially wireless ones — allow you to stream video from any point in your house. As long as the camera has power and a network connection, you’ll be able to see what’s going on. And some cameras have night vision, so you can keep a lookout even after dark.

And that’s not all. The Web portal mydlink.com lets you access your network camera feeds from any Web browser — ideal if you need to check up on the status of your house when you’re away from home. And you don’t need to be chained to a desk to do it. You can also view feeds on an iPhone or Android device using the mydlink smartphone app.

D-Link cameras come with powerful software called D-ViewCam with many of its network cameras that lets you do more with the devices than merely turn them on and see what they see. You can view up to 32 feeds from different cameras. Want to capture certain feeds to your hard drive for viewing later? Easy. You can also set up cameras to detect movement and automatically email you a picture of what’s going on — no spy glasses required.

Network camera are not webcams. Webcams are great for video chats with Grandma to show her you’re wearing the socks she got you last holiday season. Network cameras offer a wealth of remote monitoring tools at your fingertips — with minimal overhead and maximum set-it-and-forget-it connectivity.

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