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D-Link DCS-942L Cloud Wireless IP Camera, 640x480 Resolution, Night Vision, Video Storage with microSD slot, mydlink enabled
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

4 out of 5 eggs A solid indoor-only camera without any significant flaws 08/03/2014

This review is from: D-Link DCS-942L Cloud Wireless IP Camera, 640x480 Resolution, Night Vision, Video Storage with microSD slot, mydlink enabled

Pros: * Initial wireless setup wasn't exceptionally difficult. I just used the quickstart sheet and followed the directions.
* 2 ways to view your video feed: web browser or free mobile app
* 2-way communication option (Also see CONS section)
* Video recording, ability to set triggers and to choose where it is stored
* Event notification based on various triggers (motion, sound, times)
* Excellent color reproduction in regularly lit areas. (Indoor lighting, outside, etc.)
* Decent low light performance with & without IR assistance. In my two-car garage, I placed the camera in one corner and walked to the opposite corner. I then shut the garage door. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. I flicked on my phone and checked out the streaming video. There's enough detail to be able to note my skin color and that I was wearing shorts and a tank top. I figure the viewing angle is just about 90° from center.
* Can automatically switch between Day Mode(color) & Night Mode (B&W infrared)
* Can switch to a lower res (240p) if you are recording close up areas and/or don't want to use up as much storage space on your microSD card. Surprisingly, the 240p resolution still isn't all that bad.
* With each camera being self-contained and thus no master control box required, adding additional cameras is as easy as setting them up and registering them with your MyDLink account
* I ended up using this as a baby monitoring system. It's WAY WAY less expensive and just as effective than what you'll find at the big-box baby & toy stores.
* Nicely weighted base allows the camera to be set in almost any position and not have it tip over when not bolted down.

Cons: * Could be a little tricky for novices to setup & configure, but that's almost "par for the course" when it comes to WiFi/Cloud devices.
* 2-way communication is kind of a gimmick in this price range since it requires hookup to an external speaker, which in of itself will require its own accessories and mounting solution.
* Since this is a fixed lens, zoom functionality is digital...similar to functionality you might find on a phone. Thus, zooming just makes on-screen detail larger, not necessarily clearer.
* "Cloud enabled" devices seem to all share a certain amount of head-scratching because they have their internet-based interface and then a separate interface on your local network. Each interface has different functions, some overlapping and some only in one interface or the other.
* Effectively for indoor use only
* Couldn't figure out how to change the video recording profile. I found where you set the details of each profile, but how to actually implement a specific profile eluded me. (I didn't attempt to contact Tech Support...at least not yet.)

Other Thoughts: One of things I try to take into consideration when reviewing things is to keep in mind that I'm reviewing the item based on the noted specifications of the device. Since this is listed as a 640x480 camera, I'm not going to knock it for not being 720p or 1080p. I believe people should understand the technical specs and limitations of what they are buying. If the product doesn't live up to the specs or it's just difficult to use, then yes, that's certainly worth noting.

For being a standalone IP-based camera, I think it's pretty nice for this price range. As of this writing, it's $80.
I feel this camera is best served as an easy solution to monitoring a specific inside section of your home. I first used the camera to record stuff going on outside by setting it on a window sill. At about 50ft+ out to the street, you're not going to pick up the text of any license plates, but you can easily tell a make & model of a vehicle as it goes by. If you leave it in "day mode" during the night, it's not overly shabby at picking up detail under street lights, but beyond that, you're not gonna get much else. Using "night mode" while in front of a window to record activities results in reflection from the IR, so unless you're flush against a window pane, don't expect a lot out of night mode when trying to view from window sill.
I've decided to use the camera as the primary camera to monitor my infant's crib. I think it works great for that! It's great to be able to know how he's doing when the babysitter puts him down for the night and mommy & daddy want to check in on him from their phone!
Assuming you don't bolt it down, it's easily moved and repositioned. As long as I'm within 10ft of a power outlet, I can easily move the camera to a new location. Since it's already been configured on the WiFi, it only takes a couple of minutes to re-establish it's connection to the network.

I put an 8GB microSD card in the device and formatted it via the local interface reached via its internal IP address. Then I went about configuring the video resolution and it's triggers. It took me a bit to figure out how playback video from the microSD still in the device. You can do it from the internet-based interface or it's local network interface, but the "how to" is mildly different. My browser also wanted to throw up a flag about the web certificate not being trusted, but bypassing that was easy and caused no unexpected problems. One nice feature is the ability to have the recorded video include the prior & post 10 seconds of video before the trigger actually occurs. You can also set it to automatically overwrite the oldest videos if your microSD card runs out of space. I can't really tell you how much video you can get on a given capacity card since your choice of video compression/quality will make a difference. With the "night mode" video, I'm averaging about 2MB per 30sec of "Excellent Quality" video @ 640x480.

READ FULL REVIEW
TP-LINK TL-WPA4220KIT Advanced 300Mbps Universal Wi-Fi Range Extender, Repeater, AV500 Powerline Edition, Wi-Fi Clone Button, 2 LAN Ports
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

Pros: (NOTE: My home is about 11 years old, so the electrical wiring is by all accounts good and fresh.)

- Easy setup for most situations
- Adds two 100Mbit ethernet connections where ever you plug in the range extender
- Allows for an entirely new SSID if you are so inclined to keep your existing WiFi separate
- Noticed very little throughput degradation when using the powerline functionality.
- Decent free utilities on the included mini-CD.
- Solid ethernet connection going from 2nd floor office, into the garage, and then ending on the other end of a 100ft extension cable.

- Overall: A well priced product that offers solid performance when used within expectations / known limitations. (Keep reading...)

Cons: - Default IP may interfere with existing router
- The naming conventions and explanations of functions can get somewhat confusing since they are effectively packaging two separate products in this kit.
- I think it's a bit misleading for TP-LINK to state "500Mbps high speed data transmission over a home's existing electrical wiring". Think about that for a minute... They only put 100Mbit ethernet connections on the range extender. And your WiFi signal is 300Mbit. So all that probably does -in theory- is give you more overhead. However, -in practice-, I don't really think it offers much.

- Overall: Documentation could be better and there's a little too much in the "gotcha" department for most people that will buy this without really digging deep into these reviews, the forums, and understanding the setup of their current infrastructure.

Other Thoughts: I'm using a TP-LINK TL-WR1043ND router as the source, so that made it a bit tricky to test the wireless extender. "Why?" Because I already get superb WiFi coverage with it in and around my house. I really have no dead spots. It's in a 2nd floor office and I still get a 270Mbps connection downstairs in my finished basement. Even outside I still get good connection, so testing the range extender wasn't something I can fully critique. And generally speaking, I was really more interested in the ethernet Powerline function from the get-go.

I was tempted to list this as a "CON", but I can't really fault the technology and TP-LINK makes specific note about it... If you plug the sender or receiver into a power strip, surge protector, or battery backup, it's going to be hit or miss if it's going to carry a signal. Most likely, a miss.
This is unfortunate because most people will already be using a powerstrip or battery backup ("UPS") near their networking base. So you are almost forced into repurposing a single wall outlet just for the sending unit and the receiver. I'm not an electrical engineer, but it made sense after thinking about it: This technology really just wants straight copper connections with nothing in between to mess with the signal- much like ethernet cables! As soon as you introduce anything that does surge suppression, line conditioning, etc, you are introducing A LOT more electrical gates for the signal to pass through. That takes a toll on a very specific signal that needs to be transmitted intact.

When testing various powerstrips and UPS'...IF I could establish a connection...it was so broken up that it effectively rendered it useless.

The easiest way to know if you're going to be alright is to take a laptop, disable wifi, and use the ethernet connection to send continuous pings to your router. From a cmd prompt: ping -t your_router_ip. If you are getting solid responses <10ms, you should be OK. If you're seeing scattered replies >100ms, forget it- You've got something in between the sender & receiver. Leaving the ping running, simply walk around to different outlets and plug it the receiver. It will either re-establish a connection or it won't.

So what's the overall impression here? I'd be more impressed if the powerline adapter had 1Gbit ethernet, at least then you could potentially take advantage of that claimed 500Mbit speed. But as it stands, most WiFi is going to be faster than that, so what's really the point of the ethernet, especially two of them? Maybe just for a SmartTV or something?...But even most of those come with WiFi adapters now. I was looking forward to 500Mbit ethernet speeds between my MediaServer in the basement and my PC's around the house. As it stands now, I'm still settling(?) for 270Mbit WiFi speeds.

Verdict: A solid 4-eggs for a product that pretty much does what it's supposed to without too too much hassle.

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SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Model SDCZ88-128G-G46
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

4 out of 5 eggs Not bad for a 128GB in the 'stick' form factor 02/27/2014

This review is from: SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Model SDCZ88-128G-G46

Pros: - Decent USB3 speeds. Best I was able to achieve was 196MB/s Read and 189MB/s Write. This is a pinch more than 3x the max speed of USB2 (60MB/s).
- Nice aluminum shell
- Has a lanyard hoop
- Easily retractable
- Unobtrusive blue activity light
- Comes with SanDisk's "SecureAccess" software which uses 128-bit AES password encryption on the contents. (This is a "lite" version of their full software package "EncrypStick")
- You don't have to encrypt all the data. You can pick & choose what to put in the encrypted "vault" folder. So you can have both encrypted and open data on the stick at the same time.
- Lifetime warranty

Cons: - No physical dust cap. Contacts are always open to the elements.
- In testing on (4) different systems, each having a different USB3 chipset, I was never able to attain SanDisk's claimed speeds of 260MB/s (Read) and 240MB/s (Write).
- Not necessarily your best bang for the buck.

Other Thoughts: - Speeds will vary based on the USB3 chipset it's attached to, although this is relatively 'par' for most USB3 devices; They all seem to have different preferences for chipsets.
- Testing compressible data via the ATTO Benchmark utility, my best case scenario was 196/189 with the ASMedia chipset. Worst case was 142/128 with the FrescoLogic FL1000 series.
- Testing incompressible data via the AS-SSD utility resulted in a best case of 187/184. Worst case showed 133/119.
- Dimensions: 7/8" x 2_13/16"
- The SecureAccess software is usable/functional. The first time you run it, you'll be prompted to create a password as simple or complex as you like. You'll also be given the opportunity to set a hint phrase.
The software allows you to set the max number of attempts before forcing a timeout, and how long that timeout lasts. It also allows you to set the password expiration date.
One thing to note is that without the SecureAccess executable (7MB) available, the encrypted file is worthless. So you either need to leave it on the stick or plan on downloading the software on the host PC.

For me, this unit ranks a 4 out of 5 eggs because it's a tad bit pricey and didn't attain SanDisk's quoted specs, although it was still well within the USB3 territory. Looking at the list of "CONS", it's pretty short.
The included/available encryption software is a nice addition and it works, but I think that anyone concerned about data security will already have a solution they plan to implement. But if not, it's there for you and it's pretty easy to use.
Here's my biggest issue with these high capacity USB3 sticks... The only reason I see for requiring the stick format is for ultimate portability: tiny, no cables, toss it in any pocket, and go. Otherwise, could get a SanDisk SSD such as the X210 ($110), Ultra Plus ($95), X110 ($100), or the Extreme II ($110) and a nice pocketable, self-powered USB3 2.5" external case (~$25). And you'll still have some cash left over! Not to mention you'll have a better chance of hitting higher speeds across the board.

(All test systems have an SSD as the OS/Boot drive)
Test System 1:
- Intel Core i7 3930K.
- USB3 Chipset: ASMedia XHCI.
-- Driver v1.14.3.0

Test System 2:
- AMD Phenom II X4 975.
- USB3 Chipset: NEC/Renesas.
-- Driver v2.0.30.0

Test System 3:
- Intel Core2Quad Q6600.
- USB3 Chipset: FrescoLogic xHCI FL1000 Series.
-- Driver v3.5.93.0

Test System 4:
- AMD A8-4500M
- USB Chipset: AMD Reference.
-- Driver Catalyst 13.x

READ FULL REVIEW

Andre J.'s Profile

Display Name: Andre J.

Date Joined: 08/10/04

  • Reviews: 50
  • Helpfulness: 30
  • First Review: 07/13/07
  • Last Review: 08/03/14
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