D-Link DCS-2530L review

D-Link has been making IP security cameras for years, and the current range is larger than most manufacturers’. The DCS-2530L is the latest and has an ulta-wide-angle lens that gives you a full 180-degree view, so there’s no need for a motorised pan and tilt mechanism.

D-Link DCS-2530L review: Price

You can buy the DCS-2530L from D-Link’s website for £166.

As it’s brand new, that would be a pre-order: it goes on sale 22 March.

This is relatively expensive for a camera that offers no bundled  cloud storage. The Y-Cam Evo, for example, is £130 and gives you a week’s rolling cloud storage for free.

D-Link DCS-2530L review: Features and design

With its plastic body and stand, you don’t get the same feeling of reassurance from the DCS-2530 that you do with the Nest Cam.

However, given that this is an indoor camera designed to sit on a shelf, it’s not a big issue. The circular camera rotates within the body of the stand, so it can be mounted at any angle: there are slots in the base which can be hooked onto screws.

DCS-2530L review

Placing the camera could be an issue, though, as the power supply has a 1.5m cable – noticeably shorter than most. It has a micro-USB connector for power though, so you could use a spare phone charger with a USB extension cable.

As well as a 180-degree lens the camera has a 1080p sensor and recordings are stored on a microSD card, which slots into the side. Up to 128GB cards are supported, but none is included.

Features are pretty much what you’d expect: you can view a live feed from the camera via an app for Android or iOS, plus through D-Link’s website. You can opt to set recording triggers for motion or sound, and everything is configurable.

There’s no speaker, so no two-way audio, but the microphone does allow you to hear what’s going on.

Infrared LEDs automatically turn on when it's dark for a better night view in extremely low light.

D-Link DCS-2530L review: Setup and operation

We set up the camera using an iPad. You have to download the free mydlink lite app, which walks you through the process of either using WPS to get the camera onto your Wi-Fi network, or connecting to the camera’s own Wi-Fi and then entering your network password.

It’s an easy process, and it sensibly asks you to set a password to prevent unauthorised access to the camera feed.

Creating a mydlink account is optional, but if you don’t you won’t be able to view the video remotely, nor change any settings or get push notifications when you’re not connected to the same local Wi-Fi network.

We couldn’t create an account on the iPad due to a strange error, but it was no problem doing so on D-Link’s website.

Once that’s done you have to tap the button to the right of the camera to enable it in your D-Clink cloud account.

Recording clips to the cloud is a separate service (and app), but can you record on demand by using the button from the live view (this and snapshots are saved to your camera roll), and you can browse the recordings on the SD card when you’re out and about.

Overall, the app feels clunky and in need of some bug fixes and interface changes. For example, you can set the sensitivity of motion detection, but in the iOS app we mainly tested with, you can only select – but not de-select – boxes in the grid.

D-Link DCS-2530L review

Selecting a box means you want to watch for motion in that area, but the 5x5 grid is too coarse and doesn’t allow the precise control you’d want.

If you dig deep into the advanced settings available in the online portal, you’ll find a much finer grid, but here it appears you can select only 15 or so tiny boxes.

The other gripe concerns the way the app is split into ‘local’ and ‘remote’ sections. You have to tap on the relevant one depending on whether you’re at home connected to Wi-Fi or away and ‘remote’. This is unnecessary and confusing.

When you are at home, you can choose to view a 480p, 720p or the full 1080p feed, and there’s very minimal delay. You can also pinch to zoom in on the image and drag it around to simulate panning. This works well, and is far better than the sluggish, frustrating mechanism of the SpotCam Eva, which is a real pan / tilt camera.

Image quality is very good, too, but do be aware that the wide-angle lens means objects appear much smaller than on a camera with a ‘normal’ lens. So when you zoom in, you won’t see any more detail. The benefit here is that you can see a huge area, whereas on a ‘normal’ camera without pan and tilt, you cannot.

Here's a 1080p 'photo' taken within the app, unedited. It's compressed more highly than we'd have expected, amounting to only 200KB in 720p mode, and 350KB in 1080p. 

D-Link DCS-2530L sample

Returning to the web portal for a second, you have to install a plugin in Chrome in order to see the camera feed. This has to be done for each computer you use, but only once. The downside is that there’s no way to pan around the image when you’ve zoomed in, so full-screen viewing is the only way to see the detail in the image, unless you just want to look at the centre.

D-Link DCS-2530L: Specs

  • 1/3in 2-Mp sensor
  • 16 ft night vision with infrared LEDs
  • Built-in microphone
  • Focal length: 1.7 mm
  • Aperture: F2.5
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi WPS button
  • microUSB power connector
  • microSD/SDHC/SDXC card slot
  • Adjustable image size, quality, frame rate and bit rate
  • Adjustable brightness, saturation, contrast, sharpness and exposure time
  • Configurable motion and sound detection
  • Time stamp and text overlays
  • Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)
  • Configurable privacy mask zones
  • 1920 x 1080 at up to 15 fps
  • 1280 x 720 at up to 30 fps
  • 800 x 448 at up to 30 fps
  • 1/3in 2-Mp sensor
  • 16 ft night vision with infrared LEDs
  • Built-in microphone
  • Focal length: 1.7 mm
  • Aperture: F2.5
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi WPS button
  • microUSB power connector
  • microSD/SDHC/SDXC card slot
  • Adjustable image size, quality, frame rate and bit rate
  • Adjustable brightness, saturation, contrast, sharpness and exposure time
  • Configurable motion and sound detection
  • Time stamp and text overlays
  • Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)
  • Configurable privacy mask zones
  • 1920 x 1080 at up to 15 fps
  • 1280 x 720 at up to 30 fps
  • 800 x 448 at up to 30 fps

OUR VERDICT

The DCS-2530L is a decent camera which gives you the kind of view you’d traditionally need a pan and tilt camera to get. It records at full quality to a microSD card, too. However, it’s badly let down by a clunky app and web portal. Plus, at this high price, it lacks the extra features we’d expect of a modern internet camera, and the lack of any cloud storage doesn’t help.