Remote Video Security Is Mydlink+'s Weak Link
Mydlink+ is available for US$0.99 in the Google Play Store.
As a smartphone app reviewer, I often like to include a bit of explanation for why I choose to review the apps that I do. It adds a bit of human interest, and can make for a more enjoyable read.
This week, the story is especially exciting. This is a review of D-Link's Mydlink+ remote security camera Android app add-on, and I can explain the reason for the review in one word: goats.
Yes, goats -- those curious, often bearded, small livestock animals with the endearing, nibbling tongue and lips. Well, let me tell you a little about those endearing animals: They ain't so endearing when they've escaped their suburban Los Angeles pen and gotten into the neighbor's back yard -- in this case, my girlfriend's back yard, along with its carefully tended, recently flowering plants, now reduced to ragged, chewed stems.
Said neighbor blames domestic dogs, coyotes or deer. Hmm. Well, one redeeming goat-ish quality, in my opinion, other than that they taste nice, is that goats' curiosity and intelligence means that once they've discovered a pen exit -- often a pushy climb -- they'll do it again.
Enter D-Link's US$150 DCS-2132L security camera and its accompanying optional Android apps.
It was the D-Link products, along with their Android and iOS stickered packaging, that grabbed our attention perusing the long security-camera-laden shelves at Fry's, because the apps supposedly let you live-view on your phone or tablet using wireless networks like 3G, according to the packaging spiel.
You can be anywhere and see goats chomping on flowers. Great TV. We installed the non-weatherproof camera in a window with a backyard view.
Testing It Out
Two Android apps are available from D-Link for its camera series at our chosen, admittedly low-end, non-DVR-level: a free app and a paid app. We chose the paid $0.99, multiple-camera-capable Mydlink+ app in the Google Play Store, hoping it would be full-featured too.
First-up, the app is limited. While you can certainly see nicely-rendered, 480p resolution, live moving images of your view, it's subject to a time limit of just a few minutes before you need to reconnect the app with a button press.
The time limit doesn't really matter that much, because watching streaming back yard isn't exactly the most scintillating TV -- I've tried it. Occasionally a leaf falls, and the developers have built in a Mydlink+ movement-triggered e-mail alert. Movement in a defined camera view starts the recording and emails you a snapshot. That works fine -- well, in fact -- and it makes the camera purchase worthwhile.
It's here, though, that we encountered the second issue: On the Android app you can't configure motion-detection zones -- the defined screen mapping for motion detection -- nor can you set the email-alerting schedule. Nor, indeed, can you make configuration changes at all on the app.
Most importantly, you can't view the camera-installed SD card playback on the Android app. Instead, the SD card acts like a DVR.
We also tested the free iOS app, and obtained similar results.
What we found was that in order to configure these camera-sold features, you need to use Microsoft Internet Explorer on a PC. We were unable to get SD card playback within a Firefox browser due to plug-in issues.
This was an extraordinary state of affairs, and after some in-depth research I was able to identify the cause: Only certain cameras are compatible with certain app features. The camera we bought, despite the Android logo-emblazoned packaging, doesn't do SD card playback via app at all. Apparently what you need is a $10-cheaper DCS-942L -- also on Fry's shelves, and also Android logo-stickered.
The same is apparently true for enabling and disabling motion detection via app.
Don't get the paid Mydlink+ app we tested unless you plan on using multiple cameras. The free one has the same feature set.
Overall, the apps do play your camera stream, and they do email you alerts of movement with snapshots. Here in LA, we haven't seen an actual goat on-screen yet, but we've seen plenty of branches move in the wind.