Skip to main content

PC-Based Home Security: Do It Yourself

Axis M1054

The M1054 is physically very similar to the M1011-W, but with a few important upgrades that may or may not justify the camera’s $399 price tag. Most obvious are the three features along the bottom of the front bezel: an LED lamp, a passive infrared (PIR) sensor, and a speaker.  The lamp obviously serves to illuminate the field of view under dim or dark conditions. You wouldn’t expect a single LED to be that useful, but it was actually bright enough to hurt my eyes a bit when looking at it from across a table.  Similarly, the speaker was loud enough to startle people absorbed in a movie upstairs when I activated it at full volume from downstairs.


Axis builds many pre-recorded alarm sounds into the M1054, including thins like a barking dog or a camera shutter clicking. There’s also a default spoken message that says in a curiously calm tone, “You are trespassing. You have been photographed and recorded by this Axis network camera. There is no point in destroying me. The video is already stored at another site and a notification has been sent. Have a nice day.” If you don’t feel like wishing a nice day to your intruders, feel free to record your own message. The Axis microphone is every bit as good as D-Link’s, and the PIR sensor is an excellent bonus. If you’re serious about security, the PIR sensor offers an excellent backup or alternative to the usual visual method of event triggering. The sensor works by watching for changes in temperature in a foreground object, such as a human body, compared to a background object, such as a wall. From an intrusion perspective, this is much more reliable than detecting motion by changed pixels which can be triggered by shadows or animals. For instance, last night I received nine intrusion alerts from my Logitech outdoor camera. One was from headlights that veered too far inside my monitoring zone. The other eight were from a spider pacing across my lens cover. The Axis camera’s PIR sensor would have ignored all of these triggers.

The M1504 supports Power over Ethernet (PoE), which allows the camera to pull power from the Ethernet line rather than an AC adapter. However, you must have a router that supports PoE or a PoE power injector somewhere in your Ethernet line. This is an added expense that most homes won’t have, but it is a great opportunity to run cameras without extra cable clutter.

The trade-off is that the M1054 doesn’t support wireless networking. Why not? Excellent question. Perhaps it’s telling that the M1031-W supports most of the M1054’s feature upgrade and does have 11g wireless—but only a 640x480 maximum resolution. The M1054 can handle up to 1280 x 800, enabling both widescreen viewing and digital pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ). Just as with digital zoom in handheld still cameras, digital PTZ allows you to take a smaller field of view, such as 640 x 480, magnify it, then pan to areas “outside” the regular view. This sounds a bit hokey, but it practice it actually looks decent. I found myself using it many times, leaving a high-traffic area of a scene in magnified view and only panning “off-screen” every once in a rare while.

Lastly, the M1054 includes one I/O port for linking to an external sensor or a storage device. Businesses are more likely to appreciate and need this feature. The same is true of the camera’s ability to require digital certificates and 802.1X authentication in order to maintain stream security.