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Review: Actiontec 54Mbps Wireless Network Camera

Introduction

Actiontec 54Mbps Wireless Network Camera
SummaryManual focus webcam with 11b / g wireless and 10/100 Ethernet connections. Image capture and record features are via Windows-only application
UpdateNone
Pros• Wired and 802.11b/g wireless operation
• Audio and video capture
Cons• Requires ActiveX for web browser viewing
• Windows only software for taking snapshots and video
• No previewing of motion detection settings
• No emailing of snapshots (only video) when motion is detected

In the market for a high quality network camera, but you hate the thought of having to drag ethernet cables everywhere? Actiontec recently introduced its 54 Mbps Wireless Network Camera, which boasts MPEG-4 video and audio recording. While the installation and configuration started off well, I quickly found the product's key limitations.

The Actiontec wireless camera comes with an AC Adapter, short CAT 5 Ethernet cable, removable antenna, and the mounting hardware pictured above (Figure 1).

Figure 2: Front view

The front of the camera (Figure 2) has the lens, which is focused by manually turning it. Under the lens is the built-in microphone. On the right side are four LED lights (Ready, Active, LAN, Wireless) that glow amber when the camera is turned on and ready, or active on its Ethernet and wireless connections respectively. Unlike some other cameras (such Axis'), these LEDs cannot be turned off.

Figure 3: Rear view

On the back of the camera (Figure 3), going from left to right, we first see the removable wireless antenna. With the correct pigtail adapter to match the RP-TNC connector, you could upgrade to any 2.4 GHz antenna you like. To the right of the power connection (5V DC) is an external microphone input, which may give you better results than using the built-in mic.

Since this is a wireless camera, you probably won't use the 10 / 100 LAN port, but it's there for the inital setup of the camera or if you prefer more security than afforded by a wireless connection. Note that the LAN port isn't wired to accept Power over Ethernet, but you could get by this omission using a DIY PoE lash-up or commercially available kit.

Finally the recessed reset button will blast out all the settings and return the camera to the default settings when held for three seconds. But just quickly pressing the button will perform a soft reset including forcing a DHCP release / renew - a nice feature since many reset buttons these days are reset-to-defaults only, which isn't always what the doctor orders.