AirLink101 SkyIPCam777W

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
June 15, 2010
Manufacturer
AirLink101
Product Page
SkyIPCam777W
Provider
Geeks.com
Views
46829
AirLink101 SkyIPCam777W
The AirLink101 SkyIPCam777W combines all the functionality of a camera security system into one unit at an affordable price. It is an excellent product.

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Page 1
Introduction

We here are ASE Labs are very found of security and being able to manage the security of your own home or business is very important. One of the easiest ways to add some piece of mind (other than owning a gun!) is to install a camera system to monitor the daily ingress and egress through your door. While cameras won't prevent stealing, they are a mitigation to people. If your system is setup properly, you'll be able to identify the perp after and, hopefully, get your stuff back. Geeks.com supplied us with the AirLink 101 SkyIPCam777W for an all in one security camera. This one does it all and all you really need is some sort of storage device like a USB flash drive.

About AirLink101

Quote

Airlink101 is a leading brand of high technology products, including data communications, wireless networking and peripheral products, for personal computers. Our goal is to provide high quality technology products in line with the latest standard. The growth and prosperity of our customers define our success. We strive to deliver unsurpassed levels of customer satisfaction and support.

http://www.airlink101.com/aboutus.php


Packaging

box.jpg


When browsing a retail shelf, this is the box you'll see. One of the bold-ed features is the MPEG4/MJPEG support which may seem like a great feature, but most security systems use MJPEG (each frame is independent) and for 640x480, the bandwidth difference isn't that much.
Page 2
Specifications

General Features:
  • Image Sensor: 1/4-inch Color CMOS Sensor
  • Sensor Resolution: 640 x 480 pixel
  • Minimum Illumination: 0.5 Lux
  • Infrared LEDs: Triggered by Auto Light Sensor
  • Lens Type: Board Lens
  • View Angle (diagonal): 64 degrees
  • Motion detection with 2 adjustable windows
  • Supports 2-way audio transmission by adding power speaker (not included)
  • Record video to NAS (Network Attached Storage)


Video Features:
  • Image Compression: MPEG4/MJPEG/3GPP
  • Auto Exposure Control
  • Auto Gain Control
  • Image Resolution and Frame Rate: VGA (640 x 480): 30 fps, QVGA (320 x 240): 30 fps, QQVGA (160 x 120): 30 fps


Audio Features:
  • Input: built-in microphone
  • Output: external connector for mono speaker
  • Codec: PCM/AMR


Communications:
  • Ethernet: one (1) 10/100 Mbps RJ-45
  • Wireless: 802.11b/g
  • Supported Protocols: TCP/IP, UDP, ICMP, DHCP, NTP, DNS, DDNS, SMTP, FTP, HTTP, Samba, PPPoE, UPnP, Bonjour, RTP, RTSP, RTCP


Pan/Tilt:
  • Pan: + 165 degrees ~ - 165 degrees
  • Tilt: + 90 degrees ~ -15 degrees


Interfaces:
  • DC Power Connector
  • Ethernet Connector
  • GPIO Connector (1 In and 1 Out)
  • USB port (for extra USB storage device) with dismount button
  • External Antenna Connector
  • Reset button
  • Audio Out connector


LEDs:
  • Power LED: Orange color
  • Link/Act. LED: Green color


Dimensions:
  • 4 x 4.25 x 4.5-inches (H x W x D, approximate)


Power Specifications:
  • Input: AC 100 - 240V~0.4A, 50/60Hz
  • Output: DC 12V / 1.5A
  • Power Consumption: 10 watts Max.
Page 3
Package Contents

parts1.jpg


AirLink101 includes all the essentials for setting up the SkyIPCam777W. The IP camera itself is packaged along with the AC adapter, software and documentation, a Wi-Fi antenna, a GPIO block, and mounting screws. The kit also has some rubber feet to be placed on the bottom of the camera.

parts2.jpg


On the very bottom of the packaging, AirLink101 included the mounting bracket and an ethernet cable. We're happy that the kit includes an ethernet cable as some companies like to skimp on the little things. The mounting kit is used to mount the camera to a wall or other stationary flat surface. It will also sit nicely on a desk.

SkyIPCam777W

view1.jpg


The IP camera in the SkyIPCam777W kit is a pan/tilt model with no zoom or auto focus support. The latter is a problem for people that need to see both long and far objects with the camera. There is a manual focus ring (like a pair of binoculars) that can be adjusted to bring the subject into focus. Depending on the distance, you'll be able to see most areas around the target subject. If something is too close or too far, they'll be out of focus. More expensive cameras have an auto focus to negate the need to manually setup the focus.

The SkyIPCam777W includes seven infrared (IR) LEDs to allow the camera to illuminate objects in the dark. This works for about 20 feet from the camera. If the subject is beyond that, the illumination loses its potency due to spread. Since these are IR lights, the subject will not be aware of their presence. You'll be able to use this "night vision" mode to grab images without the target being aware. Spying on people is a use for this camera, after all. We don't condone this use, though.

The kit includes an antenna for use with wireless networks. For people that are worried about security, the wired portion is the way to go. You really don't want to put cameras on the wireless network. If you do, make sure the network is fully secured using 802.11i security, commonly called WPA2.

view2.jpg


The pan and tilt for the camera is very good. The camera can pan nearly 360 degrees around, but it won't be able to do a complete circle as there is a block to prevent it from turning too far. The tilt is good as well. The camera is able to point straight up and down far enough to provide an excellent view of the subject area. The lack of auto focus does leave a bit of wanting, though. The camera has such a good range of motion, yet you won't be able to see near and far objects at the same time.

You'll notice an USB port built into the camera. This serves a single purpose. You can only use an USB mass storage device for snapping pictures that the motion trigger produces. You aren't able to use it for videos. This is fine since the unit works with a few other storage devices like a FTP server or NAS.

back.jpg


The back of the unit contains the various ports and such for connectivity. The left button is a USB dismount button for safely removing the USB mass storage device. Continuing from the left is the ethernet port, the GPIO port, the wireless antenna, the DC power input, the reset button, and a speaker connection. The unit has a built-in microphone to capture audio and the software allows you to talk through the camera if you attach some powered speakers to it. It is an interesting feature that doesn't work that well, but it isn't needed for the majority of uses of this camera.

bottom.jpg


The bottom of the unit contains the labeling and the mounting screw holes. It can also be placed on any flat surface since the kit gives you four rubber feet if you are using it in this manner.
Page 4
Setup

The SkyIPCam777W includes programs for use with Windows only for setting up the camera. This isn't a problem for people running Mac or Windows since you can do most of the functionality of the camera by navigating to the camera by its initial IP address of 192.168.1.240 and entering the admin/admin credentials to setup the unit by the built-in HTTP server. The only functions that won't be available will be the motion trigger and the audio support. The motion trigger is extremely useful and since the camera seems to be targeting the entire OS ecosystem, we're unsure why the camera used an ActiveX control for this. This IP camera is fully usable with Zoneminder, though.

liveview.png


The first page you'll be shown is the live view of the camera. You can see the Editor-in-Chief's thumbs up in this shot. We used Firefox on Ubuntu Karmic for the majority of the setup except when we note otherwise. You can use the Smart Wizard to do the initial setup. We opted to do everything manually.

The live view can be viewed in any browser that supports embedded MPEG4 or can support Java. The MJPEG stream is shown by using a Java applet. Most browsers support Java, so this isn't a problem. The left side of the page contains the menu and the camera controls. You are able to pan and tilt as well as set and retrieve the eight set positions of the camera. The initial pan and tilt movements are a bit slow until you tell the camera to move faster on each press. You aren't able to hold down the arrow button to make the camera move fluidly. You'll need to keep pressing to move the camera.

Unlike most DVR solutions (like Zoneminder), you aren't able to click the image and have the camera pan and tilt to where you clicked. This is unfortunate since getting the camera setup can be a pain with the slow movement controls.

network.png


This camera has a whole host of features that we didn't think would be included. Not only can it do the normal IP address assignments and such, but you can also change which ports the HTTP and RTSP servers use. It also has DynDNS support as well as UPnP and Bonjour support. We suggest not using UPnP if you are security conscious since the camera will talk to your router to forward ports for viewing the camera over the internet automatically. This is fine for some, just make sure you lock down the camera with a strong password!

wireless.png


The wireless settings on the device are good. You can do all the way up to WPA2 (the full 802.11i standard). The only problem is that the web page uses plain text for entering the wireless password. This isn't a big deal unless you are in an area where people are looking over your shoulder.

camsetting.png


Brightness, contrast, and saturation controls are present for the unit as well as the ability to flip the image if you mounted the camera upside down. You can set the light frequency (most will use outdoor or 60Hz) and include an overlay for the date and time. The camera can use a NTP server for setting the time automatically.

eventserver.png


We opted to use our internal NAS for the testing, but FTP and email worked just as well. The camera works by firing a trigger which causes an event. You can setup each event to do something like record some footage and place it on the NAS. It uses Samba for a NAS which works fine with our Linux NAS and can work with any Windows based one.

trigger.png


You can setup a schedule trigger that will grab footage on an interval and save it to whatever storage (or email) you have setup. If you have lots of storage, you can use the schedule trigger to save video often. You can grab as much video as your storage server can handle.

usb.png


The USB menu shows the status of the mounted mass storage device. It requires a FAT(32) file system. You can only use a motion trigger for capturing snapshots with the USB flash drive and nothing else.

ieview.jpg


When viewing the camera under Windows with IE, you are given a few more options on the live view page. You can listen, talk, browse a directory for saving snapshots, and save a snapshot. We're unsure why AirLink101 required an ActiveX control when the camera also uses Java. Java could have been used to provide the same functionality in a cross platform manner.

motion.jpg


The motion control is the great feature of the camera. Once you set it up, it just works. You are given two motion boxes that you can set for your desired threshold and if the motion is trigger, the camera will perform the functions that you want for this event. If you plan on buying this camera, be sure to have a Windows computer handy for the initial setup since the motion trigger is such a useful feature. This could have also been done using Java instead of an ActiveX control. Make sure you set the threshold sensitivy high enough to capture when the subject is in frame. The base movement of a scene should be just below the minimum threshold for motion triggering.
Page 5
Use

We found the setup and use of the camera very intuitive. The Smart Wizard can easily guide you through the initial setup, but you'll need to be versed in some networking concepts from that point. You can use the included viewer software to do the camera management, but the web page works just as well and also works in all environments. We also tried the 3GP stream from the camera. Other than the low resultion, the picture was good enough to see what's going on from your mobile phone. We used a Blackberry Storm and it was finicky. Sometimes we had to disable the audio on the stream for it to work. A better mobile client would probably be fully supported.

This SkyIPCam777W is fully usable with a DVR solution like Zoneminder. Zoneminder can grab the MJPEG feed and there are scripts to control the pan/tilt controls. Even if you don't use a full fledged DVR security solution, the camera itself can do nearly everything on its own. It truly is a featured packed unit. Just remember to have a Windows PC handy for setting up the motion trigger on the camera. That is the most useful feature, by far.

We did have some concerns over the manufacturer, though. When we went to visit their website for updates, it was offline due to the domain being expired. This happened for about a day until it came back up. It might be an oversight, but you should keep that in mind when buying it. You might not get any support (even though there is right now) in the future.

Another issue is the lack of auto focus. Without it, the camera can only see a certain distance. This makes the pan/tilt functionality a bit less useful. In addition, since the camera only takes VGA (640x480) video, you can't easily enlarge an image which would mitigate the auto focus problem. Still, these issues are minor in the home based security segment this is targeting.

snap.jpg


This is an example snapshot done by using the motion trigger event. It was saved to a USB flash drive. You can easily see enough detail to perform a useful analysis of the scene. The camera does capture snapshots very well. This is at VGA resolution, as well.



The same motion triggered event was saved to additional NAS storage with a video. This is the raw footage from the camera. It contains well enough detail to see what happened. While trying to be sneeky, someone walked into the room and took something (an SSD).



The Editor-in-Chief strikes again in this video review. It is a good suppliment to better understand how the camera works. Please leave us some comments on Youtube or in the forums to let us know how the videos are doing.

Conclusion

The AirLink101 SkyIPCam777W retails for about $160 at Geeks.com. For a unit that incorporates nearly all functionality you'll need for a home security solution, this is an excellent price. The camera nearly works in all computing environments. Once it is setup, you'll rarely have to check up on it again. You can send yourself email videos or snapshots and even view videos from your mobile phone. This camera is really a jack of all trades. We're very impressed with the amount of features you get for the price and we recommend the unit if you want a security solution. Sure, there are many better IP cameras, but most won't be at this price and won't offer the range of features included with this camera.

If you need a home security camera solution, look no further than the AirLink101 SkyIPCam777W. It works really well and gets the job done.



ASE Labs would like to thank Geeks.com for providing this product for review.

Comments

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