- Compact, unobtrusive design;
- built-in Linux-based Web server;
- good image quality with high frame rates;
- highly configurable.
- Setup could prove tricky for novices;
- relatively expensive.
USB Webcams are ten a penny these days, but they generally suffer from moderate image quality, low frame rates and lack flexibility (these are ‘dumb’ devices that must be tethered to a PC running the requisite software). By contrast, even an entry-level network camera such as the £139 (ex. VAT) Axis 205 delivers good resolution and decent frame rates; also, thanks to its built-in Linux OS and Web server software, it can operate independently anywhere there’s a network connection. If you want to monitor your home or your business remotely, or stream live video onto your Web site, the Axis 205 Network Camera is an excellent starting point.
Network cameras used to be bulky devices, but the Axis 205 is admirably compact, measuring 55mm (wide) by 34mm (deep) by 85mm high. It weighs just 177g including the adjustable stand -- the camera can stand on a flat surface, or be screwed to a wall. It’s an unassuming-looking device, finished in white plastic with a black focus ring and a status LED surrounding the lens at the front; at the back there are network activity and power indicators plus a control button; the network (RJ-45) and power connectors are on the bottom of the device.
Setup & interface
Axis is aiming this IP-based product at ordinary home and small business users who are equipped with broadband Internet connections and Internet sharing devices, as well as experienced networking types in bigger companies. As such, the company has tried to make installation as straightforward as possible, although things can still get a bit complicated for the novice at times. To set up the Axis 205 for viewing over the local area network (that is, behind the firewall), the simplest method is to use Axis’s ‘One-click installation’. This uses the company’s free Internet Dynamic DNS Service to give the camera a static DNS name rather than a dynamic IP address. Having connected and powered up the camera, all you do is press the control button on the back of the camera, and then visit www.axiscam.net within 60 minutes; here, you enter the device’s serial number, whereupon you’ll receive a link to your camera. The administrator login and password is also set at this stage. By default, your domain name expires after 14 days, but you can opt to make it permanent. Alternatively, you can manually assign a static IP address to the camera, using either the Axis IP Utility software (which you have to download), or ARP and Ping (the latter method is only recommended for technically advanced users). If you want to access the Axis 205 from outside your local area network, you’ll need to configure your broadband router to allow incoming data traffic -- usually on a specific port. This is where novices may come unstuck, because although Axis provides some online guidance on this topic, it does assume a certain level of networking know-how.
For an entry-level camera, the Axis 205 has a good set of features. You can choose from three resolutions -- 640 by 480, 320 by 240 and 160 by 120 pixels -- and four levels of Motion JPEG compression, while the browser-based interface lets viewers resize the image and take sanpshots. Frame rates of up to 30fps are possible, although this (and the number of simultaneous viewers) can be limited to conserve network bandwidth if necessary. Anonymous (login-free) viewing can be enabled, but only the possessor of the administrator password can change the camera’s settings. The password-protected Setup section provides control over user permissions, TCP/IP settings (not for the novice, this), text, date and time overlays, image settings (including rotation, brightness, colour level, white balance, exposure control and sharpening) and the layout of the live view. You can also configure the Axis 205 to send event and error emails to predefined addresses. If you need to expand your network camera operation, Axis can provide additional software in the shape of Axis Camera Explorer, which lets you operate multiple cameras, and Axis Camera Recorder, a recording/monitoring solution.
We were impressed with the performance of the Axis 205, which is several cuts above the average Webcam in terms of image quality, frame rate support and configurability. All in all, it delivers impressive results that are well worth the extra outlay over a run-of-the-mill solution.
|Compliant Standards||CSA, EN 60950, EN 61000-3-2, EN 61000-3-3, EN55022, EN55024, FCC Class A certified, FCC Class B certified, UL, VCCI Class B ITE|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|Product Line||AXIS Network Camera|
|Installed Size||8 MB|
|Installed Size||2 MB|
|Max Digital Video Resolution||640 x 480|
|Camera Type||network surveillance camera|
|Network Interface||Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX|
|Min Operating Temperature||41 °F|
|Max Operating Temperature||104 °F|
|Humidity Range Operating||20 - 80%|