- ✓Works without a PC
- ✓no long-distance or service fees
- ✓simple setup and operation.
- ✕No built-in wireless support
- ✕directory service may require router reconfiguration
- ✕video quality could be better.
Video conferencing has long been restricted to niche markets such as government briefings, corporate boardrooms and reruns of The Jetsons. D-Link's DVC-1000 i2eye videophone may change all that. This £229 standalone device lets you make video-enabled calls over a broadband Internet connection -- no PC required.
The silver-coloured, plastic DVC-1000 is low-slung and slightly larger than a VHS videotape, designed to sit unobtrusively on top of your TV. The back-panel Ethernet port provides a connection to your network; to go wireless, consider buying an Ethernet-to-wireless bridge, such as D-Link's own DWL-810+. Also on the back are standard mono audio and composite video outputs that link to the television.
A small centred lens takes in all the action, while either the built-in mic or an external unit connected via a mini-jack handles half-duplex, speakerphone-style audio input. Attaching an ordinary telephone allows superior full-duplex interaction and easy dialling. You can manoeuvre through the on-screen menus with the included wireless remote.
Because the DVC-1000 operates independently of a computer, setup requires no software or remote programming from a connected PC, although initially, you may have to adjust your router or corporate firewall. The on-screen guide takes you through the process step by step in just a few minutes.
To place a call, you either dial directly or select an entry from the customised on-screen speed-dial list. Thanks to D-Link's free directory service, you can reach fellow i2eye users by entering their names and phone numbers; once you input your own information, it's automatically mapped to your network's static or dynamic IP address. The DVC-1000 worked as advertised, providing two-way, real-time streaming video and audio. Quality was on a par with an above-average Webcam -- good enough, but hindered by artefacts and synchronisation delays that were noticeable at window resolutions and even more so at full screen.
The DVC-1000's greatest strength is its complete lack of fees and long-distance charges. However, don't ditch your regular phone just yet. Unlike commercial voice-over-IP services, the DVC-1000 does not offer a bridge to the standard telephone network; the unit can interact with only other videophones and PC clients using the H.323 protocol. Furthermore, we and our callers at first had to dial by IP address because our first-generation NetGear RT311 router couldn't be properly configured for the directory service. Switching to a D-Link DI-604 solved the problem, and most newer routers should work fine. Like all other networked devices, the DVC-1000 is useless when your broadband connection goes down.
If you're PC-centric, you'll probably want to stick with a more affordable Webcam setup. But for living-room and workplace video conferencing, the DVC-1000 delivers a credible solution. We'd just like to see the asking price come down a bit.
|Device Type||Video conferencing kit|
|Type||Modem (digital) - integrated - wired|
|Max Transfer Rate||512 Kbps|
|Digital Signaling Protocol||H.323|
|Data Compression Protocol||G.711, G.723, H.263|
|Type||Digital video camera - integrated|
|Digital Video Capture Resolution||176 x 144, 352 x 288|
|Type||digital video camera|
|Data Link Protocol||Ethernet, Fast Ethernet|
|Product Line||D-Link DVC|
|Model||1000 i2Eye VideoPhone|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|Service & Support|
|Type||1 year warranty|
|Service & Support Details|
|Full Contract Period||1 year|
|Battery / Power|