NetComm Network Dome Camera
- Excellent zoom, high speed motor, rugged body
- Poor software package, expensive
A high performance security camera only let down by inadequate software
Price$ 2,968.90 (AUD)
Netcomm's Network Dome Camera is a high end security solution for the professional user. The camera is designed to offer top performance in a rugged package and provides many options for the most demanding consumer.
It was clear as soon as we unpacked the Network Dome Camera that it is a world away from your average internet camera - both in styling and price. Designed to attach directly to the ceiling, or alternatively to the wall with an additional bracket, the Network Dome is primarily suited to small businesses in need of some extra security.
The physical components of the Network Dome are outstanding. A high speed motor drives the camera allowing for complete coverage 360 degrees around and 180 degrees over the top. Netcomm has used an excellent motor that can spin the lens through the entire 360 degrees in one second - an impressive feat. Equally notable is the 22x optical lens, allowing the camera to zoom in on small details from far distances. The 3.9 to 85.4mm lens crucially offers auto focus, giving the user total control over the image. Many internet cameras only offer manual focusing, physically requiring the user to rotate the lens, which can be a disaster if you plan to use the camera remotely. When zooming rapidly however, the auto focus can sometimes get lost, requiring the user to zoom back and forth until the image is sharp. Manual focusing is also provided by the software, although it is a little cumbersome to use.
The Network Dome camera uses CCD capture technology at a resolution of 795x596. It would have been nice to have a slightly higher resolution considering the cost of the unit, but with such a huge optical zoom, this isn't that big an omission. The image quality is fairly good though, giving a maximum frame rate of 25 frames per second, but this falls substantially if you increase the size of the viewing window. Only three window sizes are offered by the software, which is a little disappointing. In fact, the software package on the whole is where the Network Dome falls down.
Setting up the camera is more complicated than it need be, with the user required to manually enter IP addresses and other necessary details. On top of this, the camera comes with outdated generic instructions which lack any specific information. The application software is also poorly conceived, with motion sensing and scheduling options controlled using a badly thought out scripting interface. The motion sensing also lacks the customisation that can be found on alternative, less expensive cameras, although standard options such as email notification when motion is detected and inputs for external alarms are provided.
One final complaint is the lack of wireless connectivity. For such an expensive model the option to connect using inbuilt WiFi would have been pleasing, especially as the unit is designed to be ceiling mounted. The Network Dome can also be used outdoors with the additional purchase of weatherproof housing; again a wireless connection could have been useful here.
Overall, the Network Camera Dome is good at what it does, offering top performance and excellent quality. Its high speed motor drive and impressive zoom mean it could easily function as a reliable security camera. Installation for the non-technically minded is likely to be a problem though, and people hoping for advanced software customisation will be disappointed.
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