The TP-Link Wireless Pan/Tilt Surveillance Camera is a pretty ambitious little security camera. So let’s go over the feature set of what it is supposed to do, talk about the features briefly, then discuss what the camera can ACTUALLY do so you decide if this is the right security solution for you. I’m going to qualify this by saying that this camera may be capable of doing more with a 3rd party software application, but as it is, out of the box, with the included software is how it was reviewed.
54 Mbps Wireless Connectivity
Motorized Pan/Tilt 354 degree pan and 125 degree tilt.
Day / Night
32 Preset Monitoring Positions and 4 patrol tours
10x digital zoom
Smooth video Streaming
3gpp compliant video for 3G mobile device usage.
2 way audio communication support
High Quality MJPEG and MPEG-4 Streaming
Digital input / Output interface for external sensors and alarms
Ok, so most of this stuff is pretty straight forward… the problem is that is where it ends out of the box. The camera is very easy to setup, everything is logical and the manual (which is only available on the included CD) lays the setup out exactly how you would think it would go so many of you will not require to read it. Configuring the TP-LINK TL-SC4171G is easily done through the web interface. It is setup to grab an IP from your DHCP server, you login and configure it.
That said here are the actual features that we were able to get working well enough to use it as a security product:
54 Mbps Wireless Connectivity <— BINGO – This works great.
Motorized Pan/Tilt 354 degree pan and 125 degree tilt. <— BINGO – This works great.
Day / Night <– BINGO Works Great.
32 Preset Monitoring Positions and 4 patrol tours <— FAIL WHALE – We were not able to get this to work at all.
10x digital zoom <– Works
Smooth video Streaming <– FAIL WHALE if you are using their software, there is a 3rd party app avail on iOS and Android that works well.
3gpp compliant video for 3G mobile device usage. <— BINGO Works Well
2 way audio communication support <— FAIL WHALE – Causes everything to slow down, doesn’t work in their software, and glitches on 3rd Party Apps
High Quality MJPEG and MPEG-4 Streaming <— FAIL WHALE – I have never seen a good image with their software. With the 3rd Party App I’d say the quality was decent, nothing to write home about.
Digital input / Output interface for external sensors and alarms <– Was not able to test because they don’t even give you a hint at what sensos and alarms are compatible so this is a useless feature unless you are into running out and buying 1 of everything to see if it works.
Free bundled software supports 16 channel simultaneous surveillance <— FAIL WHALE This software is so incredibly useless I can’t even begin to imagine why they would bundle it. If this was a restaurant and the software was a piece of steak… it would be served to with a spoiled smell and flies buzzing around it. In fact, all other companies on the planet should use this software as an example of what not to provide their consumer if it is going to fail so badly. This is a fail of epic proportion because it provides the basic functionality that is required to use all the features (like recording).
Advanced SSL/HTTPS encryption <—- FAIL WHALE, yes it is encrypted, yay… but the web interface is not useable to view video because it refreshes the whole screen rather than just the window. It’s annoying and useless. Yes I know it’s not talking about the web interface but it wasn’t listed on the list of features so I put it here because SSL/HTTPS is associated with that regularly and well I didn’t think I should add to their list of features and put “Web Interface” as clearly they already know their web interface is not a “feature”, which is why they must have omitted it.
Supports email, http or ftp alert <— FAIL WHALE the image refreshes the whole screen so it is impossible to setup the motion detection stuff for email alerts.
UPNP – My router is setup for UPNP and their software couldn’t find their camera. Couldn’t tell you if it worked, I’m assuming no because of the experience with the rest of the features. At this point in the review it didn’t seem to really matter.
Now I know at this point you are thinking “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t buy this camera”. Maybe not… let me tell you why. Oh wait, I can’t. At this point I was prepared to argue that the camera does function very well using IP Cam Viewer for iOS or Android. It will even record, so you can use a tablet and set it all up. I would normally do that if this camera was very inexpensive. However, I can’t do that because there are a lot of other cameras that have all the features this camera does on the market for significantly less money (around $100 USD less). The cheapest price I could find on the TP-LINK TL-SC4171G is $216, and its MSRP is $299.99. It does “look” better than the rest of them, but I need a camera that is going to work with more than a cell phone to record what happens at my business. Sure I could get a 3rd party application for this purpose but how do I know it will do what I need to do if the company that makes it can’t even get it to work properly with their software?
At this point all I can recommend that you do is take a pass on this TP-LINK TL-SC4171G Surveillence Camera. It’s got a lot of potential, and I honestly believe that ALL of the issues I’ve outlined (with the exception of the patrol which just doesn’t seem to work well at all) can be fixed through a few simple software updates. Until TP-LINK does this, and shows us that the camera can operate consistantly well we can’t in all faith tell you to go out and buy one.
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