$999 (after $100 rebate)
Axis Communications Inc.
In a Nutshell
- Easy setup and install
- Fast picture taking
- Motion sensitive alarming/e-mail/ uploading
- No automated remote focus
- No printed manual
- No telephoto/zoom
- DNS takes over system
- RJ-45 connection
- ARP program
If By Modem
- DB9-null modem cable
- Either a remotely-accessible IP or an FTP/SMTP site
You needn’t have a killer physique or be named “Jenni” or even have exhibitionist tendencies to want to have your own 24/7 Web cam. And with the Axis 2120 Network Camera, you don’t even need a computer or any access to the Web beyond a modem and phone line.
Lights, Camera, Action!
We used the Axis Web cam as a security camera (focused on our parking lot) and also to allow the world to view the ducks feeding in the pond outside our offices.
The Axis 2120 can be set to trigger automatic uploads to an FTP site upon detection of motion in any of three areas defined within the live shot. The camera can also be configured to send an e-mail message whenever an alarm event occurs. The e-mail can contain hot links to the camera’s live image. It can also contain links to images leading up to and following the alarm event: we were able to get shots of a car driving through the parking lot (in high enough quality to be able to ascertain its license plates), then of a stationary car, and finally, of the car driving away.
The camera, if placed outdoors, needs an appropriate waterproof enclosure. For our purposes, mounting it on a tripod by a window worked well.
Powered By Linux
The Axis’ operating system is actually Linux based, providing standard login security (important especially on dial-up access), and is based on the 2.0 kernel with non-MMU CPU patches available at http://www.ucLinux.org. Source code and development tools related to the Axis are available on their Web site at http://developer.axis.com. The CPU is an ETRAX-100, a proprietary 32-bit RISC chip with onboard Ethernet connectivity; you should expect to see this chip in more than a few network-enabled peripherals in the near future.
The fact that the camera is powered by Linux allows it to be controlled via a Web-page-based Interface, accessible through a standard browser. This works whether the camera is attached to a network through an RJ-45 connector or through the provided RS-232 modem interface.
An IP address is assigned to the device through standard ARP and BOOTP commands (DHCP can be used as well). Through the serial/modem interface, the camera looks like a standard PPP server. When DNS is enabled, the camera essentially returns only the dynamic IP it has been assigned. This can be a little confusing and can make it difficult to configure a firewall that allows packets from the Axis to pass through.
All of this can lead to a situation where Network Address Translation is more a part of your life than you might wish it to be. But this proved problematic only when accessing the camera though its serial connection.
Web pages and images originating from the Axis are served up by the included Open Source HTTP server, proving good things do some in small packages.
Providing up to 30 frames of medium resolution images per second at 60 Hz, compressed JPEGs can be as small as 3 KB each, depending upon actual image compressibility.
All in all, the Axis is good stuff, but it makes you ask: Is this truly a network appliance or simply a great example of an embedded Linux application? Either way, this camera is okay by us.