There's a big difference between installing a surveillance camera inside and putting one up outside.
Not only does an outside camera need to be weather-proof, it needs to be people-proof. No point having a camera that can be yanked off the wall or ceiling or even just unplugged.
But that kind of industrial-grade surveillance doesn't come cheap... does it?
The D-Link DCS-4633EV has an appropriate nickname; Vigilance. It gives it an air of solid dependability and from what I've seen, it more than lives up to that name.
Not only does it carry an IP66 weatherproof rating, it also has an IK10 vandal-proof rating. The cool thing about that is I didn't even know there was a rating for how vandal-proof something is. Now I know, I won't settle for anything less than IK10. The DCS-4633EV is certainly one tough little puppy. The viewing dome is thick and strong but crystal clear and the whole unit feels extremely robust, despite its compact form factor.
Not only is this camera hard to smash, it'd be fairly tricky for your casual crim to break into it. Everything is locked up tight (including any screws used to mount the camera) with four of those fiddly star-shaped screws you need a special tool to undo. (Luckily, there's one included in the box)
It really is quite weather-tight to boot. Not that I've tested it in hurricane conditions or anything, but all the connections are weather-proof and there's even a soft rubber seal around the lens that presses tight against the viewing dome as an extra protective measure against any moisture or condensation.
Installation is the tricky bit here. Although the DCS-4633EV is being marketed as an affordable option for private homes or small businesses, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll be able to put it up yourself. For starters, this is not a WiFi capable camera so you'll need access to an ethernet connection at your installation point. Also, although the camera is Power Over Ethernet (PoE) enabled, it doesn't necessarily mean your data cable is - so you may need to add a 12-volt power source into the equation. (If you don't think you have one of these - check again. Many modems and routers run on 12-volt transformers, so if you have an old one you're no longer using, you might be in luck)
It goes without saying this means one if not two holes in the ceiling or wall you're fixing the camera to - and that's not the end of it. You'll need to use that special tool I mentioned earlier to remove the cover so you can access the mounting holes, insert your SD card (for local recording) and set the lens at your preferred angle.
Remember, although the DCS-4633EV provides a clear and detailed 3MP HD image night and day, this camera doesn't pan and tilt, it's fixed in place. Except... maybe it does.
There's also a setup DVD in the box which is something of a rarity these days. Most computery things provide a link or QR code for any accompanying software - but for this camera, D-Link provides more than just a driver, you get a whole surveillance interface.
After following the setup wizard on a computer connected to the same network as the camera, you can then go ahead and install the D-Link software, which is so customisable, it's kind of overwhelming. You can add any number of cameras, adjusting every setting imaginable - from brightness and resolution to creating unique recording schedules and motion detection zones. What I really liked is even with a fixed-lens camera like the DCS-4633EV, the D-Link control-room interface lets you zoom in and pan in any direction digitally, making full use of the 105 degree field of view - plenty of angle for most rooms or medium-sized outdoor spaces.
The software has a slightly chunky, turn-of-the-century look about it and it's got way too many options to be described as user-friendly, but once you've set up everything the way you want, it's a very powerful tool indeed. It looks a bit like every security guard's surveillance room you've ever seen in a movie.
Alternatively, you can log into the camera using it's IP address from any web browser - but that interface isn't nearly as fun.
There's no doubt the DCS-4633EV is a quality product capable of taking a few knocks. $399.99 is pretty good buying for this kind of technology, especially taking into account the powerful software bundled with it - although you may need to track down someone good with a drill to help with the installation.