Home security is more important than ever, but so is general home surveillance. Need to know if the kids got home on time? If the gardener got the lawn cut or not, or if strangers have been creeping round the house?
Checking out D-Link Omna home security camera
The D-Link OMNA 180 Cam HD provides network surveillance with the Apple HomeKit ecosystem. It’s the first network camera to work with Apple’s HomeKit. If you are unfamiliar with HomeKit, it’s Apple’s home automation platform for controlling smart home products with iOS apps and Siri voice commands.
Full HD video quality
The OMNA DSH-C310 is packed full of high-end features including a 180-degree wide-angle lens, Full HD 1080p resolution, two-way audio, night vision, and a microSD card slot for recording videos.
I was excited to test the D-Link OMNA 180 since I have tested many network cameras and was immediately pleased to find that the good people at D-Link have taken a page out of Apple’s simplistic white, recyclables only approach to packaging.
Inside the box was the camera unit, a very long twisty power cable and very simple “IKEA style” set of instructions with very easy to decipher step-by-step diagrams.
Setting up D-Link Omna camera
The instructions were very clear and made pairing very quick and painless. Since this is a HomeKit device, first time users of Apple HomeKit must pay close attention because skipping any steps will leave you scratching your head.
Great video quality, but no camera movement
Pairing was simple and all done through the iOS HomeKit and HomeKit only – sorry Android users. Once connected, the video picture was visible immediately and the quality was very impressive. However, having used many network cameras in the past including my current trusty old D-Link DCS-5030L, I instinctively felt the urge to pan the camera – which you are unable to do with the OMNA 180. D-Link is clearly aware of this limitation which is obviously why the camera is called 180 – which enables you get a great wide angle view of everything in front and parallel to the camera however if you wanted to place the camera in the centre of the room and scan the entire scene, you are out of luck.
Pairing and use with Apple HomeKit
This was actually my first experience using Apple HomeKit. As with most iOS setups, it was pretty straightforward. I feel like we have jumped ahead in the future with all of our home devices controlled by our phones making it both exciting and unnerving at the same time. With all of this “Big Brother” automation surrounding me I have the M5 rogue robot episode of Star Trek on the back of my mind when dealing with home automation – so I’m a little paranoid of my toaster attacking me in the middle of the night. But in order to use shiny new devices like the OMNA 180 we must succumb to Apple’s wishes.
Omna is like a tiny aluminum rocket
Physically, the OMNA 180 is not your mother’s netcam. The OMNA is sleek, aluminum and futuristic looking. Imagine rolling up your iMac into a hot dog sized little cylinder and standing it up on its end. Gone are the days of bulky and ugly security cameras with a stubby antenna sticking out of the back.
The sleek design, although esthetically pleasing, poses a problem of potentially tipping over. While the unit is light and has a small POG sized footprint, the camera must be placed on flat surface, doesn’t appear to have any mounting ability and could easily be knocked over by a curious small child or a very angry little puppy who is telling me that she needs to go to the bathroom.
D-Link Omna gets hot.. really hot
While we’re on the subject of small children grabbing the camera, it’s worth pointing out the camera gets HOT during operation. After just half an hour it did feel very warm to the touch. I don’t think it poses any sort of fire hazard but the thought of something this warm around a baby crib or a curious little dog’s nose was a bit of a concern. We did contact D-Link about this issue and here is what they had to say:
“Due to the amount of processing power required to stream 180 degree video, the camera does run warm. We take safety very seriously and have ensured that the camera meets all safety standards when it comes to operating temperature.
The camera is designed to run at a maximum of 14 degrees C above ambient temperature. This does not make it hot enough to be a safety concern. In addition, the aluminum material we use to dissipate heat better also causes the camera to feel warmer to the skin than plastic would.”
Sounds reassuring I suppose, but like most people, I’d be a little concerned about leaving the camera running “warm” while on vacation for an extended period of time. On a positive note, I suppose you can always check the video feed to see if your place is on fire? But seriously, we’ll accept D-Link’s word that the device poses no risks if placed in a sensible spot.
Catch lunch thieves! Omna has motion sensing
While the absence of the ability to pan the camera was a bit of a disappointment, the OMNA makes up for it with its motion sensor feature. This is especially handy when recording to the SD card because it will not only save space on the card by only recording movement but it can also help determine who keeps stealing your peach yogurt from the staff fridge.
The response time from the camera to the App is almost instantaneous and the picture quality at 1920 x 1080 is very impressive.
Sound quality was as expected, very typical web-cam-quality but with a two-way speaker feature you can also confuse your poor puppy while you’re at work or yell at your co-workers to stay away from your peach yogurt.
See in the dark with Omna night vision
Other standard features include night vision up to 5M / 16ft. I tested the visibility in a dark room with a curious puppy and was again highly impressed with the detail of the picture. In case you are wondering, peach yogurt at night looks like all other yogurt. For such a compact camera, the D-Link OMNA has a lot under the hood. Another positive of the camera is its almost complete silence. If it weren’t for the tiny light, you probably wouldn’t know it was even on.
D-Link Omna & Apple HomeKit – working together
Using the App / HomeKit doesn’t offer a whole lot of options. Since the camera doesn’t pan or tilt, I suppose there isn’t much need for other functions which could be viewed as a positive. At first this did annoy me that there weren’t more options, but after using the camera for a week I found that just checking in on my curious little dog was more than sufficient with the App. Simple and uncomplicated would be the best way to describe the app. I have found with my old camera, trying to get just the right angle to be a nuisance which is not an issue with a 180 degree view if placed at the right height.
Overall review of D-Link Omna home security camera
Overall I was impressed with the D-Link OMNA’s picture quality and simple setup. Personally I don’t believe this is the type of camera I would use as a baby monitor or to be around children at all because of the instability and heat issues listed earlier.
I’m not super concerned about the high running heat either; I’m not crazy about how my MacBook Pro runs warm but I’ve never been concerned about it bursting into flames like an old Samsung Note 7.
I feel the best use for the camera would be as surveillance for sure. If you don’t plan on moving the camera and just want to plant it in the same spot to get the same view everyday well this is a good camera for you. The biggest selling feature of the OMNA 180 is its connection to Apple HomeKit. The seamless linking and instant picture viewing overshadow its limitations.
The D-Link OMNA 180 retails for $269.95CAD on Apple’s Website.