Have you ever wanted to have your own webcam with audio?  Do you have a desire to be able to monitor your property or business remotely for security purposes?  The Linksys WVC200 camera has some great features — and some big drawbacks.

The WVC200 is feature packed. It includes the ability to pan, tilt and zoom remotely.  It includes a built in microphone as well as an external microphone jack for even better (or closer) audio.  The antenna is easy to position in about any direction or angle you desire.  (NOTE:  We found that the camera was not working well on the test wireless network until the antenna had been pointed straight out horizontally.)  There are wall mount slots on the back and a pretty decent plastic base you can use to set the camera on a flat surface.

The menu system allows you to set up a remote FTP server for uploading pictures at user selected intervals.  We found this part a bit constricting.  The lowest amount of time is 30 minutes.  So much for time lapse photography.  Hopefully Linksys will give greater freedom to allow the user to actually set a lower interval for photo uploads.

Further, if you wish to use the camera in a security application, you can set it to record up to 5 seconds of video and send it via e-mail to multiple user-defined e-mail boxes.

The camera allows for Dynamic DNS support, tweaking of image resolution, lighting conditions, over and under exposure, preset pan/tilt options and much more.

Now the bad news:  Linksys lives in a Microsoft-only world.  When I purchased this camera, there was not explicit mention that this camera would not work with a Mac on an alternate browser.  I wasted quite a bit of time trying to get the thing to work and then finally found a small disclaimer, almost hidden, that this camera’s zoom, tilt, pan and image viewing functions require Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher with ActiveX controls.

Wow.  In a world of Java and cross-platform compatibility, they opted for this?  I was extremely disappointed.  I spoke with a channel manager who got me in contact with a tech support engineer who recommend a way of running a workaround.  It didn’t.  And don’t bother looking for IE 5.5 for the Mac, as it doesn’t exist.  I believe 5.2.3 was the last buggy version Microsoft came out with.

After several months of the camera lying dormant in my office, I worked with it again, checking on driver updates, hoping against hope.   Linksys still has not moved in the right direction.

One positive note is that I found an article in the user forums at the Linksys site which noted that VideoLAN.org has a player which will work with multiple media file formats on several different platforms — Mac included.  I downloaded the software and spent some more frustrating time trying to open the URL to the camera.  The problem I was running into is that the WVC200 requires a userid and password to access the video (so much for anonymous webcam usage).  After looking through the VideoLAN wiki, I found that there is a way to put this into the http get request.  In the File, Open Network dialog box, you can enter the URL to your camera as


(making sure to put a valid userid, password and change the IP to your camera’s IP address).  If you use an alternate port other than the default port 80, put it after the IP address with a colon.

Hey!  That at least gave me video.  I was also able to turn on the microphone and get sound as well.

The downside is, of course, that none of the camera controls are available.

My recommendation is that if you are a Windows shop exclusively and will never have visitors to your camera using other browsers, this is a good camera to buy.  If you are Linux, Mac or other OS biased, then save yourself some frustration.

If you wish to purchase this item, follow this link for details.

To read the Linksys.com details on the product, click here.