Wireless surveillance cameras could help you make your business environment safer

MAYBE YOU DON'T FEEL SAFE ABOUT leaving your office or warehouse alone at night. Maybe items are disappearing off the shelves in your store. Maybe boxes of pens have been walking away from the supply cabinet. Or maybe you need to keep an eye on the parking lot but don't have room for a security guard in your budget. Wherever you need an extra set of eyes, a wireless video surveillance camera can help.

Wi-Fi video cameras are fairly new on the scene, so there aren't a ton on the market. Video quality isn't overly impressive. Don't expect to see sharp details, especially in poor lighting situations--although this should improve as future generations of cameras come out. You'll still need to plug most cameras into an electrical outlet, but after the initial setup, they don't need the Ethernet cable typical of networked devices. Eventually, expect cameras without the need for power cords.

The most affordable camera in our chart, the Linksys WVC11B Wireless-B Internet Video Camera, comes with an easy-to-follow setup card to walk you through installation. You may still need to know your network settings and be able to input them manually, or have an IT person do it for you. Either way, Linksys' 24-hour tech support will help you if you get stuck. Picture contrast and brightness still need work, so this camera is best for indoor use. Outdoors, the picture tends to wash out. The camera comes with a free three-month trial of SoloLink DDNS Service, which lets you view streaming video over the Web via Internet Explorer.

In addition to 24-hour tech support, the D-Link DCS--2100+ Internet Camera features a fast, no-hassle setup. For your $289 (all prices street), you get some advanced features like the ability to attach external alarms as triggers. A built-in microphone provides audio, and the device is viewable and configurable via Internet Explorer. The included software lets you set the camera for motion detection, scheduling, archiving and sending still shots by e-mail or FTP. Image quality is decent, but as with the Linksys, you have to watch out for situations that are too bright or too dark.

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