Update on the Toshiba IK-WB 15a August 14, 2006Posted by cnchapman in Technology.
As promised, I wanted to share some of my experience with the new IKWB 15a. In a nutshell, after using it for 3 days, it seems to be everything that the 11a camera should have been. The 15a is very stable (no reboots yet) and responsive. Images load and are streamed rapidly. Image quality is very good. Low light performance is especially good — with auto B&W on, it switches from color to B&W images in low light. These yield crisp, satisfactory photos outside in the middle of the night with street lights on.
Note that I use the camera exclusively with Cat 5 cabling, so performance comments are about 10/100 Ethernet access, not Wi-Fi.
There are a number of changes to the firmware, mostly to add a few functions and make the HTML pages easier to navigate. One change that I especially appreciated: the FTP recording option can now use a fixed file name. This option has the camera initiate an FTP upload of images either on a schedule or in case of an alarm such as motion detection. In the 11a camera, the uploaded files were named with a time & date scheme, such as “LV-NWCAM1-20060815-010544.jpg”. In the 15a, that is still an option, but it is also possible to give a fixed name to the file, which is overwritten on each upload. For instance, something like “webcam.jpg”. That is helpful if you want to post the image directly to a web server.
In my case, this FTP recording feature would make it possible to feed the image directly into a directory where “motion” can examine it. In other words, it makes the most essential feature of my self-written recording program (see previous posts) unnecessary! On the other hand, you’d have to set up and run an FTP server, which I prefer not to do (even on my LAN) because of security holes. Might be a future possibility to put a standalone FTP server in my network DMZ, though.
One change on imaging is that there is no longer an option for 800×600 images. Maximum is the same at 1280×960, but the next lower option is 640×480. That is OK with me, since 800×600 doesn’t work well with “motion” anyway. The faster responsiveness of the 15a makes the 1280×960 images stream very nicely, either as mjpgs or static jpgs.
There is also additional attention to detail on the hardware side. The size and appearance of the camera are unchanged, but I noticed two nice details. First, the 15a camera comes with an extension power cord on the DC side. This is handy for exterior mounting in particular — you can put the extension cord through a wall and then if the AC/DC brick ever dies, you won’t have to remove the cord from the wall in order to replace the tranformer. Second, there is a small wrapping strip that fits inside the power/ethernet connector area on the camera, and wraps around the power cord. This helps hold it in place, so the power connector won’t come loose.
Overall, I’m very satisfied with it, and recommend it highly. The combination of great pictures, interior/exterior mounting, improved firmware, and a nice lineup of features make it a great deal at its price point (I found a great deal (now gone) at $479, but anywhere up to $550-600 would be satisfactory).