Put One Anywhere: PC-Free Webcam from Axis

SAN FRANCISCO (07/26/2000) - I've seen the future of reality TV, and it's not Survivor or The Real World--it is the humble Webcam.

Take the Axis 2100 Network Camera from Axis Communications Inc. Its built-in Linux-based server chip needs only power and an Internet connection to deliver continuously updated images. The camera works best with an ethernet network and a broadband connection.

Not much larger than a paperback book, it takes about 5 minutes to set up and configure. After downloading a tiny program to assign an IP address, you can set every other parameter in the $499 camera via its built-in Web interface. To make changes, just enter the camera's address, and log into the device itself.

Then, there's no need to have a computer at the camera's location.

The Web interface lets you set up the camera to capture images hosted on built-in Web pages (just enter the camera's IP address to view) or send the images off-site (via e-mail or FTP to the Web server of your choosing). You can configure the camera's software to take pictures continuously or when the unit detects movement via an added motion detector.

The Axis 2100 Network Camera produces better-than-average images for a Webcam--but think high-speed slide show, not movie. With the camera set to upload 13KB medium-quality, 640-by-480-pixel images to a Web server, my tests showed about 1 to 2 frames per second on a T1 connection.

But what frames! In the PC World conference room, the dullest meeting became fascinating, viewed through the hidden camera's eye, even without sound. Pair the Axis 2100 with a speakerphone for an inexpensive videoconferencing system.

--Andrew Brandt

Axis 2100 Network Camera

PRO: Hassle-free, quick setup; no permanently connected PC needed.

CON: Internal Web server can't handle many requests; grabs only a few frames per second.

VALUE: Great all-purpose camera for security, meetings, or just fun.

Axis 2100 Network Camera

List price: $499

800/444-2947

www.axis.com.

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