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D-Link i2eye VideoPhone

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 Author: Ronald V. Pacchiano
 Review Date: 10/30/2003

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Pros

  • Simple to set up and use
  • Good audio and video performance
  • Works like a standard telephone
  • Compatible with industry standards
  • All necessary cables included
Cons
  • Manual focus and tilt
  • Video is excessively dark in low light levels
  • Pixilation results from excessive movement
  • RCA and power cables are a bit short
  • Speakerphone quality could be better
A Telephone for the Next Generation

Introduction
One of the coolest things I recall from childhood was watching TV shows like Star Trek and the Jetsons, and being completely awed at the concept of communicating with people over a videophone. The concept really intrigued me, and I just couldn’t wait for the day when I too would be able to do that.

30 years later...and I’m still waiting. At long last, however, there might be some hope. D-Link Technologies recently introduced what I feel is the first product to truly deliver on the videophone concept. They have invested a good deal of time and energy studying the problems associated with them and have come up with some innovative solutions to deal with them. The result of all this effort is the DVC-1000 i2eye VideoPhone.

Description
From the beginning, the DVC-1000 i2eye VideoPhone was conceived to correct many of the shortcomings of past videophones. Earlier efforts were handicapped by small LCD screens and slow analog phone lines. Unlike those earlier efforts, the i2eye’s communication medium is your high-speed Internet connection, and it displays the person you’re speaking with on your regular television. So if you have a big-screen TV, you’re going to get a pretty large picture of the person you’re talking to.

The camera supports a maximum resolution of up to 352x288 at 30 frames per second (fps), although this figure may vary according to available bandwidth and so forth. It connects to a TV using standard RCA cables and comes with a full-featured remote control. The product was designed to work independently of a PC, so none is required (although you can certainly use the i2eye with a computer). It is also quite small — about the same size and weight of a small router.

The DVC-1000 conforms to the ITU H.323 and H.263 communication standards, so it can communicate with software packages like Microsoft’s NetMeeting. By taking advantage of IP-based protocols and advanced video and audio compression techniques, D-Link claims the i2eye can stream live audio and video at up to 30 frames per second across the Internet.

In order to efficiently compress/decompress audio and video, the DVC-1000 needed power and thus was equipped with an ARM-9 ASIC Communication Processor. It has a built-in 10 Mbps network interface and is firmware upgradeable, so it can be upgraded automatically online, making it easy for D-Link to correct problems and add features.

The unit works just like a typical speaker phone, but there is also an option to use a telephone as a handset for communication. It should be noted that the i2eye cannot be used to place regular phone calls; rather, it can only be used with the videophone itself.

Requirements
The DVC-1000 has some pretty modest requirements. For starters, you must have a broadband Internet connection — either a cable modem, DSL line, high-speed wireless, or a high-speed satellite link. Next, you’ll need to connect it to a device with RCA inputs capable of receiving a video signal — in other words, a television. If you have a TV that for some reason doesn’t have any RCA connectors available, you could connect it to a VCR or receiver, or go out and buy a low cost A/V Switch box.

The DVC can also be connected to a PC with a video capture card, but this is not recommended. This is due to the unit being designed to work from the same spot as your TV, and therefore it has an optimal focal distance of 5 - 10 feet. As a result, you may have some issues with clarity and resolution if you try placing the DVC on top of your monitor.

Although not required, I would highly recommend using a telephone as well. Audio quality is far better when using a telephone handset as opposed to using the unit’s built-in speakerphone. Any phone will work — wired or wireless, digital or analog. Another benefit of using the handset is that it allows the DVC to function just like a normal telephone. Calls can be placed using the telephone’s keypad instead of the onscreen menu system, and it will also ring when a call comes in.

And last but certainly not least, in order for the DVC-1000 to work properly on your network, you must have a public IP address. Most Cable and DSL services automatically provide you with one; however, some ISPs may give out private IPs and then NAT (network address translation) them to the Internet. If your ISP does not provide a public IP address, you’ll have to ask them to provide you with one. (AOL’s High-Speed Cable Modem Service would be one such example.)

Next Page: Setup and Installation

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