Axis 205 Network CameraI’ve used Axis products for several years now, and pretty much always been happy.  I bought a couple 2100‘s a couple years ago, and they were pretty cool.  One stopped working last year, and the other started giving me trouble this year.  I wish they’d lasted longer, but they’re delicate instruments in a hard hard world.

I went to look into buying some new ones, and noticed they had a whole new line, and the 2100’s weren’t even available any more.  Instead they had some that were half the size, twice the frame rate, at about 2/3 the price.  How could I go wrong?

The 2100’s were about $300 a couple years ago, and I found a place that would sell me a three pack of the Axis 205‘s for $425.  I signed right up, and they came today.

The camera is quite small, as you can see from the picture.  It’s compact too, you can tell there’s no hollowness in the shell.

The Axis cams always come with windows setup software, but since I don’t use windows I always use the arp command in Linux.  The old manuals gave the syntax for arp for both windows and Linux, but this one had only windows.  Which seemed odd.  And well it should.  (sense the dark music in the background?)

I ran the arp command in Linux, and starting the ping to watch it come up.  Nothing happened.  That wasn’t good.  I tried a different camera, I tried a different network port, I tried a different network wire.  Nothing.  The ping command they suggested had a flag I’d never seen, so I tried it, but it errored, bad flag.

With a deeply bad feeling, I tried the arp from a windows command prompt, and then the ping with the bum flag.  It worked.  I tried going to the camera in Firefox on my Linux box, and it timed out.  I tried it from Firefox on my Windows box, and it said my client was not allowed.  Internet Explorer brought it right up, and asked me to install the ActiveX componant.  Yuck.

For what it’s worth, the ActiveX componant worked quite well.  It gave me 30 frames per second at 640×480 with decent color.  I messed with the color and brightness settings, and they were decent.  There was good logging, and the network settings were forthright.

But then I went looking for the ftp client settings, to make the camera upload a shot every n seconds.  And I kept on looking.  It turns out, they didn’t include it with the 20[‘5′,’6’] line of cameras.  Since they’re pretty useless to me without that feature, it would have been nice for them to mention it.  This is the first time it hasn’t been included in one of their cameras, so I think I can be fogiven for expecting it, or at least expecting to be told it had been removed.

So I’m sending them back.  The cheapest one they have that does what I need is $410, so I’ll be getting one instead of the 3 I’d hoped for.  Such is life.

The cameras aren’t inherantly bad.  They just have a different feature set from all their previous cameras.  They’re ideal as real-time video watching, and they even have capture software, for recording over night.  Of course they need Internet Explorer on a Windows machine to work at all.  So if that’s what you have, and that’s what you need, they’re really quite good.

That’s not what I have, and that’s not what I need.

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