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Intruder Alert

Indoor cameras may be mounted on the wall, off the ceiling, in an equipment rack or outdoors. Outdoor cameras are designed to be waterproof and withstand a wide range of temperatures. Most cameras need a power line. Be wary of those that work off battery, as they have a very short power life. Unless you buy a wireless-enabled camera, you'll have to run a network cable. Long cable runs (greater than 100 meters) may call for coax or fiber.

If image quality is important to you, use high-resolution cameras. And we've found that color cameras produce sharper images. Cameras supporting color correction are worth considering, since low-sodium and fluorescent lamps can cast a yellow tint and wash out all color. Some cameras also may support low light or night vision. Cameras near light fixtures may become oversaturated and wash out the picture, so it's a good idea to look for a camera that adjusts to ambient light levels automatically.

Many cameras feature a built-in Web server, which can be accessed from any browser. Other cameras may require you to upload still photos to an external FTP or Web server. This method makes it easy to archive old snapshots, and is limited only by the amount of disk space you can buy. If you plan to deploy a large number of cameras, look for a vendor that offers some form of centralized management or software that lets you display multiple cameras in one window.

You should also consider units that let you limit users based on IP address range or passwords. If you don't limit access, an attacker could use the images generated by the camera to reconnoiter your room.

Environmental monitors are an excellent add-on to any camera. These probes and sensors, which are easily attached to the camera's system, can often be programmed to alert you to changes. Add-ons monitor conditions such as temperature, airflow, humidity, power draw, doors and sound levels.

When it comes to purchasing door locks, the options are limitless. Some advanced locks require a form of power to operate. For nonmechanical combination locks, the power source might be a small built-in battery, while magnetically sealed locks need a constant power feed. If you go this route, find out what happens when, inevitably, the power goes out or the battery dies.

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