Tsohiba IK-WB11A Network Camera: Toshiba's Answer to Wireless Video

This network camera combines low cost with good resolution.

November 7, 2003

3 Min Read
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I connected the camera to our Syracuse University Real-World Labs® network to test its functionality in a conventional environment. On the software side, you must have the most recent version of JRE (Java Runtime Environment)--version 1.4.2 in this case--and Toshiba's Camera Finder software running on a Windows PC. The JRE, required for viewing of a live stream, provides a more fluid video than other higher priced cameras such as the WallBotz 500. Once I installed the software, the camera finder searched the network for attached Toshiba cameras and let me log in through the Web interface.

The interface is intuitive and simple to use, and offers a variety of configuration options, ranging from optic properties to network and security settings. Most notable were the options to put up a privacy mask, store video on a built-in SD card slot, set up multiscreen mode and enable e-mail alerts if configured alarms are triggered.

The camera also can be attached to an external microphone and to a dry contact sensor to detect an opened door or window.

Wireless Photos

The IKWB11A's built-in 802.11b wireless connection sets it apart from other cameras in this price range. If you're near a wireless access point, you can plug the camera into a power outlet and start streaming video. However, there are limits to wireless cameras and to this one in particular. The IK-WB11A cannot operate in below-freezing temperatures, making outdoor deployment in many areas impractical. And the power outlet must be out of sight for reasonable security.

You can configure the camera to send an e-mail alert with an attached image when motion is detected. However, you cannot schedule when the motion detector should run--a problem if the camera is in an area that has traffic during normal working hours. According to Toshiba, a scheduling feature might be added in a later firmware version, and the option to upload images to an FTP server is in the works.At its highest-quality settings, the camera streams video at 1.6 Mbps. The low end is at 1.3 Mbps. Significant bandwidth requirements make connecting the camera to a production AP risky without the QoS (Quality of Service) 802.11e promises. When this standard is in place, mixing network cameras and other delay-sensitive devices in a production network will be less error-prone because of the data recognition. Ideally, the Toshiba camera would have its own SOHO-class AP to connect to. In dense, heavily used wireless environments where deploying another AP is not viable, a wired approach is a better option.

Security Woes

The IK-WB11A has a huge security gap: The administrator's user name and password info is transmitted in plain text over the air and in a wired infrastructure. If WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) isn't enabled, anyone within range may view the administrator's password and could gain access to the camera. Because of this, the camera should not be monitoring sensitive information.

Overall, Toshiba's IK-WB11A provides significant value for locations needing high-quality, cabled video monitoring. Its wireless connectivity is a great option for less congested Wi-Fi environments. The camera's low deployment costs combined with its top-end optics and flexible connectivity options make it a significant addition to Toshiba's line of IP-based security cameras.

Nick Jordan is a technology associate with the Center for Emerging Network Technologies at Syracuse University. Write to him at [email protected].Post a comment or question on this story.

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