When you unpack the WVC54GCA Wireless-G Internet Home Monitoring Camera, you're presented with three things, not including the flimsy set-up instructions. Firstly, a standard AC power adapter. Then a base unit, and lastly, the strangely UFO-styled WVC54GCA Wireless-G Internet Home Monitoring Camera itself. You can screw the camera into the base, or optionally wall-mount it, as long as you can somehow supply it power.
While it's a wireless camera, initial set-up will require a free wireless port and a length of Ethernet cable, at least until the Linksys WVC54GCA learns your wireless settings. More on this later.
The basic function of the Linksys WVC54GCA is home security, and it does this either via still or video capture of whatever is in front of it. Image fidelity isn't a high priority — this isn't a dSLR — and as such, it's hardly surprising to find out that resolution tops out at a relatively meagre 640x480. On the downside, you won't be filming Lawrence Of Arabia on this thing. On the upside, keeping the resolution low means the bandwidth is low, so even shaky wireless set-ups should be able to keep up. If this is a problem, you can drop the resolution down to 320x240 or 160x120, with either a fixed or variable frame rate.
On the wireless front, it's 802.11b/g compatible with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2. It's also perfectly feasible to set up the Linksys WVC54GCA with a permanently embedded Ethernet cable; you could even sidestep the issue of it being fixed in place with clever use of power line Ethernet sockets if you so wished.
Setting up the Linksys WVC54GCA was, to put it mildly, interesting. In theory, the CD-guided tour should cover all your bases. In theory, it's just a matter of working through the instructions. For whatever reason, however, while we could find the Ethernet-connected camera via the router, the software was unable to discern our wireless network settings, and we had to enter those settings manually in order for them to pass through to the camera. It's doubly odd, because we were using a Linksys wireless router at the time, and you'd think a Linksys router and camera would talk to each other, given the chance.
Once you're past the initial install — which is really just setting IP variables and Wireless settings for the camera, the Linksys WVC54GCA operates on a Web-based interface, but sadly it's not cross-browser compatible. In order to get motion detection working properly, you've got to set a sensitivity for the camera. This can be simply full frame, or a specific zone within the camera's vision, but either way, it requires an ActiveX control to be installed, and this means that you've got to use Internet Explorer to configure it, something we only discovered when configuring it via Firefox and wondering why the sensitivity screen resolutely refused to do anything. Every other control for the camera worked fine in Firefox, or even Safari, if that's your browser of choice.
When you're talking about filming people, there's always a very fine line between privacy — making it clear to people they're being filmed — and security, but we were struck by the fact that a product designed for home security has such a prominent blue light attached to it. It's quite noticeable, and if the local burglars spot it, there's always the danger (if you've got motion detection intervals set in minutes, as is the default) that they'll spot it, unplug it and steal it along with your other valuables.