From the April 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

Maybe you don't feel safe about leaving your office or warehouse alone at night. Maybe items are disappearing off the shelves in your store. Maybe boxes of pens have been walking away from the supply cabinet. Or maybe you need to keep an eye on the parking lot but don't have room for a security guard in your budget. Wherever you need an extra set of eyes, a wireless video surveillance camera can help.

Wi-Fi video cameras are fairly new on the scene, so there aren't a ton on the market. Video quality isn't overly impressive. Don't expect to see sharp details, especially in poor lighting situations--although this should improve as future generations of cameras come out. You'll still need to plug most cameras into an electrical outlet, but after the initial setup, they don't need the Ethernet cable typical of networked devices. Eventually, expect cameras without the need for power cords.

The most affordable camera in our chart, the Linksys WVC11B Wireless-B Internet Video Camera, comes with an easy-to-follow setup card to walk you through installation. You may still need to know your network settings and be able to input them manually, or have an IT person do it for you. Either way, Linksys' 24-hour tech support will help you if you get stuck. Picture contrast and brightness still need work, so this camera is best for indoor use. Outdoors, the picture tends to wash out. The camera comes with a free three-month trial of SoloLink DDNS Service, which lets you view streaming video over the Web via Internet Explorer.

In addition to 24-hour tech support, the D-Link DCS-2100+ Internet Camera features a fast, no-hassle setup. For your $289 (all prices street), you get some advanced features like the ability to attach external alarms as triggers. A built-in microphone provides audio, and the device is viewable and configurable via Internet Explorer. The included software lets you set the camera for motion detection, scheduling, archiving and sending still shots by e-mail or FTP. Image quality is decent, but as with the Linksys, you have to watch out for situations that are too bright or too dark.

The Toshiba IK-WB11A Wireless Network Camera is a more industrial camera featuring a traditional half-globe look. It features a microphone jack to capture audio and low-light imaging that will change the picture from color to black and white for maximum visibility. The IK-WB11A can also be preset to patrol up to 10 different positions through its pan and tilt capabilities. Like most video cameras, it has a ready-to-go motion sensor and is able to send a snapshot to a designated e-mail address once triggered. If the e-mail doesn't satisfy your curiosity, the administrator can remotely access the camera and digitally zoom the video up to five times.

The Veo Wireless Observer has fewer bells and whistles and looks like a one-eyed stingray with the antenna sticking up. The Wireless Observer has remote access and a built-in microphone. The motion sensor comes as an accessory. This camera has generous pan and tilt ranges of 120 degrees and 60 degrees, respectively, and is 802.11b Wi-Fi compatible. The software for both the IK-WB11A and the Wireless Observer allow for multiple networked cameras to be viewed simultaneously.

If you decide to go with one of these early generation wireless video surveillance cameras, be sure its features meet your needs. Do you need audio? Do you need the ability to zoom in or out? Do you need to hook up to an existing alarm system? Find the right camera, and you'll be on your way to a more secure workplace. Just don't forget to enable your WEP and password protection to keep your video signal away from wireless snoops.

Shopping List
What to keep an eye out for when selecting a wireless surveillance camera? Think features-motion detection, audio and resolution.

MANUFACTURER/
MODEL
CONTACTCONNECTIONFEATURESSTREET
PRICE
D-LINK
DCS-2100+
Internet Camera
(800) 326-1688
www.dlink.com
802.11b, Ethernet320 x 240 image resolution,motion detection,built-in microphone$289
LINKSYS
WVC11B Wireless-B
Internet Video Camera
(800) 546-5797
www.linksys.com
802.11b, Ethernet320 x 240 image resolution, motion detection$199
TOSHIBA
IK-WB11A Wireless
Network Camera
(800) 316-0920
www.toshiba.com
802.11b, Ethernet1,280 x 960 image resolution,Windows and Mac compatible$599
VEO
Wireless Observer
www.veo.com802.11b640 x 480 image resolution, Windows compatible$299