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DNR-202L product

At a Glance
Product mydlink DNR-202L Camera Video Recorder [Website]
Summary Cloud-based Network Video Recorder offering simultaneous Recording and Playback of up to 4 mydlink cameras.
Pros • Inexpensive compared to NAS solutions
• Simple, but effective
• Storage space and hardware are managed by you
Cons • Inconsistent local and app / remote user interfaces
• Not visually elegant with USB drives, etc
• Storage space and hardware are managed by you

Introduction

One of our biggest complaints with cloud-based network cameras has been that recording in the cloud is either non-existent or prohibitively expensive. For instance, cloud recording of seven days of constant footage with Dropcam costs $9.95 a month or $99 a year, while storing 30 days costs you $29.95 or $299 a year. That cost is for the first camera, additional cameras are 50% off. For another data point, Y-Cam gives you seven days of alert-only recording free and you can upgrade to 30 days of alert recording for $39.99 a year.

D-Link's line of mydlink cameras had had no cloud-based recording option up until this point. But all this has changed with D-Link's introduction of the DNR-202L.

The DNR-202L is a hybrid NVR (network video recorder) for the mydlink cloud cameras. The hard drives (up to 8 TB total) are bought and managed by you, but they are accessbile via the cloud. The DNR-202L can handle two USB 2.0 drives and can store and playback footage for up to four mydlink cameras, all in a device about the size of a deck of cards.

Compare this to a NAS solution such as Synology. With Synology, you first buy the NAS with one free Surveillance Station camera license, then you buy the drives. If you'd like to monitor additional cameras, they are around $50 for one camera or about $180 for 4. The advantage of Synology's solution (and that of some other NAS vendors) is multiple camera vendor support and support for 8 or more cameras depending on model.

So the DNR-202L is an intriguing concept, available in the cloud, relatively inexpensive and rather simple to administer. With that in mind, let's take a look.

In the box, you get the DNR-202L NVR, a 5V wall-wart power adapter, Ethernet cable and a Quick Start guide. You supply the USB drive and cameras; for $99 you can't expect the drives to come with.

The image below shows the callout information for the DNR-202L. Two USB 2.0 ports, a 10/100 Ethernet port, power, a couple of buttons to dismount the hard drives, a button to scan for cameras and a reset button.

The top of the unit has an LED circle to indicate status and there is a built-in speaker for beep codes. Thankfully, the beeper can be disabled; it is loud and it was unclear how to acknowledge a beep code. I frantically searched the admin GUI pages for how to disable the loud continuous beep before simply shutting the buzzer off and rebooting the DNR-202L.

DNR-202L callouts

DNR-202L callouts

Setup of the DNR-202L was rather simple once I downloaded the wizard from D-Link. I was loaned two DCS-5020L cameras for testing. One camera was already set up in mydlink from a previous review, while I set the other one up as part of the install. Interestingly, the camera set up with the DNR-202L did not show individually in mydlink and was only accessible via the DNR-202L. During setup, I did get stuck in a loop regarding failing to set an account password for the new camera. I eventually got past it by cancelling setup, setting the camera password via its local interface and re-running setup.

The install also formats your USB drive(s). Once that it complete, setup is finished and you are ready to go.

Inside

The DNR-202L was pretty easy to disassemble (two screws under foot pads and then tabs that easily release). The hardware inside is very minimal based on the Realtek RTL8197D SoC, which is the same chipset D-Link uses in its DIR-850L cloud router. WikiDevi lists it as based on a Lexra RLX5281 (MIPS-based) core clocked at 500 - 660 MHz.

In the picture below you can see the board, chipset and the big round item is the LED light diffuser. Not a whole lot to it. There is probably some RAM and flash on the other side of the board, but I didn't look.

Board of the DNR-202L with RTL8197D chipset

Board of the DNR-202L with RTL8197D chipset
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