Wansview NCB541W review

Wansview is bribing me, with $10, to write a review for their Wansview NCB541W camera. Deal!

In summary: the hardware is nice, the software and the documentation sucks.


  • Good: can pan and swivel by remote control
  • Good: comes with mounting bracket
  • Ok: picture quality
  • Bad: audio out and power in have the same plug size, and are in the same place left and right from the center. Fortunately I didn’t fry the cam.
  • Ugly: there seems to be no way of switching off the infrared illumination at night, other than some soldering.


  • Bad: ActiveX plugins? Really? This is the 21st century and has been for a while.
  • Bad: ActiveX plugin provides more features than the HTML, e.g. audio controls.
  • Bad: comes out of the box with a static IP address of I had to look up network interface aliasing on Linux before I could talk to it. And I know what that is! How many people do? So: setup is awful, and out of reach of 99% of all possible customers.
  • Ugly: it says “upload new firmware here” but there is no hint anywhere where such firmware could be found.
  • Ugly: I have no idea whether or not it is attempting to create a tunnel across my firewall or not. There is no documentation in that respect, only a few web GUI entries that deal with dynamic DNS.
  • Bad: why isn’t there a github with all the code, so I can recompile? Imagine how great hackers would make cameras like that if they could hack the code!!


  • Ugly: it’s hard to do worse. Any professional tech pubs person would throw it away, and start again. It’s incomplete, confusing, and does not answer many important questions. Your hardware is made professionally, the software out of date but probably was current at some point in the distant past, but the documentation is amateurish. Why?

So, Wansview, given that you asked. What about you do this:

  • open-source your code and descriptions how to build it and flash the device
  • create a contest for the best camera hacks. Then buy the hacks from the winning developers and have the best camera in the market, software-wise. (And, boy, could that market use a camera with good software)
  • setup a wiki in which you solicit the documentation that you apparently can’t write yourself
  • document the API between web browser and camera web server. Or better, create a nice one, which then is used by the camera. You’ll see amazing projects using that API, and thus your cameras.
  • and watch market share change in your favor. I bet it will: lots of hackers these days work on Raspberry PIs, little ARM boxes, home automation, and internet of things projects. Would you rather have them buy Raspberry PIs with camera modules for their projects, or use your hardware? Exactly.

P.S. Paying for reviews like this one is a great idea! My suggestions here are just the next logical step.