The network camera is a self supporting networking camera device, usually with an advanced embedded system. Typical applications of these devices might include home/office monitoring, wildlife monitoring, or just desktop fun. One might even consider using them in an artsy or student film setting...

The distinction between a network camera and a common webcam is that a network camera never needs a host computer to operate, and it is prepared to deliver streaming video continually. The difference between a network camera and a normal security camera is the network interface, and lack of analog video output. Network cameras are typically larger than a webcam, and shaped more like a typical security camera. (Think very large burrito.)

Common features of a network camera include:

Some network cameras also support things like PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) or a wireless connection (e.g. 802.11b), and some feature motion detection and reporting.

Some of the common brands and cameras available are:

This is not a complete listing. There are other companies and cameras, and the field is fairly young. Don't be surprised if your company has a an all-digital security system in 5 years!