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Recommended NVR security systems?


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I've been using Lorex/FLIR security systems for the past few years now, and have gotten used to their clunkiness, but now that a couple of my cameras have died, I'm ready to make a much more substantial change. Need an 8-camera system. I'm used to the sub-$500 price for an 8-pack from Costco, but they don't last. Plus the interface is abysmal.


Looking into NVR systems which seem to be the way of the future. Can anyone recommend a good system? I'll outline a few below, with my initial thoughts, but beyond that, I don't know much:


Ubiquiti UniFi looks cool, but the cams are $200/ea, so $200 x 8 + a NVR would be pricey.

Swann NVR - this is the most likely contender at the moment, balancing price with functionality. Course it only comes with 4 cameras... Oh and apparently they don't have Mac or iPad support? Kind of a deal-breaker...

Q-See has decent reviews, but video demos appear to show a re-skinned version of Flir's Mac app, which of course is about as convoluted as the US tax system...

Arlo Q Plus - Again, cool product, but again, $250/piece...


Perhaps the best solution might be to roll my own system? Anybody have other recommendations? I'd probably go up to $1,000 all-in, but definitely looking for 3-4MP cameras and a solid Mac/mobile UI. How does this not exist yet?? =]


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Your price range and budget will always get you 2nd & 3rd tier products. Perhaps its time to move forward and purchase industry proven and accepted hardware? As you quickly noted most of these devices are toy like and their support is very much the same. If you're indeed serious the following brands are well known and continue to lead in their respective market segments.


Axis, Avigilon Bosch, Pelco, Mobotix


None of the listed companies make toys they are the real deal and used in Fortune 500 Business, Government, Enterprise, and Military. You're not going to find devices from Swann, Duha, name any other brand (2nd / 3rd tier product) in the list I noted above.


Time to get serious and move into deeper waters or stay in the shallow end of the pool.

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I have been using Dahua.  Not bad for the price (picture quality is great).  Caught someone driving around the neighborhood shooting at random cars and someone did a hit and run on one of our cars.  The Police said it was the best cameras they had ever seen for home cameras (not just the detectives but also their tech) and used the video in both cases. 


But mostly catch raccoons etc raiding the garbage cans LOL


There are better cameras, similar cameras (Hikvision) and poorer quality cameras out there. But for about $1200 to $1400 you can probably have a nice setup.

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Picked up a hikvision private branded NVR "system".  Two cameras went back as 2.8mm is pretty much worthless unless you want to see someone do something in a big area and have no idea of who they were or exactly what they were using.  it's just too wide.


4mm is still REALLY wide and faces even at 10' are tiny percentage of the screen.


The hikvision I picked up were 5mp, but can only handle about 20fps, and that is a little clunky with motion.  They also respond slowly to someone walking right up to them at night with the ir leds on.  You could literally walk brisky up on the 2.8mm owls with a hoody on and paint it before it could adjust to see your face.

Now the NVR is the biggest disappointment, limits abilities the cameras have, e.g you can set up a bit of motion detection and get some tiny like 240 pix images that are pretty much worthless unless you know what your kids like to wear.

Reading the camtalk forum the Dahua seems to have a little better NVR, but in general you are going to have to spend more money.

I checked into a high zoom open eye camera and they start at $2500 each, so $250 sounds like a bargain.


I will likely buy a couple more of the ir version of the hikvision for the driveway, however, I have a WHITE car and a BLACK car and a BLACK truck, I don't expect miracles..

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I use Blue Iris running on a Win10, i7-2600 PC that also is used for other functions. The nice thing about Blue Iris is that it works with pretty much any (IP) camera. Started with a LInksys/Cisco and Foscam VGA cameras then tried a couple of Axis 1MP box cameras. Axis cameras are nice but very pricey. Tried ACTi and Geovision cameras that were a little less expensive but moved on to HikVision once they became available. The HikVision box camera I have is in the same league as my two Axis units, however most of my HikVisions are the inexpensive 3MP bullet and dome types.


If you stick with HikVision cameras they have free NVR software. Never used it since I have cameras from different manufacturers and use Blue Iris. I know the HikVision iVMS-4500HD app on my iPad works well to view their cameras in real time and their recorded videos if you have one of their cameras that accept a micro-SD card for edge storage.



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Whatever brand you choose, look for "ONVIF" compliance. Manufacturer should say somewhere a phrase like "Compliant with ONVIF version 2.4 of Profile S"

With products which implement ONVIF (Open Network Video Interface Forum) Profile S, you are not locked into a particular vendor, and can mix-and-match without worrying that your recorder/viewer won't interoperate with your cameras.

Hikvision is a decent value brand, but they're still what I'd consider a tier 2 brand. Axis is pretty much the gold standard.

If you want to see the entire range of vendors, check out an ISC conference (ISC East was last week).  If you know anybody in the industry, you can score a free pass.

Flir, Axis and Hikvision all have a big footprint at these shows, have a broad range of products, spanning many tiers, from "pro" to "valueless". Commercial clients often insist on Bosch™ or Pelco™, so these Tier-1 products have an undeserved price premium.


The hikvision I picked up were 5mp, but can only handle about 20fps, and that is a little clunky with motion.  They also respond slowly to someone walking right up to them at night with the ir leds on.  You could literally walk brisky up on the 2.8mm owls with a hoody on and paint it before it could adjust to see your face.

This is where defense-in-depth and higher end products both make a big difference. Don't just rely on in-camera motion, get PIR as well and tie them together.

The better video analysis motion detection recording solutions (whether in-camera or NVR) include a pre-alarm buffer feature.   They are always looping a few seconds of video (usually 5-30 seconds) in a buffer, even when nothing is happening.   When motion is detected, the pre-alarm buffer contents are included at the beginning of the recorded clip, so you don't just get the first frame that had sufficient video content change to trigger an alarm, but also the 30 seconds leading up to it.

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As another data point for those on a limited budget even though ideally you should have point of use cameras in specified zones. You can find a good balance and compromise by installing a high quality PTZ camera. Normally PTZ camera's are used to supplement and not replace target specific zoned camera systems.


But if your environment lends to installing a high quality PTZ it may very well offer you better visual monitoring. If the system is properly set up to complete a guard mode scan. The system can very well cover a much larger protected area of concern.


Lastly, people shouldn't fall prey to the whole mega pixel adverts never mind digital zooming.


Neither of these technologies supersedes a camera with a quality (read large) lens and filter / shutter hardware in place. If anyone believes they can see more than 1 mile using any of the above toy like cameras - your kidding yourself. Also, if your plans are to view night time face / plate recognition never mind fast moving objects like a vehicle at night.


Good luck . . .

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If you're using macOS and iOS, check out Security Spy. An 8 camera license is about $250. I've got a 4 camera license now. Drop-dead simple to set up.


If you want to get a little crazier, use Zoneminder. Free software, but setup is a pain.


There are solid mobile apps for both.

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Thanks for the suggestions, everybody! I ended up rolling my own IP-based setup with the following hardware, all of which were from Amazon:


Cameras: Reolink 1440p IP Cameras

Switch: BV-TECH 8-Port PoE Switch

Cable: Mediabridge Cat6

Storage: WD Purple 4TB


Reolink has a web interface for the cameras that works for both PC and Mac (requires a plugin) and a full-featured iOS app that works well, too.


I kept in mind the ONVIF compliance (as mentioned above) and picked cable and a switch that explicitly pointed out that they work with PoE devices.


Software: Sighthound


I'm amazed I had never come across Sighthound before. It has object recognition (and the company seems to have much larger aspirations than simple security software) and it works incredibly well. Screenshot of the playback interface: http://cory.la/12UMs - you can see I've filtered to "People" and it actually outlines what the software sees as the object as it moves. Pretty cool. Virtually zero setup and records automatically. Quite impressed.


I tried using Blue Iris but was pretty disappointed with the interface and complexity of it. Too many icons and not easy enough to get up and running with. I'm sure it's powerful, but damn Sighthound is just sooo much easier to use.


I can't believe it's taken me this long to get around to doing this. A bit more pricey than a Lorex system from Costco, but lightyears better!

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What resolution and frame rate are you feeding into SightHound, and what hardware are you running it on?


I ask because I tried it out a couple years ago on an i5 based PC with a mid-range graphics card, and it was loading the system up pretty heavily with 4 cameras ranging from 3 to 5 MP resolution at 5 FPS. Enough that it was not going to be much use as a general purpose computer.


Hopefully it's less resource-intensive now?

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