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June 28th 2012 6:44 pm

Best security DVR and motion-activated cameras?

We've had a series of break-ins in my apartment building and our current security DVR really sucks -- there's no motion activation (or motion zones) and no internet connectivity, so when an incident occurs you have to go unplug it, bring somewhere to hook it into a TV, and manually watch the footage at 4x or 8x speeds to find out what happened. It feels like the stone age.

So, any suggestions for a more modern security system / DVR that has motion activated cameras (preferably with motion zones) and that's internet connected (preferably viewable by web browser)?

I was looking at something like Logitech's security products (­/en­-us­/video­-security­-systems), but I'm not sure they're quite right, especially since they seem to work independently and require internet connectivity (which means we get no coverage if there's an internet outage). Still, I'm all ears!
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I have had a lot of experience with Milestone Systems XProtect Platform, it scales from personal up to thousands of cameras in multiple locations. Their personal product is called XProtect Go­/productsandsolutions­/xprotect... supports up to 8 cameras and is free. Milestone doesn't have the best web client but they do have iOS and Android clients for live and playback. Milestone has a huge catalog of supported IP cameras.

Another option is Ubiquiti Networks AirVision software­/airvision . It is completely web based. Ubiquiti cameras aren't very expensive either. AirVision is also free but I can't find a list of supported cameras.
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Most Lorex equipment is average. Tech support is horrible -two years of bad experiences. I came to this forum to find a replacement for Lorex dvr. It was a waste of $1000. Did I mention that Lorex tech support is something to be avoided!
Retired IT mgr
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I recently purchased three of the loftek 2200 cameras about, $65 each,(­/LOFTEK­-Newest­-Wireless­-Wired­-instal...) and have them upload alerts to the free site. I can also configure the cameras to send me an email (or in my case send to my sms email address for phone alerts) when I'm on vacation if they sense motion. If I get an alert, I just go to the and can see a playback (1 frame per second) of the motion each camera captures. This worked great during the last vacation I took. I saw a package arrive that came later than expected (we had already left on vacation), and saw the pest control guy come and knock on the door, and then commence spraying even though we were gone. I was even able to see that he also hit the back patio (one camera pointed out the patio window).

Also, there are iPhone (and android, I think) apps, that let you see a live view, and control and swivel the cameras in almost any direction, and so far, after a month the whole system works flawlessly. One camera is outside (under an eve) even though it's an inside camera, and in our 110 degree heat it still seems to be working. We'll see how long it lasts. But at $65, I can afford to replace one every year or two if needed compared to most other systems. If it lasts that long.

So far I'm impressed, Compared to an expensive Panasonic IP camera I tried a few years ago, these cheap cameras seem to work well, and keep a good connection, and so far are reliably uploading movement to the site (they use FTP upload).

The color is not perfect with these cameras, but for security purpose that's not a big deal for me, and since they have very reasonable night vision with infra red lights, they work well at night too - and look a little ominous as an added benefit.

I'm probably going to by a couple more, and mount them outside to view the side gate, and catch motion, if any, that occurs around the side of my house that is not otherwise easily visible.

We were robbed a few years ago (before cameras) and I now subscribe to the theory that just seeing a camera with a blinking light, and realizing there was a possibility that their mug has been captured should be enough to deter most thieves. And those that is doesn't, well... there isn't much more that could be done at that point. But at least I should have a few good snaps with the multiple cameras around the house. All for under $200, with images uploaded offsite.
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I'm biased Ryan--I worked on the Logitech Alert team on the software and mobile apps (no longer there). The Alert cameras have a built in DVR in the form of on-board 2GB microSD--that can be replaced with up to 32GB cards. The cameras can be configured with Motion Zones to minimize recordings. They offer night vision (best I've seen in consumer cameras). Are IP based. Support 720p HD H.264 video with audio. Work "best" with Internet network connection, but can work stand alone with power brick--can't access the video remotely via mobile or web though.
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I recently purchased the Dropcam HD. I'm overall very happy with features and performance: crisp picture, good audio (mic + speaker), iPhone app, motion + audio alerts. The only downside that I see is the very expensive ($10/month) cloud-recording/DVR feature that allows you to view past events.
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The Alert cameras are good and simple, but pricey. They will work without an internet connection, writing to microSD cards locally. You only need the internet conn to get the footage remotely, and since they use powerline ethernet it's pretty easy to get 'em lit up with connectivity. The new night vision models work quite effectively indoors, as well.

But, as many have posted above, there are plenty of great options out there, many of which are far more customizable and configurable -- but they'll probably need more time spent tinkering. The Alert cams pretty much work right out of the box.
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I saw the IZON from Stem Innovation at the CEA Line Shows this week (actually in the same room as gdgtNY). I haven't had a chance to use one yet, but it appears to be a really attractive little unit with a good feature-set at a realistic price. Word at the booth was that there is a major software bump coming down the pipe in the near future. (­/page­/iZON­/44­/24/)
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About 3 years ago the best one I came up with was Panasonic's range. It had WiFi, it had motion activation, in camera memory, remote control pan+zoom via browser plugin, a lowres mobile version (no plugins or java) that you could pan+zoom on, DDNS, selectable internet port range, it could upload images to a windows shared drive. The internal memory let you browse some recent history (time interval or motion event).

I had to read through a dozen manuals to select a camera with all the features I wanted. Of course today there are many more inexpensive models out there, but you can learn a lot about a camera by reading the manual. A crappy manual means poor attention to detail.
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The best solution is going with the iCam app and then picking your own camera(s) (Foscam/trendnet/usb cam/whatever).
iCam has iOS and Android apps and no subscription fee.
Basically you run an app on your computer at your place and it will push notify you when it detects motion on one of your cameras.
you can set up a schedule so they automatically turn on and off.
you can set up dead/hot zones so your kitty doesn't trigger the motion alerts.
you can set dropbox as the storage location so even if a thief steals your computer you will still be able to post his picture on twitter (or give to the cops).
It will automatically manage the file size and delete old images when the folder passes a size you designate.
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While I don't have a need for this kind of stuff right now, my house is wired up with the Insteon home automation system. So if I were going to add external motion sensors, cameras and dvrs, I would do something that is Insteon compatible which would give me a lot of control from anywhere in my house or from anywhere I had an internet connection. To pursue this approach, go to and look at the security products they offer -- both Insteon and stand-alone.
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We had some stray people driving onto a property, some things got stolen so we bought this: Owl Security 8BL-41TB. I had no experience with installing or setting up a DVR. Hands down it was very simple. 8 cameras, a DVR with about 2 months recording at a pretty high quality, h.264, iOS app, browser viewer on LAN, Net viewer (Windows only, sorry), and 2 of the cameras also have audio. I use my iPhone to check in to a live view when motion detection on the DVR alerts me of something going on.

Pros: simple, good quality cameras, all-in-one box with instructions, easy firmware setup and motion detection with zone sensor configuration, motion detection email alerts. I have the alerts emailed to a twitpic account I made just for the cameras, and have a "security" twitter account to watch the low res snapshots the DVR uploads of every leaf blowing around the parking lot. Getting the emails became overwhelming to my gmail.

Cons: Had to do a DVR firmware update out of the box, port forwarding was a bit tricky to get the correct three ports set to allow Netviewing from browser or iOS app. But I figured it out and i'M no genius.

That's my two cents. I'd suggest looking at one of their kits here:­/Products­/Complete­-Kits
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I purchased the Logitech system and three additional cameras. I've hard wired Cat6e from each camera to a PoE router. I'm very happy with the quality of the video and the motion detection. The web access and apps work very well, although a bit expensive at $79.99 per year. As with any Logitech product, keep an eye out for the 'dented box' sale.
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I have a really ghetto setup at home with an old droid incredible running Ip webcam and on my computer I use webcam 7­/home.aspx which monitors the stream and when it detects motion it records it and sends pics to my email so that i can see it .
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Hi Ryan,
Not that it is a complete solution. You should check out 'Mobotix' range of IP camera's. They're a bit expensive but worth every penny. Even if you just get one of them and use crappy camera's for the rest. You'll rest at ease knowing you will have a clear mug shot of any dirty scum culprit.
I have had a lot of experience with 'Dallmeier' Security Systems, which run in many casino's and airport's. But their systems can be clumsy and not to mention expensive.
'NUUO' is making ground fast in the industry and that is the system I am most comfortable with at the moment. I think they even do consumer level products. Like, you can purchase a controller board and build your own DVR if you like.
IP is the way to go IMO. No matter how often people have convinced me that CCTV's resolution has improved remarkably I end up disappointed with the results, not to mention the labor involed to install.
If all you need is one camera facing at the door, them maybe Logitech has the right solution. But there are similar products, like the Dropcam which might also cater to your needs.
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I have a 4 camera ZModo DVR. While it works fine, it is very limited. You can only view the recordings via the local network. If you want to use a browser to view anything - it's IE or nothing. Image quality is decent, but not great. Viewing it over the internet works fine using apps for Android and iPad (I use dyndns). Personally, I'm wanting to move to something else. The ZModo is low end, and it shows. AirCam from Ubiquity looks really nice, but it's not self contained - standard IP cameras.
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Check out today's Woot deal: Two night vision, motion sensor cameras and a DVR.­/offers­/zmodo­-8­-channel­-surveillance­-s...
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Buy Lady V a spear and some no-doze. :) BUT seriously... I have heard some good things about the Logitech line. Friend of mine uses two of the older style to monitor his house, and has been thinking of upgrading himself to the larger setup. I have a little po-dunk D-Link 930L camera which is OK, but I won it so not big deal on features. I have to turn it on but I can set-up monitor times. I understand the issue with having to have the Intertubes running... cut the hardline and everything dies.
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Looking for consumer stuff for your apartment specifically? Or the commercial stuff for the building itself?
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We've had good luck with the Lorex Edge. It isn't fancy, but the connectivity is reliable and they support pretty much everything: Mac, PC, and specific apps for iOS and Android.
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