January 8, 2017
This post is not the kind I normally like to post about. This is about a dvr that I bought yesterday but it's the reason of why I got it that's important. This past week I was patiently waiting for a package that had been delayed for two days already. This was the third day so I just thought I wait it out since there's not much you can do when a package is in route anyway. I of course kept checking the website update for UPS but it never changed much to begin with. Then later in the day I checked again and it said the package had been delivered. I of course ran out to get the package and there was no package. Apparently someone had intercepted my package even though I was home. Yes it happened that fast. Keep in mind that we have only been at this new place for a couple of months, so I don't know anyone since I hardly go outside anyway. Needless to say the neighborhood is quiet but we get a lot of traffic because of where the house located. And there are a few questionable people around to say the least. I like to mind my own business and not bother anyone and I expect the same. But since this sort of trust was broken this quickly I thought I take some action where I know I can. Hence the new dvr, so no, it's not a new toy I wanted to buy. I figured the least I can do is put up a few cameras and make it a little harder for anyone to want to steal my stuff. So this is sort of what you get with a new dvr.
I'll be honest though, I have installed a few of these and dvrs have left a lot to be desired in terms of functions, updates and mainly security which is what they are supposed to be for in the first place. Functionality, because on many of them you still have to use a mouse to type in the password to log in and anyone watching the monitor can see it. These are not like your computer or phone or anything like that, so that has a way to go. It's a very slow and awful way to log in. The second thing is updates, the first and last dvr that I bought for myself was a zmodo dvr which was just horrible. I contacted the company and they said that they didn't even have any updates nor would it be getting any. As it turned out, that dvr was full of some kind of malware. I ended up taking it apart and saving the screws and board in case I need any electronic components, the rest I went in the trash. It also had no phone app. Keep in mind that this was just a couple of years ago, Maybe two or three.
Fast forward to today and I found this one at the local fry's store. It was also on sale so I thought I give it a try. It's made by Night Owl and also has some new features with a mobile app. In short, I got it installed and working as stated and much faster than my old one. Although it was quicker to set this one up, it still has the old login type of steps. This one can also be updated which was nice to see. I made the update and that fixed a few things with the video on the tv. Security seems a little better and my hard drive doesn't sound like it's dying. My old one kept killing my hard drive. The 3.5" hard drives heat up a lot on these thin dvrs. The mobile app isn't perfect but I like it and seems to work. The scanning of codes is nice and makes setting it quick and easy. However you should keep in mind that it still takes a bit of time to get it all set up, just like any other dvr. Then the hard part started after setting this up. I had to run a cable to a camera. I had bought two cameras before and still had one new in the box. The one I had used at the old place managed to get water inside it from just rain even though it was supposed to be water proof. The good thing is that the camera still works, but not the night LEDs. So I'll keep it for parts since the quality of the picture is not that great, again they are a bit older. Once I got that cable pulled to where I wanted my first camera to be, everything is working great. There are a million cameras to choose from, so I figure I take my time looking around until I can find some with better quality.
Now here are all the pictures of what you get with this dvr, there are no cameras or hard drive included with this one. I already had two which is the reason I went with this version. I also didn't know how well this one would be so I didn't want to spend too much on it.
I found these video balun to work better than these green ones if you use network cable. There are many types that can be found on amazon. They just make the installation faster once you have your rj45 jacks crimped on each end.
The android phone app for this one works well too, so that's a bonus. I think most newer dvrs come with those now which is really nice to have. So there you go, this is what you get in a dvr, well your basic dvr without any cameras. I want to try different cameras since I have to do this now so there may be a bit more on this later.
July 26, 2017
Once I changed from a 3.5 inch to a 2.5 inch hard drive, the dvr has been working non-stop which is nice. There have not been any other updates after the initial update. I have however ran into a slight issue with the dvr. This has to do with the dvr not recording anymore once the hard drive is full. Yes you heard that right. There are settings to have it do it automatically, each day, etc. So there are choices, but as it turned out, it just won't do it once the drive reaches that point.
I contacted the manufacturer about this problem and basically they told me what I have already done in the past, which is to format the hard drive in order to start recording again. I was told that I would need to do this maybe every 3 months. I told them that this was a problem because I thought that the system did this on its own. Although this one is for my own place, if you use these with your clients it means that you have to keep going and doing this every now and then. I didn't want to do this as I have already done it in the past when I went from the 3.5 to the 2.5 hard drive. That's when I found out I had to do this. The other reason I didn't want to do it this time was that I didn't want to lose the videos on there already. Not to mention something happened that I was trying to look at and found that the dvr was not recording at the time and how I ended up trying to get some help so that the dvr would automatically erase the older videos and keep recording.
Now, this is not to say that this is a bad dvr, so far it's still the better of the others I have used since it's easier and faster to set up and also has the phone app you can use from anywhere as long as you have internet access.
In short, although the dvr works for the most part, if they can fix this where you don't need to manually format the drive yourself, then that would be perfect. Otherwise you may not be recording when you think it is.
Although getting through on the phone took two tries, I eventually got through, but the good thing is that at least they were very responsive through the email.