Network Video Recorder (NVR) Security Systems

What are NVR systems?

Network Video Recorder systems use Power over Ethernet (PoE) cameras or internet protocol (IP) cameras that can process audio and video and store the footage directly on the recorder via the network they are connected to. This connection can be made with an ethernet cable or a wireless Wi-Fi connection. NVR systems allow for mobile phone app access. Most NVR system cameras are going to provide high quality image resolution with multiple lenses. Some NVR systems implement PoE cameras which transmit power and footage over a single cable so there is no splitting of the wire and connecting to the recorder and a separate power source. Other systems use IP cameras which need one cable to connect to a power source and wirelessly transmit footage over the Wi-Fi connection. There are NVR systems that have cameras that come with built in lights and alarms to deter criminals and have two-way audio which is great for added protection.

How do NVR systems compare to Digital Video Recorders (DVRs)?

DVR systems use HD or analog CCTV cameras that are hardwired in using coaxial cables to connect to the recorder. These cables do not supply power, so each camera has to be powered using a Siamese cable or a nearby outlet. DVR systems do not process audio and video at the camera like an NVR system does, instead, it gets processed once it reaches the recorder. Typically, the cameras used in DVR systems have lower quality resolution, do not record audio, have a low coverage area, and do not have wireless options like some NVR systems. However, most DVR systems are cheaper than NVR systems upfront, but a lot of manufacturers have stopped producing them so you may have high maintenance costs.

Where can I get an NVR system?

Since Network Video Recorder systems are a type of security system rather than a specific company or product, there are lots of businesses you can buy them from, both in store and online. If you want to look at a system in person, stores like Home Depot, Sam’s Club, Best Buy, and others are likely to have some in stock with displays for you to take a look. Online, you can find a number of systems and get a list of specifications and other important information to help you determine which is right for you. Whether you are at home, work, or vacation you can do the research on your own time. But with so many options it can get overwhelming, a lot of NVR systems are similar, so it is important to know what features are important to you.

Starting with Best Buy, we see a number of options, most of which are made by Swann and are PoE cameras with similar camera specs. Most differ in camera style and number of cameras offered. One product they offer is the Swann Pro Enforcer 16-channel, 8-bullet camera system. This system offers cameras with built in flashing lights, spotlights, and sirens with 4k video resolution, night vision, and a 90-degree field of view. It also offers two-way audio communication and cloud storage on top of the standard NVR storage. Best Buy also offers an 8-

dome camera system that offers the same specifications as the 8-bullet system but with a 110-degree field of view.

Amazon offers a multitude of system options from a range of sellers all in one place and makes it easy to sort and filter to make sure you are getting highly rated products with features you want. One such system is the Hiseeu wireless security system, with four Wi-Fi based cameras and the company also offers an app for remote viewing. The cameras offer 1296P resolution and night vision with a range of 65 feet. Unfortunately, it only has one way audio and no lights or sirens. You can also find PoE systems like the Reolink 4k security system which offers 4 cameras but can work with up to 8 cameras. The cameras have 4k video resolution and a built-in microphone, with 100 feet of night vision and person and vehicle detection. Reolink also offers users lifetime tech support, a two-year warranty for broken and defective products, and a mobile app. The cameras have a field of view of 87 degrees horizontally and 44 degrees vertically, do not work below 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and the system does not support smart home functions.

If we look at specific businesses that sell their own brand of NVR camera systems, we will find Lorex. Lorex was founded in 1991 and offers a few NVR options. They also offer the option for you to use Klarna to break up your payments if you are qualified and they also let you choose whether or not you would like to add a 2, 3, or 4 year extended warranty to your system. The first system we will look at is their 4k 8-channel wired system with 8 cameras, a smart sensor kit, and a doorbell camera. Now this system offers a lot more than you will see with a lot of other Network Video Recorder systems since most do not come with anything besides the recorder and cameras. The cameras not only have 4k video quality, but they have smart deterrence with LED lights and sirens, two-way talk, and 150 feet night vision.

All of your recordings go on a 2TB hard drive, and you can have remote access with their app. If there is sufficient lighting the night vision can be recorded in color. Lorex’s cameras also have face, person, and vehicle detection along with safeguard so you can set up perimeters around items you really want to protect. This system also comes with a sensor hub, a motion sensor, and two door/window sensors. This system is also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, you can also put your live footage up on the Tv with Chromecast, Firestick, or by downloading their app on your Apple TV. On the front of their recorder is a panic button in case of an emergency and if you have any problems with your system they have their manuals, support articles, and videos on the website.

Lorex has a few systems that let you choose how many cameras you want; some even go up to 32 cameras. One such system is the 32-channel NVR system with 4k IP cameras. This system has a lot of the same camera functions as the one above but there are a few differences. You get an 8TB hard drive and a switch to accommodate all of the cameras, and this systems night vision only reaches 130 feet. They are built with full metal exteriors and can with stand temperatures as cold as -22 degrees Fahrenheit or as hot as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Lorex also offers the option of privacy masking where you can draw squares around spots you do not want recorder such as certain windows or your neighbor’s yard. You can also choose to have it record continuously, during set times, or only when motion is detected. 

What are the downsides?

Network Video Recorder systems do not always allow for the mixing of camera brands like a DVR system does, which can make it hard to replace cameras if yours is no longer made or sold. The upfront cost of an NVR system can also be more expensive and components typically only last for 3 to 8 years. If your network is not well secured, your system can be easily hacked, and they can lose signal if your Wi-Fi is overloaded or goes down, but some systems are designed to work without internet if you want but you lose your ability for remote access. You can buy NVR systems online or in stores that sell security systems which makes it convenient to check them out. On the downside, these systems usually will only give you cameras and nothing else. No window or door sensors, no flood sensors, no smart home technology, and no professional monitoring to help add to your protection. If anything happens to your recorder, you lose all of your footage, and if someone tampers with your system there is no monitoring team to alert you or authorities. Not to mention that most systems are not going to come with the option of having a professional technician come and install them for you, so you either have to do it yourself or find someone you can pay to do it.

How about Vivint?

Vivint is a cloud-based system, there is no central recorder that all of the cameras connect to that stores the footage there in your home. With a cloud-based system, you never have to worry about a recorder getting broken and losing your footage and having to replace the recorder itself. You also do not have to worry about running out of recording space on your recorder hard drive. Vivint has a central panel that allows you to control your system and view footage but if it gets damaged you will not lose your footage. It also has crash and smash protection against tampering that will alert the 24/7 professional monitoring team who will alert you and authorities. Similar to NVR systems, Vivint’s outdoor camera is powered with a PoE cable, but the indoor cameras have a simple plug that goes into an outlet. From there they use Wi-Fi to transmit footage. Vivint also has an app that allows you remote access to your whole system where you can manage a multitude of features.

Vivint cameras also come in with 1080p resolution and a wide field of view. The outdoor cameras also come with a built-in light and alarm tone to notify any lurkers that they have been spotted. Depending on the equipment, Vivint can integrate certain security products that may already exist within your home, and if for any reason your equipment does not work you can get it fixed or replaced without worrying that your equipment is no longer available. Vivint also implements cellular connection with your system, so you do not have to worry about the Wi-Fi going down and it makes it more secure and much harder for hackers to access.

While you can only buy Vivint products through Vivint, you get a whole lot more than just cameras. You can get a range of products from door and window sensors, to motion detectors, flood sensors, heat sensors, car guard, and smart home technology. The system is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for hands free control. For example, with the Vivint smart thermostat you can tell your system to change the temperature. With the app, website, and panel, you can set smart scenes that play out at set times or when you give commands. You can

set a scene to change the temperature, turn out lights, lock the doors, and arm the system when you leave the house in the morning.

Let us take a look at some specific Vivint products. The outdoor camera has a 4k ultra-HD image sensor, a 140-degree field of view, two far-field microphones with echo cancelling technology, 1080P resolution, a 55-foot night vision range, and an 85-decibel speaker. You only get alerts when people are detected and not pets or passing cars, and it has lurker detection that will activate lights and a warning tone to deter criminals. You can set your own surveillance zones and the cameras have 180-degree ball joints so you can angle it exactly where you need it. This is especially helpful around your driveway and garage to help protect your vehicles and tools or equipment you may have in your garage when you have left the garage door open. You can pair the Vivint garage door control with your system, so you never have to worry about if the door is open or not. You can also get the car guard to keep track of your vehicle and know where it is, if it is being tampered with, or if it needs maintenance.

The Vivint doorbell not only lets you know when someone has come to your door, but it can also protect your packages. Vivint’s doorbells have built in Smart Sentry AI package protection. This means that it will alert you when a package has been dropped off and you have the option of turning on protection which will let you know if someone comes near the package before you can bring it inside. If someone gets too close it will turn on a red light and let out a loud sound to scare off the porch pirate from your treasure. Smart protection can also be used when there is no package, but you do not want people near your front door, for example, if you are away on vacation.

Vivint’s indoor camera makes it easy to monitor your family and your home when you are away. With two-way talk, your kids can push the button on the top of the camera to get your attention and communicate with you. Whether it is for a question about their homework, chores, or just to tell you they love you. It may be small, but it has full HD 1080P video resolution, night vision, and a horizontal field of view of 155 degrees and a vertical field of 80 degrees. Get notifications when it detects motion, you can customize smart scenes, so it only does this at night or when you are away. If an intruder is detected it will light up and let out a loud sound.

Have peace of mind not just about security from intruders but with everything related to your home. Security systems do not have to just be cameras, sensors and home automation can work hard to keep your home and loved ones safe. Vivint offers a number of sensors such as door and window, motion, glass break, flood, heat and smoke, and carbon monoxide. For home automation you can mix and match whatever you want and feel that you need. You can automate your lights, thermostat, garage door, and locks. Best of all you can set smart scenes to automatically control these functions at certain times and be alerted when something is wrong such as a door being left open.

Vivint gives you a lot of options and a lot of tools to keep you and your home safe, and with professional monitoring you are never alone in an emergency. While Vivint will cost more than an NVR system, you are also getting a whole lot more, and not just in gadgets but in added security with monitoring and product features. Having a well-protected home helps to give you

peace of mind. Vivint will also send you a certification for you to provide to your home insurance agent to get a discount on your insurance. Nothing beats being rewarded for being safe, other than knowing you are safe in the first place. Check out Vivint and all it has to offer to see if it is right for you.