QNAP NVR-1012 Network Surveillance System

Security surveillance in-a-box

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QNAP NVR-1012 Network Surveillance System
  • QNAP NVR-1012 Network Surveillance System
  • QNAP NVR-1012 Network Surveillance System
  • QNAP NVR-1012 Network Surveillance System

Pros

  • Easy to set up and administrate, wired/wireless cameras, includes everything you need in one box

Cons

  • Questionable camera quality, plastic NVR-101 enclosure, no outdoor options

Bottom Line

The NVR-1012 is tailor-made for the technically inept property owner. If you're looking for a comprehensive security surveillance system that is easy to use and set up, you won't find a better deal anywhere. Thieves, blaggards and ne’er-do-wells — your days are numbered.

Would you buy this?

The price and complexity of video surveillance systems has fallen dramatically in recent years. They are no longer just for hermit millionaires and evil mega-corporations. At $999, the QNAP NVR-1012 Network Surveillance System isn’t exactly cheap, but it is within reach of security-conscious consumers. What’s more, you don’t need to be a registered mechanic to set it up.

The NVR-1012 is an all-in-one surveillance kit consisting of two IP cameras, assorted cables and mounting brackets, and the network control system itself (dubbed the NVR-101). It provides live video recording and real-time remote monitoring/playback for effective 24-hour protection. While the system’s components aren’t without their faults (including poor camera resolution and no outdoor compatibility), it remains a solid investment for DIY property owners. With a power consumption of less than 18W, it is also perfectly suited to constant operation.

Upon first opening the box, most users will be intimated by the huge array of gizmos and doodads crammed inside. In addition to the NVR-101 and IP cameras, the sales package comes with three power adaptors, two camera antennas, three Ethernet cables, two mounting brackets, a selection of screws (round head and flat head), plus a pair of installation software CDs. However, there’s no reason for the novice to panic: getting the system up and running is a relatively painless procedure.

The first step involves configuring the IP cameras. As its name suggests, IP (Internet Protocol) camera technology provides video surveillance transmissions over the Internet. The advantages offered by IP cameras over traditional CCTV are numerous, including higher image resolution, cheaper production costs, automated e-mail alerts and a less complicated setup. It also gives you the ability to view live footage from anywhere, over the Web. (A significant caveat is that other Internet users can also attempt to view your cameras, so make sure your passwords are strong.)

When setting up your cameras, you can either install the antennas for a wireless router–based setup, or attach the Ethernet cables for a traditional wired arrangement. The included mounting brackets are of decent quality, with sturdy metal connections. Once your cameras are plugged in, they will automatically communicate with your computer via the IPFinder program (provided on the software CD) and attempt to link up.

The configuration process is surprisingly simple, with the Wizard tool guiding you through each step. Once the setup is complete, your networked IP cameras will be ready for viewing on your computer monitor. Of course, you’ll also need to configure the NVR-101 device to record live data; which brings us to the next step of the installation process.

The NVR-101 is the centrepiece of the QNAP Surveillance System. It’s basically a hard drive enclosure that acts as a network video recorder. The system is compatible with any 3.5in SATA HDD (which you will need to purchase separately) and is also expandable by up to 2TB via eSATA. An array of LCD lights keeps you abreast of what’s going on, from power indicators to HDD status. The back of the device is fitted with an Ethernet port, two USB connectors and an eSATA port.

Once you have fitted the enclosure with a hard drive, you can install the necessary software via your PC. After a handful of password requests and software installations, Internet Explorer will load and allow you to monitor your cameras. (Note: While only two cameras are included in the box, the NVR-101 will support up to four separate channels. Handily, the system will recognise a broad range of brands and models, which means you aren’t limited to QNAP cameras.)

We found the System Administration interface to be straightforward and easy to navigate. It’s divided into eight subsections, which cover device configuration, user management, network/system/camera settings, system tools and logs/statistics. Each page heading is fronted by a novice-friendly list, explaining the modes and settings within. The NVR-1012 runs the complete gamut of security recording modes, including manual, continuous, scheduled, and motion-detection recording. You can adjust a wide variety of controls from the System Administration box, including the cameras' image settings and digital zoom.

Unfortunately, there were some aspects of the NVR-1012 that left us cold. We weren’t particularly fond of the enclosure’s build quality. To access the system’s hard drive bay, you simply pull the chassis apart like a plastic lunchbox. While some may prefer this screw-free design, we expect something a little sturdier for $1000. Putting the device back together is overly fiddly; we were often forced to use the NVR-101’s flimsy rubber feet for leverage. We suspect this could lead to inadvertent crippling.

The IP cameras, thankfully, are made of hardier stuff. Durable and chunky, they should definitely last you a good long while. Unfortunately, despite their rock-hard appearance, the included cameras are only suitable for indoor use. If you specifically want to monitor outdoor areas, you’ll need to fork out for additional hardware.

We were also a little disappointed by the video capture quality. We found that the cameras' light sensors overcompensated for shadows, which led to overexposed and glary images. Video can be captured at a maximum resolution of 640x480 (VGA) and a maximum frame rate of 120 frames per second (QVGA). None of the recording modes are particularly impressive, though they should provide enough clarity to finger a skulking hoodlum.

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