Swann Communications NightHawk 3
- Simple setup
- No recording capabilities, poor colour reproduction
The NightHawk 3 is a solid security investment. While we feel the lack of recording capabilities is a let down, the good quality images combined with an incredibly easy setup make it good value for money.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
The NightHawk 3 is another security camera system from Swann. This package comes with three wireless cameras, a receiver and remote control. We were a little disappointed that it came with no option to record video footage, but purely as a surveillance device it operated admirably, and should satisfy home or shop owners who are looking for a little extra piece of mind.
The NightHawk package is extremely simple to set up. Each camera has the option to run from either a nine volt battery or AC power. Battery life is rather limited though, and should only be used for emergencies (assuming one can have emergency surveillance situations). This is where setup ends; there aren't any switches to flick or software to install. As soon as the cameras are powered on they connect to the receiver and the whole process is automated, taking a lot of the headache out of what should be a fairly simple task.
Offering four different connection frequencies, the receiver is well specified to fit in, even in a modern household that already contains multiple wireless signals. It transmits over a now standard 2.4Ghz connection, and the signal was strong throughout testing.
When the unit was in direct line of site of the cameras, the image was perfect, with no skipping or stuttering. The further away we moved, and the more objects or walls between, resulted in some deterioration in quality. Despite this issue, with the cameras in another room about 20 metres away, the picture was still clear, and was more than adequate for basic security purposes. It wasn't until we moved the cameras about thirty or forty metres away that the picture began to degrade to a point almost unusable. For a regular sized house or shop the range of the NightHawk will be fine. As long as the receiver is centralised, users should be able to cover a few different rooms at once.
The receiver is connected to a display using standard a standard RCA connection. The image was, for most part, quite high quality. It outputs at a resolution of 628 x 582 and offers clear, sharp edges with good detail. The colour balance was a little inaccurate, but as this is a security device rather than an entertainment product, clarity is more important than colour. On a moderate size CRT television we had no problems identify passers-by or objects.
Also included in the package is night vision capabilities, hence the name NightHawk. These activate automatically when the scene becomes too dark. The picture wasn't quite as impressive here as in full light, with a distinct lack of clarity and a noticeable darkness that obscured many details. The NightHawk has a listed range of about five metres in this mode, and this was consistent with our testing. Any more than this and users will struggle to identify the image.
The included remote control is quite nifty. It allows users to switch between the cameras easily, as well as offering loop and lock functions. Loop will automatically cycle through each of the connected cameras, displaying each for a small amount of time before moving on, whereas lock will keep it on one channel. That's really all there is too the NightHawk 3's functionality, which was a little disappointing. For a more thorough security tool, we really think recording functionality needs to be built in, or at least PC connectivity needs to be offered with software to support it. Still, at this price point it is hard to complain too much.
The system itself is fairly plain looking. The receiver is a combination of grey and silver plastic, with a rotating antenna, and it looks like a standard wireless router. The cameras have a hefty, metal body, so they are tough enough to survive outdoor mounting. Do note though that they aren't waterproof. The cameras are clearly designed to be mounted, rather than placed. Although you can swivel them to face different angles, they don't balance very well, so we'd advise that they be mounted.
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