I’ve installed a lot of home camera systems throughout 2013 and I’ve seen great improvements in security camera resolution and system capabilities. The big winner this year is Revo. Not only have they improved their security DVR but their security cameras beat all others that have higher analog resolution in video. In fact, Revo’s camera system went from the middle of my last list in 2011 to the top of my list this year. It has even rivaled some HD camera systems I’ve looked at recently. Rest assure, I didn’t rate all the camera systems on just camera resolution alone. I also covered each camera system based on their ease of use as well as any other special features they may have added so they can stand out in the crowd.
Since I specialize in installing camera systems that my clients have already bought I’ve seen some systems that I consider a great buy right out of the box and some that I consider a sad representation of the security camera industry.
Here is a list of the most impressive home security camera systems that I’ve run across in 2013:
Pros: I’ve list this as the number one camera system on the market for one reason and one reason only, the quality of the video image. Even though the cameras are rated as having 600 TV lines of resolution, it actually looks closer to 700 or more with great clarity and color. In fact, I prefer this camera system to other systems that cost twice as much. Usually, the picture on the box of any new security camera system doesn’t come close to what you’re going to see on your monitor but this camera system comes quite close.
You certainly get a lot for the discounted price. It includes a flat screen monitor and 16 channel DVR with 4 indoor dome cameras and 4 outdoor bullet cameras, it also comes with 2 Terabytes of hard drive space and that is more than enough if you keep this camera system set to record only on motion, you can get up to two months of recording. Again, video clarity and resolution is what makes this camera system stand out amongst the crowd of camera systems with twice the price.
Cons: Night vision infrared lighting only reaches out to about 30-35 feet from the camera. If you need a camera system to look over a large backyard with no external lighting then this camera system is not for you unless you install extra lighting or external infrared lights. Setting up the Revo R16 – 8 online has become a lot easier this year because of it’s UPNP feature but it still lacks the ease of use I find in other camera systems online feature. It ask for the same amount of steps as older security models use to ask to set up an online account. Also, only one person can view the cameras online or on their mobile phone at a time. I’m sure Revo is working on this but in the meantime this can be a pain in the ass if someone else is viewing the camera system when you really need to see what’s going on.
Summary: Best security camera system right out of the box when it comes to video clarity and resolution. Online setup and viewing is a little clumsy and sometimes difficult to implement but online viewing is beautiful once you get it to work.
Pro: This is the only camera system that I know that allows you to not only view your cameras live on your mobile phone but playback video from your phone as well with up to 5 viewers online at the same time. No other security camera system in 2013 offers so much in online viewing capability. You can also zoom in with a pinch and expand gesture allowing you to see the small details you’ve been missing in other camera systems.
This DVR comes with 8 audio input channels, You can purchase miniature hidden mics that you can combine with your camera views. Other security camera systems do come with a few audio inputs but this is the only model in this price range that have this many and allow you to hear the audio directly from mobile phone or tablet.
I’m also excited about how well they designed the Night Owl Pro Live View. It’s so easy to set up. In most cases it takes less than 15 minutes to view your security cameras online and on your mobile phone. The UPNP (universal protocol) pretty much do all the work for you. Now their will be some home routers and modems that may not be compatible with UPNP, In that case, you will need to put on your IT hat or call a professional to connect you online. If you have patience, the Night Owl help desk can walk you through your setup or even connect to your system and help make the changes for you.
Con: I’m only rating the Night Owl’s security camera DVR. I prefer that my customers buy their security cameras separately because Night Owl basic cameras don’t match the quality of this security DVR.
Pros: I’m rating this camera as the third best home camera system strictly because of price. Most Zmodo security camera packages give you terrible entry market cameras that have a chipset that can’t see the color green properly but this camera system kit comes with eight 480 line of resolution cameras with proper color emulation and clarity with a 500 gigabyte hard drive and at $275 you can’t get a better system for the price. You can view several cameras at the same time from your mobile device with up to 5 devices viewing cameras at the same time. Connecting your camera system online is easy and Zmodo’s help desk can help you quickly if you run into any trouble setting up your online connection.
Pros: Price! You get a much better video resolution than you get from Zmodo’s entry level cameras and you’re only spending $25 more than their standard entry level system. Audio inputs are also standard and you can view up to 4 cameras at a time from your mobile phone.
Cons: Viewing your cameras live through your mobile phone or tablet is great but you can’t view video playback through these devices. You can only view previously recorded video from your computer or from the DVR itself with a connected monitor or TV but for a security camera system that has so much to offer for less than $300, it’s hard to pass up.