Currently, I have an 10-11 year old Swann DVR & 8 camera system running at my home and have been very happy with it for many years. I am also running a Defender 4K 4 camera system (reviewed separately). So, when I saw this Swann system come available, I jumped at...
Currently, I have an 10-11 year old Swann DVR & 8 camera system running at my home and have been very happy with it for many years. I am also running a Defender 4K 4 camera system (reviewed separately).
So, when I saw this Swann system come available, I jumped at the opportunity to review it and decided to set it up in my outbuilding. This system comes with everything you need to setup the 4 included cameras and allows you to add up to 4 additional cameras later on.
For my testing, I added a couple of non-Swann cameras (an old PTZ camera and a standard security camera.) Both of these cameras had worked reliably on my old Swann system but have been replaced with better cameras and boxed up for years.
- The DVR was easy to configure by just using the onscreen prompts and I was able review the included instructions, walk through the menu screen options and begin recording without too much trouble.
- The system came with two sets of basic instructions (in English or Spanish) that were on very nice looking, color, foldout pages. These documents sort of rehashed what you would see when going through the menus but we’re still nice to have.
- The hardest thing about getting this up and running was drilling holes for the wires, running the wires and mounting the cameras.
- The video from the included cameras is crisp and clear during the day and very good at night. I really like how the cameras have a light that you can configure to come on when they detect motion since this lets people know they are being watched.
- The system has been running about 2 weeks without a hitch.
- My non-Swann regular camera works fine but my non-Swann PTZ does not. I get video but cannot get it to move even after rechecking the wiring (that +/- issue) and confirming that it is setup properly (Pelco D, etc.). It is an old camera that has sat in a box for 3+ years so, I am not going to blame Swann. It could just be “on the blink” but I am noting it here for your benefit.
- The provided documentation tells you very little about the operation of the DVR and gives little insight on how to configure/access most of its functionality. In order to get the comprehensive set of instructions, I had to: 1) connect to the Swann website; 2) search for my systems’ model; 3) download then print a 43 page document.
- The provided documentation does not tell you how to activate motion detection nor how to activate the light built into each of the included cameras. I tried to set these features up using the menus and clicking on things I thought would work on my older Swann system but was unsuccessful. Once I had the 43 page instructions and found the section on “motion detection”, I was able to get both to work.
- 3 major privacy issues:
- 1) You cannot just connect to your DVR and view your camera feeds using an app on your phone. You must first create an account on Swann’s network then logon to that account to see your camera video. I.e., Swann will have access to every bit of video inside/outside your home. Whatever your cameras see, Swann will see.
- 2) In order to connect your system to the Internet (so that you are continually sending video to Swann) you have to provide Swann with information that they use to pinpoint your exact location. I can “almost” grasp their logic with 1) above but I am completely mystified by why they need the lattitude and longitude of my house? So, they will know EXACTLY where you live and are able to view everything your cameras see.
- 3) The DVR can be setup to send you email alerts when it detects motion from any of the cameras. However, in order to configure those alerts, you must provide Swann with your email address AND the password to your email account. Wha??
- After putting those three requirements together, I got a very unappealing picture of what could be done with that information. So, I did not continue configuring this system to work online and cannot tell you if there are more red flags further along in the process. At this point, I disconnected the Ethernet cable and erased everything I had previously entered.
Swann made a very capable security system that allows you to expand it according to your needs. The video from the included cameras is clear and the hard drive is large enough to record continuously for several weeks. For its functionality as a stand-alone system (that is not connected to the Internet at any time, for any reason) with motion activated lights on the cameras, I would have given it 5 stars.
This system has many, many features that you cannot easily configure without a full set of instructions. The fact that they failed to include the comprehensive directions that are necessary for the customer to fully utilize this system would have dropped my rating to 4 stars.
That is poor customer service, poor marketing and just plain cheap.
Requiring customers to give up their privacy in order to view THEIR OWN VIDEO online is ridiculous. People buy a security system to protect their privacy, not to give it up to a bunch of faceless strangers. This eliminates all other stars, in my opinion.
So, as a security system designed to be connected to the Internet and allow customers to both store and view their video online, I give it 1 star since Amazon won’t let me give it less.
This review was written last week but I sat on it until now. Today, I went to check on the DVR and found that it had stopped recording video several days ago since the 1 TB hard drive was full. Silly me, I thought I had configured the system to continually record and overwrite the oldest video when it got to the end. I guess having the 43 page set of comprehensive instructions is a handy little thing after all. Clearly, I would have benefitted from having a preprinted instruction booklet included in the box and I wonder how many other customers are going to hit this brick wall then have to scramble online to download the instructions.