Swann DVR8-1200 8 Channel DVR
* View & record from 8 cameras simultaneously during the day, night, indoors or outdoors
* Includes 4 all-weather, high resolution 600TVL cameras with powerful night vision to 65ft/20m, add 4 more cameras of your choice for full 8 channel monitoring
* Set & forget by recording continuously from up to 8 cameras for 60 days+ onto a massive hard drive, longer with motion detection
* Save time & have peace of mind by easily locating incident video, then transfer to USB flash drive
* Surveillance in the palm of your hand with live viewing on 3G-enabled Smartphones including iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile 6, Symbian OS & more, with remote notification via email
* Remote viewing is easier than ever to set up with UPnP (Universal Plug n Play) auto network configuration
* Fight back against crime by deterring intruders, protecting your property & knowing what's happening at all times
* A state-of-the-art & expandable solution for any home or business wanting complete protection
* Protect the people you care about & cut the cost of crime with no ongoing fees
- 500GB Hard Drive (installed)
- PRO-530 Cameras x 4
- BNC to RCA Cable 3ft / 1m
- BNC Cables 60ft / 18m x 4
- Power Adapters
- Remote Control
- Software CD
- USB Mouse
- Ethernet Cable
- Mounting Screws & Plugs
- Operating Instructions
- Theft Deterrent Stickers x 4
Everyone knows that security is one of the biggest worries when it comes to protecting your home/business from unwanted intruders. That’s where security monitoring/surveillance systems can provide invaluable when keeping your property free from damage/theft. Swann is a global leader in security monitoring solutions, fun gadgets and I.T. peripherals targeting consumers through retail channels. The company’s products are mainly do-it-yourself (DIY) with easy-to-follow ‘plug-and-play’ instructions, full after-sale technical support and retail-friendly product packaging aimed at home, office and small-to-medium retail users.
We’ve already had the pleasure of taking a look at a couple of security surveillance systems with the Swann name branding – each deserving of it’s own merits when it came to performance and value for money. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that we were rather excited to take a look at another Swann professional monitoring system, and so another Swann system landed on our doorstep: the DVR8-1200 8 Channel DVR with 500GB Hard Drive & 4 x PRO-580 Cameras.
A Closer Look
Out of the box, the DVR8-1200 system is your full security system setup, full featured and boasting easy installation alongside simple ease of use, all the bells and whistles one would expect from a full surveillance arrangement. Contained within the package itself are 4 x professional grade cameras, a DVR unit complete with a pre-installed 500GB harddrive, wired USB mouse, remote control unit and all the necessary wiring/fixings.
Camera wise, Swann have provided four of their top quality, professional, multipurpose Pro 580’s within the DVR8-1200 package. Getting up close specifications wise, Swann’s Pro 580’s are an impressive bunch, we are talking high resolution 480TVL 1/4″ Sony CCD cameras. for the non-technically minded or those that know little about CCTV resolutions – welcome to the News And Review crash course:
What is resolution?
When we refer to “resolution”, it simply means the “overall picture sharpness” and is measured by counting both horizontal lines (vertical resolution) and vertical lines (horizontal resolution) of an image. Resolution quantifies how closely the lines are to each other and yet still be visibly counted. The higher the number of TV lines, the higher the resolution and the more details we can see. When we are talking about “resolution” in terms of a CCTV camera, we only refer to the “horizontal resolution” because we cannot change the vertical resolution, which is limited to the number defined by the TV scanning system. (We can change the horizontal resolution, and it depends on the horizontal resolution of a camera, the quality of the transmission media, and the resolution of the monitor.)
The horizontal resolution of a camera is treated a little differently unlike the vertical resolution. The horizontal resolution is also defined by the number of vertical lines which can be captured by a camera and reproduced on a TV screen, but we only count the vertical lines based on the TV aspect ratio of 4:3, to preserve the natural proportion of an image. For an example, 550 TV lines of horizontal resolution will correspond to a maximum of approximately 733 lines (550 X 4/3) across a screen. This is why we call the horizontal resolution as “TV Lines (TVL)” instead of just “vertical lines”. In other words, if a camera manufacturer says that their camera supports 550TVL resolution, it means that the camera outputs its TV picture to support a monitor with the resolution of 550 TV lines, based on the TV aspect ratio of 4:3. Remember, the resolution of the camera is only as good as the resolution output of the monitor.
What is CCD?
The CCD is a major technology for digital imaging. In a CCD image sensor, pixels are represented by p-doped MOSFET capacitors. These capacitors are biased above the threshold for inversion when image acquisition begins, allowing the conversion of incoming photons into electron charges at the semiconductor-oxide interface; the CCD is then used to read out these charges. Although CCDs are not the only technology to allow for light detection, CCD image sensors are widely used in professional, medical, and scientific applications where high-quality image data is required.
CCTV cameras can be categorized into two groups: high resolution camera and standard resolution camera, in terms of CCD resolution. The CCD resolution is different from the camera resolution. If you check a camera specification sheet, you might find specifications named “Number of Total Pixels” or “Number of Effective Pixels”. These specifications tell you what resolution CCD is used in that camera. In general, a camera, which uses a CCD with the resolution of 380K (768 x 494) effective pixels, it is a high resolution camera. If a camera uses a CCD with a resolution of 250K (510 x 492) effective pixels, it is considered a standard resolution camera. The high resolution (380K effective pixels) CCD is used to make a camera with 480 TVL resolution and above. On the other hand, a camera which supports a lower resolution than 480TVL, uses a CCD with 250K effective pixels. Thus, you can say that there might be a considerable difference in sharpness between 420TVL and 480TVL cameras.
With the resolution jargon out of the way, each Pro 580 camera weighs a mere 286g and has a black coloured IP67 aluminum body construction. Suitable for both indoors and outdoors the weather resistant, anti-corrosion casing is built to withstand a battering from the typical british weather!
Each camera measures a not so ‘in yer face’ but respectable 82mm x 58mm x 55mm. The camera itself is made up of two separate parts: the camera unit and mounting bracket – connecting the two is an adjustable ‘arm’ allowing you to customize the camera viewing angle. The complete viewing angle available is a not too shabby 62°. The base itself comes complete with pre drilled mounting/fixing holes – further to this is the threaded cable management system that allows the cable to be neatly routed through the base (in other words the base has a cleverly cut-out section to allow the cable to pass through the base without obstructing the mounting system – meaning the base will sit flush with the underneath surface).
Adorning each camera sunshield is the all important Swann logo – speaking of the sunshield, a nice characteristic here is the fact that it is completely adjustable/removable, depending on impeding sunlight the shield themselves just slide in/out on metal ridges situated in the on the actual camera casing.
Lens wise, the Pro 580’s are of the 3.6mm variety and features no less than 12 infared lights that have a viewing distance of 65ft/20m so is ideal for the security monitoring of things like driveways, warehouses, parking lots etc where distance viewing is important/vital. The overall infared lifespan is 10,000hrs.
The included digital video recorder (DVR) is a fairly standard in size unit and measures 12.4″ x 8.9″ x 2.4″, big enough to make a statement and small enough for those wanting to tuck it away out of sight. Pre-installed is a not too shabby 500GB harddrive, this translates to over 60days+ of continual recording time. A handy aspect is the DVR8’s support for up to 2TB sized drives – so should you find you need more space for your recordings, upgrading the drive should be a simple procedure.
A welcomed addition that will be of exciting news to the gadget lovers is the live video streaming access. You can securely access your system from practically anywhere in the world from almost any computer connected to the internet, or even from your 3G enabled Smartphones including iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile 6, Symbian and more. All this can be achieved by downloading the Swannview app. For more detailed information visit the Swannview page: http://www.swann.com/s/products/swannview/
The DVR unit itself is pretty basic looking with nothing really exciting to report. The front of the unit is fairly simplistic, situated on the left is the Swann logo and lettering – next to this is the infared sensor, HDD LED and Power LED. The right side is reserved for product naming and a singular USB port used for quick file transfer to a flash drive. Interestingly Swann have neglected to offer a front of unit control panel – do they have another control function method in place?
The reverse of the unit is where you’ll see/find all the necessary ports/connectors. From left to right there is: Power input, RS-485, LAN port, USB port, VGA Out, Video Out, Video In x 8, Audio In and Audio Out connections. The DVR8-1200 setup comes complete with 4 x Pro 580 camera’s, however the system has support for up to 8 camera’s – this is certainly good news for those who are looking at a security unit that is expandable over time.
Included in the package is a remote control unit – again this is fairly basic looking but has all the necessary buttons. Also included is a fairly basic USB mouse – no mod cons here. When the included USB mouse is attached to the DVR unit, it allows for easy navigation and operation of the menus. In this capacity, the mouse functions in a very similar manner to the mouse attached to a computer. The left mouse button is used to select, confirm choices and otherwise interact with the menu system. The right mouse button opens the pop-up menu (when pressed in live-viewing mode) or exits a menu (when pressed whilst in the menu system).
The camera/customization system is pretty straight forward and rather simplistic in design with an icon driven main menu. Each menu option is self explanatory, but for the purpose of this review, let’s take a look at the customization options in more detail:
Display Setup Menu: The camera menu contains all the options for setting up how the DVR interfaces with and displays the images from the cameras connected to it. This is where channels are enabled or disabled in live viewing, and where the AUTOSEQ (Automatic Sequence) function can be configured.
Further Display options:
– You can change the name of any channel from the default (and rather drab) “CHx” to anything that you would like (up to 8 characters in length). A descriptive name on each channel often makes it easier to remember what camera is where, and which channel would have captured an event you might be looking for.
– You can fine tune the look of each channel individually by adjusting the HUE, BRIGHT (brightness), CONTRAST and SATURATION values for each channel. Just select the SETUP option under the COLOR heading to open the dialog window. This is useful if peculiar lighting conditions, a non-standard camera or a conspicuously colored object in the frame cause the display to be inconveniently tinted, or over/under exposed. Basically, this will help fix something that just doesn’t look ‘right’.
– LIVE Viewing – Enabling and Disabling Channels
Monitoring something that you’d rather keep private/secret/unknown to the casual observer? No problems. You can alter which channels appear when in live viewing mode, and which ones appear later on.
Record Menu: Where you can configure the recording options for the DVR. You can set channels to be armed for recording constantly or on a schedule, and set the recording resolution, quality and size. You can also enable or disable the associated audio channel. Additionally, the recording function for some or all channels can be disabled entirely.
Further Recording Options:
– The Recording Schedule, which governs when your DVR will record, and under what circumstances.
– Quality settings: How much data the DVR will use to record video. The higher the data rate, the more clarity there will be in your images, but the less video you’ll be able to store on your hard drive.
– Frame Rate and Resolution: How many images per second the DVR will capture, and how large the captured images will be. This can be set to automatic (where the DVR will regulate how many frames per second are captured based on the resolution required) or manually set, channel by channel.
– Audio Settings: Whether the DVR will record audio (sound) or not.
Here, you’ll be able to set the motion detection features of the DVR for each channel. We suggest that motion detection is, under most circumstances, the most practical recording method for the DVR to employ.
How it Works: Once motion detection has been enabled for a channel, it will register to the DVR as an ALARM EVENT. Thus, you can use the ALARM RECORDING mode in the schedule to trigger the DVR to record when motion detection triggers an alarm signal.
Network Menu: Where you can configure the DVR to operate on your home network and over the Internet. If you want to connect to your DVR remotely using a computer or a mobile device
Record (Video) Search: Where you look for footage of a specific event. You only need to know the date and time that the incident that you are looking for occurred. You need not know exactly – you can specify a range of times and/or dates. The DVR will list all recordings made in between the start and end points you specify.
Device Management: Here you can find the setup and configurable options for the devices which can be connected to the DVR. These devices are in order:
– HDD Management: The hard drive, where you store your footage.
– Alarm Configuration Menu: The circumstances which will trigger the DVR to record or issue an alert of some kind (such as an email).
– PTZ Menu: For setting up the DVR to work with Pan, Tilt, Zoom camera systems.
System Setup Menu: All the remaining options and sub-menus. Here is where you set the Date and Time and your Password, change the video output settings, change languages, or the automatic maintenance schedule of the DVR.
HARD DRIVE (HDD) MANAGEMENT screen. All aspects of the hard drive can be managed from this screen. Additionally, this is the place to go if you want to know exactly how much space is left on the hard drive, and how much footage you can record to it.
HDD STATUS: If the hard drive is not installed properly you will see a message saying NO DISK FOUND. The live view screen will display the icon on the bottom of Channel 1’s display if the hard drive is not being detected.
TOTAL SPACE: Total size of the hard drive currently installed.
FREE SPACE: Total amount of free space available on the hard drive(s) currently installed.
AVAILABLE TIME: Free space currently available in hours, calculated based on your current record quality settings. (Note: If you have OVERWRITE enabled, this value will be redundant.)
OVERWRITE: When enabled, the DVR will record over the files already stored on the hard drive. Using the overwrite option is advisable, as the DVR will always be able to record events as they happen. However, it does mean that you’ll need to get important events off the HDD before they’re overwritten.
From this menu you can configure the DVR to emit an alarm tone from it’s internal buzzer, or configure the DVR to send an ‘Auto-Mail’ email alert when motion is detected.
You can define up to seven user accounts for the DVR. One of these will always be the admin account (though the name can be changed) which has total access to all aspects of the DVR.
The remaining six accounts are USER accounts, and can have customized levels of access.
The DVR8-1200 comes bundled with some pretty handy software. The video files which the DVR backs up are not playable by standard multimedia software. This means that your usual media player is not going to be able to open or display footage from the DVR. The main reason for this is that footage from the DVR is always made of multiple channels of video which are synchronized into one data stream. The playback software is included on the CD that comes with the DVR.
Other included software is a nifty little program called AVI Generator – as the name would suggest, this program will generate an AVI file of your video recordings. Simple to use, you just browse and select the target CCTV file and then select an output folder, give your file an output file name and hit the generate button.
When testing a full security system such as the DVR8-1200, there were a number of points we wanted to cover, these were: ease of use/setup, ease of setting change/customization/menu navigation, playback/video quality.
Ease Of Use/Setup?
We’ve tested a couple of Swann security systems and so we are pretty familiar with the setup, however from a no-technically minded POV, the DVR8-1200 does look intimidating at first, however when un-packed and laid out, there’s not much to it. The User manual as with all Swann systems is very thorough and uses a variety of images along with labeling to guide the user through the installation process.
Ease Of Setting Change/Customization/Menu Navigation?
The DVR8-1200 comes with two navigation options – either via the remote control unit or via USB mouse. For obvious reasons using the USB mouse is far quicker and simpler in terms of menu navigation/selection and so throughout our testing this was our preferred method of use.
The menu’s are very simple to understand, the use of main menu icons makes navigation very simple. A lot of the settings within the menu icons are pretty much self explanatory – so should be fairly simple for those not familiar with this type of security system to make minor customizations to the system. Likewise, there are some nifty functions that those with more knowledge under their belt will find useful.
Video backup is a straight forward affair, just a case of inserting a compatible USB drive, accessing the video search menu, clicking the detail files button and selecting the files you wish to backup/playback.
Playback via PC or mac is a simple case of installing the included software and selecting the files you wish to playback. A handy feature where the video playback software is concerned is the ability to take screen captures of your video files – useful should it be required…
To show video/playback quality we used the system to capture a couple of short videos, we then backed up the videos and used the included AVI Generator to convert the files in to a watchable format. We personally didn’t make any changes to the picture/video settings, these were left at default factory settings (as you will see the dates/times in both videos are very different) – so what you see is an ‘out-of-the-box’ viewing – literally just plug and use/play.