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362 of 371 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid 4 stars, with 5-star potential
I've been on the fence about buying one of these systems for a little over a year now and finally decided on this one.

My needs were:

* 4 outdoor cameras
* Good resolution
* Good night vision
* DVR with network capability
* Ability to view cameras from multiple computers and smartphone
* Price range of $300-$350...
Published on August 11, 2012 by R. Precourt

versus
660 of 745 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very INSECURE! Great product, but ANYONE can log into your DVR and watch you...
The system and cameras work very well (except the screws for the camera mounts rust almost instantly upon contact with water, as noted in other reviews.)

I'm an I.T. professional, and I'd like to expose a HUGE security flaw with this system. This defender system (along with other models this company makes: Q-See, NightOwl, SVAT, etc.) has two major...
Published on January 5, 2013 by Joe Goldade


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362 of 371 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid 4 stars, with 5-star potential, August 11, 2012
By 
R. Precourt (Atlanta, GA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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I've been on the fence about buying one of these systems for a little over a year now and finally decided on this one.

My needs were:

* 4 outdoor cameras
* Good resolution
* Good night vision
* DVR with network capability
* Ability to view cameras from multiple computers and smartphone
* Price range of $300-$350

This system appeared to meet all my needs and I had noticed over the past year that the Defender systems seemed to have the best overall ratings. I further researched the on-line manual for this system (as I frequently do for things that I'm serious about purchasing) and it also gave me comfort that the system would meet my needs.

I've had the system installed for about a week now and I am quite pleased with it. That being said, I would like to share my overall experience with everyone, as it may be helpful for those considering this system and installing it themselves, as I did.

I did a few things backwards, but found it helpful in adjusting the cameras once I had everything wired.

First off, the entire system was packaged very nicely - great presentation and well organized. All of the camera cables were rolled up nicely on plastic spools. All parts were neatly arranged and well labeled.

Next, I took everything out of the box and hooked up to my 40" Samsung LCD via VGA cable to test it out. Note: the manual indicates that if you hook the DVR up using VGA to an LCD TV or monitor that the mouse and remote will not function. I called Defender to inquire about this prior to purchasing and they informed me that the unit WILL work fine via VGA and they were correct. I have no problem with the mouse or remote working using the VGA port and this gives great resolution (much better than using the composite video cable.) The VGA cable is not included with the system, but all other cables you need are. I would recommend using VGA if you can.

After hooking everything up for a test run, I found that everything worked fine. I did notice that the video connections on the back of the DVR seemed to be a bit loose, causing the video to flicker and go in and out if I moved to cables, however, once I had everything hooked up and running I have not experienced this again.

I then proceeded to configure the system and do the network setup, firstly, to verify that it would actually work and do all the things I wanted, and second, so that I could view the cameras from my Android phone while adjusting them, which is very helpful and allows for an easy, one-person installation.

I had no problems at all with the network setup and port forwarding on my AT&T U-Verse router/gateway. I simply set the DVR to DHCP and let it acquire an address. I wrote all the acquired information down, then changed it to Static and input the same information (so that I don't have to worry about the IP changing. I forwarded the three ports needed for network and mobile viewing and was viewing on my phone within minutes. Defender's network guide was great and made the whole process very easy. I added the IP address to the trusted sites zone as directed and set security for trusted sites to low and had no trouble with the ActiveX install.

The on-line software is very nice and allows you not only to view your cameras on any computer, but also you can manage every setting on the DVR, just as if you are right there. And, it's actually easier (in my opinion) to do this via the software, than on the DVR itself, although the DVR's interface is also easy to use.

Now, on to the installation; here are the things that I experienced that I hope will help future buyers install this system with less pain than I had.

I dropped all of my cables from the attic down into the wall behind my flat screen TV and routed them through an AV wall plate, along with the other cables that were already there (HDMI, VGA, power, etc.) Here is one important thing to note; the cables are neatly spooled up, so naturally I unrolled them all in the direction that they were spooled. While the BNC video connectors are the same on both ends, the power connectors are NOT; they are male on one end and female on the other. AND, two out of four of mine were spooled backwards. This caused me to spend an extra day re-running one cable completely, which I had run all the way to where one of the cameras would be on the other side of the house, down through another very difficult wall to the first floor. I did not notice the problem until I went to plug the camera into the cable and ended up with two female plugs together. So, long story short - pay careful attention to the orientation of the power connectors and make sure you run the cables in the correct direction (the female end should start at the DVR and the male end should be at the camera where it will plug into the female jack on the camera.

After getting over that, I got the cameras all mounted and hooked up. Another thing to note is that these cameras can only be wall or table-top mounted, but not ceiling mounted, so if your application requires this, you will need different cameras. I think some of their other cameras can be ceiling mounted, but not these.

The wiring goes through the mounting bracket, which is very nice and there are slots in the top and bottom if you have to run the wire differently, as I did with three of mine (up into the eves and into the attic.) If the cameras could have been mounted directly to the eves, this wouldn't have been necessary, but it all worked out.

The next thing I've experienced that may be helpful to know before you mount the cameras is that the screws provided are NOT weather-resistant by any means. While the cameras themselves appear to be made very well, my screws have already began to rust after only two brief rain showers and less than one week of being outside. Easy solution - buy some exterior grade screws from a hardware store. I did this, but again, I had to climb back up to each camera and remove and re-install each one. I hope this saves someone a little time.

Also, while setting up your cameras, here's another thing to look for. The first night I had my system working, I noticed halos in the lower part of the screen when the night vision was active. It was more noticeable on one of my cameras, especially when it was very dark outside (like when the street light across from my house would go out due to the bulb dying.) At first, I thought that this problem was being caused by another street light further down shining into that camera. I made adjustments the next day and checked the following night - same problem. After doing some research on-line, I found people mentioning that halos can be caused by the IR being reflected back to the camera from a nearly object, like a window for example. Since there were no objects anywhere near my cameras, my only other thought was that maybe the IR was reflecting off the sun shades of the cameras themselves. I slid each one back about an inch and checked - SUCCESS! No more halos, so this is another thing to check when installing your cameras. Instead of having the back edge of the sun shade flush with the back of the camera, try sliding it back about an inch and you should be good. Now I have crisp, clear night vision.

Each camera has a horizontal and vertical adjustment screw, which can be loosened or tightened with the included allen wrench. While the horizontal adjustment has definitive `notches' or `stops', the vertical one does not. This requires you to have to tighten the screw quite tight in order to keep the camera stable. I wish that both were notched, as I had trouble with one of mine. The screw seemed to start slipping and I ended up using a little crazy glue between the joint to keep it stable, once I had it positioned the way I wanted. Then I simply tightened the screw as much as I could and it seems solid now.

So, I've been using the system for about a week now and really like it. I had played with all the settings, and have it set to record all channels 24/7, with motion recording between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm. It has the capability to e-mail you whenever motion is detected, along with a snapshot of the event. It took some playing with it to get the motion settings more accurate and now it's pretty good. You can select specific areas of the picture to look for motion, like just the front porch steps, for example. I found that even the shadow of sunlight through the leaves of a tree moving in the breeze will cause a motion alarm, so it's important to only select the areas that you need.

With recording 24/7 on all channels, at 15 FPS and 1280 bit rate, I can store a little over a week of footage on the hard drive. I elected for better quality over being able to store more hours of recordings. For my needs, this will be fine, as I'll likely know of any events that occur that I need to download, which you can do through the on-line software or from the DVR itself. The manual mentions being able to connect an external hard drive, but I have been unsuccessful at getting one to work. I've heard that you can upgrade the internal drive to 1.5TB, but apparently doing so will void the warranty, so I guess the 500GB drive will have to do.

With these settings, my recorded video quality is very good. When you download a video file, the quality is also excellent. What I have found lacking is that when you take a still image snapshot from a video, the image quality is not as good, as it saves the image as 704x480 pixels. When you try to zoom in on a still image it gets distorted, whereas zooming a video is not as bad. What I have found to work better is to play the video and resize the window to the desired size, then take a screen shot from there and save it. This works much better and retains better resolution.

All and all, this is a solid system at a great price. The 600 TVL cameras are very nice, with great night vision and the DVR is feature-rich, very small, and very quiet (I have it in my master bedroom in my media cabinet and can't hear it running at all.)

Below are my final thoughts:

Pros:

* Good quality outdoor cameras with great night vision and 600 TVL
* Feature-rich DVR with network capabilities
* Ability to view and set all functions from any computer
* Ability to view cameras live on smartphone
* Compact size and quiet operation
* Good build quality (except camera mounting screws, noted below)
* Easy connection of cameras, with power and video in one cable
* Long cable length provided (65 feet) allows for flexibility of installation locations.
* Everything needed is included in the package
* Excellent price point

Cons:

* Camera mounting screws are not weather-resistant and will rust immediately
* Cameras cannot be ceiling (or under-eve) mounted
* Position of timestamp cannot be selected - only displays at top of screen, or off
* E-mail alerts for motion evens do not adhere to motion recording schedule

Note: I have written to Defender regarding all of the above and they advised that they had forwarded these concerns to their R&D people. Not sure if any of these issues will be addressed, but we can hope.

I give the system a solid 4 stars, easily with a 5 star potential with these few minor issues resolved.

I would highly recommend this system to anyone looking for a quality, feature-rich surveillance system at an affordable price.
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361 of 378 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One solid outdoor video surveillance system, July 10, 2012
This review is from: Defender Sentinel 8CH 500GB Smart Security DVR Including 8 Ultra Hi-Res Indoor/Outdoor Cameras with 100ft Night Vision,21031 (Electronics)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A few years ago I installed a PC-based security system similar to this from Q-See in our old house. It was quite a bit more complicated than this all-in-one setup as it involved setting up PC-based Hardware, buggy software, and 13 different types of indoor and outdoor cameras.

At the moment, I haven't permanently installed the camera's yet, as they are temporarily placed inside and outside of the house in various locations as I evaluate the system and determine the best placement. So let's walk through the system so you hopefully have a better idea of what you're getting into, and how it performs.

UNBOXING:

There are 3 separate boxes, in a bigger box. One has the DVR itself and associated material. And the other 2 larger boxes include all of the camera hardware and wires. The wires for the cameras are 65' and combine both the BNC (for video) and DC power connector into one cable. This should make running wires much easier.

The end of the cable that goes to your DVR will connect the BNC cable to the DVR, and then the DC power cable connects to a 4-way DC->AC adapter. This is much prefered to the older designs where each camera had it's own bulky transformer to plug into.

There is mounting hardware for the cameras, which is rather basic. You'll want to check this out and make sure it's suitable for what and where you are going to mount these cameras into. You definitely don't want them falling down. I'll get more into Installation later.

They've also included an RJ45 network cable, RCA cable, Quick Start Guide, and a small USB mouse. The USB mouse is small and cheap, but you can use any USB mouse you have laying around. If you want more instructions, you can use the included mini-CD which has a full PDF users guide. Or just download them directly from Defender's website. I do recommend the latter as I already noticed a few changes between the two. The on-line materials are more up-to-date.

INSTALLATION:

While I do have an extensive background in computers, drilling holes and running wires is not my strong suite. I neither have the expertise, equipment, or time to correctly install these cameras in the new house. At least not to my satisfaction. We just built a house that's 1 year old and has no attic, just limited crawl space. The last house had a huge attic making installation relatively simple. So I'm going to leave this to professional's once I'm ready for installation.

If you want to do this yourself, it's important that you're comfortable drilling holes and running cables in your house. The Quick Start guide handily includes a drilling template for the mounting brackets. They also instruct you to use a 3/16" drill bit, not included of course. The only tool included is an allen wrench to adjust the position of the camera on the included mounting bracket.

Running the wires and mounting the cameras is generally considered the "hard part." You'll want to make sure the compact DVR is in a location where it has network connectivity (for remote viewing) and of course, power. Sorry, no WiFi here.

If you want to have this professionally installed, this can get rather pricey. From shopping around my area, you're looking at anywhere from $100-$200 per camera depending on how much labor is involved and how many you have. This is assuming you want it done "right," and not just have a wires and holes all over the place. The good news is that the more you have, the less they normally charge per camera.

CAMERAS:

Before talking about the DVR's, we should spend some time on the camera's themselves. I've used equipment ranging from cheap (and useless) $40 cameras to some very nice setups getting past $300+ a piece. As is often the case, you certainly do get what you pay for.

These are surprisingly fairly decent outdoor day/night cameras. I'd expect to pay around $100 a piece with cables for the quality I'm seeing here, so it's a pretty good value with the DVR. There are 36 IR (Infrared) LED's that will glow red at night, which provide the night vision. These are going to be quite visible from the street and should provide a nice deterrent on their own. Not to mention they just look cool. :)

They are advertised at 100ft night vision, but realistically, you're looking at roughly half that. Mostly because any further than this, and you really aren't going to have any idea what you're looking at. However, if there is some ambient light such as a street light, your range will naturally extend quite a bit. But in 0 lux (complete darkness), it is more limited. Of course for home surveillance, that is really more than enough.

I did most of the testing in my backyard as it gets completely dark out there at night. I watched as it went from light to dark, then again in the morning, when it got bright again. And the transition from night vision (B&W) to day mode (Color) was seamless. And then tested to see if we could identify somebody (such as myself) approaching from a distance at night.

For realistic identification, the subject will really need to be within about 20-40 ft in complete darkness, depending on conditions. In the daytime, this is much further of course. This is further limited by recording quality. More on that in the DVR section.

One last important note for the camera is how it switches from Day/Night mode as the camera itself makes a surprisingly loud clicking noise when it makes this change. Not a big deal if they are outside. But inside, we can hear it clicking a few rooms away. Not to mention being inside, where it's darker, it switches between day/night mode much more frequently. Think partly cloudy skies where it becomes light and darker throughout the day.

DVR:

The DVR is what makes this package much easier to manage and setup as it handles everything for you. I have all of the cameras plugged into the box, a keyboard, mouse, a monitor via its VGA port, and a network cable. The USB mouse/keyboard are optional, but are recommended for initial setup. You can switch to the IR remote afterwards.

If you're comfortable playing with the setup menu's for your TV or other similar electronics, you should be able to figure most of this out on your own. The interface is primitive to say the least, but very functional. Otherwise, I do suggest browsing the user's guide before even plugging it in as there are quite a few options you may not be familiar with.

It would take a while to go through every option, so if you don't have one yet, you can check out the owners manual. The important features are adjusting the display, setting up record schedules, motion detection, file sizes, search for recorded video, user accounts, and network (LAN only) setup.

The "live view" of all the cameras is what I'd expect from this setup. You can switch cameras, change grids, pause the video, rewind, etc. The image looks pretty darn good and are certainly right about "DVD Quality." However, what you see on the monitor isn't exactly what you get when you playback video, which is slightly lower quality. But still very useful for seeing what went on when you were out.

The claim is that you can get 2 years worth of footage on a 500GB HD. Even if you're adding up each camera's footage together and lower the quality and FPS (Frames Per Second), that's a bit of stretch (and not all that relevant.) I suspect if you got it to last that long, the quality would be pretty bad. Normally you're looking at 2 weeks, not 2 years. At the default rate of 30fps and 768 Bit Rate, which is the highest, the drive is already half-full. By default it will auto-overwrite old content.

That's certainly not a negative, I just want everybody have realistic expectations as I thought the description was a bit misleading as they were referring to "total footage." Although you can connect an external USB hard drive to extend recording and even copy videos from the internal drive. You can even setup recording schedules or "motion activated" recording to stretch things out quite a bit. That's very handy, of course.

REMOTE VIEWING:

You will need to go through network setup and create at least one user account with a password. This is important to note. Out of the box, if you just setup your network only, you can remotely view the cameras from your browser. For PC users, you are limited to Internet Explorer only. I used IE9 as IE8 never would install the plug-in. FireFox and Chrome are detected as incompatible browsers and won't work. And you will have to make a temporary change to your IE security settings to allow the plugin to install.

I also suggest setting up a "Static IP" with the DVR versus "Dynamic IP," which is the default setting. As the names implies, a static IP will ensure the IP address doesn't change occasionally when you have to reboot the device or router. Just check your router documentation to see what IP would work for you.

To access the web portal, I entered the static IP I configured earlier, into IE9, [...] installed the plug-in, and then login with the default login/pass, (admin/admin). You should change this later. In addition to accessing the cameras in near-real time, you can access most settings here as you would on the DVR directly. If you want to do this outside of your home network, you'll need to make a few changes to your router to open some ports.

However, the DVR does support UPNP (Universal Plug-n-Play). If your router also supports this, and it's enabled, it will open the ports for you. My network setup is a bit more complicated and doesn't support this as it's often considered a security risk. I won't go into too much detail otherwise I'll never get this review finished. So, Google it. :)

Otherwise they do have some fairly decent instructions to walk you through most of this stuff. Since the way you do this does vary between routers, they'll refer you to the documentation that came with your router. Also once you open the ports, you'll definitely want to make sure passwords have been changed and set.

You can even use your SmartPhone to remotely connect to the DVR and check out the cameras. You will need to go into the Users accounts screen and either create a new account or enable the password for one of the existing accounts. This is important as the default credentials wouldn't work for the app, only web. Although once you have user accounts setup with passwords, you can specify who has permissions to access various features, and they will work for both web and phone access.

REAL-WORLD USE:

So how does it really work? For the most part, it works very well. At least once you have everything installed, configured, and setup. :) This is certainly much easier to setup than it was years ago with the older PC-based setup I used quite some time ago. My wife and I really do enjoy being able to glance at a second computer with the cameras running. Is somebody at the door? Noise in the backyard in the middle of the night? Want to check on the house while you're out? Not a problem.

The remote viewing quality isn't as good as it is on the DVR itself, especially on the phone app, but still good enough for it's intended purpose.

All of this combined with a monitored security system and few guns laying around, and you've got a one secure and protected house! Of course nothing is 100% secure, and you should always use some common sense; but having 8 red glowing cameras around the house serves as one heck of a deterrent. :)

I did run into an issue where the DVR decided to ignore any type of input from the mouse or remote control. There aren't any buttons on the device itself, so a power cable pull was needed for it to reboot and start responding again. At least the timer was still going and it was still recording.

So that's not a big deal for now. Otherwise it's been running smooth and quiet, providing what is essentially real-time monitoring and recording of the premises.

Let's wrap this one up.

PRO'S:
+ Great value with DVR & Cameras
+ Good quality day/night cameras
+ 500GB DVR
+ Remote browser and phone viewing
+ Relatively "easy" setup process
+ Generous cable length and basic HW included
+ Fast DVR for near real-time viewing
+ Universal Plug-n-Play Supported
+ USB Storage Capability

CON'S:
- Limited browser compatibility
- Recorded video quality could be a bit better
- Noisy Day/Night "Clicking" from Cameras
- No WiFi
- Cheap mouse?

CONCLUSION:

So this review ended up being a bit longer than expected, but there is a lot going on here with a video surveillance system. And there's a lot of smaller details that would take a User's Guide to cover. So I'll leave that to the one Defender already wrote, which is better than most I've skimmed in the past. :)

Overall, it's not perfect, but if you're looking for a good mid-range outdoor day/night DVR system for your home or small business, I consider this highly recommended and give it a solid 4.5 stars.
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660 of 745 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very INSECURE! Great product, but ANYONE can log into your DVR and watch you..., January 5, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Defender Sentinel 8CH 500GB Smart Security DVR Including 8 Ultra Hi-Res Indoor/Outdoor Cameras with 100ft Night Vision,21031 (Electronics)
The system and cameras work very well (except the screws for the camera mounts rust almost instantly upon contact with water, as noted in other reviews.)

I'm an I.T. professional, and I'd like to expose a HUGE security flaw with this system. This defender system (along with other models this company makes: Q-See, NightOwl, SVAT, etc.) has two major problems:

1) It has an open telnet port with a root username. For my own security, I'm not going to list the password here, but it took me less than 4 days to crack it brute force. This is inexcusable. I even wrote the company asking them to close this port for me, and they refused, and treated me with disrespect. (Read the response I received below.)

2) Anyone can login to the web portal using ANY username you choose with the pwd 519070. Isn't scary to know that you could essentially find the login page for anyone's DVR, enter foobar for the username, and 519070 as the password and, viola! You're in! Be forewarned, I had to write software to restrict access to this DVR login page (rerouting DNS entry lookups, a custom ACL list, and restricted MAC address access on my router.)

I was also interested in writing a custom piece of software to use on my android phone (just like the software aSee), so I wrote the company the following letter requesting information - their response not only didn't help, it pissed me off. Here's the complete email trail.

**MY EMAIL TO SVAT/DEFENDER**
=============================
Good afternoon,

I'm hoping to be able to get some information from you about the Defender DVR system Model 21031 I purchased.

I noticed that aSee is a supported application that allows streaming from this DVR on port 18004. But how does this work? I am currently trying to develop software to stream but don't know how to go about doing so. I can't find any information for developers anywhere.

Does this DVR support rtsp? Is there a URL query to access live streaming per channel?

Also, I noticed that my DVR system comes with an open telnet port. I'd like to close this for security reasons. Can I do this? (Can you provide telnet username/password?) ...or could I have you log in and close it for me?

Thanks in advance for your help!

==============================
**THEIR RESPONSE TO ME**
=============================
Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry, I am sorry for the delay in response but here are the answers i received from R & D. I hope this helps. If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best Regards
CWD Customer Support

How does a mobile app work?
The DVR acts as a server streaming data over the port to the network and then to the app, IE or PC client. We would be unable to help explain the complexities of creating an app such as this.

Does the DVR support RTSP?
No, the DVRs do not support RTSP.

Is there a URL query to access live streaming per channel?

No, there is no URL to access individual channels. This has been tested and does not support this functionality.

Noticed DVR system comes with an open telnet port, He would like to close for security reasons, can this be done?
At this time we cannot comment on how to close the telnet port.

Can you provide telnet username/password? Or could I have you log in and close it for me?
Unfortunately we are unable to do so due to security concerns.

==============================
**MY REPLY TO THEIR UNHELPFUL EMAIL**
=============================
Please relay this to your R&D department, specifically: the person responsible for the answers to my questions.

What a waste of an email, my time and your time. I have been a software engineer for 15+ years, and if a helpful explanation is "too complex" for you to explain to me, then you're obviously not cut out for your position. Additionally, it looks like most of the code for the Defender GUI and console was written by a team in China in Chinese, then translated to English - so perhaps that's why you have no idea how to give a helpful, detailed reply.

Concerning the open telnet port: It took me 6 hours to find the root user password using a quad-core i7 intel processor and extra help from my graphics card processor. I've since closed the telnet port for security, and you and your team are lucky that I'm not the kind of person to post this online. Furthermore, I'm half way done reverse engineering (decompiling) your clunky activeX controller and will be writing my own. Don't be surprised in the next 3 months to find a paid application for iPhone, Android that works much better and is much cheaper than aSee. (You must not have helped the developer for aSee software develop their mobile application because, after all, the explanation is just far too complex to explain.)

I am deeply disappointed in your response, lack of help, and quite honestly, I'm offended by your laziness/willingness to help a loyal customer. Please know this: YOUR response alone has just lost you and your company some big money. My business will no longer be looking to DEFENDER/SVAT (and all associated products) for our large business operations.

So: Learn from this experience and know that you have a gaping security flaw with the open telnet port on your linux box (DVR). Isn't it sad that I've provided you with more useful, thoughtful advice than you were willing to provide me?

So - BEWARE! This company will not help you, but will insult you if you ask for any help beyond turning the system on. I have since uninstalled this terrible product and bought a much more secure system.

I hope this helps someone else truly worried about the security of their system.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Bang for your Buck for Complete DIY System, January 19, 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Defender Sentinel 8CH 500GB Smart Security DVR Including 8 Ultra Hi-Res Indoor/Outdoor Cameras with 100ft Night Vision,21031 (Electronics)
I purchased this system to monitor the exterior of my home after several incidents where property and mail were stolen. I work in the field of law enforcement and regularly deal with businesses that have security cameras installed. Unfortuntately the cameras that I usually encounter are sub-par and the footage captured is often of little benefit. I knew this would be the biggest hurdle in finding a system within my budget (under $500). I originally looked at other systems which sell here on amazon for $200-300. The biggest complaint from those who purchased these systems consistently seemed to be the lack of night vision. After doing my homework I decided to go with the Defender system with the Ultra-Hi Resolution camera's (model 21031).

When the package arrived I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the packaging and the components. It was nice to see the camera housing are solid and metal. The material is very similiar to those found in high quality landscape lighting. It seems like it will hold up very well over time. Defender calls the cameras weather resistant, not weather proof, so I tried to mount mine in spots where they would be sheltered from severe weather. Only time will tell how they hold up. As other's have mentioned the mounting screws they provide are a joke. Don't bother using them. Spend an extra $5 and buy a box of quality exterior screws.

Each camera comes with 65 feet of wiring. The wiring did seem a little "thin" but overall performed well. I did notice interference occurred when running the wire behind metal flashing, so I'm not sure how well insultated the actual cord is. My advise would be to stay away from any existing electical or metal flashing / siding when doing your install. The USB mouse and remote are not the greatest quality, but seem to work fine.

Installation was fairly painless. You will need to spend a few hours running wires and finding the ideal mounting locations for your cameras, but that's about it. A few things to note: the cameras can only be mounted on a side wall (not cealing mountable), the mounting bracket has three possible routes for the cable to run (out the top/botton/middle of bracket). I had assumed that when connecting the camera to the cable that the connection point itself would be hidden in the hollow space of the camera bracket. This is not the case. There is very little room inside the bracket, which leaves you with a bulky connection point about 6 inches from the camera. Not a problem if you can hide the connection in a wall, but for most DIY installations this is going to be a little cosmetically frustrating.

The live video quality from the cameras is excellent. Colors and details are great. After a recent snow storm I was able to clearly see individual boot prints in my yard from about 30-40 feet away. Night vision was much better than I had expected. Not sure you'll get the full 100' range as advertised, but I'd say the IR illuminates 50' away with ease, very impressive for a system in this price range. Do not be fooled by Defender's advertising. You will not be able to read license plates unless your cameras are VERY close and at the perfect angle. Still, the video quality and playback on these cameras is excellent compared to what I usually see in businesses with systems costing thousdands of dollars more.

The cheapest looking component in the whole kit is the DVR. It is small (about the size of an average college text book) and the connections on the back are a bit cramped. Making the BNC connections can be a bit tought for someone with larger hands/fingers. The metal enclosure for the DVR components is paper thin and seems prone to denting and creasing. You definately don't want to put anything of weight on top of it.

I connected the DVR to my 50" plasma television using an extra VGA cable I had (kit includes RCA video cable, but no VGA cable). Video quality was better than I expected upon powering up the DVR. As others have mentioned the DVR software is sufficient. Navigating the menus with the mouse or remote can be a little frustrating at first, but after spending a few minutes exploring I had pretty good idea of where everything was. I was able to get my DVR connected to my LAN very quickly (connected to router, assigned static IP, and opened ports) and found that doing the majority of the setup by accessing my DVR through my PC was the easiest way to complete setup. Setting up remote viewing was equally as easy and I was ableto view my camera using my iPhone with no difficulty.

Fine tuning the DVR settings took about another 1-2 hours. One thing to note: You will not be able to record the highest quality resolution at 30 fps for all your cameras. You will need to either reduce video quality, frame rate, or both in order fall within the DVR's abilities. For me 2 cameras recording at D1 resolution (highest quality) at 12 FPS and the remaining cameras recoding at CIF resolution (lowest quality) at 15 FPS maxed out my DVR. This was a little dissapointing. The other thing to note is there it no way you will get the advertised 2+ years of recording. With all cameras recording full time I get just over 8 days. I have set 6 of my 8 cameras to record only when motion is detected. I'm estimating that I'll be able to get about a month out of the 500GB DVR now.

Setting up motion recording was a bit clunky as it needs to be enabled via the recoding schedule tab and then additionally via the "Alarm" tab. Once I figured out how to activate this feature the "Alarm" tab options are actually pretty neet. You can set specific areas that you want motion to be monitored, the sensitivity, and the DVR's responses which included: recording the event or emailing an image to you.

I have not tried downloading events directly from the DVR, but found downloading using a PC through a LAN connection simple after properly configuring your browser. You can even save the files in .avi format instead of the the DVR's default proprietary format. This is invaluable when providing video to the police for review.

I consider myself very tech savy so installation and setup was not too bad; however, I could see how this would be difficult for some. To take full advantage of this system you will minimally need to know how to assign a static IP address, open ports on your router, and configure your web browsers security settings. As another reviewer mentioned there is a security loophole which will allow anyone who knows your internet IP address to access your DVR utilizing a certain password. I'm assuming this is in place for people who forget their password and get locked out of their system, but it is a bit concerning knowing that it exists.

Overall I am very satisfied with this purchase. I think it is definately the best "bang for your buck" for mid-range DIY DVR systems. I'll update the review in a few months to see how everything is holding up over time. So far we've had two rain/snow storms and everything is still going strong.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice cameras, weak DVR! (setup advice below), November 30, 2012
By 
Nicholas Smith (Indianapolis, IN USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Defender Sentinel 8CH 500GB Smart Security DVR Including 8 Ultra Hi-Res Indoor/Outdoor Cameras with 100ft Night Vision,21031 (Electronics)
I needed to replace a single camera/VCR based system and did a LOT of comparison shopping before deciding on the 21031 Defender. It sounded like it had amazing capabilities and was a phenomenal value. After installing and using it, I can say that I am a little disappointed, but still think it has great potential once all of the petty issues are resolved. I just wish I knew the info below before I installed the system so I could have set it up differently!

PROS:
The price was great (manufacturer's website sale), the packaging was compact and protective, the installation wasn't very difficult (except for fitting my stout frame through the attic above my vaulted ceilings), the wires were more than long enough to reach all corners of my 1900 sq ft ranch home with 10'+ to spare (located DVR on a high shelf in centralized laundry room), basic system setup was fairly intuitive except for a couple of things listed below (I haven't networked it yet). My cameras actually seem to get a better picture at night than during the day. I can clearly see my trailers parked over 85' away in total darkness. Bear in mind, I couldn't tell you if a small child or raccoon was sitting on top of the trailer, but I can tell the trailers haven't been moved! Playback was not as disappointing as expected (see below) and mobile viewing was simple. See instructions below for simplified networking setup and DDNS (for those with dynamic IPs). The Defender manual has outdated instructions and will not work!

CONS:
Attachment hardware is cheap junk (used my own stainless screws, not a big deal), two of the vertical adjustment screws on the cameras arrived stripped out and could not be tightened (the aluminum casting it threads into was so soft and thin that I could not re-thread it larger, I used a fan balancing clip to space one sun shade off of the soffit and it works perfectly fine, the other required a piece of 12ga copper wire for a brace and a few wraps of electrical tape and it works fine as well, just an annoyance), one setup oddity - the motion sensing area selection is the opposite of what you would expect - the red shaded areas are not blocked, they are the areas monitored - it took me a few days to figure out why my motion detection wouldn't turn off, I had it set up backwards), and now for the BIG KAHUNA - BEWARE even though this system has great cameras it CANNOT RECORD anywhere CLOSE to the definition it is capable of displaying! The DVR's total Frame rate of record is limited to 428 (ish) and a single HD1 feed is 178! The best D1 (dvd quality) feed cannot even be recorded on a single channel at full quality! In order to setup to record 7 of the 8 channels on my system, I had to turn down all of the frame rates to the 9-13 range and dial back the resolution on the cameras I thought would have lower potential of recording any crime. This REALLY made me mad, but I had already gone to the effort of installation and put holes in my soffits and ceilings and didn't want to tear it all back out! Networking was a bit tedious (see below).

Update, 12-30-12: Two of the cameras work fine during the day, but stopped showing a picture at night (even though the IR-LEDs are working and you can hear the mechanical filter/focus function inside of the camera when you shine a light in it at night). Defender's online tech support suspected bad cables and had me uninstall and swap a good cam w/ a bad cam and reboot the system and magically they all started working. Weird, right?

NETWORKING, PLAYBACK, & MOBILE VIEWING:
Setting the DVR up for remote viewing is not really difficult but the instructions in the manual are not entirely correct. Start following the supplied directions, but use method 1 AND method 2 (pg 51-52) to prep your computer for viewing. IGNORE the instructions for port forwarding (pg 54-56) and instead, do this: go to the defender-usa website, click on the support link and then on the networking tab. Using the 1step program, open the instructions and download the program, but SAVE it and open it manually because it is a zipped file and will not just run. Follow the directions supplied, but when it auto detects the ports to forward do NOT use the auto-filled numbers, they are likely wrong. Use the numbers you wrote down from the step on pg 51 (my ports were 09000, 00080, and 18004). Fill in the correct port numbers and continue following their directions. When you finish with port forwarding, have verified your sucess via the website, and found your external IP, go back and add the external IP to the trusted sites using method 2 (pg52). Everything else worked as they said it would. It takes maybe 30 minutes to set up. As for playback, the computer-based playback is MUCH easier to search and use than the dvr&mouse based version. Playback video quality was satisfactory (not nearly as poor as I had expected when I discovered the underwhelming recording capabilities of the DVR described above). It was incredibly simple to set up for mobile viewing (make sure you did the port forwarding for 18004 previously), download the app (Asee), insert your information, and it works fine (live view only, no playback functionality). I used WindowsPhone (which they said was not supported) and it works just fine!

Update, 1-21-13: Support is only available during standard business hours EST so it can be difficult to get help, but when contacted they were somewhat informative and somewhat helpful (at least are easy to reach and they TRY to help...) They were able to fix my camera problem from above, they just can't tell me what caused it. Also, my remote viewing stopped working a couple of days after I set it up. It wound up my IP address was wrong. Well, not really wrong, just different. I learned that my ISP uses dynamic IP addressing (they randomly change it) and that I could either pay extra to get a static IP or setup DDNS. I setup an account with Defender's 1-Step networking software's recommendation (no-ip.org) but Defender could not help me get the DVR setup because the firmware would ONLY allow DynDNS as the server and they have ceased offering service. My case was forwarded to the R&D department and I heard nothing by 1-29-13 when I got mad and started digging around the web for a solution(see below).

HOW TO SETUP YOUR DDNS
Update, 1-29-13: After some Google research I figured out this procedure to setup your DDNS host with dyndns.org (which 'doesn't do' free service anymore). Don't ask why it works because I don't know! Go to dlinkddns(com) and sign up for an account, go ahead and create a host (it won't matter what it is). After you have your account activated, go to dyndns(org) and sign in using your dlink account. Set up a new host with a dyndns name (I used mynewhostname.dyndns.org). On the DVR, go to the network menu, ddns tab, enable ddns, select dyndns as your server, enter your new dyndns hostname, enter your dlink username and password, click test to verify, click apply, and exit. You should now be hooked up to the 'nonexistent' free dyndns service! BTW - I don't hate this system yet, I still think it has lots of potential, it's just not very user friendly!

Extra note about networking for remote view - if you lose power or have to reboot your router, you must then reboot your DVR (with the network connection on and plugged in) or it will not recognize the network connection. This means your dynamic IP has changed and you must re-run the 1Step networking program to reset your port forwarding. You also must do this each time your dynamic IP changes (even if you did not power-cycle your router). I'm buying a UPS to prevent this problem.

After two weeks R&D finally got back to me (2-5-13) and said that the DVR could not update the dynamic IP address with no-ip.org's server and I would have to download, install, and leave the software from no-ip.org running (nonstop) on a computer attached to the DVR's router to update it. (REALLY? I figured that out the first time I tried to set it up, but since I installed the system to stand alone, I have no access/space to leave a running computer attached to the DVR's router!) Useless toolbags... now I'm beginning to hate Defender. Although, the system does seem to have stabilized; no ip change and full functionality has been maintained for one month straight... we'll see how long it lasts!
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85 of 99 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Make sure you get the right DVR, July 16, 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A 21030 DVR system should come with a 210013 DVR. I recieved a sn301, a discontinued DVR, with the correct cameras. Sent back. Recieved the same error again. Ordered directly from Defender's website. Just FYI to all new DYI home surveillance hobbyists. All DIY linux box survellience systems suck for quality, it is a choice of which sucks the least for the least amount of money. I found the correct 21030 package to fit in the upper-middle of quality and price.

PS. Dear Defender people, per your request I have updated my review. Kind of creepy that you got my number x_X
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The manufacturer commented on the review belowSee comments
58 of 69 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars customer service is a joke system is total garbage, September 11, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
i'll start of saying i'm an electrician with vast knowledge of almost all electonics. this isn't my first surveilance system but will b emy last from these guys! day one of install i put everything in. the next day i got up one of the cameras didn't work. i installed another or the cables and bingo it worked. faulty cable in one day? sounds fishy. that night i got the longer cable to put the last camera on end of my house. installed and all 4 cameras were working. i was very happy until i woke up the next day. that morning my two front cameras stopped working and i haven't been able to get them to work still. i did an online chat with tech support from the company and they basically said they aren't responisble for water damage and i stated they were up for one day. then they wouldn't respond to any of my questions horrible customer service horrible product and a one day dead product it expect a little bit of help from them. buyer beware!
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stem
The manufacturer commented on this review(What's this?)
Posted on Jan 29, 2013 2:10:48 PM PST
Hello Joey,
Thank you for taking the time to review our product. We are very sorry that you experienced this issue. Our Customer Support department attempted to contact you in September but did not receive a response. We would appreciate an opportunity to resolve this issue and reverse your experience. Please check for a communication from our Customer Support department and respond so they can provide ownership for your experience.
Best Regards,
Customer Support, CWD
 
 

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the money, September 7, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I purchased this product to monitor my home remotely and hoped that it would also send an alarm to me if there was activity. I read, prior to purchasing, all the reviews and saw none of the systems for sale were without some poor reviews. I hoped this one would be the least “rotten of the apples” . After using it I would notbuy it again nor would I recommend it. I’d say “look elsewhere” but I don’t know where else to look. My reasons (long) follow.
Installation: Relatively easy though the instructions are not entirely clear in spots. I could not get the free Iphone app Asee to work but Asee+ did. To get your router to work with the system is not simple and I think many would find it troublesome. Remote viewing and control from my laptop was fine. .Also, as another reviewer mentioned, the cameras can’t be ceiling mounted.
Alarms: The motion detection feature is the worst feature. In fact, the algorithms for it are so poor that it is useless. Other reviewers have mentioned it and I will expand some on it. I have four cameras set up and I get about 20 false alarms per day. Sunrise, sunset, clouds, shadows, lightning, blinds moving with heat/AC, spiders, moths, squirrels, birds, leaves/branches moving in the wind, etc will trip the sensors. Essentially ANYTHING that changes even on the lowest setting. I have tried moving the cameras, limiting the detection field, and adjusting shades without success. IMO it is not usable as an alarm.
Software DVD features: The software works but poorly. Playback for the alarms is confusing and cumbersome. You can get emails for the alarms and if you use the email to text feature offered by the major cell companies, a text on your phone (less the picture). The field for the email is limited to 32 characters which would have been easy to expand so as to allow for multiple emails. As noted about the cameras cannot be ceiling mounted though if one found a way mechanically, the software won’t allow image rotation. You’re always viewing the image upside down or sideways. Also and easy software enhancement which hasn’t been done and leads to the conclusion that this product is not being maintained or enhanced.
I could only get an email to gmail to work, my normal ISP would not, which I suspect is because my ISP uses Secure Password Protection and the software does not support it.
Customer service: One camera arrived with a minor defect. It took two weeks to get a RMA and UPS shipping label via multiple emails. I could not reach a person by phone. Based on my experience and several other reviewers consider this purchase as “all sales are final” and “as is”.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Buyer Beware! System has issues as well as a lack of support, November 16, 2012
By 
RandyG "RandyG" (Saint Cloud, Florida USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Defender Sentinel 8CH 500GB Smart Security DVR Including 8 Ultra Hi-Res Indoor/Outdoor Cameras with 100ft Night Vision,21031 (Electronics)
My experience:

The Bad:

First I had 1 horizontal line scrolling slowly up in all cameras (as I look at it on monitor) I called support on Sunday 11/11/12 and first the tech never heard of the modal which did not make me feel good. the tech support guy said it didn't matter as it was a DVR issue but could not do anything since he was in a satellite office but would send it to the main office and I will be contacted within 2 business days where they will replace the DVR; It's now 11/16/12 and I still have not heard anything.
Second: I tried calling support on 11/14/12 only to receive a recording that all support people are busy and to email them and they will respond within 48 hours(this was when i pressed the support options on the phone) then when i pressed option for o for operator i received a recording that all support was busy and they will answer my call as soon as possible; well an hour and 15 min's later i kept holding till i finally hung up. Also on that recording where I was on hold so long the recording said I could E-mail them and I would receive a response within 24 hours.
Third: I did Email the company on 11/12/12 and I still have received no Email Response.
Fourth: Now I have 2 horizontal lines scrolling up all cameras viewing through monitor.
Fifth: This system is suppose to have zoom function on cameras, they do not work.
Sixth: DVR does not react at all with Remote.

The Good:
First these cameras are 600TVL and at this price is the Best Bang For the $$ if you can live with basically no support.

Notes:
First: If you do decide to buy this or SVAT or another system that this same company makes, pay with a regular credit Card and not a store card; that way you can dispute the charges on your card for lack of support or system errors.
Second: This company has like 4 different home security DVR camera systems names (where they are sold under other brand names) call there support number and you will here them state the different brand systems (on the recording)
Third: I'm giving the system only due to the cameras. with that in mind, this is my first system so no other cameras to compare to. the company deserves a rating of 0 for lack of support(read Fourth) so the over all rating I will give is a 2 as cameras zoom does not function.
Fourth: Google defender and research their cameras, by that I mean read reviews 21025 is the same system as this the company has been prone to support issues for months and seems to be unable or unwilling to correct it as evident by reviews on sams club web site where sams club must have contacted the company regarding there customers reviews regarding lack of support.

Summary:

Buyer Beware!

12/26/12
an update on this product.
the so called support suggested that I have some type of power issue as they never herd of this, I purchased APC line regulator/conditioner then a new APC surge protector. this resulted only in added cost and made no difference. The scrolling has gotten worse and is at point where product is almost unusable.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars After 3 Months of Use..., May 25, 2013
This review is from: Defender Sentinel 8CH 500GB Smart Security DVR Including 8 Ultra Hi-Res Indoor/Outdoor Cameras with 100ft Night Vision,21031 (Electronics)
I purchased the system direct from Defender-USA because back then they were running a deep discount. It appears that discount is now available through Amazon. If so that is definitely the way to go.

Rather than repeat everything others have said let me emphasize important points that definitely need to be considered.

CAMERAS AND PLACEMENT METHODOLOGY
I bought the 8 camera and DVR system. The cameras are set up:
1) Outside the front door looking almost straight down to cover people at the front door. This camera is set to text me a photo when someone comes to the front door. This works excellent. I've had to trim bushes to keep shadows off of the field of view. Remember that texting a picture is a different address on many people's phones like my Verizon account.
2) Inside the house looking at the front door so you can see someone's face as you open the door or if they were to come in uninvited. It's tough viewing during the day because it is so bright outside compared to the image at the front door. Any camera would have an issue with that. At night it is a lot better and works well. This camera is set to turn on and record if camera#1 detects motion. Since I have glass in my front door I can record a face if someone comes up and peers into my door. I have the field of view restricted so people walking by inside the house don't activate the motion detection. This works well.
3) Mounted outside on a wall to cover the master bedroom patio, specifically it views the screen door area. It's about 8 feet up and has a good field of view. Drove me crazy when a bird tried to build a nest in the camera housing. Although he was unsuccessful his 1000 trips in vain did cause a lot of unnecessary recording. Camera is set to motion detection with a bush taken out of the motion detection area so the rustling of the leaves don't set off the camera. The ability to mask OUT areas for motion detection is a huge plus of this system.
4) Almost identical to #3 but on the main patio. This covers the screen door entrance from this patio. The idea is to cover all the openings where people might try to break in. Be aware that reflections off glass tables will set off the motion so even if there aren't any trees in the field of view if the glass table reflects an image of the trees it will cause detection when they move from wind. So will shadows. I resolved this by masking out the glass tabletop from motion detection. Works well. Again, the ability to mask out areas from motion detection is excellent.
5) Inside the house facing the entrance covered by #4. The idea behind cameras 2, 5, and 6 is that cameras looking down don't get good facial recognition, you need to see a face. So looking from the inside out you will see someone at your door/screen door coming in. I masked out areas around it (inside pathway) so people inside the house don't set off the motion detection. If visitors or friends know they are being recorded inside your house be prepared to be lonely and known as weird - the ability of the system to block out areas in the field of view from ever being recorded is a great help to keep your privacy private. The loud click the camera makes when switching from day to night mode (or vice versa) is VERY obnoxious and noticeable. Other reviewers (actually numerous if you read) mentioned cloudy days and this occurring a lot. IT DOES!! The loud click will irritate your significant other and is a huge drawback to the entire system. Switching modes a couple times a minute is not uncommon. Imagine someone clapping their hands in your house a couple times a minute. It forces me to turn on a light in the kitchen to stop it and keep that light on until lighting conditions change. This camera can click every 10 seconds when the conditions are right, unfortunately that means almost every night!
6) Inside the house facing the back door that comes from the garage. If someone comes in from that door or the hallway from another screen door I can see their face. This camera is plagued with the same noise issue. I cannot over emphasize the noise and pain of the cameras switching. To make matters worse, when they switch modes it also sets off the motion detection!
7) In the garage facing out to cover both garage doors. Works very well. This camera is plagued with the mode switch causing motion detection, even set to the least sensitive setting. During the day the camera will switch modes 15 times, each one setting off the motion detection. As someone else said, even though the camera is technically in a different room, this is in the garage, you can still hear the camera mode switch noise INSIDE the house, it is that noticeable. That is a zero for inside use.
8) Outside wall facing the pool and backyard area. This covers anyone messing around in the yard or pool. Works well. Bugs will set it off at night so you have to balance the sensitivity of detecting someone far away versus bugs close by. The advertised 100 feet at night is a huge stretch. Maybe 40 feet as someone else suggested would be far more honest. The camera's color and tint are all controllable and color correction is good as well as the handling of strong light. I have watched the pool company workers work and the inspector's every step during pool construction while I am gone... That is an awesome help.

COMMENTS ON THE SYSTEM
The software and DVR is great for normal use. Yes, the manual is difficult to understand and yes you have to experiment. There are lots of adjustments that make the system really helpful. Masking out areas from motion detection, masking out areas from ever recording, emailing photos or texting photos are all great. I have inside and outside cameras that look at the same place working together. yes, its another option - if one camera detects motion you can have it automatically start other cameras. My entire system is set to motion detection because why in the world would you record nothing? There is a setting that allows you to record 10 seconds prior to a motion detection event so there is no reason to constantly record. I have only used maybe a third of my hard drive capacity if that after three months. Folks that think they need to run their recordings continuously will get a lot less - and they are spending a lot of energy recording an empty room. Motion detection is the way to go. HOWEVER, the motion detection working a five star excellent is plagued by the cameras mode switching causing motion detection. This is the second biggest drawback and would make me look at other systems very strongly, or at least the cameras. Because the cameras activate their motion detection when switching it makes the search function of the DVR almost useless. All it takes is for one switch to occur and then it shows an "event" for that time period. Even on the least sensitive setting it still activates the motion detection. If I search a day I might find almost very hour filled with events - but almost every single one is a mode switch. Defender, you need to fix this, your cameras are a one star paired with a four and a half star DVR.

NOISE! The noise the cameras make is huge. Please don't excuse this comment but add it to the numerous other folks who mention this problem when cameras are placed inside the house.read the other reviews folks. This is a huge pain and will stop me from purchasing another system that has these cameras. I will also look to eventually replace the inside cameras with another brand. THIS IS THE BIGGEST DRAWBACK OF THE ENTIRE SYSTEM. Had I paid better attention to other folks comments I would probably NOT purchase this system - or at least these cameras. If I could, I would include a video of the noise it makes, you would then understand the gravity of the issue this causes, and probably rule out this system for inside use.

The MAC address of the system is bogus, 11:22:33:44:55 and I believe the reason why my router won't always recognize that the DVR is there. I have not called customer support to talk to them about the networking issues so I will be mute on that subject. Viewing from inside your network works well and is fairly easy to set up. The port forwarding and outside network has yet to work and is problematic. Also read a review or google the open port issue on all DVRs. Almost all of them are made by the same company and all experience the same security issues.

Defender's customer support called me 3 weeks after purchase to see how I liked it. That was great! I am not being paid for or compensated for a review like many here are. I opted to purchase an extended warrantee prior to them sending me a note with an offer to extend it if I wrote a review. That cost me the $60 extended warrantee others get free if they write a review here. I was really busy and away from my house when they called or I would have asked them about the network issues right then as he did offer to transfer me to customer support right then and there... Uncommonly good.

I wish I had purchased the 16 camera system. There are many access points or remote areas that are not covered. Think through the placement process PRIOR TO PURCHASING! You can always not use a camera and DVR capacity you have but don't need. You can't add to something that is maxed out. Big mistake on my part. Since the cameras are so noisy I avoided more pain even though most of the other camera locations i want would be outside.

Two cameras were far enough away that I had to use the extension cords that you can purchase separately. However, in an odd twist, the extensions are just that, you can't use the extension by itself but only with the original cord. No use to use one extension to replace a cord and then use two cords together instead of a second extension.

I have all of my equipment in a walk in closet, my "safe room" where you can lock yourself in, monitor outside, and call and talk to the law enforcement folks from the safety of a secure room. The folks who installed my burglar alarm system didn't understand why I wanted an alarm panel there until I explained that concept to them, now they are firm believers in all security systems feeding into a safe place. I would recommend a battery backup for the IP address issues reviewers have mentioned plus it would allow you to see what's going on even if they cut the lock to my meter and pulled the plug on my electricity. Running the cords is not nearly as harrowing as some people suggest. But think through it VERY carefully since it is a huge time commitment.

Overall I am okay to fairly happy. That's very happy with the DVR and not very happy at all with the cameras. Other notes are that with this system a subject needs to be within 20 feet of the camera for you to recognize them. The night vision is "okay" but it would be tough to have a good enough quality image to present to the police. If the cameras didn't make that mode switch noise and they didn't activate the motion detection when switching modes I would be very very happy and give it 4 1/2 stars. If my call to customer support fixes the network issue then it could be a five star. But NOT with the camera's noise and motion detection/mode switch issue. Please do not underestimate this issue! Don't consider this system for inside the house use without understanding that it is like someone clapping their hands about 15 feet from you, and it can switch a couple of times PER MINUTE, under the right conditions. If I was married and she was home a lot I really believe the system would have to be shut down or the cameras replaced for her to live with the inconvenience of the noise. In that case it would get a 1 star. The problem is, unless you are willing to pay several thousand dollars for a system it seems like no one is really happy with any brand, just read the hundreds of reviews I have.

Ask if you have question. When I get enough time I will tackle the networking issue.
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