Top critical review
197 people found this helpful
Good net cam, mediocre software
on November 15, 2012
This good basic network camera. It is compact and has good daytime and night vision picture quality. It has a microphone and a speaker can be attached for two-way communication. It has a Micro SD-Card slot that allows it to record on its own; you can also record to your hard disk or a Network Attached Storage device. It can connect to your network by ethernet and Wifi. Apple routers do not support WPS (WiFi Protected Setup), so you need to use the manual setup instructions if you use an Airport or Time Capsule. I found it no more difficult to set up on my Apple Airport-based network than any other network camera. Once you have the camera installed, a QR Code on the back of the camera an be used to to configure the client software on your iPhone or iPad.
A detailed user manual, Mac-specific instructions, and Mac client software are all available on the Lorex support site.
Where the LNC 104 fails to measure up is in software:
- Mac OSX. The L-View Mac client software, which is in beta and must be downloaded from Lorex is bare-bones and obviously a work in progress. An update came out recently which at least gives it basic functionality. You can now record to your hard drive, but if your want to play back your clips, you need VLC Player, a free open-source media layer. Ironically, VLC Player includes a feature not found and any version of the Lorex software: the ability to copy and convert clips to more useful formats.
-iOS iPad. The basic functionality of the iPad version is OK. There are a couple or problems areas for me, however. The Lorex iPad software only works in landscape mode. This is a pet peeve of mine; the only time I ever voluntarily use my iPad in landscape mode is when I'm watching a long-form video like a movie or TV show. The Lorex software prevents your iPad from going to sleep; if you walk away from it while it is running (it does not even need to be connected to a camera), it will drain your battery. There are rudimentary playback controls for clips recorded on your iPad, but none for clips played from the camera's SD card. There is no way to export clips into a more useful format.
While I was writing this review, both my iPhone 4S and iPad 3 lost the ability to connect to the cam (at the same time). The desktop client, the web, and my iPad 1 all continued to work. The iPad 3 and iPhone 4S had to be re-started to regain the ability to connect to the cam.
-iOS iPhone. The iPhone app has the same functionality and issues as the iPad version except that it works in landscape or portrait mode and it needs to be connected to the cam before it overrides the system's effort to go into sleep mode and drains your battery. The iPhone version does have the ability to convert recordings made on the phone to .avi format files, but how this is done and how the resulting files can be accessed by other apps is not apparent. The user manual says only: "...you can...also convert the video files to .avi files for sharing."
-Windows. The Windows version is not without its share of irritants. If you want to play back a recording on the SD card, you click a button in the viewing window which opens a dialog box with a list of the daily folders. You open the folder for the appropriate day, scroll to the clip you want to view, then click Playback or double-click on the clip name. The dialog box closes and the clip plays. If you want to see the previous or next clip, you have to repeat the entire process. Depending on the the capacity of your SD-Card, you can have dozens or even hundreds of clips on the card. The Windows version now has the ability to record clips to your hard disk. Like the Mac version, you must download and install VLC Player in order to view any you have recorded.
-Web Interface. As you might expect, the web interface gives you the most information about the cam settings. To display video in the web interface, Internet Explorer is required because an Active-X control is used. This means you cannot view the cam image via the web page at all on a Mac or if you use Firefox or another non-MSIE browser in Windows. However, even with Internet Explorer and the Lorex Active-X control installed and enabled, all I ever got was a black frame with "Locating..." in the middle of it.
I found part of the web interface to be unnecessarily confusing and perhaps a little flaky. To me scheduling basically means creating a list of things to be done at a specific day and time. This task is available under Scheduling, but they have also lumped a bunch of behavior controls under the same heading. To me, it makes more sense to have the set-ups for alarms, notifications, and recording criteria under one heading and setting the days and times to do those things under a separate header. I understand the need for complex scheduling in security cams and I've done it on other systems, but there should also be a "Use the settings I've specified 24 hours a day, 7 days a week" check box to simplify the process when appropriate.
I was able to set up email notification and motion activation. The email notifications include a still frame as a jpeg file. However, it seems like anytime I made a change in the settings, I ended up starting from scratch. Accessing the web interface from Safari on a Mac, I was able to delete but not download clips from the SD card. Firefox on the Mac could see the clips folders, but none of their contents. Using MSIE in Windows, I was able to delete and download the files and view the downloaded files using VLC Player.
I think this is a great network cam if all you need to do is set up a camera and monitor the situation in real time. You can accomplish that in iOS, Windows, and even the Mac beta version. However, I find the process for creating, viewing, organizing, editing, and exporting clips to be cumbersome at best. If you do not know the exact date and time a clip may have been recorded, finding the pertinent clip could be very time-consuming. I also think the process for setting camera features and scheduling could be more intuitive.