Over the last 2 years I have owned and used both Q-See and Defender security systems. I've gotten familiar enough with installing and using them that I've helped a few friends pick out and set up systems of their own, and I've also helped two small businesses (one I do work for and the other we're friends with the owners) buy and install systems of their own. These types of security systems work well enough that they can provide security camera recorded footage for a business, but are simple enough to install that a person can do so without professional help, in their own home.
My husband is in law enforcement and we live right in the heart of the city he polices. We've found that not only have we needed security footage from our cameras in the past, but just having them helps as a deterrent. We don't hide them. We want people to know they are up and if they mess with our house, our car, our UPS packages on our porch, etc, they will be on video.
This Q-See system comes with 16 channels. So you can have anywhere from 1-16 cameras hooked up at any time, and record footage from them. The set I have came with 8 cameras. I've found 8 is more than enough to cover everything I want to be able to see outside my home. We have two cameras mounted to the front of our garage, one on the back. We also have several mounted to our house. I have the DVR set up with a computer screen attached in our basement, where our master bedroom is. One nice thing about that is it also works like a window to the outside. When we hear a bump somewhere at night, all we have to do it look over at the screen and we can tell if it's a deer outside, a tree branch, etc. But keep that in mine, you will need something to hook the DVR up to so you can view the footage from the cameras. It will record without being hooked up to a monitor, but if you want to see what you're cameras are picking up, you will want to connect this to a TV or computer monitor.
There are a lot of similarities between the Q-See surveillance systems and the Defender systems. They both offer cameras that can withstand the elements and have night vision, and of course use a DVR to record everything. One of the main differences I've found between the two brands is their software. Each system has a software program installed on the DVR so you can navigate through the settings and menus. Q-See and Defender have very different styles of software. However they are both easy enough to learn that a home user can navigate them.
The cameras between the two companies vary a little in brightness and clarity. I find the Q-See cameras tend to pick up more color, clarity and distance during the day, and the Defender systems seem to do a little better at night. However the Q-See systems do record footage well in dark situations.
I also find that when comparing the two, the Q-See cameras do better in low-light situations, at times, than the Defender cameras. Defender cameras seem to get their best footage if it's either bright and sunny or pitch black out. Q-See cameras do just as well in low light as they do in bright light. An example of this is when it's a dark grey rainy day, like it was here today. When it's gloomy out, Defender cameras switch over to the night vision and record everything in black and white. However the Q-See cameras seem to be able to make a dark gloomy day look like a brighter day, and it continues to record everything in color. So Q-See has strengths is low-light settings, and Defender has strong nigh-vision cameras.
Whether you're looking for a outstanding home surveillance system, or a security system for your small-medium sized business, this Q-See surveillance system is up to the job. You can not only view everything that is going on, but it also records and you can download the footage to give to law enforcement if need be.
An example of how helpful these systems can be, shortly after I installed my first system two years ago, I had footage from my cameras used in court. It recorded a neighbor across the street striking his next door neighbor's chained up dog. Late one evening, my cameras recorded him going around his neighbors fence and throwing a stick at their dog and hitting it. Then he ran off back to his house. This same man then called the police and claimed that while he was outside, he was attacked by his neighbor's dog. We had the footage that proved otherwise. The dog never touched him and was calm and quiet until the man chucked a large stick at him. He ended up being charged with filing a false report. Without that camera footage, no one but him and the dog would have known the truth.
on January 12, 2015
I absolutely love this product. I used a qsee product about 7 years ago that was a standard DVR w/ 4 cameras and it worked really well. So in my new house I got the 16 camera. I installed them over Christmas 2014 and they have been working perfect since.
I did run into a few problems with one camera not giving me any signal. I called Amazon and they said that if I wanted to return the product I would have to package up the entire product and send it ALLL back. I told them no way and that wasn't feasible long story short I talked to a supervisor and she refunded me the amount that a single camera would cost. Amazon YOU ROCK!!! Awesome customer service. I then went through queen and the eventual sent me a replacement.
Besides these little hiccups very thing is working great and I would definelty recommend this product to anyone looking.
***PLEASE READ MY UPDATES***
ORIGINAL REVIEW May 24, 2014:
Oh what a disappointment! Wasted 6 hours on a beautiful Saturday afternoon installing eight cameras, running the wires under our siding and then fighting with the DVR box to end up powering it down and giving up.
Installing the cameras was really easy, so was running the wires since they are not very thick and were easy to stuff under the aluminum siding. My husband installed the cameras and ran the wires, while I hooked up the DVR to a 19" flat screen monitor, the camera cables and internet. I got it the DVR to easily connect to my network, but once I scanned the QR symbol for the iPhone app and some coupon came up I knew things were going to go bad from there.
I plugged in one camera and things looked great. As soon as I plugged in the second camera the DVR rebooted and the QT-See logo with the message "system initializing" come on over and over again. I went to the Q-See website for support and it stated to try plugging it another wall socket, surge protector, and opening the case and reconnecting the power the the hard drive. Nothing would work. The DVR just kept rebooting repeatedly. We were disgusted. So many hours working on this project to have it not work. At one point I tried the process of elimination and at one point disconnected the Ethernet cable and it finally stayed on for a bit. But after trying to set up the cameras for recording the DVR started rebooting again. Finally I disconnected the hard drive and it still kept rebooting and I knew something was wrong with the motherboard.
Now it just sits on the desk turned off. I sent an email to the company wondering what the issue might be, and hopefully I will will hear back from them. I can tell you that the couple of times that I was able to see the camera screens the pictures were beautifully vivid and clear, too bad it just did not last. I also want to add that the instructions are vague, especially the part for remote monitoring. The included CD would not auto run, I kept getting an error message. Even some of the websites that you are referred to in the instructions are incorrect and are dead links (like the one to register for a mobile "my account).
If this is something that is not fixable, I may consider just purchasing another DVR of another brand that will work with the cameras because it will be a pain the take the cameras and wires down especially since we drilled holes into the siding to mount them.
UPDATED JUNE 4, 2014:
So after numerous emails back and forth with customer support, I finally requested an RMA number to have the DVR replaced. They sent me the unit with a return label for the defective unit to be sent back. When I took out the new DVR I was concerned because I could hear something inside rattling. I decided before wasting my time again hooking it up and not working I would open it up and check it out. Luckily it was only a plastic clip that had broken off during shipment. However I did notice that the cables inside looked totally different than the original DVR I had. They were thicker, bright red and seemed better quality. I connected the power, mouse, Ethernet, monitor and cameras and said a little prayer and crossed my fingers as I turned the power on. By golly it WORKED! I was able to connect to my network, view all my cameras and it stayed on...no constant rebooting.
Now time to go to the Q-See Mobile app and see how the mobile application worked. I opened the app, scanned the QR Code from the menu screen on the system and the configuration of my network automatically uploaded into my iPhone 5S after I logged into my account. I actually found that using my iPhone 5S was easier to label each camera and control the settings than using the menu screen on the DVR and monitor. I was able to view everything on my phone like I was standing in front of my monitor.
In regards to viewing on the internet remotely, I was not able to get it to work with the UNuP option with my Netgear router (which has that option) but got it work with the DMZ setting. I could not open ports "85" and "6036" even though my router showed them open. With the DMZ setting enabled, you input the IP address of the DVR and set the DVR to not configure the IP address automatically but to keep the one showing. I opened the public IP address my computer showed under "canyouseeme.org" and after downloading a plugin file and logging in I could see my camera system live! Just like the iPhone app I am able to configure and control all the settings.
Next I tried setting up my husband's iPhone 4S but that did not run as smoothly and easy. As a matter of fact I am still wondering how to do it. I watched a YouTube video posted by Q-See that suggests using an app called "aplayer". I have not tried it yet.
Now that everything is working fine I guess I can tell you some things about it. During daytime, the camera views/pictures are extremely vivid and clear. You can set your cameras to record at certain times or to record when it senses motion. At night keep in mind the cameras views are in black and white because of infrared mode.
You are able to change how to view all the cameras on your monitor, but it is not a permanent option. It will eventually go back to a full 16 block view screen. I don't like this because I do not use 16 cameras, so my screen has 8 black boxes. I also wish there was an option for a screen protector to come on so the screen would not be constantly on the camera view. The system is in our bedroom so I have to turn off the monitor at night because the screen is so bright at night.
Even thought at the beginning I was pulling my hair out, at the end it all turned out okay. I rate it 3-stars because I was disgusted to say the least with my first DVR. However, since my second DVR worked I am happy now, but something this pricey should work straight out of the box the first time.
Overall, the system seems to running okay for the time being (knock on wood). I would like to get more cameras in the future, but will wait sometime to see how the DVR does after running for a few months.
FINAL UPDATE JUNE 30, 2014:
My new "replacement" DVR last only 26 days. Back to being a 1-star product. I give up. The unit is back to rebooting again. If I turn it off for a few hours and turn it back on it operates okay for about 1 to 2 days and then starts rebooting again. I finally had enough and ordered another brand of DVR because it is obvious that this DVR has technical and manufacturing issues since it is my second unit.
on February 21, 2015
I wanted it to work.....but unfortunately I had the same problems as so many others, constant random reboots. Also, making certain changes to the settings, will log you out, and your password will no longer work to log back in until you fully restart the system....very frustrating. Tech support acknowledged the problem and said it would be corrected in a future firmware update, however there was no ETA. Offered to RMA and send me another DVR. I am not sure how this would have done anything, since without the new firmware or any ETA as to when it would be released, the same problem would persist. Opted to return the unit. It seems like the only positive reviews are Vine reviews...I'm skeptical!
If you are looking into this DVR, your are better off considering a HD-CVI DVR. Google and do some reserrch on HD-CVI, just stay away from QSee. Look into a Hybrid/Tribrid system that will also support your current analog cameras as well as the new HD-CVI cameras and some IP cameras.
on April 20, 2014
The DVR came and has a problem with locking up after 5 minutes or just rebooting after 5 minutes. It seems like this is a common problem after talking to support. Not worth the money. I am planning to return it.
A note about the night vision. These are only good up to 65 ft! NOT 100ft like every post on amazon states.
The other problem, is that there is no actual padding in the boxes. Everything is packed tight and the usb mouse that came with the system was crushed flat.
on July 19, 2014
Pros: Bought from Amazon itself (not a marketplace seller), which made for an easy return.
-- Motion sensing did not work
-- Interface is difficult to understand and work
-- Video playback only goes forward at 16x. In reverse at 32x, video randomly skipped back two days.
I've owned another Q-See product, a higher end DVR. That software and motion detection worked very well. I would suggest skipping this DVR.
Also, you should note that many of the positive reviews are from Vine participants who received free units.
on December 22, 2014
Great DVR system. Easy installation and set-up to view on mobile devices without having to go thru all of the hassle regarding Port numbers being blocked or open. After downloading the QT View App on my iPhone 4, i was able to scan the QR code and was able to view all 16 of my surveillance cameras live while connected to the same network. The DVR box is very quiet. The internal fans are not sending out any annoying wind sound and the cameras are very superb. Video and image quality are very clear, especially at night. This is my second DVR system. First system was a cheap Zmodo one. After almost 3 years, the Zmodo one started showing signs of defects. There was black, white & gray lines floating across the TV screen from left to right and i was unable to see anything at all, that's why i bought this Q-See to replace my Zmodo one. However, i do have some minor issues with this system...
1.) During playback of a recording of an incident that occured, when i select to play back ALL 16 cameras, only about 4 or 5 of the cameras show up on the TV screen. Half of the cameras doesn't show up. Instead, i see a blank black box for the ones that doesn't appear. Sometimes all of the cameras show up on the screen while viewing a footage from earlier recordings, but it'll take about 20 to 60 seconds before it actually appears on the TV screen. i'm not sure why or what's wrong, but in my opinion, i think the DVR system may be loading or running too slow. This is the reason why i gave it 4 stars, otherwise, i would have gave it 5!
2.) Other issue i have is:
The camera view automatically jumps back to the 16 channel viewing mode. initially i had only 9 cameras up and running. When i select to view my cameras in the window pane of 9, after about 25 seconds, the system would automatically jump back to the 16 channel viewing mode. Since i had only 9 cameras at the time, i wanted to keep the system to show only those 9 cameras on the TV screen but since the DVR system is a 16 channel, it jumps back to show all 16 cameras, and the ones where i don't have a camera installed, (camera 10,11,12,13,14,15 & 16) it'll say "Video Loss". But that's not a big issue, atleast not anymore since i now have all 16 channels filled with 16 cameras. It just makes the video appear tiny on the screen with all 16 cameras crammed up on a 27" TV screen. When in the 4, 6, or 9 channel mode, the video appears larger; Makes it easier to see.
Anyways, so far so good. i'm not sure how long this second DVR system will last me. i will update my review later if anything...
Well, here's my review update...
i've recently gave this a 4 stars, now i've took 2 off and giving it 2 stars! Why? This is a MAJOR issue!!! Let me explain...
i am frustrated with this DVR's Playback functions and issues, it is confusing trying to find the exact time of a recording of when an incident occured. For example: i wanted to go back and watch a recording of something yesterday, 4 cameras captured the incident at 4 different angles right? Well, when i try to play back the 4 camera channels, only 3 of the cameras show up, the fourth one does not! Example: i wanted to watch a footage from cameras 7, 10, 11, and 12 at 2/4/2015 10:15AM, only cameras 7, 10, and 11 would show, but camera 12 wouldn't show, or play back for me. It just has a black window pane on the screen and when i click on the black window pane (on camera # 12), it would show up, but it wouldn't show me the right time and date that i had initially selected like "2/4/2015 10:15AM". Instead, it would play back some recordings from some other time, like from "2/2/2015 1:09PM". Well, where the hell is my recordings from "2/4/2015 10:15AM" ????? Until Q-See fixes this problem, i'm keeping it a 2 star! AND, will not be recommending this brand, or any other Q-See products to anyone! i was going to recommend Q-See to a close friend of mines who owns a Hair Salon where she's had them wanna-be gangsters tagging up the walls on the outside of her salon with a spray paint. But since there is issues with this DVR's playback functions, i'm not going to recommend this to her! If there was ever an incident where the Authority/Law Enforcement needs to see a recording of an incident and there is none, then they can't arrest the suspect(s). Without proof, you can't have the bad guys arrested or press charges against them without hard evidence! THIS IS A MAJOR ISSUE!!!
Also, Q-See's QT View App sucks! The live viewing lags about 5 to 15 seconds. Example: a car passing by about 15 seconds ago from left to right, on the QT-View App, it shows that the car is just barely passing by, when in reality, that car is already long gone 15 seconds ago already. Also, the Playback on my iPhone is very poor and difficult to obtain the correct date and time for playing back a recording from earlier.
on May 29, 2015
There was a rattling noise inside the DVR, as others have noted. It is definitely a sign of cheap production as some piece of it has been broken in many different cases. However, I'm fortunate that the rattling item was probably not essential and was just a piece of plastic broken inside the DVR. Overall, the size in compared to the Swann DVR that it replaced is much more convenient with double the capacity. Another benefit is the software that comes with it; pretty much plug and play. I even used a QR scan to get the app to work with it; all the correct information uploaded into the app and useable instantly.
However, the computer software is not so easily found from the instructions provided. QTView is the software that is needed for PCs and I prefer it over the Swann software as well. It is much cleaner and the DVR provides a better recorded image than my previous DVR altogether; the Swann analog cameras are compatible with it as well. It is also easier to navigate and access the recorded files.
One caveat is that the software requires you to enter a username and password upon exiting.... This, to me, makes little sense as the program is still able to be accessed without special permissions and it can be force closed so that it was never known to be opened. It is annoying to have to type in a password to close the program. I guess I can just keep the task manager open to force close it, but it is still a bad feature that should be known.
It should also be known that I found the customer support to be lazy and seemed to provide responses just so that they could say "I responded" and start the timer (which is 72 hours) before the issue is closed automatically. It took me three responses to get a coherent answer to my problem.
on April 21, 2014
Images flicker when the cables are jostled. Ghost images from other camera channels drift across the main image. Loose part inside DVR.
Update 07/04/2014 - We had to provide video to the police from our system when a customer was accused of selling us stolen property. The search and export functionality was so much better than the older systems we used previously and we were able to save the requested footage right to a USB thumbdrive to give to the investigating officer.
This Q-See 16-Channel Security Surveillance System works well for my needs and is a step up from the other systems we have installed in the past. We already own a Defender, a Zmodo, and two other Q-See Systems used to monitor our small business, so it was easy for to switch out the main DVR unit and cameras to do a side-by-side comparison. The other systems have roughly the same specs and features but this one has better quality cameras and is much easier to configure.
Our Use - We own an old but very large building for my wife's business and needed a way to monitor the six exits, the retail shop space, and 2nd floor training areas.
* Main Control Unit - this is a fairly small unit (smaller than most DVD players)
* 8-Cameras - these are also fairly small, good physical quality and include mounting hardware
* USB Mouse - connects to Control Unit
* Remote Control - gives access to all menu functions (batteries included)
* Required Cables - 4x 100' Video/Power cables and 4x 60' Video/Power cables
* Power Supplies
* Window Warning Stickers
* Software CD (did not have to use)
+ Setup Wizard; This is a big improvement over all of the other systems we have used
+ DVR; controls are accessible on the front of the unit and supports 16 cameras (only 8 included)
+ Cameras; Good quality image with IR Illumination for night vision
+ User configurable Options; Privacy Zones (blackout areas in the display), Motion Zones (areas where motion triggers an alarm)
+ Network Access; Can be viewed by a PC
+ Alarm Notification; Audible alert and E-Mail capability (which works very well)
+ Display Options; Includes a VGA monitor connection, video out, and HDMI out (cable included) for TV viewing
+ Remote Control; Makes it easy to quickly access features
+ Remote User Access; Can be viewed remotely on PC/MAC, iPhone, and Android (setup was very easy with on screen instructions and QR code)
+ Setup; Basic configuration is very easy
+ Image Quality; Good for basic security needs in both bright and dark settings, better than the Zmodo cameras
+ Night Vision; Surprisingly good clarity and range, also much better than the Zmodo and older Q-See systems
+ Value; Lots of cameras and features at a reasonable cost
+ Options; Can be made to do everything we need it to do
+ No Exposed Camera Wires; Wires can pass though the mounting hardware so are hidden and protected
* Alarmed Events can be recorded and searched on later
* A 1TB Hard Drive can record up to two years of video on this system
* Placing a camera too close to a window will cause the IR to reflect and blind the camera when it shifts into night vision mode
* Supports PTZ Cameras (not included); we use Zmodo Home Indoor Pan Tilt Surveillance Camera with IR Night Vision for 80 feet
* Use a battery powered UPS to ensure everything is still recorded if your power is cut
This system covers my needs very well and provides a lot of advanced features.