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Amcrest ProHD Fixed Outdoor 3-Megapixel (2304 x 1296P) Wi-Fi Vandal Dome IP Security Camera - IP3M-956W
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|Wireless Communication Technology||Wi-Fi|
|Video Capture Resolution||1080p|
|Viewing Angle||100 Degrees|
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|Sold By||—||Amcrest Direct||Amcrest Direct||Amcrest Direct||Amcrest Direct|
|Video Capture Resolution||1080p||1080p||4K||1080p||1080p|
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I purchased the bullet camera, in black, from a Deal of the Day to see if it would be a good candidate to replace my 7 year old Lorex system. I have since purchased one dome (956) and two bullet (943) cameras in white, along with their 4108 NVR. My application is for outdoor use only to monitor my property. I like them enough to replace my 640x480 wireless Lorex system that had a DVR and three cameras. Going from 640x480 to 2304x1296 is a gain of about 9x in number of pixels. The colors from Amcrest is more saturated and is adjustable but I've left them as they came.
These are the things I don't like about Amcrest:
1. Setting up the cameras is always a lesson in frustration and it may be partly my fault since I keep thinking I need to use the password I want to use instead of the default first. I always start with Ethernet configuration but the wifi name never seem to be listed. So I switch back and forth between Ethernet and Wifi configuration until I get to work with Ethernet.
2. Lack of clear documentation sucks. Plain and simple. This leads to most of the things I don't like about the system.
3. The event/motion setup on the Android mobile app setup is confusing. The meaning of the icons is not obvious. The "hand" one doesn't seem to do anything. So I just use the PC or Mac Surveillance Pro program or the the NVR setup instead which gives me four mask settings.
4. The interface between platforms isn't in sync.
a. There is limited functionality in the mobile app as compared to the programs and NVR interface.
b. Rotation of the camera view on the mobile app is a nightmare with its confusing icons. Clear in Surveillance Pro on the PC. Clear via the NVR interface. Missing on the Mac.
c. Night vision enable/disable is clear on the app but does not seem to be available in Surveillance Pro on the PC or Mac. It's available on the NVR but is more complicated.
d. Main video stream disable/enable is only available on the mobile app., but for some reason while setting the video stream parameters on the Mac, one of my cameras' main video stream was disabled. I only found out that was the problem using the mobile app because I can connected to the camera but get no video on the NVR, which defaults to the main video stream while the mobile app defaults to the substream video and I get video on the app but not the NVR!
e. Because my purpose is for outdoor applications, the motion event blocks are too large. I wish they were smaller. So my threshold setting is low, 1 - 4 most of the time, depending on how close I want to trigger a motion event.
5. On the dome camera, because there is the dome, car or street lights create a streak in the image. Headlights will set off a motion event.
6. On the dome camera, limited angle adjustment vs. the bullet camera. I mounted mine upside down on a horizontal surface so the angle will only give me so much sky because of this limitation. Your mileage may vary depending on how it's mounted.
7. No mobile, 2.5", hard drive mounting capability in the NVR.
8. Event viewing is a bit clunky across all platforms. Worst via the NVR interface. But I've learned to deal with it. If there are any glitches in the playback, it's in how it was recorded, not the device's fault. Verified it when I extracted the video and played it on the PC.
9. Selecting the camera to view as the main screen during playback on the mobile app can be challenging. Must be the sensitivity of the app. This affects the bottom disappearing menu that doesn't seem to have a clear way to display in landscape mode once it goes away. All I do is turn the phone to portrait to get it back before rotating the phone back to landscape.
No system is perfect but I love my new Amcrest system. The one problem I had initially was with the mobile app but it turned out it was caused by the crowded 2.4 GHz channel my router was using. Whenever I added a camera, the app would only connect to the latest camera. Very frustrating. When I was away, like at work, I couldn't connect up to any cameras. So with a free network analyzer app, I found that in my house channels 1, 6, and 11 were the crowded channels. After setting my router to use channel 3, all my connection issues went away and have been perfect ever since for over a week.
These are the things I love about Amcrest:
1. Storage of recordings the way I want. On microSD or NVR, or both. My number two on the list.
2. Files storage is very efficient. Over ten days with four cameras, it's used 29 GB of space with aggressive motion detection. I have a 160 GB mobile hard drive in the NVR. I won't need to purchase terabyte hard drives for this application. I use mobile hard drives because they are quieter than desktop hard drives.
3. High resolution. Much higher than my Lorex cameras.
4. Clear, saturated color picture.
5. IP67 with all the o-rings and gaskets included. The one for the antenna is to got outside on the male end rather than inside the female end. But I've used it in the female end just fine. I also use silicone tape to make sure everything is water tight.
6. Wide view at 100 degrees, much wider than my old Lorex, which was less than 60 degrees, I believe.
7. Ease of mounting. Dome camera came with a template. Bullet camera is all connected as one.
8. Reasonable price. They are about half the price as my old Lorex cameras which were prone to disconnection. No disconnections or resets have been required thus far.
9. Cameras can be set up to auto sync for time at an interval of your choosing. Same with the NVR.
10. Cameras can set set up to automatically change for Daylight Saving. Same with the NVR.
11. Auto-maintenance to reset the the cameras at an interval of your choosing. Same with the NVR.
12. Auto-maintenance to delete files at an interval of your choosing. Same with the NVR. I set mine to delete after 30 days.
13. Customizable almost everything like bit rate and frame rate, video flip, mirror, and rotate, color saturation, night mode auto or off, color or black and white. Hard wire Ethernet or wireless. Naming of the channels, though it's a little obscure and one field is local to the application used rather than a global setting. Again, documentation will go a long way in understanding how that actually works.
14. Although playback is a bit clunky, it's much better than my old Lorex system which was in list format over multiple pages. This is in a timeline format much like you'd see with the Nest but not as easy to select.
15. Not affected by the brightness of the sun. My old Lorex camera would go on the fritz just with the sun reflecting off the lawn, with most of the picture showing solid blocks of color, triggering motion events continuously. It was worst with snow on the ground.
16. Solidly built cameras. Feels very high quality.
17. Most importantly, it's reliable. Every morning when I turn on the monitor, there are my four cameras working with synchronized time.
I have a four camera system because I liked the cameras and picture quality so much. With the Lorex, three cameras was all I could put up with. Plus, they were expensive. It was a "good enough" system. Now I have a great system that's pleasing to view at a great price point.
I have this camera (and others) connected to my Synology NAS (DS916+) using Surveillance Station. Easy setup (I've done this a dozen times) and has been running for 5 months straight w/ no issues. With my 6TB drive allotted to my cameras, I'm able to maintain 24x7 2K recordings for about 30 days. I will say, this camera, and my setup, would not be good for a regular consumer. It takes networking and general systems admin type thinking to get it working how it should be. However, if you follow the basic Amcrest setup steps, and utilize their service, it might be able to be achieved by a normal user.
The two significant issues with the camera were:
1. I could not get it to trigger on motion at all. Configurations were checked and verified with Amcrest Tech Support but nothing would cause it to record or push an alert when motion should have been detected. I was able to record manually so I know the recording function was operational.
2. I have a USB drive hanging off my router and I use that for recording video and for recording from another security camera I have. I was able to record to this USB drive but the Playback function will NOT work from the drive. This really seemed strange but was confirmed but Amcrest Tech Support that Playback could only be done from the SD card. I confirmed that it did record to and playback from the SD card. I was told I needed to use another program to playback the DAV files from the USB drive but that program wouldn't allow me to select the USB drive to find the files. I would have to manually copy the files from the USB drive to a folder that the other program would recognize and I was unwilling to go through THAT process all of the time
Finding a camera that does what I want has been quite a challenge. All I want is to be able to have WiFi recording to a local network share drive and to be able to view and playback from a web browser on my laptop. Mobile device access and remote access are OK but not deal killers. I've only found one so far that actually fits my needs the way I want.