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on August 11, 2012
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.
33 comments| 433 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on July 10, 2012
Style Name: 21031 8-Channel, 8-Camera|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.
1111 comments| 375 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on July 14, 2015
Long story short - you get what you pay for. First off this is a discontinued model. Bought this in February 2015 and it seemed to work great. Then I had problems with viewing over the Internet not working and also the unit freezing and having to be unplugged. Contacted support and they sent me a firmware upgrade. After that it seemed to work fine...for a month or so. Then two of the cameras failed. They sent me an RMA for warranty repair and I am still waiting on those so we will see if they get fixed/replaced. As of today the system freezes quite frequently when trying to payback video. It does this whether trying locally through the DVR itself or remotely over the Internet. It freezes and reboots itself almost daily. I will be submitting yet another request for tech support and see where it goes.

UPDATE 8/11/15 - I have had THREE cameras fail and replaced under warranty so far... one of those three has already failed. As for the DVR rebooting itself and freezing up, all tech support ever tells me to do is do a factory reset.. so I loose all my custom settings AND past recordings as a hard drive reformat is part of the reset. The reset works for a few weeks then it starts freezing up again. As for the cameras.. they do not cover shipping in for the returns (only shipping back to you), so I have spent a little over $30 in returns so far. Going to start looking elsewhere to replace cameras as they fail.. and I know they will. I'd rather spend a little more on replacing a camera with another brand that actually works than have to send it in (paying shipping) for replacement every month or so.

UPDATE 1/18/16 - I have had to send all 8 original cameras back under warranty after they failed. Even 2 of the warranty replacement cameras failed within a few months of receiving them. So I have had 10 cameras fail. They are good about replacing them under warranty but even the replacement cameras fail after a short time. They either get stuck in day-mode so no night viewing, or the colors get distorted with the entire image having a pink or purple hue to it. The last camera they sent me as a replacement has a blurry image past about 20 feet and focus is not adjustable, I tolerated it but it only took a few weeks for the colors to go bad. My orange trashcan appears dark green in the color image. Horrible life on these. I am giving up on warranty replacements and just going to start shopping for another brand system.
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on July 8, 2014
I am an engineer and technologist and this Defender system is the most recent security purchase. The box and instructions were well laid out, but the software required hours of configuration. I eventually figured out that there was a firmware update that was required for the recorder to operate properly. I made numerous calls/e-mails to customer service which were never acknowledged or answered. Due to my technical training, I was able to get the system operating. Once working, the system seem to meet the advertised specifications......barely. After spending about 25 hours working out bugs, waiting for customer service to respond (which never happened), and aligning cameras the system worked well, especially during strong daylight hours.

While not a big issue, I noticed that the model numbers of the cameras that shipped in the box were not the model numbers described in the product description. A quick search of the Defender website showed that model numbers which I received were much older products but the same specifications. I intended to address with Defender Customer service, but they never responded to any of my telephone or e-mail questions.

Update after 6 months of operations: The cameras worked just fine through the cold winter months. Sorry to say the HD main control/recording unit failed about 3 weeks ago due to a hard drive failure and requires replacement under factory warranty. It has been 3 weeks since my initial (and weekly follow-up) e-mails requesting warranty replacement.

No one has responded to my repeated attempts for customer service.

As such, that this is a throw away product who's manufacturer does not offer a warranty, unlike their competitors who provide some degree of customer service. It is works out of the box never breaks you will probably be fine. If you ever need a question answered you will be out of luck.

I own a couple of manufacturers of this type of equipment due to my side business. This is the only company with non-existent customer service. Use someone else!
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on July 13, 2014
I really like this system. It has some quirks but it works really well.

Quirks/Tips
1 - Sometimes settings don't apply, especially around the scheduler. I finally figured out to apply and close each time a change was made. Rather than just hitting apply.

2 - Use the web interface as much as possible. It is so much easier to select the motion grid squares on a computer than using the DVR menu with the remote/mouse.

3 - Start with a small area to record and expand. If you start with all, and carve out areas of movement you aren't interested it will take forever and frustrate you. It became a game of figuring out which grid was triggering motion and why. You really have to think of everything. I started out carving out bushes, tree limbs, etc.. But it got to where I was carving out clouds, shadows of trees that would move alot, etc.. When I scrapped it and just focused on core areas of motion, it worked alot smoother. I still get an occasional spider web that drive me batty..

4 - heavily utlilize whats my ip and port sniffer to troubleshoot external access. I had a static IP address setup but also had to work with my ISP to get the modem (locked down to me) to forward the ports to my router, which in turn forwards to my DVR.. Works great after that.

5 - When setting up external access, make sure you are not connected to your internet via the internal router. It will never appear to work. Because your going inside - out - and back inside.

6 - I use the ASee and ASee+ aps. Why both? Because I set one up internally and one externally. So I don't have to constantly reconfigure the cameras in the app everytime I leave/arrive at home.

7 - search for 33" Fiberglass Electric Rods - They were great for pushing wire thru ceiling, wall, and over insulation without disrupting the blown insulation

8 - Buy enough extra wire (Defender 21007 65-Feet Security Camera Extension Cable OR
VideoSecu 100 Feet Video Power BNC RCA Cable) to run all 8 feeds at once. I only installed 4 cameras (2 were close enough to not need more wire) but chose to run an extra 4 cables up the wall. Now I am set to easily expand at my leisure.

9 - adjust the sun shade for hallows at night. In some situations the infared will reflect off something and hallow your screen. I fixed mine by adjusting angles and/or adjusting the sunshade.
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on October 18, 2017
Do not buy these Defender cameras! I repeat, do not buy these Defender cameras. In fact, do not purchase Defender. Period. They're garbage. I purchased 3 of these Defender surveillance systems: 1 for my house, 1 for my parents', and 1 for a rental property. Within 12 months, there were issues with at least 1 camera for each of the 3 systems. There were times that 2 cameras went out within days of each other. Defender did replaced defective cameras within their warranty period, but I had to pay shipping on each camera. Their replacement cameras eventually went out. Defects included cameras remaining in night vision/black-and-white (although it was day), picture having a pink hue, and no picture/black screen. To this day, 1-2 years after purchasing, I have issues with the cameras and I'm basically stuck with a Defender system with some working cameras. It's extremely frustrating for the amount of money I've spent on these systems and them barely lasting 1 year. Better Business Bureau should look into this company for selling absolute junk!
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on December 20, 2014
This is my first foray into these types of devices. I do software support for a living, so I'm not a noob or averse to getting into the details to make things talk to each other.

I bought this one out of amazons warehouse deals outlet which was advertised as being in very good condition and tested. When I got it out of the box and hooked up for testing, out of the 4 cameras supplied, one only displayed in B/W and one showed signs of the previous owner playing with it and didn't work at all. I got online with Amazon via chat and they agreed to refund me the price of two similar cameras and I was happy with that. As it is, the supplied cameras aren't all that great to begin with though they do work and give reasonable pictures with full light available. With IR they are "OK" but like all small sensor cameras they have lots of graininess in low light conditions. They are also IR cut filter cameras, they have a small filter that mechanically snaps in over the lens when they go into IR mode, you can hear it if they are in a dark room and you switch the lights on or off. A small click from each camera about a half second later occurs.

Now on to the DVR. Its a small device, typical construction, which is to say its made well enough. There is no keyboard input, just a usb mouse as well as a remote. I havent really tried to use the remote much, logging in with the mouse involves clicking on the username box and then clicking on displayed letters and numbers to enter name and password. Then there is an onscreen menu that lets you set the DVR up. Using the menu at the DVR isn't lots of fun, it's fairly clunky.

And speaking of clunky, to really use this system, you have to install a DVR client on your PC. I ended up getting on defenders website and downloaded several pieces of software that I thought would work, but only the DVR client connected to the system. And if I thought the installed interface on the DVR was tough, this remote access was just as bad. I've had this system for about two weeks now and I still haven't figured out exactly the sequence to use to log in an have all the cameras display. There are points where you can enter your name and password, including the initial login and then when you click on the device or you can login to each camera. And even when you finally get a login that doesnt display error messages from the camera, you then have to right click on the device and select "open all cameras"

The playback feature is also fairly user unfriendly. You have to select each camera with a check mark, then select the playback type and then search before you will see red marks which indicate that there were motion sensor alarm events that the system recorded. You can also set the DVR to time record and those events show up as green bars.

If you log on to Defenders website they have about 4 videos that purport to show you how to exactly hook up and configure this system. I say purport because they are all pretty simplistic and imply that it's all plug and play which it is not. I haven't tried to ask for tech support as yet, but eventually I will. According to Defender, you should be able to view the cameras on IE with the correct activeX plugin. When I try and connect internally to the DVR, it prompts me to download a control off the DVR, but it never loads since IE doesn't know what the extension is and searching the web doesn't resolve it either.

I havent tried to connect this system so that it is viewable outside my home network. One other user posted a critique about it opening up a security hole in your firewall and I am not that motivated to want to watch my house remotely with that flaw. As I get it all installed and have more time I may do that but for now my goal is to get it to a point where I have 24x7 video monitoring of all the outside entrances which I think it should do well enough.

I've also bought about 6 other cameras, which are the round eyeball type that sit lower and flush to the ceiling or wall. The resolution of these cameras is better than those that came with the system. The other disappointment with these included cameras is that they can only be wall mounted. There is no way to rotate camera body so the camera can essentially hang from the ceiling and have the output display right side up. You could open the camera up and actually flip the circuit board that holds the camera, but most folks won't want to do that and it would probably void the warranty if there is one. Since I had a dead camera, I had no problem cracking it open and seeing what it was like inside. Decent enough construction, aluminum body and mount, but the mount has limits to the range it will move.

The included wiring for the cameras is fine, not heavy but doesn't really need to be. All in all, if I had to do it over again I would buy the cameras separately and shop around for a better feature DVR that is easier to configure and use. For now I'll keep playing with this system and as long as it does what I need it to do, I'll be happy enough.
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on February 27, 2013
Arrived packaged very well. I was trying to get a monitoring system in-place before I left for vacation so my son could monitor my home, so I unpacked the system and had it setup and running in a couple hours. That being said I had downloaded the manual from the website and had already read it cover-to-cover before my system arrived.

I temporarily mounted the cameras on some spare pieces of 2"X12" boards, plugged everything into the DVR and turned it on. It took me another hour or so to re-read the portions of the manual and setup everything; time, date, network, camera recording options, etc. using the supplied remote control.

I am not a networking professional by any means but I do alright. I could see this portion being the most difficult part for some people, especially if it's your intent to monitor your system from your iPhone. The directions are decent in this area but with so many different kinds of routers on the market, each with interface differences it was a little stressful. Once I discovered that the DVR and my router both support universal plug-and-play (uPnP), I was good to go. I don't know if all these systems support plug-and-play but that is a major plus for this system in my opinion.

I downloaded the free app for my iPhone and I can now monitor my cameras/home from anywhere.

Night vision is pretty decent. My farthest distance is about 40 feet. I can make out everything in the room fairly clearly and I could definitely tell if something was out of place or someone was in there. The motion detection portion of the system works very well but since mine are all inside and I don't have any pets or things that move, I haven't seen any false alarms yet.

The cameras automatically switch between IR and color, depending on amount of light in the room. When in full color, they are extremely clear and it looks like I'm watching TV. They make a loud "click" when they switch back and forth so don't be alarmed.

Once I returned from vacation, I disconnected everything and ran all the cabling through the ceiling/attic space and permanently mounted the camers to the wall. That went as well as it could have with crawling around in the attic. I ordered some 1" white cabling grommets from Amazon to feed the wires through my ceiling and the installation looks very professionally done. My wife just said WOW!

The only drawback to these cameras - they have to be wall mounted. The mounts are not oriented to be able to ceiling mount them unless I misread the directions. Be careful mounting these too close to the ceiling. I only say that because I had an eirie glow the first night on two of the cameras when they were in IR mode. I figured out that is was reflection coming from my white ceiling, I angled the cameras down just a little more and they are now great.

I drilled an access hole in the top of one of my cabinets for the cabling and placed the DVR inside with a small 350 VA battery backup/UPS to protect the system and cameras from power issues, at only $42 I believe that to be a good investment. I can lock that cabinet so the DVR is less accessable.

I didn't have to call Customer support for anything yet so I can't speak to that. This is also the only DVR/camera system I have ever purchased/installed so I don't have anything to compare it to but it was fairly easy to install and works like a champ. I would highly recommend this system based on my experience.

Hope that was helpful!
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on September 11, 2014
The good:
- Price is better than many other brands.
-Setup is straightforward.
- Everthing you need is in the box.
The bad:
- They aren't "high resolution". The image you see on your monitor (live video) is relatively clear. Not HD sharp, but relatively clear. The recorded video, however, is very grainy (even on the highest resolution setting). You won't be able to see license plate numbers, or even be able to make out people's faces (from more than 10 yards away), so don't get them if you think they're going to solve crimes.
- Configuring your router so they can be viewed over the internet is VERY difficult to figure out if you've never done it before (and I'm computer savvy). Better instructions can be found online than on the Defender website.
- They WILL fail, eventually. I had good luck with the first set I bought. Most are still working 18 months later. I ordered a second set 6 months ago and all have failed (some lost the "night vision" capability, others were "stuck" in night vision, others failed completely. 1 of my 2 DVR's failed, also. Fortunately, they come with a 12 month warranty. Which leads me to...
- Customer service is SLOW. All warranty claims and questions must be submitted online. Expect 3-5 days for a response. Then they will respond by asking you for more info. When you reply, they will respond another 3-5 days later with more questions. When you respond, well, you get the idea. I will say though, that they have replaced 12 of my cameras and a DVR so far, so I can't call them complete deadbeats.

I don't know how the competition stacks up, so this review isn't a comparison, but rather just a summary of my personal experiences. That said, I noticed a significant drop in quality from my first set to my second. Don't get me wrong, the originals weren't any fancier, just seem to have held up better. Long story short, don't expect high quality video or years of service and your expectations won't be crushed.
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on March 16, 2014
I hooked up three out of the four cameras and they seem to work well. the claim of being able to see things a hundred feet or more is inaccurate. sure you can see objects at that distance but you're not going to be able to make out who or what they are. realistically 30 feet or so is about the right amount of distance to view a person's face with these cameras.

I chose to use rigid conduit to run the wires along the side of my house rather than drilling holes in the brick. It took more time to do it that way but it works well for me and cost about an extra $120.

the DVR seems to work well however it doesn't always save certain settings and I find myself having to restart the DVR every now and then. if you put your settings up to the highest, which I did of course, you will find that two years worth of recording data is not realistic. I figure I should be able to get at least two weeks worth of data recorded before it starts to overwrite.

setting it up for viewing over the internet isn't too hard. You just have to make sure that you open the correct ports on your modem.

I tried using a few of the available apps for my cell phone and tablet and I found the original Asee app works best. the other two apps that were made by the same company didn't save the port or IP information after exiting the program.

overall I would say this is a good product for the price and if you're looking for something to help watch over your home or personal belongings while you're not there this is a good start.
Update: caught a guy stealing from our neighbors. [...]
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