Top positive review
218 people found this helpful
Works with all my IP and DVR security systems. iPhone/Andriod app is a must with this setup!!!
on March 18, 2013
I have a total of 16 camera's, a couple of Panasonic BL**, Linksys, Foscam FI8910w and Askak Mole IP cam for indoors along with a SWAN DVR system for outdoors that i just figured out how to add onto the software. I absolutely love it, and it's been working great over wifi, and the customization is awesome. I mainly bought it for home security and to monitor my newborn. I can setup to record motion for all the camera's and motion + email/sms alerts on specific ones that I would want to know about like front door, drive way and side gate access. I like using the text feature because it's almost instant. I get notifications on my iphone within 6-10 seconds of a trigger. It's awesome, example my text will read "Alert Motion detected on Side gate" ...I log in with my iphone Blue Iris app ($10) to see that the PGE guy is in my backyard reading my meter and throwing in lunch away in my trash can. If i miss it, the the iphone app has the ability to watch the DVR'd recording (with audio if your cam supports it). This feature alone is why i bought it. It is invaluable. Since most break in's happen in the day time, and thief's usually ring the door bell to see if anyone is home then go to the backyard where no can see to break in, this alerting system is critical along with the ability to review the alert to determine if it's legitimate or not. With the iphone app along with the PC version, I have reduced my remote viewing iPhone apps from 3 to just 1. Its so cool, i show it off to all my friends and co workers. Since I figured out all the settings, i helped them get it setup up to at their homes. They all love it. I use it all the time, even when I miss place something, it's awesome to have to abiliy to replay past events to find what you lost.
The web browser functions works pretty good as well, I have noticed sometimes the image will get frozen and I need to refresh the browser to start up again using Firefox. This could be due to my companies firewall and proxy settings. The fix for this is to download the free add-in Auto Refresh v.1.02. I like this one the best because it has the option for hard refresh or the just a "soft" refresh of the view you are on. this is helpful if you have groups setup. I have Outdoor cams, Indoor Cams / and Kids room cams groups. Doing a hard refresh goes back to the default view which is view All camera's. I do not select this and only do a normal refresh every 1min (adjustable). This way when I only want to watch my kids rooms to make sure they are doing their homework or chores, when the page refreshes it remains on my 3 large camera's views of my kids rooms instead of going to the main "All camera's" view like with a "hard refresh" which makes them all very small b/c it's showing all 16 cams.
I have and monitored ADT security system as well but the Blue Iris application is like my front line of defense in case thief's try to cut the power or disconnect the phone line. Additonally it has the best user interface and endless features that are not available on any of the other security applications. I have the BI software running on a dedicated laptop recording to it's own HD and also to an external HD both hidden in my home. The PC is also running CrashPlan backup software, so the video clips are constantly backed up to the cloud in real time.
Another cool feature is the ability to not only send alerts but it can play audio or turn on lights if alerts trigger. You can have a profile setup for when you're on vacation to play an audio track of some action movie with explosions and dialog to simulate someone watching TV. Wire the speakers so the audio plays on multiple speakers on the opposite side of the house so that thieves could hear it from whatever entry point they are thinking about going in.
I did run into an issue with my Astak mole cam is very flaky on the BI software. I can get to it fine using its own webserver and on the Free IP cam app I have on my iphone, but with the BI software, it's hit or miss, sometimes it working and sometimes its not. This could be the camera though so I'm not going to knock off a star until I do some more research. I submitted a case with the BI support and got a response a few hours later from support. Ken offered some suggestions and also offered to help work on it if I put it online for him to take a look. Working in IT support myself, I was impressed with the support I received from the BI software developer.
Other features that would put this over the top would be the 2 way talk feature for both the remote web view and smart phone app. Some of my cameras (foscam/Astak) have the ability to speak into your phone or computer and with the built in speaker on the camera, it will output your voice on it. This is a neat feature to communicate to someone in the house when they are not picking up the phone. I purchased the foscam iphone app just for this feature alone, however it is lacking big time in comparison to the BI iphone app.
All in all I'm very impressed with both the Blue Iris PC app and the iPhone app. With the rising crime rate across the country because the cities have no money to fund police and investigators, burglar's know this and are taking advantage. As a homeowner, I understand that this will not prevent a break in, but at least it may catch one, or better yet deter one. I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting the flexibility of remote viewing and alerting for their security camera's.
Stability: I have had this thing running no stop for almost 4 months. There have been a few updates for BI since then and they have been all very nice enhancements and or fixes. The BI web server is bullet proof; I have not had the webserver crash at all since it's been up. I do restart my computer ever now and then for Windows critical updates but I have it setup so that when my computer reboots, it auto starts the BI software but minimized and password protected.
BI Mobile App: I have asked for it and now it is here! The ability for two way communication with the foscam camera¡¦s. I can now hear and talk through the foscams via the BI mobile app. It works pretty good, but I do have to admit the quality and responsiveness is not as good as the native Foscam iphone app perhaps because it is going through the BI desktop webserver first then to your phone, whereas the Foscam app goes directly to your camera. But it is a good feature and probably needs to be optimized a bit to be on par with the Foscam mobile app. But I wouldn't buy the foscam iphone app to make up for it, I just happened to have both already so I'll continue to use the foscam app for now. ***Update 4/1/2014***. BI mobile works with Foscam FI9821 HD with two way audio. The Native Foscam app does not support audio on the HD version..
Security: Since I have multiple camera's of all types Foscam's, Panasonic's, etc, it was a lot easier to secure One Blue Iris interface in terms of accounts, devices, access times and permissions vs. ALL my other 16 camera's own user interfaces. Not to mention if I then had to forward all those ports on my router, making my home network more vulnerable to attacks with all the ports you are exposing to the world. Case in point Foscam had a firmware issue that allowed anyone to login without a password. I had that camera with that bad firmware, but because, the Foscam was not exposed to the internet, only to my local LAN at which point Blue Iris presented that video stream to me, I was not affected by that security risk. BI also has very good logging of device's and users that log in, their times and how many frames they viewed.
Wireless Speeds: Since I have 16 Camera's, 6 of them are foscams and 2 other ones that are wireless, I notice that my wifi speeds for the home have decreased dramatically. My wired speeds are great getting 21mbps down and 3-4mpbs up. But when I run speed tests for my wifi, i'm getting 128-256 kbps transfer speeds on my N wireless network. Turning off the BI software gets me back to almost my wired speeds using the speedtest.net 6000-7000 KB/sec. Looking at the BI logs, I see that my wifi cams at 5 fps (frames per second) are sending about 64-128kbs per sec for each wireless cam (8x) so it¡¦s not that bad, and my wired cams are sending about 400-500kbs per sec at 15 FPS. There is a constant flow of data across my wireless network. I have an Linksys N router and a Cisco repeater/access point (G). My speed tests are done while connected to the N Linksys router.
Now this does not happen all the time which is frustrating, meaning sometimes when BI is on and running, I get normal fast wifi speeds, and sometimes I don't when it's running so I¡¦m thinking there is something else saturating my wifi network like the camera¡¦s internal web server. I need to do more investigation, but it seems like BI has a hand in it since when I do disable it my speeds come back instantly. I have since moved a lot of the camera's on Ethernet since the picture quality and frame rate is way better anyway, this has helped with intermittent wifi. I run a lot off wifi, TV Netflix, Apple Air Play, iPads, laptop, etc so this was of great concern. I now have only 4 cams on wifi and it seems to be working fine now. Just food for thought if you were running more than 8 wireless camera¡¦s you may see saturation on your wifi network. ***Update 4/1/2014*** So the issue was channel crowding on my wifi network and not BI. Download inSSIDer to view all the channels being used by you and your neighbors. Then setup you wifi router to a channel that is less crowded. This resolved my wifi issues, but nothing beats a wired connection!!!
Storage: I bought BI because I wanted to keep an eye on things due to the increased crime rate in our neighborhood, but also because I have a new born and 4 year old in the house and it¡¦s nice to capture those cute moments and funny things kids do or say that made you wish it you had a camera recording while it happened. I have found myself going through these recordings and not wanting to delete anything !!!! Storage is cheap these days, and I picked up a Seagate 3TB backup plus drive for about $130. At the rate I'm capturing videos, I have managed to fill up 400GB over the last 4 months. About 100GB per month, so I figured a 3 TB (275Gb usable) will last me for 2 years of cuteness before I buy another 3-4 TB drive. I¡¦m sure by that time they will be absurdly cheap. The other nice feature of this is that this drive doubles as a SATA drive docking station so I will just need to buy a HD only with no fancy case and slap it on.
Final thoughts is that I Still love this App and one of the best purchases I have made all year. I use it everyday not just for security, it has become the number on of my top apps I use on my phone and the live view and alerting feature has been invaluable. With the web security feature, I have allowed my parents to view my baby's room camera's during a specific time period so that they can just pop in and see the new baby sleeping and playing without having to face time me every few hours :-)
At first my wife and friends thought I was a little weird to have so much visibility/security camera's at my house, but after I show them the value of what it does for a home owner, parents of kids and dogs, I find them calling me a few weeks later asking how to set a system like that for them. If you have something to hide from your spouse then I would avoid putting camera's inside your home, but for us, we enjoy the sense of security and priceless moments it has allowed us to replay. Now my wife loving it!!Next up are some HD Cams :-)
Ok so I've had Blue Iris running for over a year now and still stand by the 5 star rating. The Blue Iris software updates just keeps making it better and better. Here are some of my observations and upgrades since my last review.
HD CAM's: I just upgraded from an older Swann DRV8 analog 480TVL system to an HD NVR Lorex 1080P system from Costco. Had a car break recently in and those cams just did not cut it for recognition of the thief. Did a good job of showing me how they did it though :-). Blue Iris notified me via text (I was sleeping and didn't hear it) and I got the video but it was too dark and grainy and I did not have enough cameras on my driveway to view all the action. Not BI's fault, but helped me pull the trigger on HD Cams!!!
So now I run Blue Iris in addition to a LOREX NVR which is recording 24/7 @1080P @30 frames per second on 9 HD cams :-). The BI is setup to tap into 8 of the 9 HD Lorex cams to record on motion and send me instant alerts, make noise by triggering .mp3 etc and has been working great, a lot better than the Lorex native NVR app. Like my old Swann DVR system, the Lorex NVR motion detect/alerting system was too sensitive, even on the -1 or 0 setting (lowest possible setting). As a test I setup alerting over the weekend on both BI and Lorex using identical area's for detection. By Monday morning, the Lorex sent me 170 email alerts vs. BI's 56 email alerts. 48 of those email alerts were legitimate, while the rest were of bugs flying in front of camera, tree shadows, etc. The BI's motion detection algorithm while not perfect is way better than the Lorex or Swann systems I've had.
Plus blue iris does a better job of H.264 compression it seems because the BI mobile app is much smoother whereas the Mobile Lorex HD iphone app is laggy especially during playback. Blue Iris play back is super smooth, but the Lorex mobile playback is painfully slow. It looks to be playing playback in a full resolution and not the lighter substream (I'm connected directly to NVR and not using the Lorex Stratus Cloud streaming service)
Now this comes at a resource cost to your computer. I have Blue Iris running with now with 16 camera's, tapping into 8 Lorex HD 1080p @15FPS, and 3 Foscam FI9821 720P HD cams @15FPS. Blue Iris was using between 40-50% of my CPU and 2 GB of memory. I have a Intel I7 3.40GHz quad core CPU, with 8GB's of memory and SSD Hard Drive. You don't feel it when doing normal email, web browsing, but if this is a shared PC that is used for gaming or picture / video editing, then you should disable BI while doing those things. Update: Now BI has a setting for "Direct to disk" recording meaning it uses the camera's H.264 compression instead of BI's compression. This saves on CPU's dramatically, now i'm down to about 25-30% which helps cut down on the heat and cpu fan running.
Now without any HD cams, BI was running at about 5-6% CPU utilization and 256MB of memory. So the moral of this story is you will take a hit with HD!!! But it's so worth it. Just remember you'll need at least a Intel I7 CPU or something comparable if you plan on running a lot of HD IP cams, or a dedicated laptop running BI only.
Blue Iris vs. DVR's NVR's: For those of you who don't know about DVR's and NVR's. They are basically all in one boxes that camera's hook up to. They record, alert, etc just like what Blue Iris would do but with clunkier user interfaces and very little advanced features, but the good thing about them is that's it's basically plug and play. I do have to admit with this NVR system, I'm loving the POE (Power over Ethernet) so running cables was "easier" and cleaner. Additionally all the cams can be easily put on a single UPS for constant power via the POE switch.
With Blue Iris, you run it on a PC and do everything the DVR/NVR would do, but you have endless configuration possibilities, but it can be more complicated depending on what you are trying to do. There a lot of options!!!
I'm using a hybrid approach because it's offers me redundancy (PC Recording + NVR recording). I use Blue Iris with it's almost infinite configurations, and the Lorex NVR for it's 24/7 HD recording also in case the my PC crashes or the burglar steals it I'm still recording :-). It's also a resource issue because if I tried using my PC with Blue Iris for all my HD 1080P cams, it would probably render my PC useless because of the high demands of rendering HD. But most of you are not a security camera freak like me so you may not have to worry about it :-).
New Features: Geofencing, basically what this will do is the app will notify the server whenever the device leaves or enters a specified location. For example, You can customize your alerts so you are not notified when you are home but when you leave via a specified distance, they will start to trigger. I personally have alerting on all the time and manually "pause" the camera's on my mobile app when I'm working in that area. (Pausing will not send alerts but still record motion).
Tips and observations: I was noticing that my BI records only about 10-15 seconds of a motion. I wanted a little more because I like to ability to review it later in it's entirety. If you need to record for longer periods of time, you should adjust the "Make Time" to .2 and increase the sensitivity a bit. This is under the Motion/Trigger option of the camera. The "Break Time" is the time you specify how long after a trigger to record. Those two options together help me get all the video I need. You will get larger files due to longer record times but it may be very beneficial if you want to review a motion trigger without lapse in the timeline.
Get you a good bug poison and spray around the cameras, I have a bad spider problem at my house and these little guys are attracted to the IR lights at night causing false alerts with the web's and them crawling in front of the cams etc. I have to spray about once a month to keep the false alerts down.
So again, after a year of solid use, I'm very happy and impressed with this piece of software. Not a day goes by when I'm not alerted of the comings and goings of my family members, deliveries (Amazon Prime Junkie), gardener, cleaning service, suspicious door sales men, etc. LOVE LOVE LOVE this APP!!!!
Lots more information on this site (cam-it.org) which is a user forum for Blue Iris and security camera's in general. [...]