on December 26, 2015
I found this exceptionally easy to set-up as far as making it work with the cameras and the base unit and the internet connection and access. Please see the note at the end of this review on mounting the cameras, this is an exceptionally difficult task if you have not done that kind of work before, like running wire through and up wall. While the cams are wireless for the video feed but they still require a power cable run to each camera. (Note: Amazon offers professional installation, it runs about 100 dollars a camera, so that will give you an idea that this is not easy.) This is not a complaint and the same thing applies for any camera system you buy.
Set-Up Installation (minus camera mounting)
The base unit console is completely self-contained and allows you to do every function possible with the system, there is no need for a computer or internet connection if you don’t want the remote viewing over the internet option or email alerts. The console will find and configure the cams automatically when it is all powered up. The only adjustment you really need to make is the brightness and the motion sensitivity, both are very easy to set through the console touch screen.
The battery back-up in the console lasts a little over an hour so you can walk around the house with it unplugged. The cameras on the other hand lasts only a few seconds without power so you might consider an inexpensive UPS if you have concerns about power outages. Amazon has a very good APC UPS for 30 bucks that is just right for this, I had only one cam I cared about never losing power so I got one for that cam.
Operating the System
The console is a touch screen and allows you to pick one or up to 4 cams to view at once, if you have more than one camera activated then you are forced into the “Quad” view if you want it to record, by touching the screen for any given camera it will go full screen for that cam but when you are in that mode it does not allow recording, this is not a big deal.
Out of the box it is set-up to record on motion and it does this very well, because the picture you are looking at is delayed by about 1 second, when the cam senses motion it actually captures to the SD card just slightly before whatever triggered it which is really nice because you can always see exactly what triggered it.
You can also set up scheduled recordings all through very easy to follow touch screen operations, you pick the date, start time, and end time and off it goes. If it is on scheduled record for one cam and another cam is triggered by motion it will record the motion triggered cam as well as the scheduled record cam at the same time.
To view and delete recordings you again just tap the touch screen and pick the recording you want to view, it records motion based activation in 2 minute segments and if you use scheduled recording it makes the files in 15 minute segments, so if you record for 1 hour from the schedule it will have 4 fifteen minute video files to view. You can also easily remove the SD card and put it in your computer for viewing, it makes standard MP4 video files that play on viewers included in Windows, Apple iOS, and Android devices, no additional software is needed.
While you are looking a specific cam you also get one-way audio from the cam, so you can hear what is happening but you can’t talk back like an intercom and it does not record the video.
Remote Access and Email Alerts (Internet access)
If you want to remote view you’ll need to plug the docking station (included) for the base unit into your router (cable included) and configure it per the manual, which is well written and very clear, some folks may need help with this step and it says on the support site Uniden is all set to help people with this part, I did not try it was pretty straight forward. Part of this process includes setting up your free Portal Account on Uniden’s web site, this is one of the ways to remote view it, or you can download the free Uniden app for your phone, pad, or tablet, they have both Android and iOS (iPhone) for free, they do not have Amazon Fire or Blackberry versions.
Emailing alerts is also very easy and they suggest using a free gmail (google) account for this but it works with any email provider. The email only tells you that you have an alert on camera x, it does not send a segment of video to see from the email, you have to go to your Uniden Portal Web site or use the phone app.
Privacy Note: Please keep in mind that while this has reasonable security both on the wireless video/audio signal and the Internet connection, nothing is 100% secure so pick your camera field of view with this in mind. My person rule of thumb is, if it is wireless or on the internet, people can get to it so I would not put a cam in a bedroom or other location that would not want to find on YouTube the next day. This applies to all brands that have wireless cams and internet access. Also because it streams through Uniden and they have not disclosed their security architecture it is impossible to know if their tech can view everything from anyone. Again, choose what your cams can see with the idea that anyone can see it.
First some basics:
Cameras Included - 2
Resolution - 320 x 240
Recorded Image -- Day / Well Lit - Color
Recorded Image --Night / Poor Lit - Black & White
Audio - Only while watching, does not record Audio
Recording Options - Record on Motion and/or Record by Schedule
Recording Format - MP4 H.264 (Plays on Windows Media Center or QuickTime and many other players)
Recording Size - 200KB - 400KB per hour (200K/Hr B&W -- 400K/Hr Color)
Record Capacity -- 32GB Max SD Card (~30 days of Color 24x7 recording, months of motion based recording)
Picture Quality - Reasonable, this mostly depends on what is in the field of view and where it is mounted
Time Stamping - Not on video, files are created in 15 minute chunks and each file is time stamped.
Base Unit Battery -- >1Hr
Camera Battery -- < 1 Minute (Consider a cheap UPS)
Overall Rating 4 Stars
- Very easy set-up (plus 1 Star)
- Encrypted Wireless Video (plus 1 Star)
- Excellent picture (plus 1 star)
- Email Alerts on Motion (plus 1 Star)
- Range for me was excellent @ 100 feet for my longest (plus 1 Star)
- Remote Access with Android and IOS (Apple)
- Manual Clear and Well written (PDF version available at Uniden Support)
- Listen to the active camera audio
- Base Unit Battery life over 1 hour
- No Alarm on Motion (I don’t need it and knew it so no points off)
- Does not record audio (I knew this before buying so no points off)
- Portal Site required for Remote Access (privacy concern but not required, no points off)
- Camera battery life (< 1 Minute battery life, good for glitch only) (minus ½ Star)
- If you are viewing a recorded video and forget to switch back to monitoring the unit does not record anything. (Minus ½ Star)
Picture Quality (4 Stars)
Providing you mounted it in a good spot and adjusted the brightness to the best picture, you get a very clear picture, more than enough to positively identify a person, in the day time uniforms are clear, mail person, UPS, FedEx and such.
Camera Battery Life Workaround
I bought a 30 buck APC UPS unit for the outside camera, this give the camera a few hours on the UPS battery.
Mounting the Camera’s (This is the hard part!)
If you want a professional looking job this is a LOT of work because the cameras need power and that part is not wireless. This means running wire up and through walls and if you have not done that kind of work before it is not for the novice. Personally I would not use the included wire inside my walls so I got some bell wire (2 conductor 18 gauge copper wire) that is rated to be put in walls. While this is all very low voltage (5VDC @ 1A) which significantly reduces the risk of a fire from a shorted cable, it does not eliminate it completely. Also note that running the existing wire through and up the inside of a wall means pulling the connector through the hole and inside the wall and there is a good probability that it will break in the process, it was not designed to be pulled through a wall.
I had one location where it was just impossible to run wire to but there was a flood light there, so I added a full height J-Box to the one that the flood light was mounted to and put the power supply in that box and mounted the stand to that box as well. The flood light has to powered all the time but I already had a motion detection flood light so there is power to it all the time and leaving it on all the time was the norm anyway. Just make sure the seal the J-Box with the power supply very well with silicon so no water can get in there.
Mounting the stand for the cams is pretty easy since the cam can be attached to it on the top, bottom, left, or right side of the cam, the only thing not adjustable is lateral movement or height, so make sure the spot you pick is exactly right as far as those dimensions go, the cam mount swivels in all angles as it is on a ball mount. If you have a brick exterior wall you may want to consider using a masonry glue to attach it if you don’t want to drill in to the brick or cinder block. If you have plastic, composite, or aluminum siding you will need a lot long screws than what is provided. I would also strongly suggest you mount the exterior cams on a ½ height exterior J-Box and weather proof it with silicon, as well as the hole leading through the wall.
Before mounting, take a cam and the console to the spot, get the field of view you want both in the Day time and Night time, I found that a good spot in the day is not always a good spot at night, so check it in both conditions. Also consider this, when using motion detection if the cam can see a road or sidewalk anyone passing by in a car or walking will trigger it, as well as things like headlights sweeping by the cam at night, it thinks that is motion. Also make sure it is not pointed directly at any lights, likes you porch light.
Once you have the exact spot for the cam, leave the cam there or close to where you will mount it and then go to where you plan on keeping the console, I have 4 cams, 2 outside and 2 inside. Cam 1 is about 100 feet from the console and the signal goes through on exterior wall and two interior walls (Signal Strength show 3-4 bars of 5). Cam 2 is also outside and it is about 70 feet, it goes through one exterior wall and 2 interior (Signal Strength show 3-4 bars of 5). Cam 3 is in the basement and goes through one floor and is about 50 feet, and cam 4 is in a central hall they must be walked through to get to anything in the house, and it is 40 feet from the console and does not go through any walls if the room door is open, which it usually is, one door if not. Cams 3 and 4 have 4-5 bars of 5)
Because of the wireless video/audio and internet connection (if used), remember to carefully consider what will be on camera and if you don’t want that to end up on YouTube, don’t point the camera at it. I say YouTube just as an example, it still means some has to have the desire and tech knowledge to steal your signal and the meanness to post it on-line or send it to someone. If anything my cams pick up ended up on YouTube it would be the most boring vid on there. (I call it mom-safe, that is, if my mom saw it I would not mind :) All wireless and internet products have this concern so it has nothing to do with this particular brand.