There seems to be no end of small, pre-packaged camera systems available to the general public these days. People like Mr. Joe Citizen see video on social media of some lowlife making off with a package from a front porch and decides that he could use that same level of protection.
So, the next time Joe is in his favorite shopping emporium, a camera display catches his eye and he plays with the mouse on the demo system and reads the marketing info on the package and says, “I can do that!”
Well, yes and no and sometimes, maybe. Recently, we were requested to review the TV-DVR208 system from TRENDnet, the folks you probably know from their networking product line but they also offer a line of surveillance camera items.
The TV-DVR208 is an analog camera system and is one of those systems-in-a-box that has everything you need to keep an eye on your property, except for a video monitor. Since this system is available on the retail market, we’re going to assume that it is intended for the likes of Joe Citizen because any mildly competent security dealer could install this unit with little difficulty.
The system arrived and was very well packaged. In the box was a DVR with a preinstalled, formatted 1TB Western Digital Purple Surveillance hard drive. Also included was a corded mouse, eight TV-A100 cameras with fixed 3.6mm lenses for a viewing angle of 82.2°.
You also get eight Siamese video/power cables (60 feet), two wall-wart style camera power supplies, a power supply for the DVR, a 78-inch HDMI cable and some documentation. Power supplies are all 100-240VAC, 50-60Hz.
The DVR is compact (approx. 8 X 8 X 2 inches) and can be installed just about anywhere small electronics can be placed, remembering that it does have a hard drive and does generate a little bit of heat. I measured one spot on the bottom of the unit’s chassis that indicated 121° F so some air flow around it is necessary.
There is a provision on the chassis to allow the unit to be wall mounted if desired. If you’re installing this system in a small business (convenience store or small office) the 60-foot cables might be sufficient for the job. If it’s going in a home, 60 feet sometimes might not be long enough for all the cameras.
There is nothing in the literature that offers additional cable assemblies in the event of a longer run so hopefully Joe knows where to turn for help and what he needs to purchase. One bit of advice: if you’re going to spend a day in the attic or ceiling installing these cables, make sure that you pull the correct cable end to the camera location because the power connectors are different from end to end.
The camera housings are attractive and unobtrusive, but I generally prefer metal housings for durability and heat dissipation. The TV-A100 cameras have dark bronze plastic housings that have an IP66 rating for outdoor use and are both CE and FCC certified. They only weigh a bit over 10 ounces each so there’s no need to torque them down severely. The locking screws on the mount don’t lend themselves to overtightening so be careful there when aiming the units.
The documentation included is minimal; a Block Diagram, Quick Installation Guide, a note about Remote Access, a Safety Booklet and a CD containing a camera utility, and also the User Guide. My “installation” consisted of connecting all components together on a workbench in my shop.
For a monitor, I used a 24-inch, 1080p TV using the HDMI connection. I connected the system to the network and applied power. After a quick boot sequence, the Initial Setup screen appears and, following the instructions on screen, you make a few selections (password, set an Unlock Pattern and language).
Then the Setup Wizard appears for time, time zone and, if using DHCP, your assigned IP address appears. Now, the next page is where you’ll need some networking knowledge because you are going to set your ports and DNS settings.
A few more simple pages and the Wizard is complete. When the Wizard screen closes, you should now be looking at your camera video. Having worked with analog cameras since the days when they all used vidicon tubes, I was really surprised at the clarity and sharpness of the video.
Right-clicking the mouse brings up menu selections and other options. There are multiple options for programming the various features that may intimidate someone new to the surveillance world but can be worked out with some perseverance and common sense.
Motion detection recording is available as opposed to continuous mode that uses more HDD storage. I set up four cameras to record continuously and the DVR calculated that I would get six days of recording on my 1TB drive with the cameras set for a resolution of 1920 X 1080 (2MP) at 12fps. Eight cameras would reduce that to three days but, obviously, motion recording would extend those times.
This article originally posted on sister site Security Sales & Integration.