By Lisa Johnston
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Mirroring the path of home-theater surround-sound systems, once the exclusive domain of professional installers, home-security surveillance options are increasingly being simplified down to one-package do-it-yourself kits, home surveillance in a box if you will.
Retail-shelf-friendly options, from simple front-door video intercom kits to IP-networked, wireless multi-camera systems, are gradually earning real estate in some CE chains and on many of the big-box stores' e-tailing sites. The intended audience: do-it-yourself consumers and small-business owners who are looking for low-cost alternatives to custom installations, according to multiple suppliers. There are currently a number of options on the market at price points less than $500.
At the relative high end of the market, Swann offers two all-in-one kits. The Swann DVR4-1000 security system includes four indoor/outdoor Maxi-Brite cameras and a built-in 160GB DVR. It features four channels so the user can locally or remotely monitor and record to four cameras at once, motion-detection and daily scheduling options. Motion detection conserves hard drive space by only recording when motion is detected in the monitored zone.
The cameras and DVR unit are bundled with four 60-foot cables, a 3-foot BNC-to-RCA video cable, two power adapters, five-way power splitter, remote control, five security stickers and a setup software.
The system, model SW244-DUM, retails for $499.
Swann's MaxiBrite security camera recording kit, model SW244LP, is a two-camera indoor/outdoor version of the above system with 25-foot IR night-vision capabilities. The included cameras have an anti-corrosive, weather-resistant design for outdoor use. The system also includes a 32-foot BNC cable with adapter for easy connection to a recorder or PC monitor with a CGA connector. It retails for less than $300.
Longtime CE supplier Logitech has expanded into the surveillance category with it's WiLife line of all-in-one systems.
The base system, the WiLife indoor security camera system (model DVS-800i), ships with a mountable indoor camera and can be expanded out to six cameras, sold separately. The camera's CMOS sensor captures color digital video up to 640 by 480 pixels with a video frame rate up to 15 fps and records the footage to a PC's hard drive via an included wireless USB receiver.
Included WiLife 2.0 Command Center software allows remote viewing capability from a cellphone or via the Internet and onboard motion-detection technology causes the camera to begin recording when movement is detected. Email and cellphone alert options keep the user aware of motion in the camera's recording area.
Desk, wall and suction cup mounts are included for versatile positioning options and are bundled with a power supply and security window decals.
It retails for $299.
Two variations of the system are also available, an outdoor version (DVS-800e) that is also $299 and a Spy version (DVS-800c), which has a camera disguised as a fully functional digital desktop clock. It retails for $329.
Lorex offers its basic expandable digital wireless system, the LW2201 Ultra Digital wireless surveillance system for just more than $200 with one camera included. It is expandable to four cameras.
Durable metal weatherproof casing houses the VGA resolution camera (with sunshield) for indoor and outdoor use. Both the camera and the receiver have high-gain antennas which, according to the company, allow for a range of 450 feet from camera to receiver. The camera has night-vision technology and has been tested for night viewing up to 46 feet. The camera is also equipped with a microphone for listen-in surveillance. A mechanical IR cut filter moves automatically in front or away from the lens to enhance color reproduction in all lighting conditions.
The micro receiver boasts frequency-hopping spread spectrum wireless technology for low-interference wireless transmission, enhanced image clarity and detail, and prevention of unwanted eavesdropping from other wireless devices, the company said.
The receiver connects to any TV or monitor or DVR/DVD recorder and offers adjustable viewing options, such as a quad mode that shows all four cameras on one screen, and a switching mode that cycles through each camera on the full screen at intervals that the user can set.
Lorex also offers a portable version of the system (LW2002W) that includes a wireless receiver with a 2.36-inch LCD screen. It captures video at 640 by 480 resolution at up to 30 fps, which can be viewed on the included receiver's LCD or connected to a TV for large screen viewing. It offers 50-degree viewing angles, night-vision capability up to 15 feet, safety warning indicator that notifies the user when the receiver is out of reception range, audio level indicator and alarm function.
For flexibility, the camera may be powered by an included DC adapter or 9V battery sold separately. The receiver has a built-in rechargeable battery and includes a charging cradle and belt clip.
SVAT's basic surveillance system, the Clearvo CVQ1000 Color Quad system, is a wired solution that includes four day/night remote-controlled cameras.
The system features motion detection, a quad-screen mode, remote-control access for channels and audio, and manual and automatic switching of camera views. It connects to a TV, VCR, computer or DVR for recording.
The system also allows the user to customize and rename camera views (such as “entrance” or “front”) and adjust the individual contrast, brightness and hue of each camera individually.
It retails for about $250.
SVAT also offers its VISS7500 hands-free, color video, door phone intercom system with a 5-inch LCD and outdoor night vision, designed to monitor a home's main entrance.
It features a two-wire connection for audio, video and power; a tilting camera lens; and door strike capabilities.
It has a maximum wiring distance of 300 feet and retails for around $200.
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