Stumbled in here looking for advice on a Christmas Gift

hellmutt

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Hello Everyone, cool site you have here. I have spent the past 4 hours looking for a wifi security camera as Christmas Gift, and come to the conclusion I am looking in the wrong place (PCMag reviews, Amazon, etc.) Then I stumbled in here and have just learned that I know even less than I thought I did about all IP connected security cameras. (I'm solid in networking myself, not so solid in IP Camera tech ;)) Hoping some of the experts here could offer some advice for me... Here are my constraints:

Primary User: Elderly couple, whatever I get has to be EASY for them. I'm not looking for a system that requires maintenance, primarily a device or two that can be 'set and forget'.

Location: They live in the sticks and have a super-slow wifi connection with data caps. I'm interested in minimizing data usage.

Use Case 1: This is the primary use case. They have some motion sensors already installed to tell them if something is moving at the driveway. However, they can't tell what it is without getting up and looking out the window. I want to give them a screen to look outside without having to get up. I want the live stream data they are viewing to be local - it could be across wifi as long as it doesn't rely on a cloud-connected service. In other words I want to view the live stream on the LAN not the WAN.

Use Case 2: I think the 'cloud storage' features I have read about are interesting as a means to have an image of whoever may be trespassing on the property - and have it backed up even in the event the house is ransacked and all the camera gear is stolen. As I mentioned earlier, given the internet usage restrictions, ideally this would be configurable to turn on or off at will. I don't want to pay a monthly fee for this service, but if a basic plan is included with the camera, that would be OK.

Live Feed access: Most likely they would access the feed either from a laptop or an Android tablet.

Budget: Probably around $200

Is this do-able? My biggest roadblock has been trying to decipher all these ads from nest, Amazon, blink, arlo, etc. who all advertise Live Stream but they all seem to require that the live stream go from the camera to their central cloud service and then right back to the home to be viewed. It makes no sense to me, the live stream should be locally viewable. Thanks for any advice you can offer!
 

mat200

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Welcome Hellmutt

It will be challenging to find a decent setup for that price point.

If you want a reliable setup, you will need to skip wifi, wirefree, and cloud centric products and go with a wired system.

A good wired system can also be configured to be accessible remotely if you like, and even email or send alerts to a cell phone.

Numerous products which are being sold to consumers, including those from Alro, Nest, Blink, Amazon camera, zmodo, funlux, ... and numerous others are not very reliable.

It's easy to get swamped with information here, so I wanted to share some notes with you

Please check out @giomania 's notes:
Dahua Starlight Varifocal Turret (IPC-HDW5231R-Z)

I have also made notes which are a summary of a lot of the reading I've been doing here,:
Looking for some advice and direction!

Have fun joining us here.
 

mat200

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..

Use Case 1: This is the primary use case. They have some motion sensors already installed to tell them if something is moving at the driveway. However, they can't tell what it is without getting up and looking out the window. I want to give them a screen to look outside without having to get up. I want the live stream data they are viewing to be local - it could be across wifi as long as it doesn't rely on a cloud-connected service. In other words I want to view the live stream on the LAN not the WAN.
..
Hi Hellmutt,

Is the driveway the only view you want to have?

Which is more important:
Day time or night time?

You could look at getting a affordable setup with a couple of cameras and a NVR and hook that up to a monitor/TV. If you need more than a couple of view points you can look at getting a wired system with more cameras.
 
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hellmutt

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Day time is probably more important.

I'll take a read through the info you gave later tonight, thanks!
 

tangent

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Simplest would be an NVR and a couple cameras, but you can't really pull it off for $200. Simplest way to view it would be a dedicated computer monitor, but you could parent proof a tablet too. Switching inputs on a TV also works, if they can handle that. If you're worried about having a backup copy of the footage, get cameras with micro sd slots and install micro sd cards.

It probably isn't a bad thing for them to get up from their chair or couch, might be one of the main sources of exercise. However, false alerts are problematic as they train people to ignore them. Different types of sensors like air tubes, vehicle probes, photoelectic beams, or different motion sensors may be more reliable.
 

hellmutt

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Ok I will check your posting and do some more homework, if I have to go higher maybe I can do things in steps or something.
 

Fastb

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Hellmutt,

Welcome to the forum!

Many cams like Nest, Ring & Arlo have wide angle lenses ("So you can see everything!" they gush), so they don't pick up detailed views at a distance, say, 20 to 40ft away.

WiFi cams should be avoided. However, WiFi might be part of a solution. A chromebook (inexpensive) connected to the home WiFi lan, might let them live view the cam connected to their lan. Alternatively, a remote viewing app on a smartphone could be used. Instead of remote viewing over cellullar (the typical use), the phone app can remote view over the WiFi LAN. I can live-view in my android app,, using either WAN(cellular) or LAN (WiFi)

Again, Welcome!

Fastb
 

hellmutt

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Hellmutt,

Welcome to the forum!

Many cams like Nest, Ring & Arlo have wide angle lenses ("So you can see everything!" they gush), so they don't pick up detailed views at a distance, say, 20 to 40ft away.

WiFi cams should be avoided. However, WiFi might be part of a solution. A chromebook (inexpensive) connected to the home WiFi lan, might let them live view the cam connected to their lan. Alternatively, a remote viewing app on a smartphone could be used. Instead of remote viewing over cellullar (the typical use), the phone app can remote view over the WiFi LAN. I can live-view in my android app,, using either WAN(cellular) or LAN (WiFi)

Again, Welcome!

Fastb
After reading through all the posts and comments (thanks!) my conclusion is that I probably have to go with a wifi camera due to cost reasons. I am curious whether anyone knows of a camera that I can connect directly to via embedded web server in the camera or other protocol that doesn't require cloud storage of the video? (connect direct for live feed, even if no internet access). I do have a spare android tablet I can donate to the cause for them to have a simple viewer if that helps (they also use windows laptops).

I am separately starting to think about building my own system for my house, a lot of this feedback may be more applicable to me over time if I decide to build something up :)
 

tangent

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Location: They live in the sticks and have a super-slow wifi connection with data caps. I'm interested in minimizing data usage.
After reading through all the posts and comments (thanks!) my conclusion is that I probably have to go with a wifi camera due to cost reasons. I am curious whether anyone knows of a camera that I can connect directly to via embedded web server in the camera or other protocol that doesn't require cloud storage of the video? (connect direct for live feed, even if no internet access). I do have a spare android tablet I can donate to the cause for them to have a simple viewer if that helps (they also use windows laptops).

I am separately starting to think about building my own system for my house, a lot of this feedback may be more applicable to me over time if I decide to build something up :)
How do they connect to the internet? DSL or cellular?

wifi is crappy for cameras, what you want is a camera hardwired with Ethernet preferably with PoE (power over ethernet) so you don't have to run another cable. One the cheap you can just stick a micro sd card in and only record to that, but then you'd need a poe switch since you wouldn't be using an nvr with built in poe switch. You could then view the camera(s) on the LAN including over wifi (depending a bit on how they currently get internet and what they have for networking... additional hardware could be needed to make things work well).
 

hellmutt

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They have DSL but as they are in the sticks and on the edge of coverage service. In fact, their provider has since adjusted the service area and wouldn't sell to them if they were a new customer starting today. So their bandwidth is very low; I haven't run a speed test but it is probably 1-2 Mbps and spotty. They are running 54Mbps WIFI so I feel there should be plenty of excess bandwidth if they are live viewing the feed directly from the camera.
 

mat200

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Hi Hellmutt,

In general a lot of us have distrust of WiFi security cameras due to reliability issues, and thus have learned to prefer to invest the time to setup a wired camera system for greater long term reliability.

Just checking on a couple of items to make a small wired PoE build which may work for this situation:

Sourcing the following from one of our member's store at Aliexpress:

DAHUA 8 Channel Smart 1U 4K&H.265 Network Video Recorder without Logo NVR4108-4KS2 free shipping = est $110
2017 Top selling cameras 2MP IR Eyeball Network Camera IPC-HDW4231EM-AS free DHL shipping = est $120-125

+ HDD + cat6 cable

I found a 2 TB WD purple this last year onsale in the USA for $60 ...

So this would about $300 + the cat6 cable for a 1 top quality low light camera setup.
 

tangent

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They have DSL but as they are in the sticks and on the edge of coverage service. In fact, their provider has since adjusted the service area and wouldn't sell to them if they were a new customer starting today. So their bandwidth is very low; I haven't run a speed test but it is probably 1-2 Mbps and spotty. They are running 54Mbps WIFI so I feel there should be plenty of excess bandwidth if they are live viewing the feed directly from the camera.
Actual LAN to LAN throughput on 802.11g is much less than 54mbps. 10-20mbps lan to lan wouldn't be uncommon, cameras can use >5mbps and live video is sensitive to jitter.

That 10-20mbps is shared by all devices. If you use a wifi camera you use bandwidth from the camera to the router and from the router. Bottom line it doesn't take much on wifi (especially older wifi) before you hit a wall.
 

hellmutt

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Well I certainly appreciate everyone's advice, it has been extremely informative.

After spending several more hours this evening reading and learning, and particularly looking over the 'Reolink good & bad' thread, I have determined that I know next to nothing about IP cameras. I find myself vacillating between:

1. I should buy the setup that mat200 has advised, even though it's a little out of budget and will also cause me to do more work (cable punching, wiring, mounting, etc.) and be a little more on the hook for IT support.

2. I should overlook all the advice and just get something stupid and inexpensive.

As I result I may do nothing and come up with a different Christmas gift.

However after all this research and advice I am now very interested in 'doing it right' in my own house first, then once I learn what I need to learn I could take care of this original scenario. Need to decide what my wife's appetite for that might look like ;)

Thanks all!
 

looney2ns

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Here is the thing, for sake of the couple, you want it reliable, because if it's not, guess who they will call, you.
So, doing number 2 would be much, much worse for you doing IT support.
You can buy a Kindle fire tablet right now for $30. That can be set up to continuously display with TinyCamPro.
 

hellmutt

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Could I use TinyCamPro directly with a camera and dispense with the NVR? Which cameras could it connect directly to?

I was looking at the fire as a means to have a cheap display and simple config but everything seems to need to require infrastructure. If TinyCamPro could live stream a high quality camera like the Dahua Starlight it might be a winning solution, even if I'm missing a bunch of advanced features.
 

mat200

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Could I use TinyCamPro directly with a camera and dispense with the NVR? Which cameras could it connect directly to?

I was looking at the fire as a means to have a cheap display and simple config but everything seems to need to require infrastructure. If TinyCamPro could live stream a high quality camera like the Dahua Starlight it might be a winning solution, even if I'm missing a bunch of advanced features.
Hi Hellmutt,

As with numerous IP security cameras - there are numerous ways to set things up.

Can you skip the NVR? Yes. For a PoE camera you will still need a PSE - power sourcing equipment, so perhaps a PoE power injector. Some cameras also have microSD slots - so the camera itself can store info.

Can you use a mobile device to view the camera - yes, you can set that up if the mobile device has access to the WiFi router and connected devices.

Though for older folks whose eye sight is degrading, I personally like to set up something a bit more traditional for them - a old school monitor and basic NVR. While it costs a little more - typically there is less work for me to setup something like that.
 

hellmutt

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OK, sounds like we might have a plan.

Fire 7 = $30 Bummer the Fire HD 8 went back up to $50 while I was debating
Cat 6 Cables (can get from a friend)
POE injector $16
Dahua Starlight $150
tinycampro app for android $4

That puts me right at $200 without much shopping around, not including taxes.

I realize some things are not 'ideal', I really want to see how this goes and how they react to what they have before investing much more, but I could see coming back to put in an NVR, more cameras, etc.

Any last comments? Really appreciate folks' input and advice :)
 

mat200

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OK, sounds like we might have a plan.

Fire 7 = $30 Bummer the Fire HD 8 went back up to $50 while I was debating
Cat 6 Cables (can get from a friend)
POE injector $16
Dahua Starlight $150
tinycampro app for android $4

That puts me right at $200 without much shopping around, not including taxes.

I realize some things are not 'ideal', I really want to see how this goes and how they react to what they have before investing much more, but I could see coming back to put in an NVR, more cameras, etc.

Any last comments? Really appreciate folks' input and advice :)
Hi Hellmutt,

Looks good, one thing I would change is the camera - typically dome camera have more issues outdoors - so the turret models would be better options.

Also, unless you have an Amazon gift card you plan to use you should contact Andy via email and ask what he can do for you on a starlight turret. Normally if he has it in stock you'll get it quickly at a fair price ( do let him know you are an IPCT member )

See #15 in my notes ( Looking for some advice and direction! )
 

hellmutt

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Sent email, thanks for the tips! I may hold out on the Fire in case the Fire 8 goes back on the sale price...
 

hellmutt

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Looks good, one thing I would change is the camera - typically dome camera have more issues outdoors - so the turret models would be better options.
This would be the recommended model for outdoor placement?
HDW4231EM-AS
 
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