Home security cameras have come a long way since the introduction of the analog-based standard definition varieties. The newer IP-based cameras offer a fully digital interface allowing each camera to have both data and power over a single ethernet cable leveraging from PoE (power over ethernet) switch ports. This IP-based technology enables the connected cameras to be part of a larger integrated network, giving users access to multiple sites/cameras from a single application.
Q-See offers a full line of NVRs (Network Video Recorders) that take the digital streams from these cameras and records the content to the built-in hard drive. Q-See offers three models supporting 4-cameras (QC804/QC814), 8-cameras (QC808/QC818/QC828) or 16-cameras (QC8016). The NVR's look and feel is similar to tradition DVRs, but offer a significant improvement in clarity and detail. Q-See sent us their QC804 model fitted with a 1TB hard drive. They also sent 720p (bullet / dome) and 1080p (bullet / dome) cameras for this review. Costco is currently offering the QC804 with four 720p bullet cameras for just under $700, which is a fantastic deal for this level of performance.
The Q-See QC804 NVR (Networked Video Recorder) is a completely digital, high-performance 4 channel, realtime recorder capable of capturing both 1080p and 720p HD video streams locally or remotely. This NVR manages and records up to four cameras simultaneously regardless of the camera's location. This can provide an extra layer of security by having the NVR in a low-risk location where critical recordings can be stored. The NVR is optimized for 1920x1080 (Full HD) resolution, which maximizes the clarity and detail of people, vehicles, and even license plates. Viewing motion is smooth and made possible with the impressive 120 FPS (30 FPS per camera). Q-See mobile apps are available for smartphones and tablets (See Q-See QC View for Iphone/Ipad and Android) and have excellent video quality. The NVR comes with power adapters (12VDC & 48VDC), cables, mouse, IR remote and manual.
back of the QC804 has both analog VGA (15-pin) and digital HDMI video connections for monitoring the camera video as well as using the user interface. We recommend using the HDMI interface to a 1080p monitor for maximum video resolution. A composite analog video output (480i) is also provided for legacy video equipment. Audio in/out ports are also provided via BNCs along with alarm sensor inputs/outputs (16 Inputs/1 Output) via industry standard terminal blocks. The USB port interfaces with the mouse used for running the user interface. Power inputs jacks for running the DVR (12VDC) and running the PoE ports (48VDC) are keyed differently to prevent incorrect connections.
Dedicated PoE Ports
The QC804 has four dedicated Power Over Ethernet (POE) ports (one for each of the cameras) eliminating the need for separate power/data cables or having to purchase an expensive PoE network switch. A single ethernet cable to each camera is all that is needed for operation.
QC828 NVR Review Coming Soon
We will soon be reviewing the latest 8-channel QC828 NVR, which features 8 dedicated PoE (Power over Ethernet) ports. This new NVR is capable of recording at 240 frames per second (30 FPS per Channel x 8) in 1080p Full HD. Costco is currently offering the QC828 along with eight 1080p bullet cameras for $1600 - another incredible deal.
Full HD 1080p Camera
Q-See's QCN8002B is their flagship 1080p camera offering up to 100 ft. night vision range in low light conditions. The QCN8002B uses a 1/3” 2.0 mega-pixel SONY progressive scan Exmor CMOS sensor, allowing users to monitor their property with a level of clarity and detail never before possible with a consumer camera. The automatic white balance ensures you get color accurate images regardless of ambient lighting conditions. Dual encoded data streams provide a signal with reduced bandwidth and up to 30 fps. The resulting video plays smoothly and continuously. The construction of this camera is solid with a full metal housing. Unlike many of the cheaper cameras out there, the QCN8002B offers impressive performance and is built like a tank. The camera's built-in web server makes it easy to stream and share video without a direct connection to an NVR. Minimum illumination is 0.2LUX/F1.2 (color), 0.01LUX/F1.6 (b/w), 0.0 LUX/F1.2 (w/IR). The auto-iris and adjustable lens (3.3-12mm@F1-6) gives users maximum flexibility in their installation.
720p Bullet Camera
Q-See provides the QCN7001B (720p) bullet cameras as part of a package deal offered with the QC804 NVR. We connected three of these along with the flagship QCN8002B 1080p camera (mentioned earlier) for our testing. The QCN7001B has a 1/3” 1.3 Megapixel Aptina CMOS sensor and a 6mm lens. Minimum illumination is 0.1LUX/F1.2 (color), 0.05LUX/F1.2 (b/w). Video encoding can be set for 1.3M @15fps + D1@15fps, or
720p @30fps + D1@30fps. The 30 IR emitters on the front automatically turn on in low lighting conditions and provide a viewing range of up to 100 feet.
1080p Bullet Camera
Q-See also offers the QCN8004B (1080p) bullet camera for those who want even higher resolution. The good news is that the QC804 is fully capable of taking advantage of the increased resolution. The QCN8004B (1080p) uses the same 1/3” 2.0 mega-pixel SONY progressive scan Exmor CMOS sensor found in their other high performance Q-See 1080p models.
720p and 1080p Dome Cameras
Q-See offers both the QCN7002D (720p) and QCN8001D (1080p) dome IP cameras designed for ceiling mount applications. Both cameras use Texas Instruments DaVinci high-performance digital signal processors (DSP) and include a 3.6mm lens. Users can adjust the angle of the camera based on the installation location to best place the video on the screen. Each camera includes 100 feet of CAT5 Cable along with a CD that contains the User's Guide and Software. Both models offer good low-light sensitivity.
The QCN7002D 720p model is for indoor use and includes a 1/3” 1.3 Megapixel Aptina CMOS sensor allowing it to operate in 1.3M (1280x960) @15fps with a D1 (704x480) substream @15fps, or 720p (1280x720) @30fps with a D1 (704x480) substream @30fps. Video uses H.264 encoding running between 128Kbps-8192Kbps and is Onvif compatible. Minimum illumination on the QCN7002D is 0.1LUX/F1.4 (color) and 0.05LUX/F1.2 (b/w).
The QCN8001D 1080p model supports both indoor or outdoor use and includes a 1/3” SONY progressive scan Exmor CMOS (1920x1080) sensor allowing it to operate in 1080P @30fps, 1.3M @30fps, or 720P @30fps, with a D1 substream @30fps. Video uses H.264 running at 128Kbps-8192Kbps and is also Onvif compatible. Minimum illumination on this camera is 0.2LUX/F1.6 (color) and 0.01LUX/F1.6 (b/w).
We tested both of these with the QC804 and the performance was excellent with adequate lighting. We found that angling the camera in the dome makes for a better shot and some good facial recognition. When pointing straight down, the picture (while quite clear) does not always provide the information needed.
QCN8009D 1080p (IR Illumination)
The QCN7002D (720p) and QCN8001D (1080p) models do not offer any IR illumination in completely dark conditions, so if you want to be able to see video when no ambient light is present, then it would be best to consider the QCN8009D (1080p) HD Dome IP Camera. This model offers the same high performance sensor found in the 1080p QCN8001D, but with better minimum illumination specified at 0.1LUX/F1.2 (color) and 0.01LUX/F1.2 (b/w). In addition, rather than a plastic dome for the sensor assembly, a two-axis housing is provided for a much more robust enclosure.
The outdoor cameras are easy to install and are designed to be mounted on a flat surface. Mounting hardware is included and the design allows for two-axis (azimuth and elevation) adjustments. In some cases we would have preferred a slightly wider lens, but in doing so you give up detail in the area of interest because it covers a wider general area. It's a trade-off and there is no perfect solution. Luckily, the 6mm lens on the QCN7001B is a good all-purpose choice. Having a single cable for power and data makes this installation particularly easy. There are extra cables from the camera that need to be secured. Each 720p bullet camera has an extra power cable that is not needed if you are using PoE. The larger 1080p bullet camera QCN8002B has many extra cables for advanced capabilities.
For most of our testing we used three QCN7001B (720p) bullet cameras and the flagship QCN8002B (1080p) camera in the front of the house. Setting up the QC804 is pretty intuitive with the user interface and we had our four cameras up and running in short time. The mouse certainly helps when navigating through the menu system on the NVR. Since there is no physical keyboard, the user must use the virtual keyboard to enter information requiring key strokes. Once the system is configured we placed the NVR into a cabinet and accessed the system using the PSS (Pro Surveillance System) software.
Playing back video is easy using the PSS software. Simply select the device and camera, specify the date, start/stop times, and the video segment appears in the video list. Users can play the video clip or download to the computer if a softcopy is needed. The resolution of the QCN8002B (1080p) camera is noticeably better than the QCN7001B (720p) camera, but at a considerable price difference ($599 versus $199 on Amazon). If you really need or want the performance of the QCN8002B (1080p), it is nice to know that the option is available and the benefits are observable. However, for most users, the QCN7001B (720p) will perform well enough.
The Q-See QC804 NVR is a powerful security system that offers excellent HD video quality with full 24/7 recording of all zones. The QC804 performance was impressive and provided a level of picture detail not possible with conventional security camera systems. The PSS software allows users to monitor multiple QC-series DVRs and NVRs from a single computer using just one simple log-in and user interface. Various screen modes are supported from a single screen up to 64 screens. The remote access using the iPhone/iPad and Android phone/tablets were great and with the larger tablet screens the picture quality was stunning. The night vision performance was good, and while some ambient light will improve the video quality in certain areas, it will not look nearly as good as the daytime video. However, having the IR illuminators greatly improve the ability to see in complete darkness.
Users should be cautious about the amount of data bandwidth required to stream HD content to their mobile device. I racked up a good 3GB of data usage in just a few days when monitoring my home cameras remotely using my Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Verizon's 4G LTE network. Good thing I currently have an unlimited data plan or my bill could have been significantly higher than normal.
Q-See has done a great job on the QC804 NVR and the performance was excellent both locally and remotely. The 24/7 recording is important since some other systems only capture video when motion is detected. The large 1TB hard drive provides a vast amount of data storage and can always be increased (up to 3GB) if needed. It is great to see HD quality video available for consumer security. Q-See makes it easy to install their HD security system and with the package deals available, it is also affordable.