Swann DVR4-1260 review

Price when reviewed

Swann’s latest DVR4-1260 kit brings multi-channel video surveillance within the budget of the smallest of businesses. It includes a DVR with a 500GB hard disk, two IP67 rated, night vision bullet cameras, and all the cabling needed to get you started for £217.

Swann has cut costs by using BNC cameras rather than pricier IP cameras. These are connected directly to the DVR and Swann includes two 60ft combined power/BNC cables.

The DVR unit has four BNC connectors at the rear so you can add two more cameras if you wish. The DVR accepts any standard BNC camera – we tested it with an ancient Sony CX18VP model which worked fine.

Swann DVR4-1260

HDMI and VGA ports allow you to view camera feeds on a local monitor, and a remote control handset is included as well. The Ethernet port links up with the MyDVR software for remote viewing and configuration and Swann provides a DDNS service for Internet access.

Installation requires you to power up the DVR and follow a quick start wizard on a local monitor. Swann includes one PSU and a dual power splitter for the PRO-535 cameras and their feeds popped up on the screen as soon as we connected them.

Using the local menu or MyDVR software, you can easily set up recording schedules and motion detection for each feed. MyDVR can record directly to the host PC’s own hard disk, and recordings can be saved from the DVR to an external USB device.

For motion detection you define an area for each feed and select actions such as an audible alarm, sending emails with image snapshots or recording video streams. Schedules can also be applied to determine when each feed’s motion detection is active.

Swann DVR4-1260

The Playback feature makes it easy to sift through stored recordings. There are date and time search facilities, and you can also apply a filter and search through scheduled, motion triggered or manual recordings.

The free SwannView app for iOS and Android also lets you monitor on the move. We installed the app on an iPad and used Swann’s DDNS service to successfully access the DVR.

A maximum frame rate of 25fps allows for smooth motion, but the camera’s top resolution of 720 x 576 pixels means that picture quality isn’t great. The focus is slightly blurred so detail in the live view is limited. Expand a feed to fullscreen view, and the low resolution and poor detail retrieval becomes doubly apparent – facial recognition is difficult beyond 20ft.

The cameras’ lenses are surrounded by 36 IR illuminators for night-time operation. We found they could easily light up an area 20 metres away but the poor focus meant we couldn’t see any useful detail at that distance.

The DVR4-1260 kit has a lot going for it. It’s very easy to set up and provides plenty of motion detection and video feed recording features. Image quality suffers due to the low resolution cameras, but the low price makes this kit well suited to SOHOs and small businesses that need an affordable surveillance setup.

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