Best ? Home Security System DVR8–2600 - Reviewed

Written by Joe Baker on . Posted in Miscellaneous

DVR8_2600The Elite Home Security system, the Swann DVR8-2600 8 Channel with Smartphone viewing has been coupled to a camera called the Swann Pro 690 Super-High Resolution Pan, Tilt & Zoom Dome camera. This camera is so NEW to the marketplace that at the time of going to print, the Swann Pro 690 hasn’t yet been allocated a RRP but it will surely prove to be good reading. Along with reviewing the four standard cameras (Pro 580’s) which are normally included in the package, we will also look at another new item to the marketplace, the Pro 680 manual focus camera.

We have just been sent some of the latest upmarket home security equipment from Swann, so we will compare this new  DVR8 2600 and cameras to the DVR4 Pro-Net previously reviewed on this site to see how Swann technology has advanced in home security systems.

We will test these products and comment on their application in a similar manner to the very successful reviews done on this site. We believe we can help you in your decision making and subsequent purchases of high quality security systems that are “fit for purpose”. 

Let’s start with the new DVR8-2600 8 Channel DVR with Smartphone viewing, which also comes with four standard Pro 580 cameras. We will test displays showing pictures of different cameras so that you can see if more expensive (in some cases) is better.  

PRO 580 cameras x 4 suppliedDVR8-2600 8 Channel DVR
What’s in the Box?

With the exception of a monitor, everything that you need for a complete security system is in the box. Including the four Pro 580 cameras, all equipment, cables and cable connections etc to make the Security system fully function able and even a mouse is provided so you can get around the screen faster. 

Note the easy connectionSpecifications DVR8-2600 8 Channel DVR
Video
Video Format PAL or NTSC
Video Inputs 8 x Composite BNC Inputs
Video Outputs 2 x Composite BNC Outputs, 1 x VGA Out
Display Resolution NTSC: 704 x 480, PAL: 704 x 576 (Composite Video)
VGA: Up to 1400 x 900
Display Frame Rate NTSC: 30fps, PAL: 25fps
Audio
Audio Inputs 4 x RCA Audio Input
Audio Output 2 x RCA Audio Output
Recording
Compression Format H.264
Recording Resolution NTSC: D1 (704x480), HD1 (704x240), CIF (352x240)
PAL: D1 (704 x 576), HD1 (704 x 288), CIF (352 x 288)
Recording Frame Rate (Global) NTSC: 60 fps D1, 120fps HD1, 240fps CIF
PAL: 50fps D1, 100fps HD1, 200fps CIF*
Maximum Frame Rate per Channel NTSC: 30fps PAL: 25fps
Recording Modes Manual / Motion / Schedule / Alarm
Multiplex Operation Triplex
HDD Interface SATA
Hard Drive Support Up to 2TB
Network
LAN Connection Yes
Network Interface RJ45
Network Protocol(s) TCP/IP. DDNS
Network Types Static IP, DHCP, PPPoE
Remote Operation Yes
General
Operating Power DC12V
Dimensions
Weight 4 ~ 5lb (2 ~ 2.5kg) - varies by HDD installed
Backup Method USB to Flash Drive
Mouse Support 1 x USB
Remote Control 1 x Infrared Controller
Remote Battery Type 2 x AAA

What will the DVR8-2600 8 Channel DVR do?
Well, pretty much everything! Just look at the above listed specifications. We will try to tell you about the functions that it will do which aren’t quite so obvious such as:
•    Multiple video out (more than one TV at once)
•    Ethernet port – can connect to LAN
•    Mobile support Microsoft Windows mobile Symbian 560 ie Iphone, Blackberry and Android
•    Powerful H.264 compression advanced video codec that is of extremely high quality
•    Full operation of a “pan and tilt” camera
•    3 different recording modes - Alarm, Normal and No Record by schedule or otherwise
•    Incident search by time, date or event
•    Provision of a USB backup of transfer of event etc from the user friendly  file list or  event log
•    USB port to allow firmware loaded transfers
•    Playback features are very similar to what you will find on your home VCR or DVD player
•    The DVR8 will act as the controller for a PTZ capable camera system although it is not compatible with all PTZ systems
•    Auto email capability with GMail (some other providers can misidentify as spam)
•    Ability to access DVR via mobile device (password protected)
•    Auto maintenance capability for reboot as a system maintenance and Hard drive cleanup function.
•    Provision of UPnP ultimate simple and short cut feature for setting up home network
•    Easy remote access to DVR8 – 2600 via Internet Explorer
Old DVR4 Pro- net with old cameras

The above Pictures are taken with
Old DVR4 Pronet with

01 Top left - Swann Pro 620 – see previous review - 22nd November 2009
02 Top right – Swann Pro 640 – see previous review - 22nd November 2009
03 Bottom left Standard camera SW214 that came with DVR4  Pro net   

New DVR8 -2600 and new cameras

The above Pictures are taken with
New DVR8-2600 with
Vac Lot – New Pro 690 pan (600TV lines)
Garages – Was 02 as above photo Pro 640
Front – New Pro 680 (600TV lines)
Patio – Was 01 as above photo Pro 620

Camera General Observations
With regard to clarity definition and ability to read eg number plates we rated the cameras in this order, Pro 690 by far , Pro 680 and Pro 640 close with an edge to the 680, Pro 620 and then Pro 580.
Note the difference in quality using the higher spec’d later model cameras

DVR General Observations
Use of the remote and mouse certainly are a significant jump over the DVR4 for ease of day to day operation. Menus are friendly and are more easily understood than the previous DVR4 Pro net.. Also worth mentioning is that the metal box is smaller, yet it is an 8 channel which also does a lot more than the DVR4. The four Pro 580 cameras are all fitted with BNC connectors rather than the old banana type which leaked video quality loss. It’s worth mentioning that all the upmarket cameras are also fitted with BNC. We also found the old cameras with the DVR4 Pro net to have a cheap anchoring system which frequently failed, whereas the brackets on the newer 580’s are excellent and far more robust.

In the new DVR8 2600 settings, such items as time and naming of the cameras is very easy via the mouse, with all menus being relatively idiot proof compared to older models. One aspect we did like was that you can do schedule motion monitoring which means you can turn off event recording during certain times if you wish. Another plus was the methodology whereby you can set different frame rates for each camera so that the important ones can have better quality recordings or video playback.

We did have some trouble with the remote but we expect a firmware update will fix this. The remote works well for up to approximately 4.5 metres away, which is great. (Note: We are pleased to say that the firmware upgrade did fix all problems).

Setup operation and ease of finding catalogued recordings is vastly improved and this is also coupled to a far better search and playback system.

When using a PTZ camera, you can either use the controller that comes with the camera OR hook it into the DVR8 2600’s controller. We however, opted for connection via the 690 Pros’ controller as otherwise you cannot use the DVR8 2600’s remote for PTZ control as the remote that they elude to in the instruction booklet at page 31 is in fact the “ON Screen” one accessed by pressing the control panels button. We did have some trouble finding how to stop the PTZ camera from rotating, but this was in the right click on the mouse "on screen". Another snippet of info’ that we found out from the techno’ boys was that when it all locked up, we pressed and held the rewind until it beeped then pressed menu and we were all ok again, we expect that a firmware upgrade via a download to a USB stick will negate the need for this (and yes it did).

Note that some menu functions are ONLY available by using the mouse and not the remote - we did not see this as a bad thing as they were typically functions or settings that you would only visit on limited occasions. We found the enclosed manual lacking in detail in the advanced setting of recording but a number of phone calls to the “Help” line fixed this. Unlike other products whereby the seller doesn’t want to know you after you buy the product, Swann really are different. The customer service and Techno’ boys were excellent showing the utmost patience and knowledge, enabling me to go through any concerns I had. Their manner and knowledge of the product was exceptional.

Remote access via Internet Explorer worked as they said it would, although we would reaffirm that you need a fast download and upload internet service to get smooth playback and monitoring. An upload speed of 256pbs seemed marginal, but twice this is very good - this IS NOT the fault of the DVR8 2600’s system.

We can also confirm that the DVR8 2600 recovered well from an assimilated 250 volt power main power cut and came back on line without dropping any settings! YEEEEHA!
New PRO 690 dome camera

PRO-690 Super-High Resolution Pan, Tilt & Zoom Dome camera
Coupled to the DVR8-2600 8 Channel with Smartphone viewing, this camera is sure to be a valuable asset in any surveillance system. What we really love about this camera is that it DOES DO EVERYTHING - you can change speed, stop points, zoom in and also the fact that this camera does not suffer when looking towards the sun as much as any of the other cameras, really appealed to us.

We were able to set up complicated patterns or stops that we wanted, yet also have a fixed picture where we wanted it. This allowed us to set a motion alarm which is something they say is best not to do with this camera. You cannot or should not then use the camera on auto cruise as it will then trigger the motion recording. This camera at 600 TV lines is noticeably better in picture quality than some of the cameras and with the 3x zoom it is just about all you need as it does the work better than three or four other fixed cameras. But just bear in mind, there is no motion recording whilst on cruise. If you have this camera hooked to the DVR8 2600, then put in the 2TB HDD and simply record the whole lot.  But anyway, just look at the spec’s following:

Specifications
Video
Image Sensor 1/3” CCD
Video Quality 600 TV Lines
Number of Effective Pixels NTSC: 768 x 494
PAL: 752 x 582
Minimum Illumination 0.01 Lux
White Balance Automatic
Signal / Noise Ratio > 50dB
Electronic Shutter NTSC: 1/60 – 1/100, 000
PAL: 1/50 – 1/100, 000
Gain Control Automatic
Backlight Compensation Yes
Lens Vari-focal 4-9mm
Viewing Angle 30 – 60 degrees
Zoom 3x Optical
PTZ Features
Dome Type 4” PTZ Dome
Baud Rate 1200/2400/4800/9600 bps
Pan Rotation Continuous 360º
Tilt Rotation 0º ~ 90º
Preset Points Up to 32
Preset Panning Speed 35º/sec
Preset Panning Accuracy + / - 3º
Programmable Pattern Up to 16 preset points
PTZ Controller
Interface Type RS485
Protocol Full Function Pelco P/D
Address 0 – 255
Display Type 4 LED
Remote Control Included
Battery Type 2 x AAA
General
Operating Power DC 12V
Operating Temperature 23ºF ~ 140ºF / -5ºC ~ 60ºC
Body Construction ABS Plastic
Dimensions – Camera 5.9” x 3.1” x 4.9” (150mm x 125mm x 125mm)
Dimensions – Stand 4.5” x 3.1” x 5.3” (80mm x 72mm x 28mm)
Weight – Camera 500g / 1.1lbs
Weight – Camera & Stand 700g / 1.5lbs
Weight – Controller 85g / 3oz

As this unit has super-high resolution 1/3 600TV line CCD sensor you see fully controllable clear video. The 3x optical lens gives you the ability to zoom in on the smallest detail and it’s all compatible with your Swann DVR 2600, so control all of the surveillance via your 3G enabled Smartphone from wherever you may be. 
New PRO 680 camera

PRO-680 Manual focus and adjustable angle security camera
This is a higher spec’d camera than the supplied Pro 580’s and it shows
PRO 680 1/3 Sony Super HAD CCD with 600 TV lines
PRO 580 ¼
CCD with 480 TV lines.
PRO 680 752 x 582 Pixels (PAL) viewing angle 35 -70 deg
PRO 580 628 x 582 Pixels (PAL) viewing angle 62 deg
At 36 the number of infra red LED’s is three times in the Pro 680 than that of the Pro 580 and the night vision distance is double that of the Pro 580.
Note that the Pro 680 has a variable focal 4mm – 9mm lens, whereas the Pro 580 has no focus changing and has a set viewing angle.
Against the Pro 580 it’s not surprising then, that these changes do make a significant difference to onscreen quality with the Pro 680 being the superior camera on definition. 
This is NO reflection of the four Pro 580s supplied with the DVR8-2600 8 Channel DVR which altogether make up a package that’s hard to beat.

Conclusion
Far from a “base package” the Swann DVR8 2600 is technically capable and easy to operate. Doing all you could wish for, even for a Professional purpose as it also has the capabilities to be hooked up to the very TOP cameras available.

Unlike other products that perform equal to the weakest link in the chain, the Swann DVR8 2600 DVR will handle pretty much all you can upgrade to connect to it. The capital cost is always in the cameras and so you can always later upgrade cameras to suit your purpose. Whilst the Pro 580 is an excellent camera, if you want a really top picture you will need to buy Swann Specific purpose cameras that have the angle at no more and no less for what you require to monitor. You need to keep in mind that each additional area or angle you monitor unnecessarily can cost you dearly in reproduction quality.

A great surprise was the quality of the Pro 690 Pan and Tilt camera which gave extremely good detail as you were able to have a concentrated picture of a small area but still move it around (a bit like the difference between a spotlight where the definition is superior to that of a same lumens large area light). Remember that it is not recommended to have a motion triggered recording with a PTZ panning camera. Instead constant recording is used requiring large hard drives or shorter hard drive recording fill times.

lease ensure that you read the review http://www.digitalreviews.net/reviews/digital-cameras/swann-security-pro-620-long-range-and-vari-focal-pro-640-cameras-reviewed.html of the Pro 620 and Pro 640 on this site as it will also assist you to make decisions, as those two cameras are still used in this review.

Our thanks to Swann at www.Swann.com.au   for the chance to review good products
All in all, we found the DVR8-2600 8 Channel DVR to be VERY well endowed with technology potential, well supported and therefore clearly worth the recommended retail value of AUD $1299. Camera RRP’s are Pro 690 No price as yet, Pro 680 $249. Pro 640 $349, Pro 620 $249, Pro 580 $150
Hope this all helps!

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    Comments (2)

      • Mic Vincent Ramirez

        I find this article to be profoundly useful and precise. We grind on searching for the best home security systems only yet to find our selves bewildered upon our choices and make a decision. But things had made a lot easier after I read this. Thanks!

      • Lex Drury

        Any chance of uploading sample recording from the cameras?<br />Thanks

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