There are a lot of security camera systems to chose from but you should avoid the DVR-based systems like Swann, Q-See or Shadow because of the technical problems of “port forwarding” so that you can actually see your cameras remotely. Instead, select a cloud-based system like Blink or Ring. Ring systems are the absolute best and the Blink system is good, too, but it has problems. Orbing WiFi extensions have serious issues mainly lacking any tech support. Xfinity is the best Internet source over AT&T and definitely over MediaCom when it comes to technical support
By Ray Hanania
June 6, 2020
There was a time when Q-See and Swann DVR-based security camera systems were the only real option. No only did you have to hassle by wiring the cameras throughout the property, usually a home, but you also had to deep dive into the murky and confusing world of computer Internet IP addresses, and the cuss-word of security camera systems “port forwarding.”
Basically, after installed you expensive home security camera system, costing usually about $1,000 for eight cameras and a DVR recording device, you had to sit down and navigate through the murky waters of port forwarding. The whole point of having a home security system was to be able to access it remotely.
Q-See and Swann sold the systems to hundreds of thousands of homeowners on the basis of a misleading claim, that you could access your systems remotely using their Apps.
What they didn’t tell you is that they frequently upgraded their DVR-based systems making the ones you bought nearly obsolete, and upgraded their mobile Apps so many times earlier versions that you struggled to get working properly — and it was a struggle — no longer work.
What is port forwarding? It sounds simple. You enter the settings of your security camera system and “open” a port on your system to allow access from a remote location. In reality there are far too many circumstances that can block opening the ports you need to access your system.
The biggest obstacle is that your home internet provider, like AT&T or XFinity often change your IP address. Oh, you’d didn’t know that you have two IP Addresses? One that you can see locally from inside your home and one that you can see remotely from outside of your home. Both have to be set to access remote viewing.
So when they change, your remote access coaches, usually when you are on vacation and away from your home that one or two times during the year you try to get away and want to have the comfort of knowing your home is security.
Neither Q-See nor Swann have come up with systems to improve this problem. Port Forwarding is a curse, the bane of the existence of remote camera viewing. If you can’t view your property remotely than you home security system is worthless.
The alternative as I have said is cloud-based systems like Ring and Blink.
Port forwarding problems only worsen when you add an internet expansion system like the Orbing Systems, satellites that extend the distance of your home WiFi so that your internet can actually be used in a normal home.
Walls and appliances can block your base Internet from AT&T or Xfinity. Your Modem might be located in the family room and internet strength can be severely weakened for first and second floor access. The bigger the home the worse the service, sadly.
Netgear offers the Orbing System to solve that. And while it is good, when you have problems, Orbing lacks technical assistance. There I no one you can call to get help. They force you to pay double to get minimal technical assistance. And instead, the force you to go to their “User Forums,” a place where your concerns get bullied into silence.
Those forums are not there to help you. They are there to demean you and embarrass you and bully you. When you ask a question, they pelt you with all kinds of technical mumbo jumbo. And when you persist at asking for help and not get answers, they bully you. It’s YOUR fault that their system isn’t working. t’s not their fault.
The Port Forwarding Option on their system is hit and miss and doesn’t always work. You can follow their instructions to port forward but they don’t always work. I have two homes and one works and one doesn’t, even though they are set up exactly the same.
If Orbi had a tech help line, where you could talk to a live person, they might eb worth it. But they are expensive and once you purchase them, you are gambling on the quality of service.
Worse, of course, is that the different Internet systems hate each other and are offended when you couple their system with another system. Xfinity and Orbi hate each other. They don’t work together. Xfinity and MediaCom, is another Internet provider system. MediaCom is great when it comes to technical assistance, until you install the Orbing systems.
I literally was bullied by a woman at MediaCom when I asked her if she needed to port forward so I can make my original Shadow DVR system work. “We don’t do port forwarding,” she barked.
Blink allows you to install up to 10 battery operated wireless cameras. You don’t need to fuss with wiring them when you place them to view locations of the home that need to be watched.
They operate on Lithium batteries but the Blink architects did a poor job of building the cameras. They come in two parts, thebasl that screws into the wall or side of the home. And the camera itself which has to snap onto the base using a plastic “ball” extension. The problem is that snapping and unsapping the camera format he base can easily damage the cheap plastic.
It;’s almost as if Blink did that on purposes to force people to purchase new equipment and make money. The American auto industry did that. They set up cars to fall apart after four years or 60,000 miles in order to make you either pay exorbitant repair costs or buy a new car. If you car was great why would you need a new one?
You then have to struggle to push down on a switch and then pry the back panel off the back of the camera, something you have to do when you install it and to scan the identity bar code, or to open to replace the lithium batteries that supposedly last one year.
Of course the camera has severe design flaws. That’s because people in the computer industry who know how to program don’t have normal human being lives. They don’t use those cheap camera systems and have no idea what an oral homeowners needs. They just come up with a generic concept, package it and hire a marketing firm to lie and distort the product to sell it.
The architecture of the Blink Camera isn’t it’s only problem.
The camera system works on its own network, which in principle sounds great. You use a Hub which you link to your home internet systems, using the Blink App. Once the hub is connected, through the App you can then connect up to 10 remote cameras.
Sometimes when you Internet goes down and then returns, the Hub doesn’t reconnect. Why, ask the moron computer programers and technicians for their mumbo jumbo answers. You have to reboot the Hub, which means that if you are not at home and trying to view your cameras remotely, you are csrewed and can’t reboot the Hub.
I installed a timer to reboot the Hub System twice every day so that when the internet does go out, instead of being out the whole day, the Hub reboots during the day and certain times and reconnects.
But that’s not the worst part. The Blink cameras have very clear images but they don’t record very well or much. So much is lost. The system lives up to its name, “Blink.” Recodings are basically an incomplete blink that is a short snapshot of what has happened. Even though you can set the time length of the recording, it doesn’t really work at all.
You can control each camera adjusting the settings for sensitivity and range, etc. And you can turn them on and off easily using the App.
So you end up with recordings that are helpful but not great.
Avoid the system and instead purchase Ring.
The Ring Camera system is probably the best you can buy and the easiest to use. The only problem is installation and you probably have to hire an electrician to install them.
Well, you could turn off your electricity in your home and put the Ring Cameras in the place of your existing outdoor home lighting systems.
I use the Ring Security Light Camera system, which basically costs around $250 for each camera. They either must be installed into an existing light system replacing it, or sharing the electrical current. If you lights are on timers that will cause a problem.
So it’s best to install the camera systems separately connected to their own electricity source and installed on the outside of the Garage, the side of the home, the backyard, or wherever you want to watch to secure your home.
Once they are installed, they are amazing, however. The cameras record everything. You can adjust settings to capture all movement or what it perceives as human movement.
The images are amazing. The view is very wide and they catch everything. Nothing escapes their view and the recordings are not short and last the time that the movement lasts and more. The cameras can be synced so that if a person comes to the front of the house, the cameras notify each other to begin recording as the person walks around the house so you get the initial moments critical to good video security of a person entering a camera’s field of view.
The system is accessed using their App which you also you to control the cameras. We have the security camera and light system which has two spotlights that can be adjusted physically and also through he App. The only real problem is that when you want to go outside and watch the stars in the sky at night, your Ring Camera system spotlights keep going on and off as you move, recording everything.
Although you can control each camera through the App, the system to turn off the lights doesn’t work.
What Ring needs is a switch to turn a camera on and off completely.