Analog CCTV cameras used for surveillance purposes are being slowly phased out by IP cameras. These IP cameras compress video in MJPEG / MPEG-4 or H.264 and send it over Ethernet / Wi-Fi. A surveillance system may consist of multiple cameras. A VMS (video management software) system is necessary to manage these multiple video streams (including real-time viewing and archiving for later retrieval).

Companies such as Swann provide complete NVR systems which bundle a dedicated recorder with hard disk storage and multiple cameras. On the other hand, we have standalone cameras compatible with the ONVIF (Open Network Video Interface Forum) standards. They can interface with third-party VMS solutions which are ONVIF-compatible. These third-party VMS solutions can run on a PC or be an app / add-on for NAS devices.

Over the last few years, we have been working on improving our coverage of network attached storage (NAS) devices. The focus has been on performance, usability and reliability in generic scenarios. NAS units, however, have varied usage modes. With increased surveillance needs (at homes and offices), consumers often end up dedicating a NAS as a network video recorder (NVR). While some vendors such as Thecus and QNAP offer dedicated NVRs, other such as LenovoEMC and Synology tag on NVR capabilities to their NAS models using add-ons. While Synology develops their Surveillance Station in-house, LenovoEMC works with a third-party, Milestone Systems, to add NVR capabilities to their x86-based NAS models.

LenovoEMC provided us with a review unit of the PX2-300D NVR along with two Axis M1031-W IP cameras. The PX2-300D NVR edition is the same as the PX2-300D (specifications below) in terms of hardware. The NVR edition comes bundled with enterprise HDDs (Our review unit had 2x Hitachi Ultrastar 7K3000 HUA723020ALA640 2TB drives). From the firmware perspective, the NVR edition comes bundled with the Milestone Arcus VMS. Four camera licenses are included. Arcus from Milestone Systems is a new Linux-based VMS solution for embedded systems to go along with their XProtect VMS for Microsoft Windows.

LenovoEMC PX2-300D Specifications
Processor Intel Atom D525 (2C/4T, 1.80 GHz)
Drive Bays 2x 3.5"/2.5" SATA 6 Gbps HDD / SSD (Hot-swappable)
Network Links 2x 1 GbE
USB Slots 1x USB 3.0 / 2x USB 2.0
eSATA Slots None
Expansion Slots Yes (1 PCIe for Analog PCIe encoder)
VGA / Display Out VGA
Full Specifications Link LenovoEMC PX2-300D Hardware Specs

Evaluating a NVR is mostly a subjective qualitative exercise. At AnandTech, we are big fans of Synology's NAS units. Since we had a couple of them lying around, we requested Synology for a Surveillance Station license (4-pack). Thanks to Synology, we were able to obtain a frame of reference while talking about Milestone Arcus in the PX2-300D. In the first section, we will take a look at the setup process and browser-based usage. In the second section, we will take a look at the Android app for surveillance using a smartphone / tablet. We will conclude with a look at some power consumption numbers.

Setup Impressions
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  • Beany2013 - Friday, July 26, 2013 - link

    Nnng. I've recently started looking at building semi-managed CCTV solutions for customers and have recently come across this semi-niche of devices.

    Commentards, er, I mean, esteemed commenters (sorry, hang over of forums, which are somewhat more brutal) - do you have any experience of these devices, and can you recommend me a device that can handle multiple 2+MP streams and a few sub-megapixel streams that won't crap itself after three months?

    No homebrew stuff - must be warrantied up and good to go out of the box with minimal (expected - I'm a sysadmin by trade so no fear) config...

    Also, long term reader, first time poster - do like a bit of AT. Keep it up, Ganesh and co....

    Steven R
  • bobbozzo - Sunday, July 28, 2013 - link

    Hi, most of the off the shelf stuff I've seen is sub-megapixel, although I haven't looked in a while.

    This is the first off the shelf system I've seen with megapixel IP cams.

    I know you said you want off the shelf, but I was pretty happy with my ZoneMinder setup, with a megapixel IP cam and a couple of SD cams.
    I dismantled it when I moved and haven't gotten around to setting it up again.

    We have a Swann system at work; cams are Coax, not IP, and resolution and quality is SD. It works OK, but I don't really think they're worth the money.

    Many of the megapixel IP cams are junk though.
    Axis has a good reputation, but I haven't seen one in action.
  • Ammaross - Monday, July 29, 2013 - link

    You're correct, Axis cameras have worked great for me (have mainly used their older models though). And as for multi-megapixel, you're looking more into the "homebrew" market of installing software such as Video Insight or the Pelco suite on a Windows server (or go the inexpensive route and use ZoneMinder on Linux [which is what I did. Worked great, except my first attempt was underpowered...]).
  • BryanDobbins - Saturday, August 17, 2013 - link

    my buddy's aunt makes $87 hourly on the computer. She has been without work for 6 months but last month her paycheck was $17888 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more here...
  • cuylar - Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - link

    D-Link DNR-322L & DCS-2230(WiFI) or DCS-2210(PoE)
  • Lord 666 - Friday, July 26, 2013 - link

    A little off-topic, but why go enterprise HDD when a single 1TB of EVO SSD is $650. I want to pick up a security system and lock the recording unit in my safe. Power is not that much an issue versus heat and noise.
  • Egg - Friday, July 26, 2013 - link

    I'm a little confused - how do you get networking into the safe? Do you drill a hole in the safe, or do you use wireless that's likely to drop out?
  • Lord 666 - Friday, July 26, 2013 - link

    Rifle-sized gun safes are usually pre-drilled for floor post anchoring and dehumidifiers. Route the 12/2 wire along with cat5 through one or two of those holes. Now you have a hardened security system that is both tamper and fire resistant.
  • Dentons - Saturday, July 27, 2013 - link

    Unless your system is entirely solid state and / or designed for zero airflow, you may experience extreme heat related reliability issues by placing it inside a safe.

    Almost every system is designed with some level of air flow in mind. If you're going to do this, you'd want to pull and push air though the system. Probably with ducts to force air past the system.
  • bobbozzo - Sunday, July 28, 2013 - link

    I agree about the heat problem, but adding ducts to a safe will ruin it's fire-worthy-ness.

    A better idea would probably be to get a locking rack-mount cabinet, and bolt it to the floor or a wall stud.

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