Amcrest 960h video security systemstars45Rating 4.5 Reviewed by Paul When you leave your home to go to work or on vacation it can be concerning to know if your family home are safe.

Especially when there has been burglaries in your neighborhood or if you have concerns about your neighbor. If you have business it can be a concern about what happens in your warehouse or other areas you can’t see during the day or night.

Security cameras can be an excellent way to deter criminals from targeting your home or business as well as give you video if they continue to help in catching a criminal in the act.

The Amcrest 960h video security system is a highly rated system is economically priced.

It comes with 4 waterproof cameras that can be viewed remotely anywhere in the world you can access the internet.

It has the capacity to store 6 days of 24/7 video and more if you change the resolution and/or set to record motion only. It can be set to send email alerts when it detects unauthorized motion.

In this review I investigates its’ ability to monitor your home or business . Including the quality of the video, the recording and viewing the video, how easy it is to install , set up , view remotely and more.
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Installation

To set the system up you are need to provide your own monitor to view the menus and see the cameras and a power strip with room for 4 large plugs (per quick start guide).

The DVR works with either HDMI or VGA cable to connect to the monitor (TV or computer screen). It doesn’t work with a laptop.

The data requirements for the internet connection speeds recommended are 6 Mbps Down and 2 Mbps Up but resolution and bitrate can be adjusted if needed depending on your network speeds.

The set up process is detailed in the quick start guide. One of the most important steps is to change the admin password from the standard one it comes with – you can do this during the set up or after. This is the administrator account that has the ability to add/delete users and configure parameters.

If there are 3 failed attempts at logging within a 30 minute time frame it sets off an alarm and after 5 the account is locked.

If you already have a camera system installed and are looking to replace the system, it is backward compatible with old coaxial cabling where you just need to replace the cameras and the DVR doing away with the need to rewire your house.

If a new installation you need to run cables through your house to connect the cameras to the DVR which normally involves drilling holes in your walls. You may also need to feed them through your attic to get the cables to where you can connect them to cameras.

Amcrest 960h video security system priceSetting up DVRs for remote access are harder than the plug and play that you have with IP cameras but they do tend to be more robust and not charge you to use their features. This model is one of the easier ones with an App that helps to make the process easier.

If you don’t want to you don’t have to set them up for use over the internet using a PC or Android or iOS device but you then won’t be able to view the camera remotely.

When accessing with a PC it can be done either locally or remotely and the process is described in the user guide plus there are videos to help with this.

There is also a step by step walk through of setting up the App to use with the system. You do need to download the free Amcrest Link App to do this.

Just to reiterate it is more difficult than setting up for remote viewing than an IP camera and the instructions aren’t the clearest but most people find they can do with it out too much trouble. It does rewuire plugging the DVR into your router using an Ethernet cable (provided) so you also need a spare port. The most difficult part is in the initial set up, after that it is straightforward.

Contract

There is no contract to be signed or addition one off or month charges to use the system. When viewing remotely with your smartphone your normal data rate charges will apply.

Support

You can call them between 9.30 am to 5.00 pm CST Monday to Friday. This can make it difficult to get hold of them when you are likely to want to talk to them which for most people is outside of normal working hours if there is a problem they want to talk about in operating the system.

When I contacted with some questions they were a little slow to come back to me but their responses were helpful and informative.

Amcrest 960H Video Security System Cameras

Amcrest 960h video security system camera oudoorsThe camera has a fixed focal length with 74 degree field of view with a 800 TVL resolution and a 720 X 480 resolution. It can record up to 30 frame per second. This gives you reasonable clarity when viewing live and recorded video. It isn’t crystal clear as you’d get with HD but it is acceptable.

Over 20 ft the images are going to start to get fuzzy and blurry and make it difficult to identify people particularly on the night vision. They work best when protecting a defined area like a front door, side of a house or gate rather than open space.

At a distance of 20 feet the 74 degree field of view gives you a 30 feet wide view.

The cameras can be used internally and externally to cover access, entrances, gardens, backyards or pools, bedrooms, garages, guest home, nurseries and more . As well as home use they can be used to keep an eye on your business car parks, stores, entrances, warehouses, offices and so on.

The cameras have an IP66 rating which means they should stand up to very bad weather conditions including dust, wind and rain with only total immersion in water being a problem. This is what you want from a camera that you want to use outdoors.

The cameras work day and night. The night vision is in black and white. The cameras have 24 IR LED lights for night vision which enables the cameras to see up to 65 ft at night. (Although the picture is clearer up to 20 ft away from the camera and then gets more blurry as you move further away.)

Even though the DVR gives you the ability to control PTZ cameras, the cameras provided are fixed view only. There is a digital zoom where you can enlarge the picture 12 times in live view but this is just on the picture and the camera lens itself isn’t zooming in and it can get pixelated.

There are 4 ports for audio input, however the cameras and cable supplied with the system don’t support audio. You need to source the microphone and cable separately.

The cameras don’t work particularly well set to view through a window as the image will be affected by glare and reflection from the window. It is better to set it up outside although that does mean some more time installing the camera initially.

The camera is rated to work between the temperatures of 14 degrees F and 122 degrees F.

Video Storage

Amcrest 960h video security system viewingThe DVR comes with a 500 GB drive installed for storing video. When the disk is full the current video will record over the oldest recording – it is a continuous loop. The disk is enough for 6 days of constant HD recording which in most circumstances is probably adequate except when you are on vacation or away from the property (such as a vacation home) and can’t access the system remotely for some reason. If you set to motion only or reduce the resolution you can expand the number of days storage to over 30 days.

It is possible to expand the storage up to 3 TB (6 times larger) for longer time periods of recording. You can also back this up on to USB drive or hard drive with USB cable or use FTP or cloud storage if you want to keep some of the video files permanently. You may when there is a security incident or something memorable happens.

You can view recorded video remotely using App or internet account or locally using the monitor.

When playing back video you select the type you want from all, motion, schedule or manual. You then select the time frame you want to view. You can then fast forward, pause, rewind, slow forward or frame by frame making it easy to highlight what you want to see.

Alarms

You can set the system to buzz when it detects motion which alerts you rather but it isn’t loud like a siren.

It can’t be integrated with a home security system but could work with one to see what is happening at home when you’ve received an alert from your system. Two systems it would work with well are a Fortress GSM-B Wireless Security System or a PiSector GS08-M HoHme Security System that will send you a text notification when they detect a break in. You can then check your home or business to see what is going on before deciding on the what course of action you need to take including calling the police.

Notification

Amcrest 960h video security system log inYou can set the system up to notify you and up to 2 others when movement is detected and send you a snapshot of the event. The image is normally blurry but you can then check out the situation by watching a recording or viewing the cameras live.

You can set the system to also alert you when it loses a feed from a camera, the disk is full, there is an error writing the video to the storage disk, its disconnected from the internet and if there is a problem with the internet connection i.e. IP address conflict.

Remote Monitoring

Amcrest 960h video security system remote monitoringThe cameras can be viewed by anyone that has been set up and has a password to view the cameras and recordings from anywhere in the world that they can access the internet with a PC or Android or IOS device.
From these devices they can see 1 or all 4 cameras at the same time and toggle between them as they choose.

While viewing video you can take snapshots and record video locally to your device, which is better than many of the cloud based cameras where you don’t get this option and the recording can only be on the company’s servers.
Reviews of the App are mixed with some people struggling to get it to work but most people do seem to be able to get it to work for them to view their cameras.

The Android App works on devices with Android 3.0 and up, The iOS App works on devices running version 6.0 and up, but works best with iphone 5. It can also be viewed on a PC

Battery

The only item needing a battery is the remote control that comes with the system. Everything else is powered by the house supply.

There are no back up batteries for use when there is a power outage. It is recommended that you use a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) for power back up and protecting the DVR from damage due to power fluctuations as you would with computer equipment. A UPS will normally give you a few hours supply at best.

Sensors/Detection

The cameras can detect motion in its field of view and can be used to send you alerts by email and set off DVR buzzer. It does this by image movement in the video stream – ie. comparing one image to the other.

The cameras motion detection sensitivity can be reduced to prevent false alerts caused by things like plants moving. You can also determine which zones within the camera view actually trigger an alert so you can avoid high traffic areas and just set it to where you don’t expect people to go.

However, it can be difficult to get the sensitivity setting right depending on what you have got the camera set to view. If you are watching a defined area like a porch it is easier to get the sensitivity set so you don’t get too many false alerts or that end up with it ignoring people.

When you set the system to record on motion it is possible to have it record 5 seconds before it detected the motion and record for as long as you want after. If motion is detetected within the time it is recording the system then resets to continue to record for the time after set by you. For example if you set the system to record for 10 minutes and it detects motion with in that time it will continue to record for a further 10 minutes after that motion was detected and will continue doing this ifm ore motion is detected.

Setting The Recording

You can set the DVR system to record on a set schedule, only when motion is detected or to be on all the time.

The scheduling function allows you to set it by day allowing you to meet the different requirments you have on a daily basis e.g. it is likely your weekend routine is different to the one you have during the week.

The DVR

Amcrest 960h video security system DVRAt the front of the DVR in the top left corner are 2 status LED lights for power and DVR. This tells you when the power is on, the DVR active and if it is recording.
Below them is the USB port for connecting USB storage devices or a USB mouse.

Towards the right is remote controller receiver for when using the remote control. Further to the right are the function buttons for play/pause button, all button to view all cameras at once, menu button for toggling between main menu and select button to make a menu selection.

Above these buttons are the direction arrows for moving between menu items and preview mode you can use to move through the channels or cameras.

At the back of the unit are the ports, not all are needed for the system. Starting from the left are audio inputs (not used as no audio functionality on cameras), next is 4 video inputs that take the feed from the camera. Next is an audio output which is not used.

To the right is eSATA port for external storage port. Below that is a VGA port and next to it is a HDMI port for connecting a monitor to the DVR for local ocntrol and viewing of cameras and recorded video.

Next is an Ethernet Port for connecting to your router for remote access. There is another USB port next to this. Then comes a PTZ control port for control of PTZ cameras – these aren’t supported by this system. And finally is 12V DC input for plugging in the adapter to power the DVR.

The power part of the cable for powering cameras into a separate adapter rather than into the DVR. Therefore you need to have two sockets close to one another or a power strip to run the system.

The USB mouse can also be used to control the DVR and it brings up a soft keyboard on screen to click on to help move through menus and set up and change functions.

Timers

how long do you have to leave house after setting, how long between trigger and notification attempts

Protection Against It Being Switched Off

There is no built in protection against the power being turned off as the system will go dead as there are no back up batteries in the system unless you’ve plugged it into an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) which needs to be bought separately.

If one of the cameras goes offline you can set the system to alert you that this is happened giving you the heads up if the power supply is cut or a camera has been destroyed or stopped working.

Coverage

The cables provided for connecting the DVR and cameras are 60 ft long which is usually more than enough for locating the cameras where you want.

It is possible to extend that range up to 984 ft by purchasing additional coaxial cable for video and power.

Wireless or Wired

The system is completely wired with the DVR connected to the cameras by cable and connected to your router by Ethernet cable (if you want remote access). This does restrict where you can place the DVR and cameras.

If you want or need the DVR in a different location you need a longer cable or it is possible to use a wireless bridge, however this is not standard and requires additional hardware and knowledge to do this.

Zones

Each of the camera can be set up individually to act differently at the same time e.g. you could have on a schedule for being active and off, one being on motion only and another on continuously.

Dimensions

DVR dimensions are 10.2 (W) x 1.6 (H) x 9.1 (L) inches and weighs 3.5 lbs (without HDD

The camera dimensions are 6 inches (L), Front Faceplate (circular): 2 x 2 inches and weighs 0.53 lbs

Features

Amcrest 960h video security system contentsThe box contains

1 x 960H 4-Channel DVR

4 x 800+ TVL Bullet Cameras

1 x 500GB Hard Drive

4 x 60 Foot Cables – dual power and video.

1 x 4 CH Power Supply to power the cameras

1 x DVR Power Supply

1 USB Mouse

1 Remote control

User Manual & Quick Start Guide

Accessories

You can get additional BNC cable for video and power in 60 ft, 100 ft and 150 ft direct from the suppliers site but there are cheaper alternatives available on Amazon and other online stores.

Pros

Installation and set up is relatively easy for a DVR set up but is more difficult than IP cameras
Can view cameras and receive notifications where ever you can get an internet connection to your phone or via the internet when using a PC

You don’t need the internet to use the system but you won’t be able to view remotely without it

The price is good value for the quality of the system you get

There are no ongoing fees to use the system

You aren’t dependent on the company server’s being up to record and view the cameras

You can get email notifications when cameras detect motion with a screen shot of the event

Any number of people can view the cameras at one time if they have the password

Can set to schedule recording which can be different by day of the week

Motion detection snesitivity and area can be adjusted to prevent false alerts

Good for indoor and outdoor use for monitoring designated areas

Cons

To install you are going to need to run cables through your house which is likely to involve drilling holes and crawling around the attic.

The App only works on Android and iOS devices, it doesn’t work with Blackberry

It doesn’t work with Mac computers

The video is recorded locally so can be taken by a burglar thereby leaving you without any way of identifying them

No power back up batteries to continue coverage when there is a power outage.

The App can be glitchy and hard to use. It is also difficult to keep it working when viewing a live feed
Instructions for set up can be difficult to follow

Limited to only 3 people who can receive notifications.

Video quality is adequate and not crystal clear

Amcrest 960H Video Security System Consumer Ratings

Amcrest 960h video security system reviewOverall customer reviews for the system are positive.

There are concerns about the installation of the product, the App and the quality of the video. But for those that did have an issue there are many that are satisfied with the video quality and how easy it is to set up and use remotely. It is important to realize to get better quality video you will need to pay more for it.

Amcrest 960H Video Security System Price

This is an affordable priced security surveillance system. It gives you a lot of good functionality for the price making it good value for money making it one of the best systems around for the price. It is not that much more than
The Nest camera where you get a better quality camera but only one of them and you have to store video online for a monthly fee.

The best discounted price I found when I checked was Amazon. It also qualified for Prime. To check the current status click here: Amcrest 960H Video Security System

Summary

It is one of the easiest DVR systems to set up. It not as easy as a wireless IP camera but it is more robust and secure with the cameras able to be used indoors and out.

You can use it to cover defined areas such as front doors, windows, rooms etc, rather than wide open areas. The clarity of the view is adequate rather than HD TV giving the chance to see what is going on and can be used to identify people when less than 30 feet away from the camera. In fact according to one customers review the system has helped in identifying the burglars that broke into their home.

It can be used for businesses, homes and vacation homes to help in deterring criminal activity and identifying any that is going on. They can also help with keeping a check on the your children or people working in or around your home when you aren’t there using your smartphone or a PC.

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