1 camera view - quadstars38Rating: 3.8 Review by Paul

 

The Lorex LW2731 Live LCD SD Recording Monitor with Wireless Camera is an affordable wireless security surveillance system for home and small businesses. It can control up to 4 cameras with the one monitoring panel. It is designed to be a DIY system without too many skills needed to install and few technical skills required to get it set up and running. The cameras and monitoring panel are programmed                       buy5._V192207739_                       to work together.

The wireless refers to how the cameras and monitoring panel communicate with each other not how it is powered. The cameras and panel need to be plugged in for power.

The video is recorded on to a SD card that can hold up to just below 4 hours of video, although a 32 GB SD video, although a 32 GB SD card can be purchased separately that can store up to almost 62 hours of video before it is full and needs replacing or the oldest file is overwritten with the latest recording.

Installation

The camera(s) and monitor come pre-programmed to work together.  Any additional cameras will need to be paired with the monitor which is fully explained in the manual.

As the system is wireless there is no need to run wires through the walls between the monitor and the cameras. However, the cameras and monitor do need to be connected to the house supply for power so there does need to be running of power cables from the camera to the power supply when being installed outside the house. The power cables are 6 feet long. You are likely going to need to drill holes (3/8 drill bit is needed) in your house to run the power cable to the wall socket.

The cameras are weather resistant but are not rated to withstand being directly in the rain or snow so need to be installed out of elements under a roof overhang or similar place.

The manual recommends installing the cameras with a clear line of sight to the monitor as obstacles like walls can cause an issue with the transmission of signals from cameras to the monitor. Although this is understandable I would think this would be something that was considered when putting the system together for homes – i.e. the monitor will be inside the home and the cameras will be installed outside.

Having said that,most people are able to get a reasonable signal from the cameras to the monitor but nowhere near the range shown on the sales page.  Installing the camera near a window and within 80 feet of the monitor helps in this regard. The company also sells antennas separately that can help in strengthening and the extending the range of the signal.
Installing the camera inside with it pointing outside through a window is something some people have tried. It does help with the signal but it does cut down the clarity of the video and at night the reflection from the window means you won’t be able to see anything.

When positioning camera it is good idea to check the view through the monitor to make sure you are seeing what you expect before screwing the camera into position. This is after you have checked that the cameras are paired with the monitor (they should come pre-paired or programmed to work together). Other than setting the time this is all you need to do to set the system up. If you want to view remotely you also need to set it up to work with Skype (see remote monitoring).

Contract

You own the equipment outright when you buy it and there is no requirement to sign up to a contract or pay ongoing fees.

Support

An important factor in any security system is the level of support you receive from the company providing the equipment. When there are problems or you have questions you want to be able to rely on the company to help you to solve them.

Many people don’t have an issue with the equipment and everything goes smoothly, however those that do have a question or an issue can be left with a bad taste in their mouth. Lorex support can be difficult to get through to and when you do they are not always the most helpful to say the least. This should really be sorted by Lorex as a number customer reviews have reported back on their bad experience.

As with any system there can be problems and you expect a good level of service from the company to support the issue. The level of support (or lack thereof) is reflected in the rating it has on Amazon being lower.

There is a 30 day money back period on products bought direct through Lorex as well as the Amazon guarantee. The manufacturer’s warranty is one year from date of purchase.

You can contact the company between 8.00 am to 11.00 pm, 7 days a week. They appear to cater for English, Spanish and French.
When I used their contact page and emailed questions to them, they did need a reminder to get back to me but when they did the answers were complete – so in my view they are slow to respond but they are knowledgeable and courteous.

Cameras

camera uprightThe cameras have a resolution of 640 x 480 VGA so you are not going to be able to read a license plate from 15 yards (which is only possible with HD when license plate is big enough) but you get a clear picture during the day and the picture at night is very good too. You can’t pick out the finer details and when a person is moving the picture is blurred making it difficult to identify someone.

Zoom functionality is okay but does cause the picture to be pixilated while it resets itself.  The range of view of the camera is 52 degrees.

It works best when looking at specific areas about 15 – 20 feet away. It’s great for monitoring your front door and it has the added benefit of a two way intercom where you can speak to whoever is at the front door without opening the door.  If you have specific areas you want to monitor like an Amazon drop off point or your garage door or secluded areas on your property or an indoor room  the cameras give you  good coverage and clear view of the area.

In the day time the picture is in color and at night it is black and white. Night vision distance is shown as 40 feet in the manual but as mentioned before it is best up to 20 feet.

It is not possible to pan and tilt the cameras using the monitor. They are fixed in position and can only be moved to see a different view by going to camera manually doing it.

You have the option to reduce the quality of the recording to 360×240 QVGA resolution to save storage space but the image quality is obviously downgraded.

This model comes with one wireless camera but you can have up to 4 of them controlled by the recording monitor.

Video Storage For Lorex LW2731 Live LCD SD Recording Monitor with Wireless Camera

viewsVideo is recorded to an SD card. The system comes with a 2GB SD card that can store up to 3 hrs and 52 minutes of video when recording a single camera and up to 2 hrs and 34 minutes of video when recording 4 cameras.

The system can support up to a 32 GB SD Card that needs to be bought separately (cost is about $18.00). You can store 62 hours and 56 seconds of video when recording 1 camera and 41 hours and 47 seconds when recording 4 cameras at once.

When the card is full you have a choice of settings. You can have the new recording overwrite the oldest recording (this is the normal practice) or you can have it so you manually delete files to free up space when the card is full.  It is possible to upload files from the SD card to your computer for storage if you want to keep them longer.

When playing back the recordings you can do this on the monitor or on your computer by plugging the SD card into your computer via an SD reader.

The recordings are date and time stamped which helps when you are looking to review a particular date to see what happened.

Alarms

The surveillance camera system does not have a siren. The monitor chimes or beeps when motion is sensed by the cameras’ motion detectors. It is loud enough to be heard in another room but is not loud enough to be used as a siren. It beeps for a short period of time to let you know motion has been detected.

You can turn this feature off which some do because of the number of false alarms that happen because of  the sensitivity of the motion sensors.

Notification

When you have the system set to motion detect you can set the monitor to beep when motion is detected. There is no function to be notified when you are away from the home. If this is something you want you will need to buy a security system that notifies you when it detects motion.

Remote Monitoring

phone and screenYou can remotely view a camera anywhere you have an internet connection using Skype. This gives you the flexibility to see what is going on at home from anywhere in world. You could use this alongside a DIY home security system that you are self monitoring, so that when you receive a notification from it you can see what is going on at home.

You will need a high speed internet connection to view using Skype otherwise the video will be choppy just like it is when watching video over a slow internet connection.

There are detailed instructions in the manual for connecting and setting up your Skype account for PC and Mac. If you want to use your smartphone to view you will need to download and set up the Skype app for your phone type.  There are instructions for using Android and iOS devices in the manual.

This ability to view remotely is great but there are a few limitations and things to do for this happen once you’ve set up.  To be able to view using your Skype account you need to plug the monitor into a computer that is connected to the internet using a USB cable (included with the system), have Skype running and the computer  turned on. So, you do need to be prepared to have your computer on when you are not at home, which some people are not comfortable doing but this is down to personal preference.

Now, on to the limitations with using Skype. You can only view camera 1 over Skype and this can’t be changed remotely with Skype , it can only be done manually using the monitor.  You need to choose carefully which one you want to monitor by setting it as Camera 1 (if you have more than one), it could be the one monitoring your front door or living room or bedroom or your cars etc.

When you are viewing over Skype this disables the system from monitoring audio. Motion will still record.
Some people have struggled with being able to get the Skype functionality working and others don’t try. Those that do get it working are pleased with the results so it is worth persevering with if you want to have the ability to see what is going on at home when you are away such as when you receive a notification that there might be an incident occurring.

Battery

The cameras and the monitor are powered by plugging into the house supply. There are no batteries required to run the system nor do they have backup batteries to keep them working if there is a power outage. The video recorded and the settings saved before the power outage will be saved.

It is recommended that you connect the cameras and monitor to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and surge protectors to protect the equipment from power surges and power outages. (A UPS only protects you from an outage for less than an hour.)

As you may have experienced with your computer when you don’t protect it from surges and power outage you may find that your camera and monitor are damaged and will need replacing if you don’t surge protection.

After a power outage the system will start in auto sequence mode and motion recording to make sure that there is recording happening. The last 10 minutes of recording will also be lost as this will not have been saved to the SD Card.

Sensors/Detection

sensorsThe cameras have 2 different sensors. Lorex calls this functionality – dual action sensors.

It uses PIR to detect movement up to 21 feet from camera by tracking changes in body heat.  This does not work well when the temperature approaches or exceeds normal human body temperature of 98.6 Fahrenheit.

The other way it detects motion is by tracking changes in video images. This works well in all temperatures and is good for detecting motion over 21 feet.  It is very sensitive and can be triggered by moving trees or leaves in the distance with some reviews saying insects and distant birds have triggered recording. This can result in a lot of false alarms which will result in a lot of unnecessary recording and beeps from your monitor.  It can making review the recordings very tedious. You have the option of turning down the sensitivity or turning it off all together if it is giving you too many false alarms. The difference between the sensitivity is large so getting it right is difficult – as  it is either too sensitive or not sensitive enough.

When the system is set to motion record the monitoring panel beeps and flashes at the top of the screen to let you know the system has detected motion. It records a short video of 5 seconds but this can be changed to 15 or 30 seconds. It has pre-event recording which means it captures the moment leading up to the motion happens. When viewing live you are going to miss the first couple of seconds on the monitoring panel but can see it by checking the recording when available.

Control Panel

1 camera view - quadThe Lorex LW2731 Live LCD SD Recording Monitor with Wireless Camera monitoring panel  is a great device for monitoring what is going on. You can view the cameras in single mode or view up to 4 cameras at once.
It has a 7 inch LCD screen with light tough button below to control the system. These buttons allow you to: activate and deactivate motion recording, start/stop manual recording, menu (where you can set and change many of the functions), volume control, select channel, ok button for confirming selection in menus, quad mode on or off, screen saver and turn intercom on or off. These buttons can sometimes not be as responsive as you might want but don’t push too hard instead be patient.

On the back of the panel is the speaker and microphone for having conversations, SD card slot for recording video and audio, USB port for Skype, AV out  and button for connecting to TV, Zoom button for enabling and disabling zoom function, joystick to delete files and on/off switch.

There are LED lights at the top of the LCD display that let you know when the SD card is full (only shows when overwrite function is disabled), new video has been recorded, motion recording is enabled and screen saver mode is enabled.

screenThis is the “brains” of the system and is where you control how you want the system set up. It’s where you can playback video, decide on the recording mode, watch live video feed (in sequential mode or all cameras at once) and more.

The three recording modes are manual, motion or schedule. You can record to the SD card one camera at a time or in quad mode (4 cameras at once).

–    The manual mode is continuous recording of one camera or all cameras at once – great if you hear a noise or know something is happening outside and don’t want cameras to stop recording as happens in motion mode
–    The schedule mode is continuous recording at a scheduled time
–    Motion recording only records when motion is detected and can be set up in quad mode (all 4 cameras are recorded)

You have a choice of 4 different viewing modes: single channel viewing, Auto Sequence Viewing mode (view individual channels automatically in sequence), Quad mode, and Screen Saver mode

You can playback the recorded files on the monitor or on your computer or you can play it back through on your television.
The intercom function is one of the favorite features of this system. It is very useful for having conversations with people outside your home without having to open the door to them. It’s great for avoiding door-to-door salesmen!

Coverage

The maximum range that can be achieved with a clear line of sight between a camera and the monitor is up to 180 ft indoors and 650 ft outdoors. However, this is unlikely to be achieved in practice because there will normally be obstructions between the camera and the monitor. Most people find the effective range to be between 50 feet and 80 feet depending on the number of walls and what the walls are made up of between the camera and the monitoring panel.

The coverage or signal strength can be improved with either the 2.4 GHZ Directional Wireless Panel Antenna (for one camera) or the 2.4 GHZ Omni-Directional Wireless Antenna (for a number of cameras).

Wireless or Wired

This is a wireless system as the cameras communicate with the monitor wirelessly on the 2,400 MHz frequency. However, the camera and monitor do need to be plugged into the house supply to be powered.

Also to monitor remotely using Skype the monitor needs to be plugged into a computer, with an internet connection, using the USB cable supplied.

To prevent jamming of the signal between the cameras and the monitor the system uses a digital transmission known as Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum which is a complicated algorithm to generate a channel hopping sequence.

Channels

The system can support up to 4 channels and 4 cameras. There are no differences in the functionality of the channels although it is recommended that Channel 1 be used for the camera you are intending to monitor over Skype.

Dimensions

The dimensions of the system inches and metric are:

LCD Monitor – Size:- W 42mm, L: 201mm, H: 150mm or inches W 1 21/32 inches, L: 7 29/32 inches, H 5 29/32 inches, Screen is 7 inch diagonal. (9 inch diagonal screen is available –lw2930)

Live Camera – W: 75mm, L: 110mm, H: 190mm or inches W: 2 61/64 inches, L: 4 21/64 inches, H: 7 31/64 inches

Features

You get the following in the box:

LCD Monitor – this controls the cameras and is where you set up system and can playback recordings

Live Camera – these are weather resistant and detect motion and send video wirelessly to the monitor.

2GB SD Memory Card – you can store just less than 4 hours of video.

Other – Power cables, USB cable, mounting fittings and screws, audio/video cable, CD.

Temperature – The system is rated to work between 14 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, so can work in all but the coldest winter zones.

Accessories

lorex lw2734bThe camera system can handle and monitor up to 4 cameras. You have the choice of buying 3 different configurations with 1, 2 (LW2732) or 4 cameras (LW2734B). Additional cameras can be bought later and paired with the system if you buy the 1 or 2 camera set ups.

LW2731AC1 Add on camera for home camera system Live SD+ – this camera works with LW2731, LW2732 & LW2734B series.

ACCANTD9  2.4 GHZ Directional Wireless Panel Antenna – for increasing the strength and range of the wireless signal between the monitor and one camera. It is best installed with a clear line of sight to the camera for best results – such as the side of a house or fence

ACCANTO8  2.4 GHZ Omni-Directional Wireless Antenna – for increasing the strength and range of the wireless signal between the monitor and many cameras. Again it is most effective when there is a clear line of sight between the antenna and the cameras. Obstacles such as walls will reduce how well it works in increasing the strength of the signal. Installation is straightforward.

The manual goes through the process of pairing additional cameras to the system (having them recognized by the monitor). This needs to be done as they won’t be pre-programmed to work with the monitor. For the majority of people they find this process straightforward however some have had difficulty but this can be solved when they get hold of Lorex. Unfortunately Lorex let themselves down here by not being as responsive as they should be.

Pros

Set up is minimal with cameras pre-paired to work with monitor

No monthly or ongoing fees

No contract

No running wires between monitor and camera

Cameras are weather resistant

2 way intercom to talk to people through the camera – great for when a sales person comes to the door – you don’t have to open the door to find out what they want

Great system for monitoring your front door

Up to 4 cameras can be set to motion detection mode

You can record up to 4 cameras at once and view pack on your TV but the video will become more grainy on larger screens

You can schedule when you want system to record continuously or when it detects motion

It is compatible with PC and Mac

Won’t interfere with your WiFI

Cons

The effective wireless coverage is a lot less than the optimum range for most people finding it between 50 and 80 feet – antenna cable bought separately to extend range

Power cable length is only 6 feet which can cause an issue when installing the cameras outside

Camera needs to be installed out of direct rain and snow

It is not z-wave or zigbee compatible so must be run separately to home automation or home security systems

Does not have a smartphone app to monitor remotely

You can only monitor one camera remotely – you are unable to change the camera using Skype (you must set the camera to be shown using the monitor before you leave)

Customer support is poor at times with it being difficult to get hold of them

The motion detection is very sensitive even when turned down and this can result in a number of “false alarms” meaning you need to go through a lot of recorded footage

No backup batteries included with the cameras or monitor

Can’t pan and tilt the camera from the control monitor or remotely

SD Card included can only hold up to 2GB of video or just less than 4 hours

Consumer Ratings For Lorex LW2731 Live LCD SD Recording Monitor with Wireless Camera

I’ve read through most of the reviews for this system on the web and they are favorable overall but with some reservations.

The most common issue that is mentioned is the customer service. The company is not as responsive as it should be to questions and problems with some people feeling they are ignored. This is the minority but there are enough complaints that the company should be taking action to rectify this.

The effective wireless range is less than that stated in the company’s documents. The range stated is an ideal range rather than the likely circumstances that the system is going to be installed in.

Installation of the system is more involved than some people expected. This is to do with confusion over the meaning of wireless. Some people expect this to mean that the cameras will be powered by battery but this is not the case. The cameras need to be plugged into house power supply which can mean drilling holes to feed the power cable to connect to an available socket.

But it’s not all bad, there are a lot of very positive reviews with people being very pleased with the quality of the video pictures considering the cost of the system.

Lorex LW2731 Live LCD SD Recording Monitor with Wireless Camera Price

The Lorex LW2731 Live LCD SD Recording Monitor with Wireless Camera is available in 3 different configurations of 1, 2 and 4 cameras with the more cameras giving you a discount compared to buying the cameras separately. It is an affordably priced surveillance system.  When I checked the price was lower on Amazon than on Lorex’s site and comparable to Best Buy.

The price reflects that there is limited storage capacity compared to a DVR system with it only being able to store less than 4 hours video on the memory card included with it. The customers like the cost of the product and quality of picture but as stated above they do question the customer support.

Summary

I think this is a good system for the price but there are things to keep in mind when thinking about this system. The video quality is Lorex LW2731reasonably clear and you are able to see what is going on without being able to identify the person doing it if they are moving unless you know them. It will let you know what is happening.

The intercom feature works very well and gives you an opportunity to speak to unexpected visitors to your home without opening the front door. The wireless capability unfortunately is less than the stated range because if you are setting it up in your home or a small business the signal is going to be obstructed reducing the range to 50 to 80 feet without buying additional antennas.

It is a good system for keeping an eye on specific areas (live the front door) rather than a general area outside your home. It’s not a total security solution but would work well in conjunction with a home security system like the Fortress Security Store GSM-B.

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