Zmodo PKD-DK4216stars34Rating: 3.4 Reviewed by Paul

 

The Zmodo PKD-DK4216-500GB is a popular security surveillance system for home and business. It is affordably priced which is one of its attractions wanting to see what is going on around their property.

People use it for keeping a check on the cars in their driveway or car park, checking out who is at the door, keeping an eye on the deliveries, keeping an on their home and their pets while they are away or if a small business see what’s happening in their store room.

                       buy5._V192207739_                      It is a hardwired system that is for indoors and outdoors and can be installed by the DIY’er. It can be used as a standalone system that you monitor locally or you can view live feeds from anywhere you can get internet access from a windows PC or from a mobile device.

 

It does have a number of useful features, however, it is not all straightforward and there are some things you need to be aware of before buying.

Installation

Installing and set up of this surveillance system is a “tale of two halves” The initial installation of the cameras in the home and viewing using your PC monitor or TV is straightforward. However, setting up the system up for remote monitoring is difficult and some people give up on this.

The instruction manual provided by the company does not do a good job in describing what needs to be done even with the initial set up, fortunately this is relatively straightforward.

To get the cameras up and running you need to run cables through your house to power them and get the feed back to the DVR – so be prepared for fishing cables through your walls to where you want to mount the cameras. The included cables are 60 ft long – if you want to mount the cameras further away you need to buy longer cables. Be sure to run them through the walls the right way otherwise you can’t plug the cable into the DVR and the power adapter. To set them up you plug the cameras in and view on the monitor (not included) and follow the instructions in the quick start guide and you are set up to go.

To get the view you want with the cameras can be a little fiddly to get them to point in the direction you want and getting them to stay but with a bit of playing about you can to get it sorted.
To be able to view the feed you need to hook the DVR up to your own TV screen or computer monitor – as there is no screen included. You also need to buy the cable separately to connect the DVR to a screen or monitor – for the TV you need a BNC cable and for the PC a VGA cable. Up to this point you do not need the internet and it is pretty much plug and play.

Unfortunately the set up of remote viewing and monitoring is not easy by any stretch of the imagination and the instructions in the manual are poor. It is an involved process and will need a good degree of patience and determination to get it set up. As well as the poor instructions it can be difficult to get hold of technical support to talk you through the process and even when you do get through it can take some time to get it all set up so you can view remotely and receive email notifications.

You need a windows computer and internet explorer to be able to set up remote viewing. As an example of the information you need to gather to be able to get this set up such as port forwarding, Static IP address etc and you need to log in to your router.

You get this from your DVR and then need to log into your router to enter the IP address, port number in the port forwarding section. There is information on their site that walks you through this but is not as clear as it should be plus you do need to do some internet searches for clarification. One review says to do this if you do need to have patience and it is worth it once you have it set up.

Contract

There is no contract required nor are there any ongoing fees to view the cameras remotely from another computer or using a 3G/4G mobile device.

Support

The company offers a full price 7 day refund (but see Amazon for their returns policy if you buy through them it is usually up to 30 days) and the system can be replaced in the first 3 months after purchase. There are also free software updates and a limited warranty service for the first 12 months after purchase.

They can be difficult to get hold of with people reporting that they have had to wait over an hour to speak to someone to discuss an issue with them. I did email and use their live chat to ask them some questions when researching this review, unfortunately they have yet to respond thereby confirming the experience. Having said that, it is reported when you do get hold of them people find them helpful and they are able to have their issues sorted.

Their website does have some useful information on it that can help in setting up your system with their Knowledge base and FAQ section but it can be difficult to find what you want even when using the search functionality.
For technical and customer support you can contact Zmodo Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 8.00pm CST by phone.

Cameras

CameraThe cameras are weatherproof rated so can be used outside and can withstand rain, snow and elements but not being immersed in water for long periods or extreme weather conditions. Although not mentioned as being required you may consider installing under the roof overhang to protect them from the worst of the weather conditions. They are rated to work in temperatures between 14 degrees Fahrenheit and 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

The cameras are 480 TVL with ¼” CMOS image sensor and the image quality of the cameras is good for both night and day but can seem a little close when viewing. This means you can really only get a good view of a confined space such as your front porch and to recognize someone they need to be no further than 10 – 15 ft away.

You can view larger areas but things can seem a bit far away and you can see what is going on but you won’t have the detail to recognize anyone like you do when they are closer. Even then the pictures can be grainy but you can make out faces up to 10-15ft away from the camera – after that they get progressively more grainy and difficult to make out the perpetrator. These are inexpensive cameras so you do need to keep expectations in check and not expect the quality you get with a high end camera system.

The angle of view you get from the camera can seem a bit restricted with viewing angle being 54 degrees which means at 50 ft your view is 51 ft across.

Although the DVR can record audio the cameras do not have a microphone. To add audio you need to purchase microphones and cables separately to enable this.

System can be set up to record video in 5 different modes – manual, schedule, motion, alarm and motion and alarm.
The cameras give a fixed view so cannot pan or tilt even though the DVR has this ability, if this is something you want you need to buy different cameras.

The night vision is in black and white and the infra red gives you up to a 30 feet view.

You have 5 options for recording:

Manual – you can record events by pressing the play button on the DVR, remote or using the mouse

Schedule – this feature gives you the option of when you want the cameras to record at certain times of the day. You can set it to record continuous at certain times, be off or motion activated.

Motion – you can schedule motion detection recording at times that suit you, so you can switch between off, continuous and on motion as you require suiting your requirements. The system can be set to record for 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes when movement is detected. The DVR itself detects the motion rather than the camera and this starts the recording process.

Alarm – this is not available with this DVR system. You can hardwire the system to alarm sensors (not included) and set to record when the sensor is triggered

Motion and alarm – this is not available with this DVR system. Recording is set to come on if motion is detected and if a sensor attached when that is triggered

The night vision quality is pretty good for the price but after 10 ft from the camera it starts to become more grainy and it becomes difficult to recognize people (if you know them it shouldn’t be problem) but you can see what is going on – to improve visibility you could light the view area using lights with motion detectors to illuminate the area when motion is detected.

Video Storage

side view of systemAs the name of the Zmodo PKD-DK4216-500GB system says it can store up to 500GB of video before it starts to overwrite the earliest files with the latest recordings. You can back up the files for longer keeping on to a USB flash disk. USB CD-RW, or DVD-RW.

The 500GB storage should store up to 576 hours of video or more before starting to overwrite itself. It records at the following resolutions: NTSC: CIF (352 x 240) / PAL: CIF (352 x 288) which is the lowest acceptable resolution for CCTV which is enough to see what is going on and recognize people close up but not people further away or moving around as the picture will appear fuzzy.

You can jump to files when motion has been detected by camera and date to view the stored files without having to go through all the files to get to the time and day you want. You can fast forward, fast rewind or view frame by frame forwards but not in reverse. This can save you a lot of time and unnecessary viewing to see what you want.

Alarms

The system does not come with any alarms or sirens. Nor can it be set up to work with one because it does not include the necessary hardware. With some Zmodo DVR systems you can set the system up so that the cameras can record when an alarm sensor is triggered. The sensor needs to be hardwired into the back of the DVR to be set up. The instructions for doing this do assume you have technical knowledge in this area so will require searches on the internet and talking to support to get this up and running if it is something you want to do. It would be great for having the camera running when the sensor detects the door opening so you can get a great view as the person comes through it.

Notification

Once you’ve set up the system for remote monitoring you can also have it send you snapshots by email to your email account when motion is detected. Gmail is the preferred email provider. The snapshots are grainy but will enable you to see what is going on.

Remote Monitoring

You can monitor the cameras via the internet using a windows based computer running internet explorer (you need to adjust the ActiveX settings) and using mobile devices with iOS or Android using the company’s zviewer app. For Blackberry it is recommended you use iseeder, for windows or sysmbian devices it should work using Naway, ASee, or QQeye.

The setting up of the system to be viewed remotely is tricky even with the help of their website but it can be done with some patience and determination. You need the STATICIP and other information for your DVR when it is plugged into your router – to get the information you need to log in to your DVR and router. The instructions included are poor and you may need to call the company which can sometimes be a frustrating experience. You cannot use satellite internet as they do not allow you to do port forwarding which is the way you make the DVR accessible to the internet via the router.

When you do get it set up, it works very well for viewing a live feed of your cameras at home from anywhere in the world that you can access the internet. It is straightforward to use. As well as view the various cameras you can take snapshots and store them in the camera directory or SD Card for later use.

With Zviewer for PC you have additional functionality for controlling your system remotely and is much the same as what you can do locally – you can set up users, manage devices, browse video, set up a recording schedule and playback video.

The administrator can add users to the system to access remotely using their phone or computer and assigning pass codes and what they can access – manual record, playback, preview etc. Users can also be deleted. This is accessed from the DVR menu.

Battery

The system is hardwired and powered by the house supply. The only batteries needed are for the remote control and these are included.

Sensors/Detection

The DVR detects motion. It is sensitive and you can have 3 settings for the sensitivity of high, mid, and low.

In addition to this you can set up the area that the DVR detects motion which can be useful to block out areas that may cause the camera to record something you do not want to record – like your pets moving around the house. Some people have reported that the motion detectors can detect movement at 80 to 90 feet. Most people find the setting options and area selection functionality fine for getting the sensitivity they need so they don’t end up with hours of video where nothing was really happening.

If you have them inside and want to set them to motion detection you need to be careful how you have them pointed when you have air conditioning as the movement of curtains or blinds caused by the air conditioning may start them up. Also scheduling can be useful here where you can set the cameras to be off while you are at home otherwise you will have too much video recorded and quickly fill up your DVR storage.

The DVR

DVRThe DVR requires a monitor (not included) to be connected to access it features. It gives you the option to record manually or on a schedule, you can playback up to 4 camera recordings at once and back up to USB flash disk and portable USB HDD, CD & DVD devices. As well as supporting fixed cameras (4 included) it has the ability to support dome and PTZ (pan and tilt) cameras (not included).

At the back of DVR is where you plug in the camera feeds, VGA and/or BNC cables for connecting to TV or monitor, audio input and output (not needed in the package), 2 USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet (RJ-45) cable for connecting to the router for remote monitoring and power

At the front you can control the system. It has a small LED panel where the lights are on to let you know the power is on, when the HDD is working or when a remote is being used. At the left is a USB port for plugging in the mouse or flash drive.

The buttons on the front give you the functionality to record manually, PTZ control, switch from single to multi-view cameras, switch between TV and VGA output, rewind, play, pause, fast forward and step through the recordings.

DVR back viewThe DVR uses a system of menus to help you set up and control your system. These can be accessed by the remote, buttons on DVR or mouse and you can access via computer when you set up a local network or remotely over the internet by PC. These are okay to navigate through and this is where you set up recording schedules, users, IP addresses (for remote monitoring), recording – manual, schedule or motion, playback, date and time, video settings and maintenance. The menus do have an older style computer look and feel but they are functional.

The remote control gives you similar functionality and is probably a more convenient way to use the system. A mouse is also included that you can click through the menus to program and control the system. It can controlled by a Windows PC (not MAC) using internet explorer when set up via the router (this can be difficult).

The DVR has pentaplex capability which means it can do several things at once – you can watch a live view, watch recorded video, backup video, access it via the internet while it is in recording mode – this is great to ensure you don’t miss anything that is going on.

TV Monitor

To control the system locally you need to plug in a monitor and you can then use the remote or mouse supplied to click through the menus to set the system up as you require. The monitor can be a TV or computer monitor that you have to supply yourself as well as the cable to connect it to the DVR.

Coverage

The cameras can be installed up to 60 ft from the DVR with the cables included. This distance can be extended with purchase of longer cables. The cables needed are dual purpose video CCTV cable for video – BNC and power 12 volt DC or you can use coax cable.

Wireless or Wired

This is a wired system requiring cables to be run from the DVR to cameras, to the monitor and if remote viewing required an Ethernet cable (not included) is required to attach it to your router.

Dimensions

Cameras – 2.9 by 2 by 1.8 inches
DVR – 11.8 by 8.7 by 1.9 inches

Zmodo PKD-DK4216-500GB Features

This kit includes:
4 Cameras – Model – ZMD-CBR-BAS16NM(CM-C21606BK)- Color IR Bullet Camera – these weatherproof cameras with night vision and can be mounted on the wall of ceiling.

1 DVR – Model – ZMD-DD-SBN4 – 4CH Standalone H.264 DVR – this includes a 500 GB hard drive for recording video. Recording can be set to motion, continuous or scheduled.

Other – 4 60ft Surveillance Video + Power All-in-one Cable, 1 by 12V/1.5A Power Supply for Cameras, 1 1-4 Splitter Cable for Cameras, 1 Power Supply for Security DVR, 1 User’s Manual, IR Remote Control & Mouse

Accessories

The system is limited to a maximum of 4 cameras but you are able to replace the cameras with different spec cameras if you want to get better quality or you can get cameras that you can pan/tilt as the DVR has the capability to control them.
Items you need to have or purchase separately to use this system are a TV or PC Monitor and cable to connect them so as to be able to monitor and control the cameras and DVR. These are not included when you buy this system.

Pros

Video can be viewed remotely from your phone and computer

The price of unit is very affordable for 4 cameras and DVR.

Can be set up to send you emails with a snapshot when motion is detected

You can schedule when DVR is recording continuously, not at all or motion detection

Able to access system remotely using mobile devices and windows computers anywhere you can access the internet

Set up to view locally is straightforward as the cameras are plug and play

Internet is not required to use this system locally

Motion detection works well and sensitivity can be turned down so that it is not activated by pets moving around your home

You can set the system to only record when there is movement in certain places of camera views cutting down on unnecessary recording

Night vision is good up to 10 ft but is grainy

Able to identify people up to 10 feet away from cameras but after that it becomes more difficult during the day and night

Good for specific areas rather than wide open spaces

The DVR has the to control cameras that can pan/tilt/zoom (cameras included with system are fixed)

Able to backup through USB to flash drive and external CD/DVR recorders

Can set up for multi-users with password protection

Cons

No monitor included in package

No cables included to connect PC monitor or TV or internet (relatively inexpensive to buy separately)

Customer service can be difficult to talk to both in terms of getting touch with them

The remote monitoring sets up instructions are difficult to follow and the actual set up is more complicated than it needs to be

Unable to record or listen to audio without buying microphones and cable

Cameras are fixed so can’t pan or tilt to change view

The cameras have a narrow range of view of 50 degrees

Does not support Mac computer as requires a windows based computer and internet explorer for remote viewing – Windows XP,

Vista, 7 or 8 (you can view using an iphone or Android based phone, Blackberry or windows)

Cameras give a fixed view only – you are not able to pan or tilt or zoom to get a better view.

There can be issues in backing up files to USB flash drives

You need to run cables through house to connect cameras to DVR

Getting the cameras to stay directed to the area you want to cover is fiddly

When people are more than 10 ft away it can be difficult to make them out

Color can seem “washed out” at dawn and dusk as it is not completely dark or light

Cables are thin so care needs to be taken when installing but they do the job

The cable connectors to camera are exposed to the elements so may deteriorate over 12 months or so

System is not portable but is available at a good price so not too high a price to pay if you move

Zmodo PKD-DK4216-500GB Consumer Ratings

The reviews for this system are mixed. After going through a big portion of these the main concern is to do with setting up the systemZmodo PKD-DK4216-500GB Review for monitoring by computer or remotely. To be able to do this you need to have some IT technical knowledge about things like IP addresses and port forwarding. This would be okay if the instructions in the manual or on their site were helpful but they aren’t.

Added to this issue it can be difficult to get hold of their customer support to help you through the problems.

Most people do find the customer support helpful when they do get through to them. Once it is set up for remote monitoring people are happy with how this works.

The reviews do say if you are not interested in remote monitoring and want to use it locally this works well and is easy to set up and use. Also, once through the pain of set up most people are like the remote viewing and monitoring functionality and email notifications for checking up on home or business when they are away.

Zmodo PKD-DK4216-500GB Price

This is a very affordable DVR system with 4 cameras. The quality of the images is what you would expect for the price which is grainy but you can see what is going on and you can get images that can be used to identify someone but this depends on how close they are to the camera.

In addition to the cost of the DVR and camera you need to factor in the cost of a monitor (TV or computer) and the cables to it to get the total cost. You also need to install the system as it is wired you need to feed cables through your house walls and attic which can be done by the DIY’er but if you don’t feel comfortable with this you need to add the cost of installation in as well.

When you buy through Amazon it qualifies for Prime for next day delivery at no extra cost or free shipping on normal delivery time scales. You can check here if that is still the case: Zmodo PKD-DK4216-500GB H.264 Internet & 3G Phone Accessible 4-Channel DVR with 4 Night Vision Cameras and 500 GB HD

Summary

There are some very good points about this system including the price, ease of installation and the reasonable quality of the video.

However, the support and setting it up for remote monitoring is difficult and detracts from the overall quality.

It makes a good option to work with DIY home security systems that don’t come with their own cameras (like the Fortress Security Store GSM-B home security system) to give you an option to see what is going on at home when you receive an alert. This way you determine if it a false alarm or not and get pictures if something is going on.

Once the system is set up it works well as a home or small business security surveillance system for inside or outside when you are monitoring confined areas. You can see what is going on and be able to identify who is doing it when they are up to 10 ft away from the camera. If you are looking for crystal clear video and to cover a wide area this system is not for you. Otherwise, it makes a great basic surveillance system for useable images for checking the front door, delivery areas or store rooms and other specific areas at a very affordable price.

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