Security cameras have become more prevalent as storage gets cheaper, connectivity improves, and security concerns have grown. The older security cameras that use coaxial cables have improved their resolution but still lag behind IP camera capabilities. Upgrading the older systems isn’t as easy as just replacing the cameras. It may be necessary to run a network cable possibly with Power-Over-Ethernet or even a separate power cable. That’s the beauty of a wireless security camera system – you’re more likely to have an outlet available than a network jack. That’s all you need to mount your cameras and activate your system.
Uniden successfully launched a wireless surveillance system under the name Guardian in 2012. The simplicity and usability of the system helped Uniden become an industry leader in wireless security camera systems. They continue that trend with their latest release, the Uniden Wireless DVR, an integrated system aimed at home and small businesses.
The Uniden Wireless DVR system is neatly packaged to include the DVR, two wireless security cameras, and the necessary accessories.
Inside the box comes the user manual and other literature with separate boxes for the wireless DVR, the cameras, and accessories.
All separated out, the packages make for quite a lot of pieces. Assembling the cameras involves attaching their stand (with top or bottom mounts), antenna, and power cords. The Wireless DVR has its own antenna, power cord, Ethernet cable, and HDMI cable, which are all conveniently included.
The Wireless DVR is about 7 inches by 7 inches by 2 inches. The front has 3 LEDs to indicate Power, network connectivity, and hard drive activity.
The back provides, from left to right, an HDMI output for display on a TV, a USB port for a mouse, an Ethernet port, power connector, reset button, antenna, SD card slot, and power switch.
The cameras include mounting points on top or bottom, a power cable, and antenna connection point. They are enclosed in a metal housing and are IP66-rated for outdoor durability.
Three screws can attach the camera mount to a surface and a wingnut controls a ball-and-socket connection allowing you to point the camera with a lot of flexibility.
The cameras include automatic IR LEDs to allow low-light and night viewing up to 40 feet away.
The Wireless DVR
The Uniden Wireless DVR, specifically model WDVR42HDD, includes a 1TB capacity hard drive and can connect to up to 4 wireless cameras (2 are included in the system). It connect to Ethernet to allow its connection to the Internet and uses the wireless antenna to connect to the cameras. By default, the DVR has the hostname ‘WDVR’.
The DVR does have a noticeably audible fan. The 1.5-inch fan is pointed down to exhaust air to the narrow cavity that its mounting feet provide and it competes as one of the loudest devices in my home office. Along with an Ethernet connection, the fan noise may dictate where you locate the DVR.
The bullet cameras (model WDVRC25) themselves feel durable though the attachment to the mount is a simple screw camera mount and the ball-socket feels a little flexible. The cameras would have to be mounted somewhere out of reach so they do not get misaligned with where you want to look. On that same note, the power cable comes out of the back of the camera. It has plenty of reach for many connection options but it would be a nice option for the cable to run through the mount for added security and durability.
The cameras do contain microphones so you will be able to pick up audio along with video of your surveillance.
While the cameras are rated for outdoor use, sometimes it makes more sense to secure them from within and have them looking out. It could also just be a matter of where a power outlet is located. I initially tried setting up the camera indoors looking out a front window to cover people approaching the front door. This worked out great during the day time but at night, the IR reflects off the glass (no matter the angle or distance) and can’t see anything outside at all. This is a pretty universal problem for security cameras but it would be a nice option if Uniden allowed manually controlling the IR through the settings.
Setting up the system is as easy as could be. You simply connect the pieces together (antennas, cameras, mounts, etc.), plug in the DVR to power and network, and finally plug in the power to the cameras.
You can attach a USB mouse and HDMI display to the Wireless DVR and right-click to access menu options, including configuring camera, recording, and playback. The interface is a bit cumbersome with left-click to toggle/select items and right-click used as a ‘Back’ button. It gets the job done, however, and you pretty quickly get the hang of things.
Setup options cover a variety of bases including motion detection or schedule recording. The motion setting allows you to dictate how long it records after the motion is detected such as 30 or 60 seconds. You can also have the system alert you by email if a camera is disconnected or motion is triggered. The motion detection would obviously help to be an isolated location and not include plants blowing in the wind or cars driving by. You can target your motion detection to a certain square in the grid, such as near your front door if this is the case.
Be sure to change the default password from ‘123456’ to something more secure!
Monitoring and Playback
You can monitor your cameras from the HDMI-connected monitor/TV, which can cycle or split-screen through your connected cameras. From the TV playback, you can save recorded footage to an SD card for exporting the file.
Alternatively to the TV playback, you can use the free iOS or Android apps to access the system from your mobile devices.
Using the app, you can configure the system, watch live video or previous recordings, and take a screenshot (still frame). Configuring the app is easily done through a QR code on the bottom of the DVR and supplying the system password. You are able to access your cameras from the internal network or Internet as long as UPnP is enabled on your router and ports 80 and 6000 are open.
The app navigation is well done and modern while the on TV controls are fairly dated (left-click to select or toggle settings, right-click to back out of the setting page). The videos appear clear and allow an easy monitoring experience with quad-view or single camera view. The apps also allow for push notifications of motion or disconnect alerts instead of email.
The TV and iOS/Android apps offer good playback options but it would be a versatile experience to also have a web interface or desktop app available. This would make it accessible from desktops and make use of your existing monitors.
While I was using my laptop in the same room as one of the wireless cameras, my laptop’s Internet connection would slow to a crawl sporadically. This happened over the course of a few days. I tried troubleshooting the problem with new drivers (it occurred before and after upgrading to Windows 10) and researching the manufacturer support forums. It seems that the laptop (Lenovo Yoga Pro 13) wireless is particularly susceptible to wireless interference. I unplugged the camera and the Internet connectivity immediately returned to normal. Upon reconnecting the camera, the connection to the Internet remained steady on the Internet. As it happens, a power outage took out my router mid-evaluation and I replaced it with a router capable of using 5 GHz frequencies instead of the apparently crowded 2.4 GHz range. I have not experienced the problem again since power cycling that camera. The Wireless DVR does not broadcast an SSID for its network, which makes it more difficult to troubleshoot interference from a channel overlap.
Overall, I really like the system. I think it works well and is a breeze to setup and access. There are a few tweaks I wish I could make (enclosed power cable, quieter fan, wireless channel selection, and manually-controlled IR lights) but overall, the system is sound. As Wireless DVR system, this is a complete package with add-on options to increase the number of cameras if you have more locations to monitor. At the price point, the Uniden Wireless DVR offers many high level features.
- Easy DIY set-up
- Completely wireless – plug in, power start, and record instantly
- Two (2) all-metal IP66-rated outdoor cameras
- VGA-quality video recording and streaming
- High-power infrared LED night vision range of up to 40 feet
- One (1) terabyte (1,000 GB) hard drive
- Passive Infrared (PIR) dual motion sensors
- Built-in microphones for audio reception
- Supports up to four (4) camera channels
- Digital A/V transmission range up to 500 feet
- Remote access to live and recorded video with P2P (peer-to-peer) network technology
- Multiple video display options
- Motion and sound detection alerts (push notification or email)
- Enterprise-grade security with 256-bit AES and SSL encryption
- App Compatibility:
- iOS 6.0 or later (iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch®)
- OS X® 10.8 or later
- Android 4.0 and up
A review unit of the Uniden Wireless DVR was provided at request by Uniden to 404 Tech Support for the purpose of this review.