NAS storage maker Synology bundles a ton of great software with all of the network attached storage devices. One of the most helpful is Surveillance Station 5, a program that records IP cameras to internal storage. Since the primary function of a NAS is to be connected to the network, users are easily able to record any of 780 models of IP cameras to the NAS, either continuously, on a schedule, or by motion detection (compatibility list here: http://www.synology.com/support/camera.php?lang=us). This review will focus on the highlights and issues with the latest version, 5.
Synology has done a great job with the visual aspects of all of their software. It’s very clean and easy to navigate. When you access a NAS (DiskStation) users will first be asked to login with a user name and password (top photo).
You will then be brought to the main “home” screen which has shortcuts and programs listed very neatly. Almost everything here is customizable, from the background to the number of icons seen on screen. This will be discussed in more depth in the physical diskstation review. After clicking on the Surveillance Station icon, a new window will open that should look similar to the image below. NOTE – SS5 runs with Java, so be sure this is installed before using.
This screen is the main view of SS5, which shows the cameras currently active, name, address, status, and quota. Adding a camera is as simple as clicking “Add” and following the popup windows instructions.
ISSUE 1: One of the major drawbacks for me (and others) is the price of adding cameras to this system. Synology charges ~$45/50 for a “license” in order to add additional cameras. Each NAS comes with 1 license preinstalled. However, a lot of their NAS’s are less than dedicated network video recorders of similar capacity, so the overall cost is still less.
As stated in Issue 1, the cost of adding cameras is a drawback, as the “code” you buy serves no actual purpose other than to “authorize” your nas to allow more cameras. If nothing else, I would really love to see this issue addressed, even if the overall cost of the NAS was raised.
On the left side of the screen, there are options for the cameras (devices), events (what’s been recorded), notifications (emails, sms), and system settings (emap, licenses,etc). Most of these features are pretty self explanatory, and do exactly what they sounds like/should do.
Changing tabs to the “Timeline” tab, users are shown this screen, again click the image to view larger.
The purpose of the timeline menu is to provide access to recordings from specific times and days, simply by clicking on the data on the calender as shown. As you can see the days highlighted are days that have been recorded. Currently, my setup records two Foscam cameras 24/7 for nearly a full month. One of the cool features here is that clicking a data will show the recordings of both cameras simultaneously. As you would expect, you can fast forward, rewind, pause, take screen caps, and more within this same view. SS5 functions like any dvr or vcr would, just digitally and online. With my home network (completely wireless) I found that fast forwarding and selecting new dates can take a minute to load. I’m assuming this is because it has to “buffer” large amounts of data while also recording the latest camera streams.
ISSUE 2: Functionality between Internet Explorer and Firefox/Chrome – There are several functions that only work inside Internet Explorer including “Smart Search” which lets you search old archived video by different parameters, like motion detection by selecting different regions of the view. Hopefully the next version will address this.
The last tab, “Live View” does exactly what it sounds like it would do, provides a live view of your connected IP cameras. There are options on this screen to change the layout of the cameras and how many are shown on the screen. This view provides room for 4 cameras to be displayed. There are also controls on the side for PTZ cameras (if your camera supports this) and digital zoom (any connected IP camera). Obviously digital zoom isn’t very helpful for most cameras, unless they have extra resolution for zooming.
Even with the couple of issues discussed above, is SS5 a good choice for recording software? For homes, and small businesses yes, SS5 is an excellent choice as it provides an easy to user interface and great features. It is even more of a great choice as each Synology NAS includes this software stock. One can only hope that Synology changes their “license” fee for extra cameras, and perhaps eliminates the need for Java, which bogs down my computer slightly.
For more information click here (http://www.synology.com/us/products/features/live_view.php)
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