- Stream Live Video Directly to a remote MAC or PC, iPhone, iPad, or Android. Receive email alerts upon motion detection.
- Receive email alerts upon motion detection.
- Remote Internet monitoring (up to 5 users at the same time)
- Customize up to 8 cameras
- Includes Pre-installed 1 TB Hard Drive
The Q-See QS558 DVR is a quality home or small business security tool that will work well for you if you know its limitations. I have tested and installed numerous CCTV DVRs and found this one has quite a few bells and whistles for the price point. See details below or the PROS/CONS list for more. (See my photos under this product for more info too.)
It is an 8 channel DVR with H.264 video compression. That means it can record up to 8 analog cameras of your choosing, including audio if the camera supports it. The H.264 means clearer video while using less hard drive space versus older video technologies.
The DVR video output is via VGA, BNC, or HDMI. So you should be able to run a cable to wherever you need to for local monitoring purposes.
The menu system is nice and presents a good resolution. It’s not as clunky as others I’ve seen on other brands. It is easy to navigate through the menus and it even has a built-in startup wizard in the software, which I’ve not seen before on DVRs, in case the included documentation is not enough.
Important features for this DVR are that is can record 30 frame per second (fps) for all 8 channels. That’s good, fluid motion video. It also allows numerous video streams at the same time, so viewing it remotely on your iPhone won’t cannibalize the main video feed. You can stream/record to different places simultaneously without performance loss. (Google `pentaplex’ for more info.)
This DVR also offers motion detection, email alerts for video loss, motion, etc. and multi-user capabilities. You can also run PTZ cameras on it if you wish. Each camera (channel) can be configured for different settings, allowing a fully customizable set up. For example, you may want full D1 resolution at 30fps for street cameras to catch moving vehicles, but half D1 10fps for a side area with little activity.
This DVR is advertised as a universal viewer through software installed on a computer, a web browser, or a smart phone. However, it is not as limitless as it seems. The software can be downloaded and installed on Windows or Mac OS, but the web browser feature is limited. It works on Internet Explorer (IE) 10 and below, but it must install an ActiveX add-on for the IE browser. If you are not an administrator on the computer upon which you’re using, this will not install and it will not work.
Additionally, it shows to support Google Chrome and Firefox browsers, but it does not do so natively. You must download third party add-ons from various individuals to use these browsers. I didn’t like that part. On the up side though, all administrative features were available in the web browser mode as in the software mode.
I installed the iPhone app and tested it out. Be sure to get the viewer app for the series you have (QT, QS, etc) or it won’t work. They have several Q-See viewers, which is a little confusing. Once installed, the app was easy to set up and you can simply swipe left or right to change channels/cameras.
On a side note, I visited the Q-See website to check for firmware updates and it has a good layout with easy to find information and FAQs for the products. The knowledge base was very nice too.
Overall, I’m fairly impressed with the feature set. I do wish they offered better browser support NATIVELY, as well as an option for viewing on a computer where one may not have administrative privileges. But for the price, I would definitely recommend it.
* Full D1 resolution on all cameras
* 240fps for full video on all cameras
* Pentaplex multi-streaming capabilities
* iPhone and Android apps available
* Full administrative functions/configuration available via web browser
* HDMI, BNC, and VGA ports
* Can record audio as well
* H.264 video compression = good video at low space requirements
* Motion detection, alarm trigger, or scheduled recording
* Windows 8 and IE 10 compatible
* Small form factor case can be discreetly hidden
* Internet Explorer users must have admin rights on computer
* No native Firefox or Chrome support. (requires 3rd party add-ons)
* Motion detection mask blocks could be smaller to allow more finite blocking of a particular area.
This is my first video surveillance system so I can’t really compare it to others. However, for the price I think it was a pretty good deal. For the most part I like the entire system… I think the cameras are adequate for this price range, the DVR interface (both directly connected via monitor as well as through an IE browser) seems to be pretty nice and user-friendly.
My only complaint (and it is kind of a big one): At some point I noticed that the DVR had gone from recording only during motion (the way I configured it) to recording virtually 24/7 on all connected channels. After trying some of my own troubleshooting, I finally emailed Q-See support to try and figure out what was going on. Overall their support is okay, but as with many products, don’t expect real help with highly technical problems. I’d consider myself very knowledgeable with gadgets like these and I don’t generally ask for help unless I’ve exhausted everything I could think of which is typically way beyond first level support. The first responses to my query were to be expected: Check your settings, reboot, reset to defaults, etc. Eventually they did find the problem but it was not what I wanted to hear. The problem turned out to be due to having the recording quality set to D1 as opposed to CIF.
One reason I chose this model is because it can record in full D1 resolution, but unfortunately this apparently “breaks” the motion detection option which causes it to record all the time. The problem with that is 1) It makes it much harder to spot “events” when reviewing recorded footage, 2) It wastes considerably more HDD space resulting in previous recordings getting overwritten much sooner than they needed to be and 3) IMO, more wear and tear on the HDD.
When I told them that I wanted D1 resolution *and* motion recording, they said that they can only forward my findings to their programmers and *if* they can reproduce it (and *if* they can fix it), then they will release a firmware update. While I wouldn’t expect it this soon, for those interested, it is 3/18/2013 so any firmware update that may fix it would be released after this date.
So overall I like the system but for now I am stuck recording at a lower resolution than I would like only because motion recording doesn’t work at full D1.
Hopefully they will fix it with an update soon.
This is my third surveillance system. My first was a Q-See 8 channel with 4 cameras. It works fabulously. The second system I bought was a Swann, and compared to the Q-See, it doesn’t measure up. So, needing a third system for the property I manage, I am getting another Q-See.
Q-See DVR is top quality. It’s very easy to record, search for events, and backup just specific sections of a recording to a flash drive.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that this system’s DVR has some features that I hadn’t even thought about before I bought it. In addition to the usual BNC to RCA cable, the ethernet port and cable, vga port and 2 usb ports, it also has HDMI output plus an HDMI cable, and an ESATA port for connecting an external SATA HDD.
Also, the indicator lights on the front are a pleasant pale green, which is so much better than that glaringly bright blue that DVRs normally have. This makes a big difference to me since I keep one system in my bedroom. Normally, I cover the front lights with tape, but with this one I don’t have to.
Fortunately I had a camera scanning the entrance to our community and was able to catch a man breaking and entering a truck parked near the entrance. The tenant hadn’t locked his truck so the thief was able to grab the tenant’s stereo system from the truck and run. Luckily, I was able to show the police the entire event on camera and handed the officer the recording on a flash drive. The theft occured just after dusk, so the infrared night vision was on, and still, the quality was good enough for the police to identify the thief.
Here’s a tip I’d like to pass along:
We have a large property with 4 separate buildings. I’d been struggling to figure out how to run cable to put up cameras all over the property. I even contacted ADT to get an estimate. It was astounding what they wanted to charge!!! Over $20,000.00 to put up just 6 cameras and monitor them!! GEEZ!
I finally realized that all I need to do is to set up separate systems in each building’s utility closet, drill 1 hole in the wall to run the cables to the roof and ‘voila!’ DONE! No trenches to dig, no long cables to run underground and under concrete sidewalks!!
The reason this works is because I discovered that just about the only time I review the video is after the fact. You can just about NEVER watch a crime in real time. So, far better to have video surveillance everywhere and be able to provide the police with the recordings.
In my opinion, Q-See is the best system around, and I’m sticking with this brand. Customer service has been excellent, too. I only needed to call them once for a little advice when I first started, then everything is really easy so I don’t need to call anymore.
One big caution: I learned the hard way that the DVR is preset to motion sensor ON. This is the first CCTV DVR I ever purchased from Q-SEE that was set like this. I had thought that something was wrong with the hard drive, that it was not recording right.
When I reviewed all of the settings, I found out about the motion sensor setting and realized why my recordings had blank spots. Once I set it to Motion Sensor OFF, everything is working fine.
I don’t like to use motion sensor. However, if you do prefer to use it, I still recommend that you check the settings and make sure they are set the way you like it. This system is very versatile, so you can do lots with it!
I purchased this QS558 DVR a week ago, based on a balanced approach between cost and other user reviews. I have it set to record only upon motion detection. After a week of use on D1 quality, the major problem is the “advanced motion detection” capability:
When in D1 quality mode, even though no motion is happening in the field of view of the camera(s), the DVR still records…non-stop….
So at this point you might be thinking ‘Oh silly, maybe you just have the sensitivity too high and something triggers DVR to record (like a bird, shadows, etc..etc…). Well let me elaborate further:
In normal view, there is a little red guy/red dot that appears in the lower left corner of the camera(s) when motion is detected and recording starts. This way you can tell if the system is recording/not-recording. I noticed these symbols on the screen even though nothing was moving in the frame of view of the camera. So I investigated further….
In the settings section, under the AREA column, you can mask areas of the camera view where you don’t want motion detection to be seen/activated. When setting this feature, the entire camera view is shown on the display, overlaid with GREEN boxes/grid. When the boxes are green, no motion is detected. When some boxes turn RED, then those boxes detected motion. Under normal operation, when something moves, the boxes enclosing that movement turn RED, whereas the others stay GREEEN.
My problem is that sometimes the entire screen is filled with RED boxes, even though nothing is moving on the screen (shadows, wind/trees, etc…). This in turn records on the hard drive, until it no longer “sees motion” aka the boxes are green and the sensitivity level is matched. Adjusting the sensitivity doesn’t fix this…it just seems to get randomly STUCK in this mode, where it records non-stop for no reason. Even though there is no motion detected, all the boxes are red, therefore triggering non-stop recording.
When it does work properly, it detects motion (based on the sensitivity level you set) and starts recording for the amount of time you set it. If no motion is detected, it does not record…seems straightforward enough.
I just don’t understand what is going on… I have the latest firmware/updates uploaded on the DVR. I tried a reset (load default settings), power cycles, played with sensitivity levels. I lowered the recording quality to CIF and that seemed to help, but then what’s the point of advertising this DVR as full D1 with advanced motion detection when it doesn’t work properly on D1 ??
UPDATE #1: April 2, 2013: I contacted Q-See technical support and they are giving me the basic troubleshooting steps (sensitivity level, firmware, etc…). The only way the DVR records properly during motion is if you put the system in CIF quality mode. Obviously there is a problem between D1 quality and motion detection. I hope they will release a firmware update SOON!!! I also posted another picture to show you the motion detection software when the DVR is in CIF mode and D1 mode…
UPDATE #2: April 2, 2013: Q-See told me that their Software Development team is aware of this issue and are trying to come up with a fix. Hopefully they will have a firmware update out in a few weeks…
UPDATE #3: April 4, 2013: While Q-see is working on this issue, I tried to play around with some settings, see if perhaps something might help (besides CIF quality mode). I noticed that when in D1 mode and the DVR is set to auto-maintain every day (from the Maintenance section), it records in D1 only when motion is detected. But, occasionally, it records non-stop, even though no motion is detected. This has nothing to do with sensitivity level because all the motion detection boxes/grid on the screen go RED when the problem starts. This D1 -motion detection problem is highly inconsistent and random… I am worried that Q-See will no be able to properly re-create this problem and they will claim that it’s just my imagination, improper sensitivity level, etc..etc..etc…
This system has the potential to be very good. Cameras have great IR range and resolution, but like several other people reviewing this I quickly discovered that the DVR will randomly switch from motion recording to continuous recording when using D1 resolution. Have been working with tech support for weeks on this to no avail. They even sent me another unit and it did exactly the same thing. Obviously a flaw in the DVR or firmware. Latest firmware does not fix the problem. If you are looking at this system specifically for the ability to do motion recording at full resolution in real time (30 fps), I would have to say look at a different company. If you can live with CIF resolution the system works fine, but that defeats paying the extra cost for real time D1. Hopefully I and everyone else having this issue will get it resolved or I will definitely be done with this company.