Netgear (VZSX2800) VueZone Home Monitoring System
We're watching you!
Tech reviewSRP: £279.99
IntroductionWith the recession of the past few years and more and more people having highly visible large screen TVs and other expensive electronics, the modern house is increasingly becoming a lucrative and at times easy target for burglaries. House alarms are all well and good but the more people that have them the more likely they are to be ignored when they go off. Take a car alarm for example, you hear these often in car parks but it’s not a noise that makes you stop to investigate, it’s a noise you just ignore.
We therefore move on to CCTV systems as the next best defense. These range from hugely expensive all singing and dancing 24/7 monitored systems to the basic £50 home camera which is used more as a visual deterrent. This reviewer is swayed more to the monitored systems as it’s not much fun watching your CCTV footage back the next day to see if someone was in your house. It’s far more useful if you can stop them in the act, but the cost of these is prohibitive to most people.
Thanks to the wide range of electronics available in the home, network connectivity and smart phones, we now have a much more reasonably priced solution in the guise of Wireless IP camera systems. Several of these systems such as the D-Link DCS-932L require the cameras to be close to power outlets, whilst Logitech’s 750i system uses HomePlug technology to do away with wireless signal issues altogether. The system for review is the Netgear VueZone VZSX2800 which comes with two motion detection cameras and a night vision infrared lamp. The major positive with this system is that the cameras are completely wireless, so you can position them wherever you want. So let's put them up and see if we can catch some nocturnal intruders in the act...
Design and Connections
The Netgear VueZone VZSX2800 comes with a base station that is connected to your router, two cameras, a night vision lamp and 4 magnetic camera mounts. The base station is fairly small and unobtrusive with an attractive grey and white design with a black front housing the LED lights measuring just 155mm high by 120mm deep. The connections are simple with the Ethernet port for connecting to your router, power connection, reset hole and a USB port (which currently has no functionality). The LED lights to the front indicate that the cameras are synced, the base station has power, internet connectivity and the system is running.
Moving onto the cameras, they are very small measuring just 55mm high by 60mm deep. The indoor motion detection camera is a silver and grey design, whilst the night vision motion detection camera is a black and grey design, more suited to blending in to its surroundings. The cameras just have a power switch on the bottom and are powered by two chunky lithium 3v batteries.
The night vision Infrared light is a much larger device, an all silver/grey design measuring 131mm x 105mm x 105mm; it can be wall mounted and is water resistant and rated for outdoor use. It does have its own power supply so that will need to be considered but thanks to the truly wireless cameras you don’t need the Infrared light near the camera. The light beam emitted is invisible to humans, zombies on the other hand, possibly not. One issue we have here is that the power supply for the night vision light is very noisy, it emits a constant whining noise which if you are considering mounting this internally (so to speak) then the noise may be an issue.
Setup and Features
With a more extensive product than the usual HomePlugs or Routers that we have reviewed recently from Netgear we had concerns that this VueZone system would put our high expectations of Netgear’s easy installation and setup routine to the test, thankfully as always with Netgear our concerns were unfounded. The setup is incredibly easy.
Firstly you connect the base station to your router via the supplied Ethernet cable and power it on. Then with the batteries installed to each camera, you simply press the sync button on the base station, hold each camera to within 12 inches of it and push the power switch on each camera to the on position. Within a few seconds a flashing blue LED will tell you the setup is complete. The hardest work with this setup is deciding on where you would like the cameras to go, it really is that easy to setup! The camera mounts have a self adhesive back or they can be screwed in place with the supplied screw kits. The Infrared light has a 180 degree tilt so can either be wall mounted or positioned on a surface, the light is balanced enough that it won’t tip over.
Once the hardware is all installed we then move on to the software side. Firstly you need to register the system with Netgear, once the account is setup you can access and configure the cameras via any internet connected PC and also from the free VueZone app available on both Android and iOS devices
Performance and TestingThe base station has a range of 300ft (line of sight) and we positioned both cameras as far away from the base as we could and even though the signal strength was reading the lowest possible, a connection was still live to the camera and a moving image was received. The base station is in the same place as our router, in the same area where our devices normally lose the Wi-Fi signal to that router, the cameras were still connected to the base station, so very impressive. The base station uses 2.4Ghz wireless frequency which could interfere with your current wireless, but we had no issues here.
As for quality there are three settings with these cameras, firstly for the video you have QVGA (320 x 240) at 6fps and VGA (640 x 480) at 4fps. Not the most mouth-watering of resolutions but the video is clear enough to see what is going on. You can also zoom in on the live image x2 in VGA and x4 in QVGA, the image quality actually appears to improve slightly when you do zoom in. The third setting is for Snapshots only and is a much better UXGA (1600 x 1200) which can record at 1fps.
Using the night vision camera and the Infrared light, the results were very impressive. As far as quality goes it was just as good as the daylight image, perhaps even slightly better. The light is indeed invisible to the human eye and casts a good amount of light over an area. The first image below shows a capture of some dodgy character in daylight and the second image is in pitch black.
Now onto our favourite part of this system, the motion detection. This is where the system interface works very well indeed. Using the iPad app for example (same settings can be entered on PC or Android too), we can set whether to have Video or Snapshots taken, the duration of the capture and the quality settings. We can also set up the alerts here by entering an email address. When we tested the alerts, within a few seconds of the camera being triggered we had an email to warn us that motion had been detected along with a link to the images or the video, depending on which setting you have chosen. We were particularly impressed with this as it was just very easy to setup and worked without any issues at all.
VueZone Service PlansUnfortunately the downside to the excellent motion detection, notification system and online storage of the snapshots and videos that we mentioned above is that it doesn’t come for free. The Basic service plan which is free allows you to have just two cameras on the system and access and view the cameras on your PC only, that’s it. The Premier service plan (£3.99 a month or £34.99 a year) allows you to also use the iOS or Android apps to access the system, have up to 5 cameras, video email alerts, zoom feature and 250MB (yes, that is MB) of online storage. The final package is the Elite (£6.99 a month or £69.99 a year) which has everything from the Premier but with up to 3 base stations, 15 cameras and a ‘massive’ 500MB of online storage.
You do get a 30 day free trial of the Premier package which is what has allowed us to review all the excellent features available. This is definitely something to bear in mind as an additional cost because with just the basic package in our opinion you won’t really get much use out of the system and will be losing out on all the excellent monitoring and notification features along with accessing it on your mobile device. At a cost of over £250 for this system, it is rather disappointing that you have to spend another £40 (per year) to use all the features. The Premier package would seem to be an essential when considering the VueZone system.
Now we see you
- Completely wireless cameras.
- Very easy to use.
- Usual Netgear simple setup.
- Excellent night vision and motion detection.
- Excellent email notification system.
- Works with iOS and Android devices.
Now we don't
- £4 per month for the Service Plan.
- Noisy night vision lamp power supply.
- Image quality not the best in the market.
Netgear (VZSX2800) VueZone Home Monitoring System
Yet again, we find ourselves with another product from Netgear that just works without issue and does it very well to boot. The installation and setup is again child’s play, within a couple of minutes you have yourself a fully operational home camera system and thanks to the wire free cameras they can be positioned in exactly the location you want without having to balance location against finding a power outlet.
The cost is reasonable for a system of this specification. At just over £250, you get a system with two cameras and a night vision light along with a very easy to use interface. Compare that to the slightly more expensive Logitech 750N which does have a much higher HD 960 x 720 video resolution but then only comes with the one camera, add a second and the cost becomes significantly more than this Netgear system.
The quality is not fantastic for the video at just 640 x 480 although the image is clear without too much noise, but you do also have the option of the Snapshot recording at a much higher 1600 x 1200 resolution. The motion detection coupled with the instant email notification works perfectly and providing you have internet access when not at home you can be instantly aware of any possible issues.
The service plans are a slight disappointment as the free package doesn’t really allow you to use the features that make this product stand out. We’d go as far as saying the Premier service plan at £39.99 a year is an essential for this product and without it this system really isn’t worth buying. But if you factor in all the above and allow for the Premier service plan in your budget, we would definitely recommend this system and have no issues in awarding it the AVForums Recommended award.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £279.99
Ease of Use9
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
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