Testing Lorex's IP Camera (LNE1001)

Author: Benros Emata, Published on Aug 02, 2010

Simplifying remote viewing is a key element in choosing and using IP cameras for home and small business users. Doing it the 'old fashion' way can require technical skill, be cumbersome and frustrating. A number of providers are now marketing 'easy' or 'plug n play' setup.

In this test report, we examine the Lorex LNE1001 cube camera that touts itself as providing "Easy Connect" capabilities. We bough the Lorex camera from Amazon and tested it primarily with its own provided VMS software.

The simplicity of remote access of the Lorex sits in between other cameras we tested - easier to setup for remote access than the Cisco-Linksys cube camera but more complex than the Viaas camera. While the Lorex has a higher up-front cost than either competitor, Lorex does not charge for ongoing basic remote access.

Inside the pro section, we carefully examine a number of the detailed differences and functions of the Lorex systems and how it varies from other offerings.

Recommendations

We recommend the LNE1001 for the home user because of its performance in daytime / low light environments and the relative ease of setup and use for remote access.

The image performance makes it a good choice for a small business (8 cameras or less), and a single camera's web interface does support multiple camera views, but the included video monitoring software lacks basic functionality for business surveillance.

In a larger deployment (over 8 cameras), the LNE1001 makes a good low-cost alternative to high end IP cameras, but limited 3rd party VMS support may hinder the deployment in enterprise environments.

Key Findings

Setup: Lorex markets this camera as being "Easy Connect." While it is certainly easier than setting up port forwarding and configuring IP addresses, some technical skills are still needed. An IP finder utility needs to be executed by the user to setup the camera, but the utility was not able to find the camera on the network when used on some PC systems. Remote access functions, through third party provider Yoics, requires manual registration through the camera's web interface.

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Monitoring Software: Video monitoring software has very limited functionality (manual recording only, no search, no formal exporting of video), and there is no manual ip address input; The system relies entirely on the IP finder utility to associate cameras to the system. 

Bandwidth: During our tests, we observed the camera's bandwidth consumption at 330Kbps during the day, and 290kbps at night. The camera was placed indoors, with the video settings at 640x480, 30fps, MPEG4 codec.

Details of subjects: The camera's field of view will generally be too wide to get fine facial details, but enough for human identification.

Outdoor Daytime Performance: For a quality outdoor image, we needed to access the camera's web interface and change the lighting profile to "outdoors." If left at the default "indoor" profile, outdoor scenes will look significantly washed out. 

Nighttime Performance: At a light level of 1 lux, the camera's image quality was good. At that light level, we could still see details of our subject in addition to details in the environment.

Third Party VMS Support: We were able to connect the camera to NUUO VMS and Blue Iris, but only when using the LNE 3003 camera driver profile. We found that the Lorex LNE1001 has limited 3rd party VMS support. No driver was available for Milestone Enterprise, ExacqVision VMS, or Luxriot. In addition, we could not connect to the budget VMS systems: Argus, WebcamXP, and I-Catcher Console.  

Remote Access & Monitoring: Registering the camera to the Yoics service provided a relatively simple setup for remote video monitoring.  The Yoics site automatically discovers the camera, so no manual port forwarding tasks are necessary.  In addition, Lorex offers a free Dynamic DNS service, but using this feature will require manual setup.

Product Overview

In testing the Lorex LNE1001, we verified the following product points:

  • Supports MPEG4 and MJPEG codecs
  • 4mm fixed lens, 1/4" CMOS sensor
  • Maximum resolution of 640x480 at 30fps
  • Wired Ethernet connectivity
  • Built in Microphone
  • External speakers may be attached to camera for two way audio functionality
  • No setup wizard on CD, but detailed quick start documentation provided
  • DigiConsole is the packaged video monitoring software which provides basic live viewing and recording capabilities; Software can be run directly from the CD or installed on a desktop PC
  • Integrates with the Yoics service, which allows remote access of video to web browsers and mobile devices without any manual network port forwarding tasks; Service needs to be setup though the camera's web interface and the Yoics website
  • Although the Yoics remote access service is free (and does not expire), they offer a Pro version that provides more features; We believe that the free option is adequate for the general home user

Price

The Lorex LNE1001 is available through direct retail channels at an MSRP of $199.95 USD or online for approximately $130 USD.  The optional Yoics Pro remote access service is $24.95 USD a year

Physical Overview

The following screencast details the Lorex LNE1001's physical form factor and included accessories.

Key points include:

  • The front of the unit has a focus adjustment ring, power status LED, network status LED, and microphone
  • The bottom of the unit has a 5V DC jack, ethernet port, reset button, and 3.5mm audio jack for an external speaker
  • Camera form factor is relatively slimmer than other home network cameras on the market
  • Included 3.5' ethernet cable is too short for most installations
  • AC adapter is 6' long

Setup & Configuration

In the following screencast, we detail the process of setting up the camera with the included setup CD, configuring the settings though its web interface, setup remote access through the Yoics service, and using DigiConsole for viewing video.

Key points include:

  • Although no setup wizard is available on CD, step by step printed instructions are included
  • The IP Find tool was not able to see the network camera when used on some PC systems
  • Further setup must be done by accessing the camera's web interface
  • Set a static IP address by unchecking "Use DHCP" checkbox
  • Change video resolution and codec in the Video Streaming drop-down window
  • Lorex uses a third party service called "Yoics" for remote access of live video
  • Registering for remote access is not automatic; A user needs to register for the service using the provided link inside the camera's web interface
  • Once registered, the Yoics service automatically finds the camera and performs network forwarding tasks without any manual user interaction
  • On the Yoics website, "My Stuff" lists the associated camera
  • For local monitoring and recording to a PC, install DigiConsole to your local PC
  • DigiConsole relies on the IP Find tool to associate the camera; No manual association is possible
  • To view live video, right click on the camera item, and select "View live video"
  • Software does not support automatic recording; User must select "Record Video Image" in context menu
  • Select "Playback" to view recorded video clips
  • Double click on an entry to view video in your default media player
  • No integrated video export; User needs to right click on an entry and select "Open Recorded Video Folder"
  • By default, camera lighting mode is set to "Indoor"
  • At the "indoor" setting, if camera is pointed outdoors, image will be significantly washed out; User must change lighting mode to "outdoors" setting

Image Quality Analysis

We tested the Lorex LNE1001 in a variety of environments and light levels and have exported sample video clips.

Download our sample clips ( 17MB download)

Key points include:

  • In a daytime indoor scene, image is clear, with good color representation
  • Exported video looks smooth, running at 30fps
  • In a daytime outdoor clip, image and colors look good, but default lighting settings were changed to an "outdoor" profile to avoid image looking washed out from "indoor" profile setting
  • In an indoor low light scene (measured at 1 lux), there is slight camera noise, but details on subject can be seen

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