Testing Lorex LNC

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Oct 29, 2012

lorex pictureLorex has quietly become one of the biggest forces in the consumer / home surveillance market, on pace to sell over 500,000 cameras this year through mass distribution and big box retailers (like Costco). Indeed, the company was just acquired by thermal manufacturer FLIR for $60 million as the cornerstone for FLIR's expansion into the low end of the surveillance market.

Lorex was one of the first surveillance company's to provide plug n play cloud access to their IP cameras and DVRs. Now, the company is releasing a new line of IP cameras that expand those functionalities with edge recording support. In this report, we test the image quality and software functionalities.

Product / Physical Overview

The camera line has pretty much every bell and whistle one might want for home / consumer use - integrated IR, dual imagers for day and night, PIR, microSD storage, microphone, USB powered, wifi, etc. The most important limitation is that the camera is SD only [Lorex says future versions will support MP].

The video below overviews these functionalities:

Price

Depending on the software support of the camera, the street price ranges from $150 to $200, on the high end of the consumer / home market for IP cameras. However, remote / cloud access is free, with no recurring charges.

Setup

Setup is extremely easy even for a non technical user. No network configuration is required for remote access and the camera automatically phones home to Lorex's 'cloud'.

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Software / UI Features

Remote access is provided via apps and a PC based thick client. The software is fairly simplistic with the main distinction that it supports remote playback of video recorded on the microSD card.

One notable limitation on SD storage playback is that no fast forward nor rewind controls are provided and video is segmented into numerous multi-minute clips. This makes video review cumbersome.

Not suprisingly, using the built in PIR provided quite accurate motion detection and far better than video based alterantive.

Upgrades Automatic

When a user logins, the camera checks for software updates automatically, offers a prompt asking if the user wants to upgrade to new firmware and then applies. This is a nice benefit to keep cameras up to date with new features, bug fixes, etc.

Image Quality

As an SD camera, resolution is clearly not a reason to choose this offering. Below is a comparison to a budget line Axis 720p offering, showing the deficiency of the Lorex:

--

And here is a section digitally zoomed showing the difference between the SD Lorex and today's more 'standard' 720p HD camera:

lorex zoomed

On the other hand, the built in IR LED combined with the b&w imager produce much better low light images that cameras in this class.

lore night

Overall Analysis

We see two key differentiators:

  • The combination of cloud access and integrated SD recording eliminates the need for a PC based VMS as well as a hosted video service. This is a sign of things to come both for Lorex and, more importantly, the broader VMS market.
  • The strong hardware feature sets especially the dual imager, integrated IR and PIR combination that delivers fairly strong low light imaging and alerting.

The biggest negative is the software interface for search / investigations which is quite rudimentary and lacking.

Comparison to Axis ACC / Budget Cameras

Axis's offerings overall are clearly better, with many more IP cameras to choose from and a more polished software interface in Axis Camera Companion.

However, Lorex has two key advantages:

  • Lorex's low light performance and PIR integration is superior to Axis's offerings in the same price range.
  • Lorex makes remote access of edge recording easier than Axis. Axis ACC depends on UPNP for remote access or manual network configuration or going to AVHS requires an expensive monthly charge.

Ultimately, this market is in the middle of significant developments and we expect these companies as well as other rivals to continue to expand edge storage support and simplify the remote/cloud access of these recordings.

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