Testing $39 ONVIF NVR

By Ethan Ace, Published Feb 05, 2014, 12:00am EST

You are probably used to paying thousands of dollars for NVRs and even hundreds for budget ones, like the Q-See kit we tested.

But how about just $39 for an NVR?

That's the price we paid, responding to a Chinese spam email promotion. And it was done based on your feedback, after our highly read $29 ONVIF IR IP Chinese Camera test.

For $39, we got the Wodsee WS-MN04 [link no longer available], a 4 channel NVR that claims to support ONVIF and cloud access. The unit does not come with a hard drive. We paid them an extra $66 for them to include / load a 1TB Seagate Baracuda hard drive.

Here are the key findings from this test:

  • The WS-MN04 is a 4-channel NVR capable of recording up to four IP cameras with local viewing as well as local, cloud, or thick client operation.
  • The NVR automatically detected all ONVIF cameras on our network, nine in total, from Dahua, Hikvision, Axis, Bosch, Sony, and more. We had no issues connecting to and recording any of these ONVIF cameras, but it is not officially listed as ONVIF conformant.
  • The WS-MN04 automatically connects to a free cloud based service (xmeye.net), with no manual port forwarding or configuration required. Accessing the recorder requires only the serial number and password.
  • Camera side motion detection is supported on select cameras via ONVIF. Note that this does not include Wodsee's own $29 ONVIF cameras as they do not support camera side motion. Motion events from Dahua, Samsung, and other cameras worked fine, though there is no documentation of which cameras are supported or unsupported.
  • Live monitoring was straightforward on all clients (local, web, or Windows software), and offered very similar options for viewing and setup regardless of which option was used.
  • Single camera playback displayed no timeline, only a list of clips. These clips are either specific motion events (the lenght of the event plus pre- and post-recording) or hour long sections in the case of continuous recording.
  • Time search of one or more cameras displays a timeline including archived video and motion events (though motion events are difficult to spot in the Windows client, with no legend given).
  • Exports are limited either to the clip in the case of single camera playback, or to the specific time range when searching a camera or cameras by time. No simple options to click to select start and end times and export are available, common in many recorders and VMSs.
  • We experienced one crash of the NVR, as well as multiple crashes of their CMS software during the few days testing took place. The NVR was only being used to view video, no configuration was taking place, and rebooted immediately.

Recommendations

Given its dirt cheap pricing, a fraction of most NVRs, as well as its simple operation, ONVIF compatibility, and free cloud access, the Wodsee NVR is an attractive package for those where price is critical. 

However, using these NVRs is risky, with limited support and no track record. We suggest bench testing with your desired cameras and configuration before considering field installs.

Physical Overview

In this video we review the physical construction of the Wodsee NVR.

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We opened the unit to inspect the internals. Key components include:

Configuration

This video reviews initial setup of the NVR via a locally connected mouse and monitor:

 

Cloud Connection

In this video we look at the xmeye.net cloud service. Connection requires no manual configuration, only entering the serial number, username, and password of the recorder. A WHOIS of the cloud provider shows the site registered to Feng Technolog.

 

Client Operation

This video reviews the CMS software included with the NVR, used for monitoring, playback, and configuration. All clients (Windows, web, and local) share a similar interface and featureset.

Playback Usability

We review play back functionality in this screencast. Playback was straightforward, but limited in options for timeline and export:

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