Testing $39 ONVIF NVR

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Feb 05, 2014

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.

*** *** ******** **** to ****** ********* ** dollars *** **** *** even ******** *** ****** ones,**** *** *-*** *** we ******.

*** *** ***** **** $39 *** ** ***?

****'* *** ***** ** paid, ********** ** * Chinese **** ***** *********. And ** *** **** based ** **** ********, after *** ****** ****$** ***** ** ** Chinese ****** ****.

*** $**, ** *** the ****** **-**** [**** no ****** *********], * 4 ******* *** **** claims ** ******* ***** and ***** ******. *** unit **** *** **** with * **** *****. We **** **** ** extra $** *** **** to ******* / **** a *** ******* ******** hard *****.

** ** * ***** of **** ** ***? With *** ***** ***** flooding *** ******, ** wanted ** *** **** its ********* *** ********** were.

[***************]

Key ********

**** *** *** *** findings **** **** ****:

  • *** **-**** ** * 4-channel *** ******* ** recording ** ** **** IP ******* **** ***** viewing ** **** ** local, *****, ** ***** client *********.
  • *** *** ************* ******** all ***** ******* ** our *******, **** ** total, **** *****, *********, Axis, *****, ****, *** more. ** *** ** issues ********** ** *** recording *** ** ***** ONVIF *******, *** ** is *** ********** ****** as***** **********.
  • *** **-**** ************* ******** to * **** ***** based ******* (*****.***), **** ** ****** port ********** ** ************* required. ********* *** ******** requires **** *** ****** number *** ********.
  • ****** **** ****** ********* is ********* ** ****** cameras *** *****. **** that **** **** *** include ******'* *** $** ***** ******* ** **** ** *** support ****** **** ******. Motion ****** **** *****, Samsung, *** ***** ******* worked ****, ****** ***** is ** ************* ** which ******* *** ********* or ***********.
  • **** ********** *** *************** on *** ******* (*****, web, ** ******* ********), and ******* **** ******* options *** ******* *** setup ********** ** ***** option *** ****.
  • ****** ****** ******** ********* no ********, **** * list ** *****. ***** clips *** ****** ******** motion ****** (*********** *** ***** **** pre- *** ****-*********) ** hour **** ******** ** the **** ** ********** recording.
  • **** ****** ** *** or **** ******* ******** a ******** ********* ******** video *** ****** ****** (though ****** ****** *** difficult ** **** ** the ******* ******, **** no ****** *****).
  • ******* *** ******* ****** to *** **** ** the **** ** ****** camera ********, ** ** the ******** **** ***** when ********* * ****** or ******* ** ****. No ****** ******* ** click ** ****** ***** and *** ***** *** export *** *********, ****** in **** ********* *** VMSs.
  • ** *********** *** ***** of *** ***, ** well ** ******** ******* of ***** *** ******** during *** *** **** testing **** *****. *** NVR *** **** ***** used ** **** *****, no ************* *** ****** place, *** ******** ***********.

***************

***** *** **** ***** pricing, * ******** ** most ****, ** **** as *** ****** *********, ONVIF *************, *** **** cloud ******, *** ****** NVR ** ** ********** package *** ***** ***** price ** ********. 

*******, ***** ***** **** is *****, **** ******* support *** ** ***** record. ** ******* ***** testing **** **** ******* cameras *** ************* ****** considering ***** ********.

Physical ********

** **** ***** ** review *** ******** ************ of *** ****** ***.

** ****** *** **** to ******* *** *********. Key ********** *******:

*************

**** ***** ******* ******* setup ** *** *** via * ******* ********* mouse *** *******:

 

Cloud **********

** **** ***** ** look ** ********.*** ***** *******. ********** requires ** ****** *************, only ******** *** ****** number, ********, *** ******** of *** ********. ****** ** *** ***** provider***** *** **** ********** to **** *********.

 

Client *********

**** ***** ******* *** CMS ******** ******** **** the ***, **** *** monitoring, ********, *** *************. All ******* (*******, ***, and *****) ***** * similar ********* *************.

Playback *********

** ****** **** **** functionality ** **** **********. Playback *** ***************, *** limited ** ******* *** timeline *** ******:

Comments (18)

The cloud part is what most impresses me (well, that and working ONVIF motion detection). Cloud access is quite valuable, rare among even big brands (why can't Exacq, Milestone, etc. offer this?) and goes against the stereotype of Chinese being behind on software.

For those Internet sleuths, you might find tracking down the source of their cloud offering to be interesting. The domain is xmeye.net. A whois record lookup returns an address that maps to surveillance manufacturer Feng Technologies, though I do not know who this company is.

With all the digital attack and industrial espionnage claims against the Chinese I'd be weary of having my corporate video surveillance data hosted by a cloud service provider from that I don't know anything about.

Then again, I wouldn't expect any business with military secrets or other highly confidential business information to be a prospect for a this product. That said, I would also be concerned with the potential for identity theft related issues if deployed in a retail space.

wow! nice review,overall it looks to be a good NVR who knows for how long but I guess they must be offering a 1 year warranty at least?

Anyway, as you said better to keep testing it before trying to install it for a client

"overall it looks to be a good NVR who knows for how long"

Really...?

"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."

It doesn't sound like an atractive package where "price is critical" so much as it working is optional.

"Cloud access is quite valuable, rare among even big brands (why can't Exacq, Milestone, etc. offer this?)"

That, I do agree with.

These Hisilicon H264 decoder chip based DVRs have the same user interface and CMS software. This unit is one version of them without analog inputs, with a firmware modified for recording IP camera.

Good for home usage, not to protect but to give a feeling of protection. I bought one for myself and setup an FTP server to my mobile phone, so recorded video footage goes to my SD card directly. Only problem that I cannot play the raw H264 file on my mobile, so I have to use a PC to playback. Already setup an FTP server where the uploaded footage is converted to FLV or MP4 file which can be played in browser, so if you buy any of these low cost chinese DVRs, IP or analog, you are welcome to my cloud based CCTV service :)

You bought the same Wodsee NVR as John?

Are there client apps for Andoid and iPhone?

Yes there are. The iPhone app is 99 cents. I believe the Android app is too. They connect similarly to the cloud web interface. You just need to add the serial number, username, and password.

Its not Wodsee, its called Identivision in Hungary.

vmeye is the free remote viewer app for Android.

Curious or cornfusing statement. "Good for home usage, not to protect but to give a feeling of protection" How then to 'protect'? It's 'reactive' no matter home OR? Thus the 'protection' is in the reaction time. And "you are welcome to my cloud based CCTV service". What is your total cost for that set up?

I too find the cloud access to be fascinating. Can anyone elaborate on how that is actually happening?

I assume the NVR is doing some sort of automated registration to the cloud server and then when you want to establish a link remotely, you connect to the cloud server and the cloud server connects you to the NVR?

Questions:

  1. Is all the storage only happening locally on the NVR?
  2. In a DHCP network does this cloud relationship automatically recover from routine address changes in the LAN?
  3. Is there any “keep alive” traffic considerations? B/W usage et ceteras?

Thanks, great review of a very interesting trend.

Yes, storage is only locally on the NVR. There's no cloud recording for this unit.

Lots of consumer offerings now have cloud access - D-Link (which we tested recently), Lorex, Axis One Click, etc. My understanding is that the recorder/camera/device typically 'phones home' to pre-configured domain. It establishes a connection with the 'cloud' and periodically updates its status. This allows it to be independent of IP address changes, etc.

is it similar to dropcam type of services? meaning the cloud relays all the traffic between the local NVR and remote applications? or maybe some p2p technique is used like Sony IPELA cloud?

In follow up; the two points that I find most interesting about this iteration of cloud access is:

  1. The price/method. Free sounds just right, and the fact that all storage is “local” relieves my concern that the vendor is trying to create some interdependency that eventually leads to a subscription service, that leads to un anticipated recurring costs…
  2. Again driven by local storage the concern about having my internet access clobbered by video traffic or sacrificing video quality to recover bandwidth seems abated.

Am I getting this correctly ?

I think free is going to be the norm, especially since there are no hosting /storage costs in this model. And yes, it eliminates the need for constant uploading/streaming out video to record in the cloud, which is the achilles heel of hosted video.

The easy way to think of their cloud connection is similar to having Logmein or TeamViewer installed on your DVR / NVR. The recorder keeps an active connection with the cloud server and serves as a proxy to the client.

It's funny because the DVR cards (from I-View Communication of Taiwan) I've been using for the past 10 years have had that feature all along. It's just that they don't call it cloud.

Instead of using an IP address, they use an I.D. code. In their client apps, one would enter the I.D. code of the DVR, and it would always connect regardless of dynamic IP change at the DVR's ... because the DVR send its IP address to their server every hour. For web browser access, one would type the URL of the Taiwanese server and enter the DVR login info, such as I.D. code and username/password.

A cloud service to connect to a remote camera or NVR elminates two steps: DDNS and port forwarding. As Jon Dillabaugh mentioned, it's very similar to Logmein and other remote desktop services in that it uses ports that are generally not blocked by your router (like port 80) to connect to the cloud and open a tunnel back into your desktop (or camera or NVR).

If you're technical and don't mind setting up DDNS and port forwarding, you'll usually end up with less latency since you don't require the extra layer of cloud communication. Of course if the camera or NVR doesn't have a direct connect mobile app, you may be forced to use the cloud service. But there are plenty of 3rd party apps for directly connecting to cameras from most manufacturers.

Services like this don't even need to be even THAT complicated. What you describe here is essentially automatic port mapping here through NAT-PMP or IGD, using the "cloud service" only to maintain a directory of how to connect to the NVRs. The resultant connections between endpoints wind up being direct. Apple's iCloud, Skype, Logmein, use this method.

I would suspect that the unit is simply "phoning home" to the cloud service and maintaining a socket connection at all times, as outbound connections are rarely blocked. Then with this connection established, the cloud service can marshall whatever data back and forth to a client device.

Was a wireshark log taken to see whether NAT-PMP or IGD was being set up or not?

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