A home surveillance system is one of the most cost-effective ways that you can make your home a hardened target for criminals. By installing high-quality cameras around your home, you not only create a strong deterrent for criminals who might want to target your home, but you also make it possible to retrieve high-quality video of any criminal activity around your home. However, the latter relies on having a reliable DVR solution that records the feed from your cameras, and let me assure you, not all DVR solutions are created equal!
There's nothing quite like the disheartening feeling that you experience when someone invades your home or your property, but as bad as that is, what's worse is finding that your home surveillance system failed you. I have cameras installed around my home and I have software running on a computer in my home that records the feeds from these cameras when motion is detected. Just this morning, a driver flew through a stop sign in my neighborhood and smashed into my yard, blowing his tire and causing damage to my yard. I heard it happen, but I didn't see it. When my wife and I went out front, the driver drove away rapidly, even with a flat tire. I wasn't worried. I knew I had video surveillance of the entire incident, so I went into the house and pulled up my DVR software. Much to my disappointment, my software did not capture the video of the incident.
I was disappointed, but then I remembered that I've been running Luxriot VMS on another computer in the house while I was working on this review. I pulled up Luxriot VMS client on another computer, connected to the computer running the "server" part of Luxriot, and pulled up the video feed from my cameras at the time of the crash. I was thrilled to find that Luxriot VMS had flawlessly captured the event from multiple angles.
To be honest, I'm not sure why this even surprises me. I ran Luxriot VMS for years when I had only one camera, but when I went to multiple cameras, I decided I didn't want to pay the additional cost to have the upgraded version of Luxriot and I moved to a different DVR solution. I can assure you that this event has convinced me that the decision to move away from Luxriot was a bad one, and I hope that by the end of this review, you'll have the information you need to avoid the same mistake that I made.
Luxriot VMS has two components; Luxriot server and Luxriot client. The Luxriot server is installed on a single computer in your home. You then add your cameras to Luxriot server and configure all of their settings. Luxriot client can be installed on as many computers as you want, and each client installation connects to the single server install. From the Luxriot client, you can view a live feed of all cameras, but you can also view a historical view from any of the cameras. In case you were wondering, the Luxriot server can run in service mode so that it can run even when no one is logged into the computer.
Once you add your cameras to Luxriot VMS, Luxriot will monitor the video feed from the camera. The quality of the feed is completely reliant on the camera. For example, even if your camera is a super-high quality camera such as the Sharx Security HDNC5501 with a resolution of 2592x1920 (which is quite a bit higher than 1080P HD video), Luxriot VMS will provide not only a full-resolution live view, but it will also record that camera at full resolution without a hiccup. In fact, when we spoke with the folks at Sharx Security during our review of the Sharx SCNC3804 camera, we were told that the only DVR software that can reliably record ultra-high resolution video is Luxriot VMS.
The only DVR software that can reliably record Sharx Security's ultra-high resolution video is Luxriot VMS.
You might be tempted to think that getting surveillance footage at such high resolution isn't necessary, but you'd be wrong in doing so. Suppose that you get video of someone vandalizing your property and the bad guy is 50 feet away from the camera. In such a situation, you're not likely to be able to see enough detail to identify the person, but if you have a video feed that is ultra-high resolution, you can zoom in using software and still have a high enough resolution image to identify the suspect. There's no doubt but that higher resolutions are always better.
Live View in Luxriot VMS
After you set up your cameras in Luxriot VMS, you can watch a live view of one or more cameras. Live view is highly customizable, allowing you to choose from one of many preset configurations. If you have a large number of cameras, you can define multiple screen layouts and then configure a layout sequence so that your screen alternates between different layouts at a regular interval. You may never need this kind of functionality, but as your security system grows, it's nice to know that Luxriot has you covered.
Another nice feature when viewing your cameras live is the ability to highlight detected motion. Luxriot will highlight detected motion with a colored box so that you can easily see where motion is detected. You can enable and disable this feature for individual cameras.
Of course, you're not expected to sit around watching your cameras' live feed all day. Luxriot excels in recording motion-detected video (or continuous video if you prefer) that you can watch and analyze later.
Recording and Analyzing Video
Luxriot VMS can record video and audio streams from your cameras so that you can analyze them later. When you set up recording, you can choose to just go with the defaults and that will work for most folks, but you can also get as detailed as you want if you have more specific needs. For example, you can configure quotas for each camera so that you can control how much disk space is used. If you are limited on local disk space, you can configure Luxriot to record to externally attached drives or even to a network attached storage (NAS) device.
In many cases, Luxriot can use motion detection capabilities in your camera so that you can offload the processing of that to the camera instead of your PC. However, if your camera doesn't have that capability (or if your particular camera's motion detection feature isn't compatible for some reason), you can use motion detection capabilities built into Luxriot. Luxriot's motion detection features are so powerful and flexible that even if you have the option of using your camera's onboard motion detection, you may choose to use Luxriot's features instead.
One of the things I really love about Luxriot's motion detection is that I can easily configure sensitivity exactly where I want it so that I don't capture too many false alarms. By blocking out areas that I'm not interested in and tweaking sensitivity, I have a reliable system that captures any motion without capturing a ton of video without anything of interest in it.
The first thing I do is exclude areas that might have motion I'm not interested in. For example, I have a bush on the right edge of my driveway camera that tends to sway in a breeze and trigger motion detection on my camera. By excluding that bush from motion detection, I avoid false positives when the branches sway. To exclude areas, you simply click inside of the image to shade out the areas you don't want to monitor for motion.
Once I've excluded that areas I'm not interested in, I switch over to the Sensitivity tab where I get a live view preview of the camera. Any motion that's detected will be highlighted with red squares. I use that to tweak the sensitivity until I see motion detected when I want it to be and not when I don't. It's amazingly simple, and it takes all of the guesswork out of getting each camera set up just right.
Even after carefully configuring motion detection, there will still be times when you capture a lot of video because of high winds blowing tree limbs or other unwanted motion triggers. Luxriot has you covered there as well, as you'll see in the next section.
Reviewing Recorded Video
Luxriot stores an archive of recorded video that you can review at your leisure. When you're reviewing archived video, you'll see a list of cameras on the left side of your screen. Double-clicking on a camera will allow you to see a timeline at the bottom of the screen that highlights areas of motion. You can use the playback controls at the bottom of the screen, but before you do, it's often helpful to narrow down the timeframe you're looking at.
If you know a specific time that you want to review, you can simply go directly to that time using the controls available to you. Once you're at the desired time, you can use the playback controls to move forward and backward and zero in on what you want to see. However, I find it much quicker and more convenient to use keyboard controls. Ctrl+M takes me to the next frame that contains motion, and Ctrl+P takes me to the previous motion frame. I can then use Ctrl+N and Ctrl+B to go forward and backwards. Using this method, I can quickly take a look at many hours of video from a camera and isolate any motion events that are of interest to me.
The Region of Motion Interest mode is one of the key features for me that sets Luxriot VMS apart from the competition.
Remember earlier when I said that you may often find motion of branches blowing in the wind or other unwanted events will trigger recording? There's another amazing feature in Luxriot VMS called Region of Motion Interest that can help you take care of that problem. You can isolate a portion of a camera's recorded feed and Luxriot will only pay attention to motion within that area. (I emphasize "recorded" here so that you will realize that you actually define the region of motion interest in the recorded video, not in live view.) The area that you highlight doesn't have to be contiguous either. In the screenshot below, I have shaded an area at the bottom of the screen and then I have cleared a small area where there's a bush that was triggering motion. After I define the area that I'm interested in, I can use my Ctrl+M and Ctrl+P keyboard commands and Luxriot VMS will ignore motion everywhere except the area of interest that I've defined.
You can also see the Region of Motion Interest toolbar in the screenshot above. Using this toolbar, I can easily add to the region, remove areas from the region, clear the region or turn off Region of Motion Interest mode. If I turn off Region of Interest mode, Luxriot will trigger on motion in any non-excluded area. (Non-excluded areas are areas that weren't originally excluded when I set up my camera.) However, I can easily switch right back into Region of Motion Interest mode by re-enabling it on the toolbar, and when I do, my previously defined region is still there. The Region of Motion Interest mode is one of the key features for me that sets Luxriot VMS apart from the competition.
By the way, once you find that key piece of video, you can easily export it so that you can share it or simply archive it in more permanent storage. I've also used this to export video and share it with my local police department after a car plowed through my yard one night. The driver claimed that another car ran him off the road and into my yard, but the video I obtained from Luxriot VMS clearly showed that the driver ran a stop sign at about 35mph and couldn't make the turn in front of my house, resulting in a short drive through my yard and a flat tire on the opposite curb. Most of the video I get from Luxriot, however, is of various wildlife that wanders through my yard in the middle of the night.
I have really only scratched the surface of what you can do with Luxriot VMS in this review. I focused primarily on using this excellent software for home surveillance, but the fact is that Luxriot VMS is an excellent choice for business owners as well, even those who have a large array of cameras. In fact, Luxriot VMS is built for that kind of work and has tons of features I didn't go into that will appeal to those with more sophisticated needs.
If you have any need to monitor security cameras at your home or business, you owe it to yourself to check out Luxriot VMS. By visiting www.luxriot.com, you can find all of the information you need to help you get everything set up. Luxriot even has a comprehensive hardware estimator that will allow you to enter the types and numbers of cameras you have and it will provide recommendations on computer hardware that would be required to get the results you want in a surveillance system. If you would like, they'll let you check out Luxriot VMS for 14 days at no cost, and if you have any questions, they're incredibly responsive and helpful.