Uniden G1420 Digital Wireless Surveillance Pack
An inexpensive two-camera kit that makes it easy to set up home video surveillance
- Simple to set up and use
- No wires apart from power cords
- Mostly clear and smooth video recording
- Remote viewing is through Skype and we find this to be a clumsy solution
Uniden's G1420 is a two-camera surveillance kit that communicates wirelessly with a 4.3in base station. It's easy to set up and use and it can capture clear and smooth video for the most part. It's difficult to set up this kit for remote viewing; you have to spend up and get the more advanced kit if you're after easy-to-use surveillance viewing on your phone or tablet.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
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The Uniden G1420 Digital Wireless Surveillance Pack is a camera kit that can be used for triggered, timed or manual surveillance recordings, and it's dead simple to set up and use.
Indeed, the set-up procedure of the G1420 kit is as plug-and-play as it gets for a wireless camera system. It comes with two cameras and a base station with a 4.3in LCD screen (non-touchscreen), and there is no need to do anything except plug in the cameras, power up the base station, and view the video. An RCA video output is present on the base station if you want to plug in the camera system to a TV, and the base station has a battery that can last about 4.5 hours (according to Uniden). The maximum resolution that these cameras can use is 640x480, so the pictures look better on a small screen than on a modern flat screen TV.
The cameras are housed in steel cases and they are supplied with adjustable ball-joint stands that can be mounted to a ceiling or wall (the kit includes plugs and screws for each stand). A simple loosening and tightening of each stand’s wing nut is needed to move the camera position, and the stands feel quite sturdy overall. The front of each camera has infrared LEDs, which means that video can be recorded during the night as well as during the day. The picture will be black and white at night, and the usable viewing range is said to be about 12m.
Installation can be outdoors or indoors as both of the cameras are ‘weatherproof’. This means that they can withstand minimal contact with water, but they aren’t designed to be soaked. If you plan on placing them outdoors, you would do well to put them under some shelter — basically, they are not waterproof. Their exposure settings are automatic and they have a CMOS sensor that sits behind a wide angle lens with an f2.0 aperture.
The cameras communicate with the base station over the 2.4GHz frequency band, which, in some cases, could interfere with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks. We tested the kit by placing the cameras at opposite ends of our dwelling, with one camera up to 15m away from the base station, and the other a more modest 3m away in the other direction. Both cameras beamed video back to the base station without any worries, though we got a message a few times saying that the furthest camera was out of range before it was then found (the base switches between cameras automatically and it was during that switching that the message appeared). Uniden claims that the range of this system is 150m, but that’s if the cameras are in a line of sight with the base.
The cameras only have one cable protruding — the power cable — and it’s an extension cable with an end on it that can be plugged in to the supplied wall wart power adapter. All up, the cable is about 4m long. The only other protrusion from each camera is a Wi-Fi antenna, which is adjustable and removable.
If you want to use this Uniden kit to view video from your home remotely, then you will need to connect the base unit to your computer via USB and install its drivers off the supplied CD-ROM. You will then have to install Skype and link it to your just-installed Uniden camera. If you don’t use Skype, then you’ll have to set up an account for the camera system, and also one for yourself. You have to ensure that the Skype account for the camera is using the ‘wireless camera system’ in its video settings, and that you can see the video from the camera that you’ve selection — you can only see video from one camera when using Skype.
It’s a very cumbersome process and it’s not a good solution if you’re after a kit that will allow you to view video remotely with ease. Uniden’s slightly more advanced kits (such as the Guardian G2720) offer a dedicated phone app and work over Ethernet, and we think these are a better solution if you’re after that sort of functionality. With this G1420 kit, you have to leave your computer on to accept Skype calls automatically (you have to enable this setting yourself through Skype’s options), and you have to leave the base station plugged in to the computer. Not only that, the video quality from the camera was of a very low resolution and quality in our tests, showing mostly blurred lines.
A microSD card slot in the base station allows the G1420 kit to record surveillance footage in a variety of ways and a 4GB card is supplied in the package. The most useful recoding method is the motion sensing trigger, which can be set up and adjusted for its sensitivity, and you can set up a trigger time from 15sec to 1min, which is the time the unit will record for when it senses movement. In our tests on high sensitivity, the unit started recording even when slight movement was made at the very edge of the frame. You can set up an audible alert so that when a movement is detected the base station will beep. Manual recordings can also be made by pressing the record button on the base unit, and timer recordings can be set according to day and time, which can be useful if you want a continuous overnight recording, for example.
Recorded footage can be played back on the base unit, or plugged into a computer’s SD card slot using the supplied adapter. At the largest recording setting of 640x480, the cameras record at 10 frames per second and the file format is motion JPEG (M-JPEG) with an AVI file extension. You can view the recordings easily through Windows Media Player. We found the recorded results to be quite clear and smooth at the 640x480 setting and in a variety of lighting conditions. There was no sound with the recordings. The supplied 4GB card can record about six hours of footage.
The bottom line with this kit is that it’s useful if you are after something that’s affordable, simple to install, and which will allow you to make surveillance recordings around your home without any fuss. It’s not a good solution if you’re after something that will allow you to view real-time surveillance footage remotely over the Internet; we think setting it up with Skype is a clumsy solution and the quality of the video in our tests was not good at all.
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