Tech Reviews: Q-See Security Cameras — Avoid them

Q-See Cameras are a rip-off when it comes to off-site access
By Ray Hanania

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

With today’s technology, you would think that installing and accessing remotely a home or business security camera system would be easy, but it’s not.

I installed a home security system with 8 cameras. The system cost over $900 for the cameras and the DVR which records and manages the cameras. I had a carpenter install the cameras and outdoor wiring, at a cost of about $400. I believed the instructions that came with Q-See Cameras that I would also be able to “easily” access the camera system remotely using one of my iPads or my iPhones.

That’s not the case.

In fact, when I called Q-See cameras service to ask for help, they said they would be happy to help me, if I paid some exorbitant amount of about $2,400.

Are you kidding me?

There are so many other security camera systems out there and I would recommend that you avoid Q-See cameras and use one of the others. Q-See has the worst customer service out there. The became enraged when I complained in my columns and began harassing me.

But I won’t relent.

I ended up paying a computer tech $350 to change my network to allow me to access the home security cameras. It took 3 hours. That’s “Easy?”

And when my internet provider upgraded and combined my router and modem into one, the system changed and I had to re-hire an outside computer specialist to come back in and reinstall the remote access.

English: A set of three security cameras on th...

English: A set of three security cameras on the side of a church all pointing in the wrong direction in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The real problem with Q-See cameras is that no one there knows how to write for the average consumer. Their instruction booklets are gibberish and complex and difficult for the average person to understand. It is possible to connect the system remotely, but you have to “forward” your ports, set a hundred different computer settings. Decide which of four different kinds of systems you want to use.

I don’t want to have to chose. Just give me a God Damned system that 1-2-3 installs and connects to my iPhone.

Even the computer technician said it was the most difficult system to work with.

Q-See cameras are the worst.

The cameras are also unreliable. I have had to replace two cameras just int he past year. And it is costly. The price of an individual camera is outrageous. Added to that is the cost of rewiring the camera when it is embedded under the home eaves.

And the DVR is among the worst, least reliable. I have a new recording system recording the images from the security system because the DVR that Q-See cameras provides doesn’t work properly. Supposedly, it can record up to 1 TerraByte of video data. But you can never access the recordings. I had to install a new system that records off the flatscreen TV I have attached to the system to view the cameras.

I am able to view my camera system using an iPhone and an iPad inside my home using one network connection. When I leave the network (home) and go outside, I have to access it using another system.

Doesn’t anyone at Q-See security camera’s have a brain?

Apparently not. They are just there to make money. Don’t buy their system. Save yourself the hassles. Buy something else.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. You can also reach him at his personal web page at www.TheMediaOasis.com or follow him on Twitter at @RayHanania and LIKE him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/rghanania.)



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13 replies

  1. GREAT NEWS FOR Q-SEE Victims … Swann Pro Series DVRs work directly with Q-See Cameras. The 8 camera DVR is only about $250 at any major retailer. Swann is easier to use than Q-See. When I asked Q-See to help me install my system so I could view it remotely, they want to charge me $1,800. I purchased the Swann DVR and threw out the Q-See DVR. The old Q-See cameras connect directly to the Swann Pro-Series DVR easily. Very compatible.

    And guess what? I didn’t have to do any port forwarding. It automatically found the system and connected it, not just from my home PCs and Laptops but also using the SwannView App that I downloaded for free. ALl I did was identify the IP Address and it automatically connected. No port forwarding. No hiring a computer tech dude to come in an fix the system.

    It did it automatically. If you have a lousy Q-See system, you are saved. Throw out the Q-See DVR. Seriously. Just throw it out. Invest $250 at TogerDIrect or any major retailer that sells remote camera security systems and purchase Swann Pro-Series for 4, 8 or 16 cameras.

    It connected in seconds. The software they give you runs on Windows and MAC (I have both) and it immediately displayed all 8 cameras on my home system.

    I downloaded the SwannView App and it immediately connected remotely to my home camera system.

    The only problem is that like all remote Apps for security cameras, it only displays 4 cameras at a time. The app allows you to view only 4 cameras at a time. You have to clear the 4 windows first and then tap the cameras one at a time that you want displayed in the 4 windows. I have 8 cameras so if I want to drop camera 4 and watch camera 8, I have to close Camera 4’s window and then tap camera 8 in its place. A little hassle but far less of a hassle than the problems I encountered with the lousy Q-See Securty Camera Systems.

    Don’t buy Q-See. They are the worst. Their telephone service is terrible. The costs are outrageously expensive. Q-See camera systems require a high knowledge of computer programming. And the Q-See apps don’t work remotely without hours of work and hundreds of dollars to pay someone to configure the system.

    Swann is only at http://www.Swann.com

    — RAY HANANIA

  2. I’m having the same issues. After several hours of configuring the system I am only able to view cameras from home. Not very helpful. The tech support was only able to offer suggestions which I had already completed. A few months ago I had intermittent access away from home. Now I have none. I’m not a network expert but I have a degree in Physics with a minor in Electronics. So I’m especially frustrated I am unable to achieve success. It shouldn’t be this hard.

  3. Our cameras don’t record all movement. There are huge lapses, up to 7-10 minutes without recording and movement or something we know occurred is not being recorded. What’s the point!
    Looking for a better system of camera.
    Can’t watch video from phone by hour like from iPad. It’s a waste as you gave the phone almost constantly with you and it’s not user friendly.
    Alarm system to phone and/or iPad hasn’t worked from the get go.

  4. They also wont answer sales questions via twitter or email. If you refuse to answer sales questions… what should I expect later?!

  5. Yep same here. Alarms don’t sound on the iPad app and it doesn’t let you see recorded clips. Plug and play doesn’t work correctly – you have to do complicated and non-user friendly things to your router to get remote viewing to work at all. Took me 11 hours to figure it out and I have a fairly good tech background. The Android app works ok, but kills the battery on my phone after an hour. Instruction manuals are nearly impossible to understand and it doesn’t register movement at least half the time.

  6. I’ve had a QS4816.for 2 years now. Took 3 days to run all cameras, but we didn’t experience most of the setup issues, however, I am a developer and got sysadmin access on the router from Verizon. One cam went bad and we replaced with a Swann (under warranty). The Q-See IPhone app does suck and it no longer works in FireFox.
    So we use Blue Iris and run that as a DVR/NVR from our server (or a desktop). The QS4816 is an analog system, so we installed a video encoder to IP enable the cameras, which QS support said cannot be done, of course. We have home automation going in this joint. So with Blue Iris, Alarm.com and Veralite we trigger the cameras, alerts, run scenes (turn on lights. lock doors) and even use the cameras as motion sensors.

    Use Blue Iris and a video encoder (GrandStream), if needed. The Blue Iris mobile app is fantastic and the desktop app has a ton of features, such as running a program when motion is detected (veralite/home automation scenes), sending a text message/email with a screenshot and sounding an alarm on your computer.
    Since we use Blue Iris (supports 64 cameras for ~$50) instead of the raggedy Q-See DVR, I found Google+ Backup, which is installed along with Picasa. It allows you to backup images and movies to the cloud and does not use your Google Drive space at all. Free storage.

  7. This caught my attention because I haven’t had an issue with viewing my cameras remotely. I agree that QSee tech support is horrible. I had to use a 3rd party company to assist me with some issues. Since then, I monitor my cameras from my iphone or ipad without problems.

  8. same here finally i got this thing to be watched in one android Phone but not in two other androids using the same configuration. its being months trying to make it work. and recently i did a Night owl system and i had it working in hours and as many phones the lady had.Q see does suck.

  9. Swan, Q-see and defender are as DIY as it gets. Try to use proper brands if you want your CCTV to last 5 years+ .

    • Most people (like myself) don’t know of “proper brands” to use. We go for major, yet cost effective brands with high ratings. Both Swann and Q-See have high ratings on store sites. I don’t think the cameras are an issue. For me, it was the DVR and lack of RTSP and that terrible app that I cannot use on my iPhone or Firefox for remote viewing. Blue Iris and Grand Stream saved my day. Now I have a mix of camera brands and can see them all from the same application.

  10. I too am very disappointed with the lack of timely tech support from Q-See. The installation of the QS-458 with 8 cameras went fairly well at a remote cabin we wanted to monitor hundreds of miles away. I even replaced some of the fixed cameras with 2 PTZ ones. Then I found out that my Android Incredible 2 was one of the very few smartphones that can access the DVR. QS-View app will not work on conventional Galaxy, Moto-X, and many other phones. Then the problem of viewing this site thru Firefox & Chrome was discovered. One is forced to use Internet Explorer with all its unsecured entry modes. Q-See’s response after many inquiries was to say that we should replace the DVR with one of their other models. Though I foresee needing 16 analog inputs in the future vs the current 8, what’s to say that the Firmware in the new Q-See DVR will be maintained as new phones come out. Too bad because Q-See started off well. Guess they don’t care about customer service and long term profits.

    I’m pleased to read that Swann is compatible with these cameras and welcome anyone’s advice on which models I should consider. Don’t need much.. Just 8 (preferably close to 16) inputs on a DVR that can be accessed with downloadable apps on the typical Android (HTC) phones.

  11. I have had the Q-see system (QT_548) and QM 6006B cameras for nearly two years. I have had, unfortunately, a similar experience to others here. Hence the reason I am here.

    No question about the poor customer support. Absolutely poor.

    I was able to set the system up quite easily, although not being a geek, it took me a lot of time. I admit the instructions were marginal and I think some trial and error got it working properly—initially.

    Problems I encountered included not getting much help from support. While I can see the cameras on my local internet service, remote access has been on and off again. Currently can’t access it outside my home for reasons I have tried to solve but still unable. Also, noticed that some cameras stop recording for 1-2 hours at a time randomly. Very frustrating.

    One camera filled with water but Q-see replaced it. The clicking of the cameras as they constantly change from day/night mode in low light situations, is very annoying. I asked Q-see about this but I might just as well have asked them the password to Fort Knox. I suspect the cameras will not last long.

    I will try contacting Q-see again, but not hopeful. If they would just be honest, or tell me I have a bum system, I guess I could live with that. But I suspect they will just keep me running around until I give up.

    Too bad…the system seemed to be good, with cameras reasonable in the dark. I certainly would not recommend to others.

  12. My Q-see system setup wasn’t that bad. Basic network port forwarding. Saying they have no brains..? I think that of ppl of buy products that have an “i” in front of it. Their cameras do break a lot. Your right on that.

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