Review: LenovoEMC NVR Reaches Milestone

LenovoEMC is helping to rid the world of grainy crime videos. In June, the company started shipping the LenovoEMC Network Video Recorders with Milestone Arcus, a family of video surveillance systems that are as easy for a small company to afford as they are to set up and control. For testing, LenovoEMC sent the CRN Test Center the NVR px2-300D, the lower-end model targeted at small and medium businesses offering a capacity for up to 20 surveillance cameras.

Built into one of LenovoEMC's sturdy Iomega NAS boxes is Arcus from Milestone Systems, a leading video management system that was engineered from the ground up to be embedded. The box boots directly to the Arcus software. Once the licensing process was cleared and cameras individually set up and configured, testers had an easy time configuring the box for recording, despite having limited prior experience with the system.

Milestone Systems offers one of the leading video surveillance solutions for the enterprise, and it's easy to see why. Not only is the software powerful and feature-rich, it's also among the easiest-to-use NVR packages that we've seen. To begin, a simple Settings screen (shown on next page) presents icons representing cameras discovered automatically along with their status. A search box allows cameras not found by the software to be added manually. A panel at right presents a concise report of available storage space with a pie chart illustrating how it's used. Below that are a system performance graph and licensing info.

Pressing the Configure button for individual cameras presents several pages for controlling each camera's name, codec (H.264, MPEG-4, M-JPEG), frame rate, resolution, recording mode (constant or motion-based), retention period and disk usage with alerts. A separate page presents sliders for setting motion sensitivity and impact on CPU performance. When playing back recorded videos, a linear calendar and time clock appear below the video thumbnail, simplifying export of content to just the relevant portions.

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NEXT: Hardware Behind The Software

The LenovoEMC NVR solution is available with two or four drive bays for a total maximum capacity of 8 TB (4 x 2 TB) of storage. The two-drive px2-300D supports a maximum of 16 to 20 IP-based cameras. The four-drive px4-300d can handle 16 cameras; a PCIe slot on the high-end unit can accept a 16-channel analog encoder, helping to ease the transition from analog to digital. Both offer dual gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0 and 2.0. A one-button instant transfer feature is for quickly taking home the day's surveillance footage.

Though it's intended primarily as an NVR, the px2-300D also can be used as a general NAS, and contains all of Iomega's great NAS management software that is the Lenovo Lifeline Linux stack. This includes file sharing, media playback services, user and group management, backup and restore, and other services useful to most small businesses.

The best thing about LenovoEMC's NVR solution is that it's ready to go out of the box. It obtains and displays its IP address on the front panel, so that a browser on the same subnet can come in and quickly go to work. And with the addition of Arcus from Milestone, LenovoEMC offers a unique and valuable differentiator that's great for mom-and-pop shops and companies without an IT department to slap up a reliable security system. There are also free mobile apps for Android and for iOS that can monitor cameras from afar.

With a starting price of $999 with four camera licenses (but no cameras), the LenovoEMC Network Video Recorders with Milestone Arcus is within reach of most small businesses, and is a recommended solution by the CRN Test Center. For organizations with existing analog cameras, the analog-to-digital converter card lists for $400 plus $45 for each camera for a perpetual license.