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Uniden WDVR4-2 HDD review: Wireless home security system misses with its software

J.R. Bookwalter | Aug. 20, 2015
According to research data, consumers spent more than $28 million last year on home security, a number expected to balloon to nearly $47.6 million by 2020. Electronics manufacturers appear to be enjoying a veritable gold rush of internet-connected locks, motion sensors, and cameras.

The hardware records color (black-and-white in night vision mode) at a maximum resolution of 640 by 480 using H.264 compression—it’s no HD, but DVR playback largely matches live streaming quality. There are two quality settings with the highest recording about 15 fps, which means video isn’t very fluid (this is a security camera, after all!). You can plug a mouse into the receiver for on-screen control, but the easiest method is the free Uniden WDVR app for iOS or Android.

Connecting from smartphone or tablet is a snap. Point the device camera at the QR code on the bottom of the receiver, enter the default password (123456, which should be changed after installation), and tap the Play button. The app connects quickly over local network, but if that’s unsuccessful or you’re using cellular data, it takes a few more seconds when switching to remote mode.

Remote access

Like many Internet-connected security products I’ve used, Uniden’s system pairs well-made hardware with poorly designed software. The UI is unintuitive with little forethought to look and feel, although the apps offer full control over the receiver settings. While the cameras include microphones, sound can be heard only over HDMI—unfortunately, there’s no audio playback at all from the apps.

Each camera can have independent settings for motion sensitivity, using only the hardware sensor or in tandem with one of three lens detection levels to help reduce the number of misfires from rain, snow, or flying insects. There are also options to eliminate sections of the screen from detection.

Live and recorded video can be streamed on up to three devices at once, and configured to receive push notifications when motion is detected. Schedule mode instead allows one or all cameras to record all day, every day or at up to five intervals of your choosing. A double-tap on each camera image makes it full-screen, and there’s a capture mode for saving still images to the Camera Roll.

Bottom line

At $400, Uniden WDVR isn’t the cheapest home security option around, but the solid wireless hardware coupled with motion detection, night vision, generous 1TB storage capacity, and mobile access make it worthy of consideration.

My biggest complaint is the weak software: The user interface is clunky and not very intuitive, and it’s not clear what most buttons actually do. This is something Uniden will hopefully rectify in a future update.


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