As anyone who shoots a lot of video knows, video files consume a considerable amount of storage space. And as anyone with days, weeks, or months of stored video knows, organizing all that footage so that you can find what you’re looking for takes a considerable effort.
Imagine then, the challenge faced by a small business that must manage the numerous cameras and prodigious output of an on-premises video monitoring system (VMS).
LenovoEMC (formerly known as Iomega) aims to simplify VMS deployment and management for small businesses with its px2-300d NVR (Network Video Recorder). At a glance, the px2-300d looks like a fairly standard network attached storage (NAS) device, and under the hood it does have a roster of NAS features similar to its progenitor, the Iomega StorCenter. But the px2-300d also sports built-in Milestone Arcus software, which lets the device function as the hub for a company’s video surveillance.
NVR Hardware Features
The $999 px2-300d NVR is a two-bay device with a pair of 2 TB drives for 4 TB of raw capacity, though given that the unit comes configured for RAID 1 out of the box, you give up half of that in order to gain data redundancy. The two tray-mounted, user-replaceable hard drives lock securely into the chassis behind an access door.
The NVR's backside sports a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports and a pair of USB 2.0 ports, while a USB 3.0 port resides up front. The front panel also features a backlight LCD display that reports such useful information as date and time, available capacity, and the unit’s IP address.
The px2-300d is a two-bay device with 4 TB of raw storage, the data redundancy provided by the default RAID 1 configuration reduces usable storage capacity to 2 TB.
The px2-300d’s Milestone Arcus software supports an extensive list of IP surveillance cameras from a wide variety of manufacturers, including Axis, Bosch, Panasonic, Pelco, and Samsung. See this PDF for the complete list of supported cameras. The px2-300d includes licenses for four cameras, and it supports up to 20 cameras total—you can purchase additional camera licenses. (LenovoEMC provided two Axis cameras—an M1054 and M1031-W—for our testing.)
Organizations with an investment in analog cameras will be interested to know that LenovoEMC will soon offer an optional PCIe add-in card for the px2-300d that will allow the unit to record from up to 16 analog cameras.
We tested a px2-300d, but it’s worth noting that LenovoEMC also offers a beefier px4-300d model which, for a bit more than twice the price ($2,199), offers double the bays and raw storage (4 bays and 8 TB) as well as 16 camera licenses.
NVR Hardware Setup
LenovoEMC boasts that the px2-300d network video recorder offers "automated installation and configuration," a claim that we thought to be somewhat hyperbolic when we read it in the product literature. It turns out, however, that the assertion isn’t all that far from the truth.
Milestone Arcus displays basic NVR and camera recording status at a glance.
To get started, we connected our px2-300d to the network and powered it on. Within several minutes it was up and running with the LCD status display showing the unit’s IP address. Then we set up the two Axis cameras, plugging them into power and Ethernet. Then, we left the NVR and cameras running—but unattended—for nearly 48 hours.
Next, we pointed a web browser to the px2-300d’s IP address to begin the configuration process. Owing to its focus on video recording, the px2-300d’s configuration UI doesn’t dump you in the midst of myriad general NAS settings. Rather, it puts you directly into the Milestone Arcus software, from which we could immediately see the live feed from our two cameras. Moreover, a telltale red square in the upper corner of each video window indicated that recording was in progress.
Sure enough, all it took to get the VMS established and recording was physically connecting and powering up the hardware—no need to manually configure cameras or activate their licenses, as is usually the case. We did need to modify one setting—the unit’s time zone in the general NAS settings—which had been set automatically and erroneously to Pacific Time (accurate time information is particularly important when it comes to video surveillance).