Lorex Smart Home Security Center review: Great cameras, worse home security

Hobie Crase/CNET

More home security systems work like this: Entry sensors, motion detectors and a host of other gadgets monitor your home for break-ins. When you leave the house — or just come home for the night — you arm the system, giving you the assurance that if something shouldn’t happen, you (and possibly emergency services) will be promptly informed.

Lorex is not like other home security systems. Its Smart Home Security Center does not come with the diverse and varied sensors that stock online stores of Ring Where SimpliSafe — although if you wish you can purchase a separate set of sensors to integrate. Instead, for better or worse, Lorex focuses on two things: cameras and monitors.

This approach means that Lorex won’t be for everyone; but those who want the focus on the cameras will probably be mostly happy. The system has some fantastic features including free cloud storage and solid cameras. But Lorex’s reliance on an overpriced central hub is preventing it from growing.

Like

  • Solid cameras
  • Free cloud storage

Do not like

  • Too expensive
  • Dependent on outdated hub

The basics

If you get the basic $450 Lorex Smart Home Security Center like me, you might be surprised how few devices you’ll find when you first open the box. For that price, the four pieces of hardware — a touchscreen, range extender, and two security cameras — might seem a bit paltry at first.

Competitors like SimpliSafe and Ring, two of the best home security systems on the market, include a lot more hardware with their similarly priced systems – and don’t even mention budget options like Wyze, where $450 would buy you a real copy camera.

In this case, however, it is not the cameras that explain this price difference. Mid-range security cameras like the ones from Lorex will cost over a hundred dollars no matter what brand you buy, and as expected, they sell for around $100 each on the website. What inflates the price of the starter system are the other two devices: a range extender and a touchscreen hub.

The range extender works quite well, but it just won’t be necessary for many people. I installed the cameras on opposite sides of my house and had no connectivity issues. Of course, if you want to monitor an outbuilding or are planning to install one of the cameras in the backyard, a range extender is a great idea, but it seems odd to include the $80 device in every package. sold.

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The cameras work well, although they don’t seem particularly up to date.

Hobie Crase/CNET

The hub, too, feels like a useless addition. I have a lot of feelings about home security centers, but they basically boil down to these: first, decent home security apps provide all the settings and hub monitoring capabilities, but usually with a better user interface; second, a basic touchscreen hub seems outdated in a market with ever-smarter displays, from Amazon Echoes to Nest Hubs.

Turns out Lorex’s hub is actually worse for even more reasons, but I’ll get to that in the hardware breakdown.

Suffice it to say, the bundle you get with Lorex’s $450 smart home security center isn’t great if you want its particular mix of devices, but it’s too restrictive in its offerings, and the price seems unnecessarily inflated by the range extender and hub touchscreen.

The eyes of the Lorex

OK, it might sound like I’m not kidding Lorex at this point, but you’re tougher on the ones you love, aren’t you? And I really like Lorex cameras. The two smart cameras included with the Smart Home Security Center can be used indoors or outdoors, they offer 2K resolution, color night vision, person recognition, two-way talk, privacy mode easily switchable, a searchlight and a siren. You can also set up motion zones, record videos, take photos, and adjust many granular settings on the app (like adjusting recording resolution to extend battery life).

These devices can do almost as much as any other camera on the market, with one exception: they don’t have animal, package, or vehicle recognition like cameras from Arlo and Google do. Nest. For most people, though, it won’t be a dealbreaker (Ring’s cameras don’t have it either, after all).

The best feature of Lorex, however, is the free storage. If you want to use local storage with microSD cards, you can – each camera supports a 64GB card. But if you just want to use cloud storage, you can do that too – for free! Lorex offers 10 GB of video clip storage, on a rolling two-day basis. This avoids the problem of Google Nest’s latest cameras, whose 3-hour continuous storage means clips recorded overnight could evaporate before you wake up in the morning. No, it’s not Wyze’s free 14-day storage, but it also doesn’t have Wyze’s limitations, such as 5-minute cooldowns between clip recordings.

In short, this might be the best free cloud storage option from a major brand, depending on your needs. And if you’re considering Lorex, I’d bet that storage – along with the brand’s wide variety of cameras – is a big reason why.

It is therefore a shame to see the other central component of the Smart Home Security Center stumble so much.

The heart of the system

Lorex is more ambitious with its touchscreen hub than many home security developers. The screen is quite responsive, the user interface isn’t bad, and there’s even a built-in voice assistant named Lorex. You can issue a variety of voice commands, but the most useful I found was “show me [whichever camera I was interested to see].”

Of course, the purpose of voice commands is to be hands-free, so it was a little disappointing that I had to manually enter my password (I set it to 1-2-3-4-5-6, without any objection from the hub) before using the wizard.

Overall it struck me as a usable hub, although it looked a bit old school next to my Echo Show 10, which you can pick up on sale for $200 – only slightly more than the $170 that this hub contributes to the total price of the system. .

That said, there are a few oversights that seriously hamper the Lorex hub’s reliability as the heart of your home security system.

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The hub is the weakest part of the system, inflating the price with a device most people don’t need.

Hobie Crase/CNET

The first problem is this: the hub does not have a backup battery or battery backup. This means that if the electricity or the internet goes out, so does your security system. Most hubs I’ve tested include at least a battery backup for the simple reason that if the front door sensor goes off in the middle of the night, a local alarm is always helpful.

Likewise, many systems include cellular backup, so you (or in some cases, law enforcement) can still be alerted if your internet connection goes down while you’re away and your system detects a break-in.

The lack of these safeguards means that the Security Center, even if you purchase the additional sensors offered by Lorex, will not be the most reliable for conventional home monitoring.

Related to these issues is the fact that the cameras connect through the hub to the internet, rather than directly to Wi-Fi. This means that if the hub is disconnected from the internet or power (against which, again, it has no protective measures), you lose connection to your cameras.

Lorex struggles to stand out from its bigger competitors largely because of its hub, a device that doesn’t seem designed for reliable home monitoring so much as playing back your camera feeds from the comfort of your kitchen ( or wherever you install it). This may suffice for some customers, but it does not replace more reliable home security setups.

put it all together

Often a good security system is less about the individual parts and more about how they fit together. Here, Lorex offers a mixed bag.

System setup was easy, but not particularly quick. I had to charge the batteries for both cameras for at least four hours (using the only included charger), and a few lengthy firmware updates slowed the process down as well. It’s not that extraordinary, and it wasn’t really extraordinary job for my part. But, and this is especially true if you buy the $650 system with four cameras, don’t expect it to finish setting up the same day you boot it up.

Once everything was up and running, I enjoyed checking my cameras with the app and the hub. Sirens are loud and floodlights are good deterrents. I tested Person Notifications and found them to be mostly reliable. In a few cases, notifications came in late or recordings started after I was halfway through the frame.

Recordings were easy to access though – and all features worked as expected. You can even call up camera feeds on smart hubs from Amazon and Nest, although again being able to do this begs the question of why the hub itself is strictly necessary.

Here’s the real question, though: Is Lorex right for you?

Some home security systems are great, and some are… Not so good. Lorex falls between them, and while I can’t recommend it as a true home monitoring system – alerting you if a door opens at night or a window breaks – it could be a system solid camera for monitoring larger properties. If you’re looking for reliable cameras and free cloud storage and don’t care about all the other bits of conventional home security systems, Lorex will be a good bet for you.

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