I’ve never met a fellow Synology customer that wasn’t impressed with the company’s Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. Regardless of the specific model in use, these boxes go far beyond storage and to me equate to being mini-data centers. Among their far-ranging applications is Surveillance Station, which I have ran for several years now using a couple of no-brand cameras. The application itself is pretty slick, though my cheesy cameras have been less than impressive at times. That’s one of the reasons I was tickled to hear that Synology was introducing their own camera models- the BC500 and the TC500.
This is Synology’s first dip into the IP CCTV camera market, and they are starting with a bullet camera and a turret style camera. There is not yet a wireless offering or a PTZ model, but the the BC500/TC500 models are a decent start to what I hope blossoms into a bigger pool of camera devices from Synology over time.
I had the advantage of being familiar with Surveillance Station when I started to look at the two new Synology cameras. It is worth mentioning that these cameras (to the best of my knowledge) are most usable within the Synology ecosystem- they wont play with other DVRs beyond providing an RTSP stream. (This isn’t unheard of- my Ubiquiti UniFi Protect cameras are also vendor-locked.) I have two Synology NAS devices, and I run Surveillance station on the beefier of them, the DS1618+ which has a RAM upgrade to 16 GB from the 4 that it shipped with. The use of Surveillance Station with multiple cameras streaming to it has not bumped my NAS CPU or RAM in any discernible way.
For those who didn’t know, Synology also has dedicated video storage solutions versus using your NAS for other purposes and video storage.
Both cameras feel solid enough in the hand, and the simple mounts and manual adjustment features for both are effective. I have the BC500 fully exposed to the elements and it has done fine in two pounding rainstorms so far and both are IP67 rated.
You’ll need Power over Ethernet (PoE) in the form of an adapter or Ethernet switch port as the cameras do not come with their own adapter or transformer. I interpret this to mean that Synology expects to sell these primarily into environments beyond the home, like to businesses who would have PoE ports available to leverage. I ran both cameras on PoE switches from Meraki, Ruckus, and Ubiquiti with no issues whatsoever. They power up quick and just work faithfully in my environment, using only Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps).
Back to Surveillance Station. For third-party cameras, Synology gives you two free licenses before you have to pay per-camera to use them in the application. The BC/TC500s don’t require a license, and are an order of magnitude easier to set up in Surveillance Station than third party cameras. There is a range of recording and detection options, on par with even big systems I’m familiar with like Genitec. The person and vehicle detection is nice, as is the capability to mask parts of the recording view for privacy concerns and to define detection zones. There’s really a lot here if you choose to use the system beyond the very capable default settings. The digital zoom with the new Synology cameras runs circles around any other camera I have in use right now, as does the nighttime IR feature.
I did not attempt to use the cameras in stand-alone mode, where instead of recording to Surveillance Station you record to MicroSD cards on the cameras. I did read that if you opt for that the card has to be removed to view it’s contents, which is a really strange requirement that Synology needs to address sooner rather than later.
At $219 per, I feel that Synology has priced these on the high side of fair, but still within what I would consider reasonable. At the same time, only Synology customers are likely to buy them, so hopefully we see bundling deals or something similar to keep us interested when weighing the BC/TC500s versus less expensive cameras to use with Surveillance Station. I have no doubt that Synology’s own cameras will always integrate better, but price is a big deal to people. I would buy these, especially after having used them, but I also would understand if cheaper third-party options were chosen to use with Surveillance Station by people who don’t have the luxury of trying them out.
Rather than regurgitate specifications for Synology’s two new cameras, let me point you to the company’s spec sheet. Overall, they are absolutely wort considering and as mentioned earlier, I hope to see more models from Synology.