On Computers: DIY home security units get cheaper and better

Jim Hillibish

Major price breaks are bringing home security systems within reach. The new gear is easy to use and accomplishes a number of jobs within one box.

I had a chance to test drive Lorex’s new $178-wireless camera system. I’d set aside a day for installation. It took 12 minutes. The computer/DVR inside its 9-inch color LED screen does everything.

I mounted its all-weather camera above our front door because we have no way of seeing who is at the door. The cam has a cone-shaped security area. Anybody inside the cone sets off an audio alarm on the screen. The sensor works day or night. When the sun goes down, the camera switches to infrared. The screen quality does not change.

A handy feature is built-in send-and-receive intercom, allowing you to talk to your callers. A wireless remote control handles configuration without touching the screen.

You can add up to four cameras, all on different channels. The screen has options to view all on one screen or to switch automatically between screens.

One extra step must be taken to set up your multi-camera network. The cameras have a pairing button that adds extra ones. It’s that simple.

Lorex didn’t stop there. The system includes a Micro SD card and digital video recorder. It plays back whatever the camera sees on its screen, your TV or computer. You have the option to broadcast the system onto your computer monitor. If you have a wireless network, you then can access your system from your smartphone.

The only downside is false alarms. Anything moving will set off the alarm, including meandering squirrels and cats. The Lorex would make a good baby monitor. I’d like one in our garage to announce when my wife comes home.

Lorex units are available at Amazon.com, Home Depot and other stores. Prices start at $178.