When it comes to security cameras, reliability is Priority No. 1 for us. We’ve found that being able to capture and record dangerous or suspicious activity in real time is the foundation of any well-made security camera. After all, what good is home security if it doesn’t protect you at the moment you need it most?
It’s in that spirit that we begin our hands-on review of Lorex cameras, which pack some serious security power. We’ll take you through our experience with the cameras from start to finish, offer our best advice for buying, installing, setting up and using the cameras, noting our likes (there are many) and dislikes (just a couple), and what makes this camera different from the many other brands and models we’ve reviewed, from big names like Ring and Nest to lesser-known brands like Reolink and Zmodo.
Lorex comes to us from our neighbor to the north – Ontario, Canada. Unlike a few other brands we’re familiar with in this market, Lorex focuses very heavily on cameras. No alarm systems, no monthly monitoring subscriptions, no smoke detectors or CO sensors. Just cameras.
And boy, do they make a lot of them. From 4K,1 8-channel NVR security systems and wire-free floodlight and spotlight models, to outdoor bullet-shaped styles and indoor dome models, we found a vast variety of cameras in Lorex’s fleet. Surely there’s something for everyone in this lineup, don’t you think?
Our Take: Lorex’s website could use a facelift. It’s cluttered and tricky to navigate, especially on a mobile device. So many icons, so many windows, so many graphics, so many cameras with so many different names … it was enough to make our heads spin. Luckily, Lorex does offer a handy beginner’s guide to their cameras, which helped us understand what we were looking at and what all those letters mean (PTZ? IP? MPX?).
Not only does Lorex offer one of the best selections in security cameras we’ve seen, we also know that Lorex has decades of experience perfecting and fine-tuning their equipment and technology, always evolving, as well as offering plenty of flexibility to their customers.
For today’s review, we’re diving into two Lorex cams: the Smart Wi-Fi security camera, and the Smart Outdoor Wi-Fi camera. We wanted to get a feel for how these cameras work both inside and outside our home, monitoring our mischievous pet, our high-energy children, and keeping an eye on anything going bump in the night.
All things considered, these are really good cameras, with just a couple of downsides we encountered. Read on for our full experience.
In any security camera setup, downloading the mobile app is usually Step One. Luckily, Lorex made that step easy and smooth for us. We simply downloaded the Lorex app and added our two cameras to it.
Did You Know: Lorex actually has three apps: Lorex Cirrus, Lorex Home, and Lorex Cloud. We think that’s because Lorex makes so many different types of cameras, it makes more sense to divvy them up. For our two Wi-Fi cameras, we downloaded Lorex Home, and we found it to be mostly intuitive and user-friendly.
The app processed our cameras’ QR codes2 within seconds, and after inserting our Wi-Fi credentials, it took just a few more clicks to get us up and running.
Then, the installation could begin.
Here, we have a solid, weatherproof camera that plugs into a power outlet but runs off our home Wi-Fi. So right away, we knew we would have to base our installation location on proximity to our power outlets. Luckily, this camera gave us both a 10-foot power cord and a 10-foot USB extension cord that gave us much-needed flexibility.
As with most other cameras we’ve installed, choosing a location is usually the most time-consuming part of the installation process; the rest is just attaching the mounting plate or stand, drilling in a few screws, and adjusting the camera to the angle we want. This can take a few tries; for our first Lorex camera, it took two.
This was attempt #1: Our porch ceiling.
And with that setup, this was our view:
Hmmm, wait a minute … this was not the angle we wanted! What we didn’t realize when we chose our first location was how much our porch’s ceiling and pillars would get in the way. Sometimes, you have to see it for yourself to know it’s time to make a change.
So, we backpedaled, and soon found a much better perch for our Lorex camera.
Pro Tip: One thing to remember about outdoor Wi-Fi cameras is that they can’t be too far away from your Wi-Fi router, otherwise the camera won’t communicate with your app properly. Installing them on walls or pillars could compromise your signal without a clear path to your router. We suggest holding up the camera in your desired spot and testing it before hanging it permanently.
With that, our first Lorex camera was now comfortably in place. And the view? A huge improvement. We were now able to see our entire front yard and even out into the street and beyond.
After standing back to take in the view, we immediately took note of the clarity we got from our outdoor camera’s default 1080p HD resolution. From any angle, day or night, we were consistently impressed with the picture these cameras gave us.
From there, we looked in our app to do some exploring. We learned then that we could reduce the default HD setting on our outdoor camera to standard definition (SD) if we wanted to pull less bandwidth from our home Wi-Fi. That was a huge plus for us.
Pro Tip: Reducing image resolution is a great way to make your cameras respond faster, especially if you don’t have a fully reliable Wi-Fi network. We like to keep our cameras at SD during the day, then switch to HD at night. Many security cameras offer this flexibility; we suggest you find one that does.
So, when it comes to video quality, Lorex Outdoor did the job for us, and did it well.
From our tests, it was clear that the Lorex motion sensitivity feature packs some serious power into our outdoor camera. In fact, after just a few minutes testing it on our porch, we noticed we were getting bombarded with notifications!
This told us a little bit about how sensitive these cameras are. That, combined with the fact that we’d set our camera to record all types of motion, told us it was probably time to make some adjustments.
That was when we came across this handy sensitivity tool, which gave us another layer of control over motion detection. The longer we tested and interacted with both of our Lorex cameras, the more we realized that the default “5” setting was way too sensitive for us. Turning that setting down to 3 meant we stopped getting alerts for things like vehicle headlights, bugs, and wind. This way, we could focus on the things that matter. This is definitely something to keep in mind.
In many of our past reviews, we’ve tested plenty of cameras that include sound sensors and are triggered by sound. But this is the first time we’ve seen a camera offer a completely separate setting for sound detection, wherein we could actually adjust sound sensitivity, in addition to turning sound detection on and off.
This, for us, represented yet another example of the high level of control this camera gave us. If you live in a high-traffic area, for example, you won’t want to be notified every time a car passes by. But, would you want to be notified if a drinking glass fell off a table in your kitchen in the middle of the night? Absolutely!
For us, having the ability to adjust sound sensitivity was helpful, but not essential.
Before installing our Lorex indoor cam, we initially thought this camera’s lightweight, slim design reminded the youngsters in our home of “that little red marker on Google Maps.”3
For the elders, on the other hand, we were reminded of a teardrop. We think both comparisons are equally accurate, though.
For the elders, on the other hand, we were reminded of a teardrop. We think both comparisons are equally accurate, though.
As a whole, we liked the design and build, and thought it would fit into our decor fairly well. Our only gripe with the indoor model is its cumbersome adjoining power cord; we do wish Lorex made a battery-powered option for this camera.
One thing we love about indoor cameras like our Lorex is how easy they are to set up. Since these are plug-in cameras, we knew we’d have to set them up somewhere near a working power outlet; otherwise we’d have to use unsightly extension cords to reach the camera across our room, and the last thing we want is to be staring at ugly wires while eating our breakfast.
After syncing this camera to our app, it was time to find a spot for our new houseguest.
To do this, we considered our present circumstances. In our house these days, there’s a lot of learning going on. It just so happens that we’re in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic,4 and our middle schoolers are attending school from home five days a week, while we grown-ups do our level best to work from home, all while trying every day to keep our home illness-free.
And since we can’t be in two places at once, we decided to let our Lorex indoor camera do some of the grunt work for us.
And there you have it, folks: Parenting in a pandemic. We can do hard things!
Like our outdoor Lorex, we learned that our indoor cam includes person detection, which is not entirely common in indoor cameras. In our experience, detection of specific objects, like animals, people or vehicles, is typically reserved for outdoor models.
Do keep in mind, though, that the ability to adjust motion sensitivity is a pretty standard feature in security cameras like these.
“Alexa, show me my living room!”
We’re pleased to report that our Lorex cameras are compatible with both Amazon Alexa devices and the Google Assistant to display our cameras using voice commands. We had no trouble setting up both of our Lorex cams to stream onto our Amazon Echo Show for smart home automation. Was it as easy as setting up, say, an Amazon-owned Ring camera to work this way? Not exactly; you do have to go into your Alexa app, search for the Lorex skill, and link the accounts, a process that took no longer than four minutes. Surely that’s time well spent!
We’ve come to the part of our review where we give you information that will either knock your socks off, or let you down.
Lorex cameras don’t come with professional monitoring. You don’t have to worry about monthly subscription fees to store all those recordings in your timeline. You can’t store your videos anywhere else but on a micro SD card. In this way, these cameras are not like the others.
In fact, we can’t remember the last time we didn’t have the option to buy a monthly subscription for cloud storage. That’s been a standard option in the vast majority of cameras we’ve tested.
But here’s the cool part: Our cameras actually came with a micro SD card for local storage. So after the initial setup process, we had immediate and complete access to all of Lorex’s camera features, without having to pay. Gotta love that!
Quick Take: We’ve reviewed a large number of cameras that include a built-in micro SD card slot. But they very rarely include the actual card. So for us, Lorex’s inclusion of a small but mighty card in each of its cameras was another big plus.
Our two Lorex Wi-Fi cameras represent just a fraction of the brand’s impressive selection of cameras and accessories. We’ve seen Lorex reap high praise over the years for their 4K Ultra HD camera packages, notably their DVR and NVR5 camera systems. Lately, their Wi-Fi cameras, namely the two we reviewed, have been gaining steam in the market as well.
At $49.99, our indoor camera earned points for affordability. Its outdoor sibling ranges from $129.99 to $149.99, depending on where you buy it from. You can buy directly from the website, but we’ve also seen Lorex for sale on Amazon, Best Buy, QVC, and Adorama.
Above all that, though, it’s important to note that surveillance camera systems are really the brand’s bread and butter. Here’s a breakdown of pricing for Lorex’s systems, keeping in mind that cost will vary depending on how many cameras you need:
|Wireless/MPX Security Cameras||Starting at $89.99||Requires a power cord|
Sends footage to DVR box using coaxial cable
|Wire-Free Security Cameras||Starting at $69.99||Battery-operated|
No DVR or NVR box needed
|Outdoor Security Cameras||Starting at $89.99||Long-range color night vision|
Wide angle options
Up to 25X optical zoom
|PTZ Security Cameras||Starting at $199.99||Continuous 360° degree rotation|
Quickly pans, tilts, and zooms
|Wired IP Cameras||Starting at $169.99||Two-way audio|
Uses power-over-ethernet technology
NVR box for storage
4K video quality
There’s a lot of power in these little gadgets, that’s for sure! We felt secure and confident with our Lorex cams manning the station. By day, we got crystal-clear resolution through the wettest of Ohio rainstorms; when the camera’s night vision kicked in, we observed consistent high-quality nighttime images. Combined with our outdoor camera’s active-deterrence light, the whole package shined brightly for us.
Pro Tip: Outdoor cameras with plug-in power sources can be trickier to install than battery-powered (wire-free) cameras if you’re not sure what to do with the not-so-attractive wires hanging from them. If you’re trying to install this camera outside and there isn’t a clear place to run the power cord along the perimeter or trim of your house, it might be wise to schedule professional installation to finish the job.
we come across, the experience wasn’t flawless. We’d love a more intuitive and user-friendly website, for one. We’d also love to see at least one option for cloud storage at some point; our micro SD cards will max out at 16 GB, and in our house, that’s going to run down pretty quickly.
We’ll end with one last parting thought: If you’re someone who likes to customize your technology to suit your lifestyle, you’ll really like Lorex. These cameras offer a lot of customization, which can be great for folks who like to tinker with their gadgets and tailor them exactly to their needs.
But if you’d rather a camera that allows you to “set it and forget it,” we encourage you to check out SimpliSafe’s SimpliCam. Again, it’s all about your preference. For us, however, Lorex gets our recommendation.
Yes. Lorex cameras are compatible with both Amazon Alexa devices and the Google Assistant to display our cameras using voice commands. To do this, we went into your Alexa app, searched for the Lorex skill, and linked the accounts.
No. One of Lorex’s selling points is that beyond the initial equipment costs, you’re not required to sign up for any monthly cloud storage fees. For easy self-monitoring, Lorex includes a micro SD card with its Wi-Fi cameras.
Lorex offers a standard 1-year limited warranty on its products, but you can extend the warranty for 2 or 3 years, for additional costs if you choose.
All of Lorex’s outdoor cameras are built to at least an IP65 weather rating. This basically means the cameras can withstand even the toughest of the elements, except perhaps extreme flooding.
In our tests of Lorex Wi-Fi cameras, we were all-around impressed with image quality through color night vision.
University of Michigan Library. (2020). 4K: What is Resolution?
Nippon.com. (2020, Feb. 10). The Little-Known Story of the Birth of the QR Code. https://www.nippon.com/en/news/fnn20191214001/the-little-known-story-of-the-birth-of-the-qr-code.html
Wikipedia.com. (2020). Google Maps pin.
Li, C. and Lalani, F. World Economic Forum. (2020, April 29). The Covid-19 pandemic has changed education forever. This is how.
General Security. (2020, April 6). NVR vs. DVR Surveillance Systems.