Milestone is one of the leaders in NVR software. About a year ago, they release a free version call “Go” that’s a limited version of their commercial software. The key advantages to XProtect is the wide variety of device support that is updated regularly with drivers for over 1,000 cameras from almost 100 different manufacturers.
The “Go” version has limitations and it’s geared for a home or small business user. Key limitations include;
• 8 cameras maximum
• 5 days maximum retention on recorded events
• single user version (only one concurrent user connected at anytime)
• You have to register every year to get a license key
• Splash screen reminder that you can upgrade
Upgrading to XProtect Essential removes these limitations at the approximate cost of $50 per camera license.
There’s two programs, the Management Application and Smart Client. Configuration, for example, adding cameras and setting motion detect events is done in the Management Application. Viewing the cameras and recorded events are done in the Smart Client. All this runs on Windows only. Free IOS and Android applications are available to access the cameras remotely.
When you launch the Management Application, it starts in their wizard screen which includes the ability add cameras, configure recordings, set motion detectoin and add users.
The first thing you will do is add cameras and there’s several options here. I tried Express and Advanced without much luck so I chose Manual.
In the manual configurations, you enter in the camera address, port number, userid & password and click Auto-Detect and it finds the appropriate driver. Selecting the driver manually did not work (Next button is grayed out and you can’t proceed). This worked on most cameras available to me, but was not able to add an Axis Q6035-E, even though this specific model was available in the hardware device drop down.
Once the cameras are setup, you can setup motion detection for recording. You can motion detect the entire screen or quickly draw boxes of motion detect areas and set sensitivity levels. This worked very well, easy to use, and was effective at capturing motion.
While it only supports one user at a time, you can setup multiple user accounts.
The available wizards are a great start, but day to day configurations changes are made from the windows style menu tree on the left and is easy to navigate.
The Smart Client is their viewer application. There isn’t a web browser based interface. When you start the application, it will default to a certain view. In my case, the 4 cameras I added are displayed. From this screen you can click setup and add views (camera layouts) and drag/drop cameras into the sections of the screen you want. You can zoom in using your mouse scroll wheel. As you can see, cameras that are actively recording are noted on the window.
Recorded events can be viewed the by clicking the playback tab. Initally it shows the window below with the most recent events and a vertical timeline display on the right. Scrolling the timeline shows the relavent events on the camera display in the middle.
There’s also a thumbnail view at the camera level wher you click on a thumbnail to play that event.
If you can live with the limitations and the product works with your cameras, free is hard to beat. If you can’t live with the limitations, then the $50/camera price is comparable to ExacqVision Start that I previously reviewed. The two differ in the way they work in many ways, including the way motion detection is handled, the operating systems supported, web browser vs. client/server approach. XProtect Go uses a lot of resources, making my quad core server seems slow with just 4 cameras so make sure you have a decent sized server to handle the amount of cameras you intend to use. Also, derived from commercial grade software, it should be a reliable and stable solution.
Support comes in the way of community support on their forum. This seemed weak to me as they have not really built up a community like Zoneminder has (previously reviewed). There’s people on the forum complaining that something doesn’t work, but rarely seen helpful responses.
More information, specs and download available on Milestone’s website by clicking here.