In this review, I’ll cover what the system includes, how easy it was to set up, how monitoring and customer support work, and everything related to the mobile app. Sit down, because Security Baron’s review of the Night Owl security system starts now!
What’s in the Night Owl System?
I purchased Night Owl’s XHD301-84-B system, which includes a one TB hard drive and four 1080p indoor/ outdoor cameras, plus cables and mounting hardware. I’m also going to write about the Night Owl 1080p Smart Doorbell as I think it would be a good addition to any home’s security system.
Surprisingly, Night Owl does not provide any motion, entry, or glass break sensors, nor any environmental monitoring devices like smoke, CO, and water leak alarms. If home security was a buffet, Night Owl would be the meat and potatoes- they provide the cameras, local storage, and that’s pretty much it. You might love the simplicity of the system, or crave more components- like they always say, different strokes for different folks.
One TB Hard Drive
The hard drive is where you’ll store all of your footage and photos from your four security cameras. You can easily connect it to your computer, tablet, or smartphone so you can view your system’s footage from wherever via your Night owl mobile app.
Night Owl 1080p Wired Bullet Camera
The system I bought comes with a whopping four cameras, so I’m hoping they’re good! They can work either indoors and outdoors in temperatures from -14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. With an IP rating of 65, these babies can withstand rain or shine. But are they of the upmost quality?
The bullet cameras have 1080p HD video, the industry standard. Unfortunately, that is where the video’s positive features end. The cameras can’t zoom at all, and have a narrow field of view of 100 degrees. No wonder they give you four cameras- that’s only enough to cover a single room!
I’m displeased that the cameras do not have two-way audio, meaning I can’t speak to whoever is in the room I’m recording. Two-way audio comes in handy if you do have an intrusion, or simply want to speak to someone from another location. Oh well.
The wired bullet cameras’ only storage is through the one TB hard drive included with the system. This is more than enough local storage- it’ll hold about 500 hours of footage! Night Owl doesn’t offer cloud storage, but I recommend backing up your files to a personal Dropbox to ensure you don’t lose them.
Smart Platform Integration
Drat! Night Owl’s 1080p Wired Bullet Cameras have no smart platform integrations, so you won’t be able to vocally command them using Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit. This might be a better choice for someone less tech-savvy who doesn’t own any smart home platforms.
Similarly, the cameras don’t have any artificial intelligence capabilities like person detection and facial recognition. These cameras are pretty old-school- while they can show you what they see, they can’t interpret the images into data. That means that you’ll probably receive a few unnecessary notifications triggered by motion from shadows, vehicles, and animals. As if you’re not on your phone enough, I’m sure!
Night Owl 1080p Smart Doorbell
While your existing doorbell just chimes, a video doorbell would allow you to see and even speak to whoever’s on your door step- in 1080p HD, no less! With an 140 field of view, I wish the bullet cameras had such a wide viewing angle! Night Owl offers two video doorbells, and the only difference between them is the amount of local storage they offer- choose between 16 and 32 GB through a micro-SD card. Unlike the bullet cameras, the doorbell’s camera works with Google Assistant, so you can command it using your voice straight through your app. As soon as someone steps in front of the camera, you’ll know- before they even press the doorbell button.
Professional Monitoring with Night Owl
Have you ever thought about what you would do in an emergency? What if you were nowhere near home?
Many security systems offer professional monitoring , which means that a team of people can handle your home’s emergency 24/7, be it an intrusion, a fire, or what have you.
Unfortunately, Night Owl does not provide any professional monitoring options. You’ll self-monitor your system using your Night Owl app. On the plus side, you won’t have to pay any monthly fees!
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Night Owl security system does not come with any cellular or landline backup. That means that if your power goes out, your security system will go out with it, definitely a huge minus of the Night Owl system.
Night Owl Customer Support
If you’re in a pinch, you want a customer support team that responds quickly and knows what they’re talking about. Does Night Owl fit this profile?
How Night Owl’s Customer Support Works
You can contact the Night Owl customer support team through live chat, a phone line available 24/7, or email. If you prefer to talk to computers instead of humans, there’s a support center on the Night Owl website.
Of course, telling you what customer support options are available doesn’t really tell you much about how it works in practice. For the most honest feedback, I turned to customer reviews from Amazon and the Better Business Bureau.
The exact system I bought wasn’t on Amazon, so I checked out reviews for a similar system with four channels, four cameras, and a one TB hard drive.
The system got a 3.4 overall rating, which is pretty middle of the road. Of the three reviews that mentioned customer support, two were negative. One person claimed he tried to contact customer support multiple times and never got an answer, and another said that they were unhelpful. Not such good signs.
Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau is an objective, third-party watchdog for consumers. I always check with them before I make a large purchase, especially if it’s a security system. When I was opened the Night Owl’s BBB page, I was shocked to see a red alert at the top. It said that Night Owl has had “a pattern of complaints alleging inferior product quality. Customer have stated that they experience issues with the product not working after purchase, and found that customer service has not addressed the support tickets put in for product issues.” As of now, Night Owl has not resolved all its complaints or communicated with the BBB in any way, which is why it has an overall BBB rating of a C.
The customer reviews weren’t better, with an overall customer rating of a little over two stars. People had awful things to say about Night Owl’s customer support. Clearly, this is an area that Night Owl could improve upon.
The Night Owl App
Now let’s talk about Night Owl’s app, Night Owl HD. As you’ll be self-monitoring your system, the app is incredibly important. It needs to be user-friendly and technologically sound so you can stay on top of your home’s security. Can Night Owl HD get the job done?
From the Night Owl HD app, you can livestream footage, receive notifications, customize your channel names, and download and share photos and videos.
What do real Night Owl customers think of the app? To check, I looked at reviews from both iPhone and Android users.
Apple Store users were not loving the Night Owl HD app. They gave it only 1.8 stars, one of the worst ratings I’ve seen from a security app. As the majority of the reviews were one-star, it’s clear that Night Owl could stand to update the app on iPhones.
The app fared slightly better on the Google Play Store, with 2.8 stars. Clearly, this isn’t a good rating either. One customer summed it up nicely,
“This app rarely works…most of the time, you cannot connect to your DVR. I have excellent Wi-Fi connection and still have issues. I’ve had the Night Owl system for four years and while the cameras work good, the advertised remote viewing is almost on the verge of being false advertisement,”
he wrote in a two-star review. All I can say is, Night Owl has their work cut out for them.
Recap of the Night Owl Security System
If you’ve made it down here, congratulations! Now let’s make a decision. If any of the following sound like heaven, you might want to consider investing in a Night Owl security system:
- No monthly contracts
- DIY installation
- Simple system with few components
- Indoor/ outdoor cameras
- 1080p HD video
- Local storage
But if any of the following make you cringe, you should probably avoid Night Owl like the plague:
- No sensors available
- Camera can’t zoom
- Field of view narrow at 100 degrees
- No two-way audio
- No cloud storage
- No smart platform integrations
- No artificial intelligence
- No professional monitoring available
- No cellular backup
- Bad customer support
- Poorly reviewed app
Feel free to leave comments, questions, or suggestions below. We’d love to hear from you. For more options, read the best home security systems of 2019.