After humble beginnings in a basement 30 years ago, Swann is now a global leader in security with a presence in over 40 countries. Swann is one of the first security companies to be DIY and prides itself on its affordable, technically advanced hardware. They’re now owned by the Infinova Group which supports its manufacturing, research, and development of security systems. Whether you’re in the U.S, Canada, Australia, or China, you’ll be able to find Swann products- they’re available in six continents!
Today we’ll deep dive into the Swann security system: what it includes, how it works, and how convenient it is to set up. We’ll also talk about professional monitoring, customer support, and finally, Swann’s mobile app. Let’s begin!
We're a fan of the Swann system's DIY installation, integration with Google Assistant, and affordable price.
What’s in the Swann Security System?
Swann’s security system is relatively minimal compared to its competitors. The two main parts are the 1 TB hard drive and the two security cameras. There’s also a mouse, BNC cables, mounting plugs and crews, a power adapter and splitter, an HDMI cable, an ethernet cable, and theft deterrent stickers, but I’m going to focus on the first two items.
Swann 1 TB Hard Drive
You’ll receive a pretty large hard drive where you’ll store all your photos and footage. It’s one terabyte, which is pretty large. In simple terms, that’s about 500 hours of footage or 310,000 photos, a.k.a more than enough local storage. All cameras must be wired to the hard drive in order to function.
My system came with two security cameras, although it can handle up to eight. The cameras are both indoor and outdoor, which I like a lot. As far as using the cameras outdoors goes, they have an IP rating of 66. That means that they’re completely protected from dust (a blessing for all the hoarders out there) and that they can withstand powerful water jets. Whether’s it’s 70 and sunny or pouring rain, these cameras seem pretty solid.
It’s also important to note that the cameras are triggered by both motion and heat. Having both technologies reduces false alarms. As much as you want to stay updated as to what’s going on in your home, you don’t need a notification every time a car drives by.
The first thing I thought when I looked at Swann’s security cameras was that they had an air of professionalism. While some modern systems’ cameras don’t resemble cameras, the Swann camera is more old school. There’s no mistaking it for a rose-gold sculpture like some of its competitors. The camera is metal and plastic and can swivel around to capture any angle. The only negative thing I have to say is that the plastic part that protrudes below the lens is not aesthetically pleasing. It reminds me of a blemish, which reminds me of my middle school years, and I am not trying to go back there.
In general, the Swann security system seems to prioritize function over form, and the camera definitely reflects that. Like the rest of the system, the cameras must be wired to the hard drive. While this makes set up a bit more complicated, at least you don’t have to worry about changing the batteries.
Satisfying industry standards, the camera is 1080p HD, but Swann takes it a step further. They also have five megapixel super HD which they claim is 2.4 clearer than 1080p HD. This is a feature I haven’t seen with any other security cameras, and I have to say that I’m impressed.
However, I am a bit underwhelmed by the camera’s narrow field of view at 102 degrees. Plus, there is no ability to zoom optically. I’m surprised that the camera’s video performs so well in one respect but disappoints in others. Although, I will say, if there’s one quality that matters above the rest, it’s 1080p HD, which the camera has in the bag.
Unfortunately, the cameras don’t have two-way audio. This is a disappointment because it means you can only watch your footage, rather than interact with the scene that your camera is recording. Two-way audio is a great feature if you actually have an intrusion. There are many videos online of criminals bailing after the homeowner told them to through two-way audio. This seems like a missed opportunity on Swann’s part.
Swann claims that their cameras can see in the dark up to 100 feet, or 30 meters for you non-Americans. Unfortunately, customer support couldn’t tell me how many infrared LED sensors the camera has, but relying on display alone, I’m pretty impressed with its night vision.
The majority of your storage will take place locally through your 2 TB hard drive. For cloud storage, Swann lets you upload photos to Dropbox. No subscription is needed, which is nice. I prefer local storage to cloud because you can always download your footage and upload it to a cloud from there. The massive hard drive allows for a lot of storage, so I’m impressed with Swann for this category.
Smart Platform Integration
I’m pleased to see that the Swann camera that I bought pairs up with Google Assistant, meaning that you can command the camera to show you specific areas of your house and Chromecast footage to your television. There’s also another camera that integrates with Amazon Alexa. I haven’t seen separate cameras for separate smart home platforms before- usually, if cameras have more than one integration, it’s all on the same camera. I like that Swann gives you access to both ecosystems, but I wish it was all on one camera so that you can mix and match.
The camera doesn’t have any artificial intelligence features like person detection or facial recognition. If you’re a pet owner, this may be an issue. While the camera can differentiate living objects from inanimate objects through its heat-sensing technology, pets will still trigger the sensors, giving you a notification every time your dog sashays across the living room.
Does the Swann Security System Work Well?
I was pretty happy with the Swann system, although I did notice a few issues. While the image quality is pretty good, I noticed that the camera does not always immediately respond to motion and heat. There were a few times when I walked in front of the camera and it didn’t detect anything for a few seconds. This may seem small, but it could be an issue if you have an intrusion and are trying to find footage of the perpetrator. A few seconds may be the difference between identifying your robber, or letting him walk free. I also had some issues with the livestream starting, often getting a “loading” screen until I rebooted the app. In general through, everything worked well and I was happy with the system and its notifications.
We're a fan of the Swann system's DIY installation, integration with Google Assistant, and affordable price.
What’s Setting Up Swann Like?
As the system is completely hardwired, setup is a lot more complicated than with peel-and-stick wireless systems. You have to connect four separate cameras to the hard drive, so the majority of the time is spent deciding where to place and then mounting the cameras. I would say it took me about 15 minutes to see an image for the first time. However, the system is completely color-coordinated, so despite its many parts, I found the setup to be pretty intuitive if not a tad time-consuming. I’d like to point out that Swann also has wireless security systems available if that’s your preference.
Professional Monitoring with Swann
Picture 99% of action movies. There’s probably a scene with a room full of screens displaying footage from various security cameras. Of course, with the footage comes the security team, watching the screens like hawks to ensure the safety of the grounds. That’s what professional monitoring is. It’s a team of people hired to monitor your security system. They make sure that your home is safe, even if you are on vacation or otherwise preoccupied. Usually professional monitoring is available with security systems for an additional monthly fee.
Unfortunately, Swann does not have any professional monitoring options- they only sell the equipment itself. While it’s nice not having to pay for a monthly subscription on top of the money you just paid for your equipment, you do lose out on some added security. If you’re looking for 24/7 professional monitoring, Swann may not be your best bet. You’ll have to rely on yourself and your mobile app for the latest updates.
What’s Swann’s Customer Support Like?
Okay, so Swann does not provide us with any professional monitoring. But what’s their customer support like? You want to make sure that your security system is backed up by people that know what they’re doing and are readily available to help. How does customer support work at Swann, and is it any good?
How It Works
You have a few different options when it comes to customer support at Swann. You can search their support center online, which has everything from product manuals to FAQ’s. To speak with customer support directly, you can contact them through live chat, email, or phone toll-free 24/7. I’m impressed that their customer support line is always available- this is not the case for many security companies.
Swann Customer Reviews
What do customers think of Swann’s customer support? To find out, I took to the internet.
I’m pleased to see that the Swann security system that I purchased has a 4.1 out of five star rating on Amazon. Unfortunately, there are only five customer reviews, which isn’t the biggest sample size. But looking at other Swann systems, I see that they are all three stars and above. In general, Swann is a very reputable company.
” I had two minor issues that I called customer support for and hold times were less than 5 minutes each time. After a short conversation the the support person, everything was up and running,”
wrote on Amazon user about their installation.
Better Business Bureau
Unfortunately, reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) were not as positive. Although the business does have a BBB rating of A+, the customer ratings were largely negative. They only had a one star overall customer rating with four reviews, and every review mentioned the unhelpful and hard to reach customer support team.
Swann didn’t fare much better on Google, with 18 customer reviews and a 2.5 star rating. Many people wrote of the system not working and customer support not helping. While some companies respond to their negative reviews, Swann does not, which does not come off well.
The SwannView Link App
After such poor customer support reviews, I’m really hoping that the app pulls through. Every modern security system comes equipped with a mobile app. You want to be able to have access to your system regardless of your location- especially considering that Swann doesn’t provide professional monitoring. How does the SwannView Link app stack up?
Swann App Features
The main thing that you can do on the Swann app is livestream your footage from up to 16 cameras. You’ll be able to take “screenshots” of your footage, record, and review your photos and videos right on the app.
Swann App Reviews
You know what they say: the customer is king. Were customers keen on the Swann app, or did it fumble just like their customer support?
Alas, Swann didn’t do too well on the Apple store. The app has an overall rating of only 1.9 out of five stars, with the large majority of reviews at one star. It seems like the company does not consistently update the app to pair with the newest iOs. I’m surprised that Swann is not more on top of keeping their app updated.
Hallelujah! The SwannView Link app got a 3.5 out of five star rating on the Google Play Store- it seems like Android users were a lot happier with the app than iPhone users. Most of the reviews were five stars. Most people said that while the app is very basic and doesn’t have many features, it works well.
Recap of the Swann Security System
Is the Swann security system right for you? It clearly has its advantages and disadvantages, but it might be your perfect match if you’re wowed by the following:
- Motion and heat sensing cameras
- 1080p HD and five megapixel video display
- Awesome night vision
- Cloud and local storage options
- Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa integrations (on separate cameras)
- App works well with Androids
Nothing is perfect, of course. The Swann security system definitely has its faults, like:
- A narrow field of zoom of 102 degrees
- No ability for cameras to optically pan/ zoom
- No two-way audio
- No artificial intelligence
- Time-consuming set up
- No professional monitoring
- Unreliable customer support
- App doesn’t work well on iPhones
Let us know what you think in the comments below! Or, check out the best security systems of 2019.