Tech Reviews: Q-See Security Cameras — Avoid them

Q-See Cameras are a rip-off when it comes to off-site access
By Ray Hanania

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

With today’s technology, you would think that installing and accessing remotely a home or business security camera system would be easy, but it’s not.

I installed a home security system with 8 cameras. The system cost over $900 for the cameras and the DVR which records and manages the cameras. I had a carpenter install the cameras and outdoor wiring, at a cost of about $400. I believed the instructions that came with Q-See Cameras that I would also be able to “easily” access the camera system remotely using one of my iPads or my iPhones.

That’s not the case.

In fact, when I called Q-See cameras service to ask for help, they said they would be happy to help me, if I paid some exorbitant amount of about $2,400.

Are you kidding me?

There are so many other security camera systems out there and I would recommend that you avoid Q-See cameras and use one of the others. Q-See has the worst customer service out there. The became enraged when I complained in my columns and began harassing me.

But I won’t relent.

I ended up paying a computer tech $350 to change my network to allow me to access the home security cameras. It took 3 hours. That’s “Easy?”

And when my internet provider upgraded and combined my router and modem into one, the system changed and I had to re-hire an outside computer specialist to come back in and reinstall the remote access.

English: A set of three security cameras on th...

English: A set of three security cameras on the side of a church all pointing in the wrong direction in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The real problem with Q-See cameras is that no one there knows how to write for the average consumer. Their instruction booklets are gibberish and complex and difficult for the average person to understand. It is possible to connect the system remotely, but you have to “forward” your ports, set a hundred different computer settings. Decide which of four different kinds of systems you want to use.

I don’t want to have to chose. Just give me a God Damned system that 1-2-3 installs and connects to my iPhone.

Even the computer technician said it was the most difficult system to work with.

Q-See cameras are the worst.

The cameras are also unreliable. I have had to replace two cameras just int he past year. And it is costly. The price of an individual camera is outrageous. Added to that is the cost of rewiring the camera when it is embedded under the home eaves.

And the DVR is among the worst, least reliable. I have a new recording system recording the images from the security system because the DVR that Q-See cameras provides doesn’t work properly. Supposedly, it can record up to 1 TerraByte of video data. But you can never access the recordings. I had to install a new system that records off the flatscreen TV I have attached to the system to view the cameras.

I am able to view my camera system using an iPhone and an iPad inside my home using one network connection. When I leave the network (home) and go outside, I have to access it using another system.

Doesn’t anyone at Q-See security camera’s have a brain?

Apparently not. They are just there to make money. Don’t buy their system. Save yourself the hassles. Buy something else.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and managing editor of The Arab Daily News at You can also reach him at his personal web page at or follow him on Twitter at @RayHanania and LIKE him on Facebook at

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26 replies

  1. GREAT NEWS FOR Q-SEE Victims … Swann Pro Series DVRs work directly with Q-See Cameras. The 8 camera DVR is only about $250 at any major retailer. Swann is easier to use than Q-See. When I asked Q-See to help me install my system so I could view it remotely, they want to charge me $1,800. I purchased the Swann DVR and threw out the Q-See DVR. The old Q-See cameras connect directly to the Swann Pro-Series DVR easily. Very compatible.

    And guess what? I didn’t have to do any port forwarding. It automatically found the system and connected it, not just from my home PCs and Laptops but also using the SwannView App that I downloaded for free. ALl I did was identify the IP Address and it automatically connected. No port forwarding. No hiring a computer tech dude to come in an fix the system.

    It did it automatically. If you have a lousy Q-See system, you are saved. Throw out the Q-See DVR. Seriously. Just throw it out. Invest $250 at TogerDIrect or any major retailer that sells remote camera security systems and purchase Swann Pro-Series for 4, 8 or 16 cameras.

    It connected in seconds. The software they give you runs on Windows and MAC (I have both) and it immediately displayed all 8 cameras on my home system.

    I downloaded the SwannView App and it immediately connected remotely to my home camera system.

    The only problem is that like all remote Apps for security cameras, it only displays 4 cameras at a time. The app allows you to view only 4 cameras at a time. You have to clear the 4 windows first and then tap the cameras one at a time that you want displayed in the 4 windows. I have 8 cameras so if I want to drop camera 4 and watch camera 8, I have to close Camera 4’s window and then tap camera 8 in its place. A little hassle but far less of a hassle than the problems I encountered with the lousy Q-See Securty Camera Systems.

    Don’t buy Q-See. They are the worst. Their telephone service is terrible. The costs are outrageously expensive. Q-See camera systems require a high knowledge of computer programming. And the Q-See apps don’t work remotely without hours of work and hundreds of dollars to pay someone to configure the system.

    Swann is only at


    • I am dissappointed and wish i had read all this info b4 buying q-see thru sams club. It does not work on my phone nor thru ipad after i leave the home. whats the use in having it then. i was told i could do that b4 i bought it. that was my main purpose. im furious after hundreds of dollars spent on video to watch my home. i am trying today to see if someone came into my back yard as the fence was not shut and i lost my baby dog – lucky i found him running down street. i cannot find out how to see if someone came into my yard, let me dog out or i just forgot to close fence properly. i just want to view last 4 hours as i was gone this morning. i cannot find out how to rewind on camera 2 that shows the fence. im so lost – its like i spent all this money on a camera system to just look at it in my home? while im there? i want to rewind it to see if someone came into my back yard. this morning. looks like it records constantly from the numbers up top clicking away. it has i guess been recording for 12 hours it looks like. am i suppose to push record somewhere when i leave? im so lost & cannot find the book it came with. system cost under 1,000 but to put it up cost me 2,000. for what? what a waste of money. i got an elaborate viewing system in my computer room, & that seems to be it. what the hell can i do with it outside the home. nothing

      • I too am disappointed with Q-See. Wish I had read the postings before. As I mentioned earlier, I am looking for a reliable DVR substitute for Q-See. The 8 cameras of the QS-458 work except that Q-See has chosen not to update their Firmware on a regular basis so that the DVR can be accessed by current smart-phones. Their written and phone response is that when new Android Smart phones come out, one has to replace the DVR with a new model to be compatible and so one can access the DVR remotely as before. That’s nuts !!! What professional manufacturer has you buy new Hardware with new firmware instead of just doing a Firmware upgrade to the existing system.
        I have seen the note that Swann is compatible with Q-See cameras. I’m leaning that way but want some time of assurance that they will upgrade Firmware on a somewhat regular basis. Or does anyone have experience with 1st Alert or Lorex systems. Please advise. Thank you

    • I have a qsee system and love it able to remote monitor and have support for free.

    • I am happy to hear this. Q-See is such a nuisance. Plus when you want to transfer the video to CD, Q-See has some strange file that has to be converted. I found one rep that was helpful; the rest are not. All my cameras just quit a little while ago. The rep told me I needed another power supply. Don’t know why- all the cameras worked fine for 3 years. So, Mr. Hanania, I am going to purchase the Swann DVR. I sure hope it’s as easy to install as you say and works. Thank you.

  2. I’m having the same issues. After several hours of configuring the system I am only able to view cameras from home. Not very helpful. The tech support was only able to offer suggestions which I had already completed. A few months ago I had intermittent access away from home. Now I have none. I’m not a network expert but I have a degree in Physics with a minor in Electronics. So I’m especially frustrated I am unable to achieve success. It shouldn’t be this hard.

  3. Our cameras don’t record all movement. There are huge lapses, up to 7-10 minutes without recording and movement or something we know occurred is not being recorded. What’s the point!
    Looking for a better system of camera.
    Can’t watch video from phone by hour like from iPad. It’s a waste as you gave the phone almost constantly with you and it’s not user friendly.
    Alarm system to phone and/or iPad hasn’t worked from the get go.

  4. They also wont answer sales questions via twitter or email. If you refuse to answer sales questions… what should I expect later?!

  5. Yep same here. Alarms don’t sound on the iPad app and it doesn’t let you see recorded clips. Plug and play doesn’t work correctly – you have to do complicated and non-user friendly things to your router to get remote viewing to work at all. Took me 11 hours to figure it out and I have a fairly good tech background. The Android app works ok, but kills the battery on my phone after an hour. Instruction manuals are nearly impossible to understand and it doesn’t register movement at least half the time.

  6. I’ve had a QS4816.for 2 years now. Took 3 days to run all cameras, but we didn’t experience most of the setup issues, however, I am a developer and got sysadmin access on the router from Verizon. One cam went bad and we replaced with a Swann (under warranty). The Q-See IPhone app does suck and it no longer works in FireFox.
    So we use Blue Iris and run that as a DVR/NVR from our server (or a desktop). The QS4816 is an analog system, so we installed a video encoder to IP enable the cameras, which QS support said cannot be done, of course. We have home automation going in this joint. So with Blue Iris, and Veralite we trigger the cameras, alerts, run scenes (turn on lights. lock doors) and even use the cameras as motion sensors.

    Use Blue Iris and a video encoder (GrandStream), if needed. The Blue Iris mobile app is fantastic and the desktop app has a ton of features, such as running a program when motion is detected (veralite/home automation scenes), sending a text message/email with a screenshot and sounding an alarm on your computer.
    Since we use Blue Iris (supports 64 cameras for ~$50) instead of the raggedy Q-See DVR, I found Google+ Backup, which is installed along with Picasa. It allows you to backup images and movies to the cloud and does not use your Google Drive space at all. Free storage.

    • PrecisionPhotoStudios – I would appreciate any additional information you can provide for your proven alternate to the QS DVR system. I have a QS-458 with 8 working analog BNC cameras but since Q-See no longer supports current smart phones or Firefox, my remote access to this system is limited. I want to replace the DVR and am intrigued by your comments about home automation being integrated as well. Currently the thermostat (Honeywell) is on the wireless network and I’m thinking of other items to add. Please provide any details you can share. Thank you, John Lorens, Maybe if enough of us leave Q-See in the dust, they will go out of business and others will not be a victim to their poor customer support.

  7. This caught my attention because I haven’t had an issue with viewing my cameras remotely. I agree that QSee tech support is horrible. I had to use a 3rd party company to assist me with some issues. Since then, I monitor my cameras from my iphone or ipad without problems.

  8. same here finally i got this thing to be watched in one android Phone but not in two other androids using the same configuration. its being months trying to make it work. and recently i did a Night owl system and i had it working in hours and as many phones the lady had.Q see does suck.

  9. Swan, Q-see and defender are as DIY as it gets. Try to use proper brands if you want your CCTV to last 5 years+ .

    • Most people (like myself) don’t know of “proper brands” to use. We go for major, yet cost effective brands with high ratings. Both Swann and Q-See have high ratings on store sites. I don’t think the cameras are an issue. For me, it was the DVR and lack of RTSP and that terrible app that I cannot use on my iPhone or Firefox for remote viewing. Blue Iris and Grand Stream saved my day. Now I have a mix of camera brands and can see them all from the same application.

  10. I too am very disappointed with the lack of timely tech support from Q-See. The installation of the QS-458 with 8 cameras went fairly well at a remote cabin we wanted to monitor hundreds of miles away. I even replaced some of the fixed cameras with 2 PTZ ones. Then I found out that my Android Incredible 2 was one of the very few smartphones that can access the DVR. QS-View app will not work on conventional Galaxy, Moto-X, and many other phones. Then the problem of viewing this site thru Firefox & Chrome was discovered. One is forced to use Internet Explorer with all its unsecured entry modes. Q-See’s response after many inquiries was to say that we should replace the DVR with one of their other models. Though I foresee needing 16 analog inputs in the future vs the current 8, what’s to say that the Firmware in the new Q-See DVR will be maintained as new phones come out. Too bad because Q-See started off well. Guess they don’t care about customer service and long term profits.

    I’m pleased to read that Swann is compatible with these cameras and welcome anyone’s advice on which models I should consider. Don’t need much.. Just 8 (preferably close to 16) inputs on a DVR that can be accessed with downloadable apps on the typical Android (HTC) phones.

  11. I have had the Q-see system (QT_548) and QM 6006B cameras for nearly two years. I have had, unfortunately, a similar experience to others here. Hence the reason I am here.

    No question about the poor customer support. Absolutely poor.

    I was able to set the system up quite easily, although not being a geek, it took me a lot of time. I admit the instructions were marginal and I think some trial and error got it working properly—initially.

    Problems I encountered included not getting much help from support. While I can see the cameras on my local internet service, remote access has been on and off again. Currently can’t access it outside my home for reasons I have tried to solve but still unable. Also, noticed that some cameras stop recording for 1-2 hours at a time randomly. Very frustrating.

    One camera filled with water but Q-see replaced it. The clicking of the cameras as they constantly change from day/night mode in low light situations, is very annoying. I asked Q-see about this but I might just as well have asked them the password to Fort Knox. I suspect the cameras will not last long.

    I will try contacting Q-see again, but not hopeful. If they would just be honest, or tell me I have a bum system, I guess I could live with that. But I suspect they will just keep me running around until I give up.

    Too bad…the system seemed to be good, with cameras reasonable in the dark. I certainly would not recommend to others.

  12. My Q-see system setup wasn’t that bad. Basic network port forwarding. Saying they have no brains..? I think that of ppl of buy products that have an “i” in front of it. Their cameras do break a lot. Your right on that.

  13. No problems with mine, the setup was done by Costco Concierge Services, a mere call to them set up the system, took all of 10 minutes. No problems with their hardware. The IPad App for Remote surveillance is even better than the one for my laptop. This is my second Q-See system. Calls to them are promptly returned.
    Maybe buying through Costco is the answer. I would think Costco would not carry Q-See if there was as much negative information out there as this?

  14. BTW my first Q-See is 7 years old, had one camera give up after 12.5 months, however Q-see would not honor the warranty….it was over by 2 weeks…I thought that a bit mean on their part but overall I had little or no other problems.
    My second system did not require me to have a third party domain to resolve the frequent IP changes as I do not have a static IP, they do that thru Q-See, so that was a big help.
    Honestly I cannot believe the negativity in the above comments.

  15. I totally agree, in about 18 months I went through 5 different Qsee DVRs, luckily I bought them on so as of now I paid ZERO for 20 cameras and two garbage DVR I have, the problem comes with the DVR, it starts with one camera then all go purple, no NVG works, they are both waiting for the next trash pick up, I didn’t contact Qsee yet but since the original purchase was over a year I don’t think they will help with this. I am looking to buy two new DVRs now, I didn’t know Amazon has refunded my $600 until today when I called to ask if they can help, they said they have refunded and it’s credited to my amazon store card, nice I will buy from amazon again but not the qsee rubbish!

    • Sorry about your luck. I have my first Q-see 4 cameras, still purring along, bought in 2008. My second one bought in 2014 with 8 cameras works great and 0 trouble with both DVRS. I especially like the remote access and when I contact either by email or online for the most part is satisfactory.

  16. My experience has been no better than those posted earlier. I bought the DVR and six cams through COSTCO six months ago and installed the system two months ago. Already I have had to replace one cam (stuck on night vision) and the DVR (cooling fan and hard drive failed), although the warranty covered the cost. This system is not a consumer product. The manuals are for tech specialists. When I go on live chat for help, there is usually a long wait, and once I sat for over a half hour watching the “estimated minutes until you’ll be connected” before the chat system informed me that there were no techs available after all. Today, when I connected on chat to determine why my DVR quit working, the tech had me cracking the DVR case and disconnecting wiring to the hard drive. This isn’t the kind of tech support I would expect from a consumer product. I want a security system, not a computer repair hobby. I finally got the output to show on my iPhone at home over the WiFi, but when I figured out how to show it over the Internet while away from home, the WiFi version stopped working. I plan to contact COSTCO to see if they’ll take the system back and let me buy something reliable and easy to set up.

    • I have been using Q-see for about 5 years now and I don’t see all the trouble you people are having. I started with a 480, went to a 960h, and then upgraded again to a 720P q-see DVR. Customer service helps me for free when I buy new or upgrade my DVR equipment. Maybe I have been lucky three times because I never had a camera or DVR fail on me. The instructions are written differently then what I would like to read, but with their customer service web page and a little thought I can usually get by. Remember all the manufactures of the security systems are made in China… so expect Chinese, and I’m not no Einstein just a guy that can read and use a screwdriver.

  17. One of the Australian companies I support recently purchased a Q-See DVR system with a handful of analogue cameras. I can understand why people would buy the product, it seems easy enough to physically install but dealing with the company has been EXTREMELY painful. Even the firmware update caused issues as we had a VGA monitor attached but after the update the default changed to HDMI. It took me quite a while to work this one out we have never used HDMI on the box and there was no warning on the upgrade that this would happen.

    The product software is basic but in most part complete, shame the company doesn’t think about the detail.

    Even there instructions for remote access ‘ place the device n your DMZ ‘. OK, I know what this is, some of you know what this is but normal people have no idea and shouldn’t need to. What is worse is UPNP is recommended, as if we all need our home routers/modems opening up in bound connections from the internet whenever it likes.

    Would I purchase the product again any time soon : knowing what I know now, after all the fighting with replacing internal drives and upgrading the firmware to make it stable. Probably not

    Would I look at the product again in the future : Perhaps when the company learns a little more respect and doesn’t send back offensive abusive emails when you ask polite and technically accurate questions.

    Do I trust it to be secure : absolutely not, any service that has no SSl/TLS connections available on the device meaning that your usernames and passwords are sent in the clear is weak. Be prepared that unexpected people may be watching your cameras.

    Would I rip it out : Now that it is installed and appears stable, after all the pain I may as well leave it in.

    How did I install it : I created an entirely separate Vlan in the network using a completely separate subnet then opened up ports 85 & 6035 inbound and ensured that all the admin password was long and complicated and hen made separate normal user accounts for remote access.

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