Swann AllSecure650 NVR security system review

Swann AllSecure650 Wireless NVR Security System review: a watchful eye


Managing cameras spread around your home, the Swann AllSecure650 Wireless NVR Security System makes it easy to keep an eye on things back at the ranch while you’re out and about.

Home security systems have changed a lot thanks to the cloud, with tech giants like Google and Amazon getting in on the game. These days, it’s easy to stick a single security camera anywhere in your home, which connects to your Wi-Fi network and records straight to the cloud.

Things become more complicated if you want to manage a series of cameras spread throughout your home. That’s where you might look to an old-school solution like the Swann AllSecure650 Wireless NVR Security System, which is more complicated to set up but offers a range of benefits in return.

What makes it old-school is that the Swann AllSecure650 cameras rely on a central Network Video Recorder (NVR) which can tuck away somewhere in your home. It’s the central management point for the cameras, along with the central recording point. This lets you take advantage of a few advanced remote access features for free, features for which cloud-based services like Google Nest and Amazon Ring typically want you to pay a monthly subscription.

The downside of NVR-based security systems is that they tend to lack many of the smart features, like intelligent notifications, which the likes of Nest and Ring bring to the party. That’s where the Swann AllSecure650 2K Wire-Free HD Wireless NVR Security System (NVK-650) aims to offer the best of both worlds.

Review: Swann AllSecure650 Wireless NVR Security System

Australian websiteSwann
Price$1099.95 RRP
Warranty1 year
Other  More security reviews on GadgetGuy

First impressions

If you’re familiar with easy-to-install cloud-based security cameras then the Swann AllSecure650 Wireless NVR Security System doesn’t make a great first impression, because it’s such a hassle to set up.

The biggest frustration is that you can’t manage the setup via your smartphone or even your desktop computer. Instead, you need to plug the central NVR into your television or monitor via HDMI, with support for 4K output. You then plug in the tiny USB mouse, supplied in the box, and use it to navigate the menus and peck away at the onscreen keyboard.

Swann includes a few printed quick-start guides to assist, but the setup is still unforgivably long, cumbersome and technical. As part of the process, you can link an iOS/Android smartphone app to the system, which is handy for monitoring the cameras, but you’ll still need to come back to this clunky interface for much of the advanced configuration.

Needing to constantly re-enter your login and password using the onscreen keyboard is very frustrating. The smartphone app is also rather clunky in places.

With the NVR plugged into a screen and the cameras up and running, you can see a grid view with the feed from all your cameras. This might be handy if you want a permanent security command station, perhaps for a small business rather than a home setup.

The NVR is roughly the size of a two-litre bottle of milk, but you probably can’t hide it away out of sight. By default, all of the cameras connect wirelessly directly to the NVR, so stashing it in a cupboard could interfere with the signal.

There is the option to connect some or all of the cameras to your home Wi-Fi network, through which they can access the NVR. This is handy if you need to place some cameras a long way from the NVR, but there is an important trade-off.

One of the AllSecure650’s strengths is that it’s designed to keep running even if your internet and/or power drops out. The cameras all run on rechargeable batteries, plus one battery slots into the back of the NVR to keep it running for five hours if the power is cut. If the power goes out and your home Wi-Fi network goes down, the cameras linked directly to the NVR will keep working but those relying on your home Wi-Fi will be cut off.

Swann AllSecure 650 pack content
The AllSecure650 comes with everything you need to get four cameras up and running.

Swann AllSecure650 Wireless NVR Security System specs

Number of camerasfour included (supports up to eight)
Camera specs2560 x 1440 pixel, 105-degree viewing angle
Camera dimensions74 x 67 x 94 mm
Camera power Rechargeable and Removable 8,700 mAh 3-Cell lithium battery (USB-C charging)
Night vision range30 m
PIR heat sensor range8 m
NVR connectivityWi-Fi, Ethernet, USBx2, HDMI
NVR storage1 TB onboard, plus USB and microSD card
NVR powerAC or 5-hour backup from battery

Features – cameras

The Swann AllSecure650 Wireless NVR Security System comes with four wireless cameras, including mounts and screws so you can easily attach them to a wall or ceiling. The system supports up to eight cameras, with extras at $269.95 each (or $129.95 for the smaller SWNVW-500CAM camera).

The cameras look rather clunky compared to typical cloud-based cameras, especially considering they feature a prominent antenna for connecting back to the NVR.

Part of the reason for the bulky design is that each camera features a quick-release battery, which slides out of the bottom so you don’t need to take down the camera to recharge it. Each battery features a USB-C port for charging, or you could switch it out for the NVR’s battery and let the NVR recharge the flat battery.

The camera battery should be good for two or three months, depending on how often it detects events. When it is time to recharge, Swann includes one USB-C cable but no AC adapter.

The IP66-rated weatherproof cameras are designed for indoor or outdoor use. They feature night vision so you can see what lurks in the dark. It can see up to 30 metres, plus there’s a built-in spotlight that lets you see the closest 10 metres in colour.

You can also hear what’s happening and even talk to your unexpected guests thanks to two-way audio. Unfortunately, the speaker isn’t overly loud or clear, so it works best with inside cameras.

When it comes to picture quality, the cameras offer 2K 2560×1440 pixel resolution supporting digital zoom. You’ve got a 105-degree horizontal viewing angle, which isn’t as wide as some rivals, but does the job if you mount the camera in the corner of the room. The narrower field of view helps deliver a sharper picture when relying on 2K cameras, rather than 4K like some cameras.

Likewise, the vertical viewing angle isn’t great, but it works well with the camera mounted up high and pointed down at the room. Keep in mind, this camera system is primarily designed for covering entry points to detect intruders. It’s not really designed for keeping an eye on everyone and everything while you’re away from home.

Swann AllSecure 650 SWNVK-650KH4
The cameras look a little clunky but are designed to be installed up high out of the way.

Features – NVR

A key benefit of relying on an NVR is that the Swann AllSecure650 Wireless NVR Security System has a built-in 1 TB hard drive for recording video, along with the ability to add storage via USB and microSD card. This means there’s no need to pay a monthly subscription if you just want to retain access to those recordings.

One trade-off is that the AllSecure650 doesn’t record constantly so, unlike Google Nest cameras, you can’t scroll back through time. Instead, it only starts recording when it detects movement. At this time, it also sends an alert to your smartphone and/or email, depending on what you requested during the setup.

Of course, you don’t want to be hassled 24/7 whenever anything moves in your home or outside. Thankfully, the smartphone app lets you manually switch between Home, Night and Away modes, plus you can create schedules.

These modes let you set the sensitivity for each camera and whether or not they send alerts, record video, capture photos or trigger their built-in siren. Unfortunately, you can’t change modes automatically with geo-fencing, which would let the system detect when your smartphone leaves home and returns.

By default, the cameras look for movement and a heat signature using the infrared sensor – which Swann dubs “True Detect”. It also looks for people-sized objects, up to a range of eight metres, so it won’t be fooled by pets. These two things help significantly cut down on false positives when you’re watching for intruders, but you can tweak these settings if need be.

To further reduce unwanted notifications you can also set up zones for each camera, meaning they only respond to motion in some areas, but you need to go back to the monitor interface to set this up.

Along with recording to its own storage, you can also configure the NVR to upload clips to Dropbox. This way, you can check them remotely even if your home internet is down. It also ensures you don’t lose your evidence even if thieves make off with your security system.

Despite all these free features, Swann also offers a “Premium Member Service” for $12.99 p/m or $129.99 p/a with a 90-day free trial. This adds 60 days of cloud recording to Swann’s servers, along with intelligence notifications that can distinguish between people, pets, packages and cars.

You also get rich notifications with tap actions, along with 36 months of extended warranty and Swann device insurance. At this point, the Swann system starts to match some of the advanced cloud-based functionality that you get from the likes of Nest and Ring.


Swann’s cameras offer a clear image at 2K. They also cope well with bright backlights, although you’ll want to avoid the sun shining directly into the lens. You can also manually adjust hue, contrast, brightness and saturation for each camera.

One potential frustration is that, on the default settings, the cameras’ ability to detect motion is a bit hit-and-miss. You might need to do a lot of fine-tuning, via that clunky monitor interface.

Camera placement is also important. For example, if you place a camera on the kitchen bench and walk in front of it at close range, it tends to ignore you. But move to the other side of the room and it’s much more likely to spot you as you walk past.

Another frustration is that, when you click on a smartphone alert, you’re taken to the live feed with no picture-in-picture “pre-roll” as provided with some cameras such as Ring. Pre-roll is important in order to see what triggered the event, as well as what led up to that event.

Without pre-roll, the Swann system can leave you staring at an empty room after your invited guest has quickly walked past. To see what happened you need to dig through the app, which means taking your eyes off the live feed. Even then, due to the lack of pre-roll, it’s possible the camera didn’t start recording until the person was already out of shot.

If the live feed shows you something of interest, you can click a button to record a video or capture a photo. You can download these to your smartphone, or copy them off the NVR via USB.

GadgetGuy’s take

Whether the Swann AllSecure650 Wireless NVR Security System is right for you depends on how you want to use it. If you need a spread of cameras with good indoor and outdoor coverage, offering limited false positives, then it might be a good fit. 

It’s particularly attractive if you’re looking to take advantage of basic Dropbox cloud storage without the need to pay for a monthly subscription. Remember, some of Swann’s fancy features like package detection still need you to cough up for a subscription.

This aside, you really need to take advantage of the NVR to make it worthwhile – whether you’re using that command centre-style grid on a monitor or you’re making the most of the system’s ability to stay up and running when the power and/or internet goes out. Keep in mind, you’re paying a premium for the NVR, compared to buying a pack of four cloud-based cameras. If you’d never leverage the NVR’s strengths then your money might be better spent elsewhere.

Would I buy the Swann AllSecure650?

Maybe, if the feature set was a better fit to my needs than cloud-based options which don’t require an NVR. 

Swann AllSecure650 Wireless NVR Security System
Able to stay up and running when your power or internet goes out, the Swann AllSecure650 Wireless NVR Security System is designed to keep your home safe and sound.
Value for money
Ease of use
Works during power/internet outage
Retain recordings without subscription
Basic cloud storage via Dropbox
Cumbersome to set up and use
No pre-roll on video clips
Intelligent alerts require subscription