Synology BC500 Review: A Soid Niche IP Cam

Synology BC500 Review: A Soid Niche IP Cam

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The BC500 is one of the first two IP cameras from Synology designed with the company’s popular Surveillance Station in mind.

As such, it simplifies the setup process, comes with many useful features/settings, and does away with the camera license normally required for a third-party cam.

In return, it’s expensive. At $219, it’s about three times the cost of other similarly-specced non-Synology cams.

Still, this review will explain why convenience and native support are potentially worth the hefty price for those looking for a basic non-Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cam.

The Synology BC500 looks like a typical bullet cam.

Synology BC500: A special yet typical bullet cam

The BC500 looks great and has a good build out of the box. It feels solid and sturdy. Still, overall, it’s a typical bullet cam with mounting accessories.

Unfortunately, the cam doesn’t include everything for users to get it up and running. There’s no power adapter or a PoE injector. You must have a PoE switch or a standard injector to use it.

The new IP cam features PoE (802.3af), the lowest requirement of Power over Ethernet. It has a Fast Ethernet port which caps at 100Mbps. And that’s a good thing.

For one, as a 5MB cam using H.264 compression, the BC500 generally won’t need more than a tenth of its network port’s bandwidth, as shown in the table below. So a Gigabit port would be overkill.

Resolution H.264 MJPEG
1 MP (1280 x 720) 2 Mbps 6 Mbps
2 MP (1920 x 1080) 4 Mbps 12 Mbps
4 MP (2560 x1440) 8 Mbps 24 Mbps
5 MP (2880×1620) 10Mbps 30Mbps
Bandwidth requirements for each IP cam by resolutions and video compressions.

Most importantly, the low bandwidth requirement means any standard injector or PoE switch will do — you won’t need to spend a lot extra to get it to work.

Still, considering its over-the-top price tag, it would be nice if a powering device was included in the package.

Synology BC500: Hardware specifications

Synology BC500
Synology BC500
General Specifications
Dimensions Ø4.33 x 6.34 in
(Ø110 x 161 mm)
Weight 0.78 lbs (353 g)
Weather Resistance IP67
Impact Resistance None
Power Source PoE (802.3af)
or 12V DC
Power Consumption 4.8 W
Network Port 1 x Fast Ethernet (100Mbps) PoE
Built-in Storage MicroSD
(up to 128GB)
Operating Environment • Temperature (IR off): -30°C to 50°C (-22°F to 122°F)
• Temperature (IR on): -30°C to 40°C (-22°F to 104°F)
• Relative humidity: 5% to 95% RH (non-condensing)
Certification IP67, FCC, IC, CE, BSMI, VCCI, RCM, UKCA, KC, JATE
Environmental Safety RoHS compliant, WEEE, REACH
NDAA / TAA Compliance Yes
Package Contents 1 x BC500 main unit
1 x Installation guide
1 x RJ-45 connector cap cover
1 x Screw pack
Warranty 3 years
US Availability May 10, 2023
US Price $219
Optical
Lens 2.8 mm
(110° H, 56° V, 132° D LDC ON)
Aperture F1.8
Night vision 30 meters
Shutter speed 1/16000s~1/30s
DORI D: 60m, O: 24m, R: 12m, I: 6m
Video
Max. Streaming Resolution 5 MP (2880×1620) @ 30 FPS
Sub Streaming Capability 1920×1080 @ 15 FPS or 1280×720 @ 30 FPS
Video Compression H.264, H.265
Image Settings Brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, white balance, High Dynamic Range (HDR),
3D/2D noise reduction, exposure control, 50/60 Hz flicker reduction, day/night mode,
overlay, privacy mask
Video Orientation Rotation (0°, 90°, 180°, 270°)
Flip
Mirror
Event Analytics
(available with Synology DVA Series video recorders)
People & Vehicle Detection (including Crowd Detection and Loitering Detection), Intrusion
Detection, Motion Detection, Tampering Detection, Audio Detection
Instant Search People, Vehicle, Motion
SD Card Event Recording Disconnection from NAS
People & Vehicle Detection
Intrusion Detection
Motion Detection
Audio Detection
Tampering Detection
Hardware specifications: Synology BC500 IP cam

A camera designed for Synology Surveillance Station

At a glance, the BC500 is somewhat of a standard IP cam. It has a local web user interface for simple management, including viewing live images and other common tasks such as firmware updates.

Synology BC500 IP Cam Web Interface MainSynology BC500 IP Cam Web Interface Firmware
You can use the local web user interface to manage the BC500 to a certain extent.

But to take advantage of it fully, you must have a Synology NAS server as its network video recorder (NVR) via the free Surveillance Station app.

And that’s what I used for the testing. And the BC500 proved to make things much easier for users.

As I mentioned in the app’s review, generally, with a third-party generic IP cam, a setup section can be involved. You’d need to initialize a generic camera with the network and then link it to the app. (After adding a license when you use three or more cams.)

In the case of the BC500, the app detects the cam and enables users to perform the hardware initialization and ongoing maintenance. The whole process took me just a few clicks.

Afterward, the Synology cam has dozens of settings unavailable in third-party cameras, as shown in the table and screenshot below. Examples of useful features are the ability to customize people and vehicle detections based on many parameters such as crowd size, loitering pattern, vehicle motion/occupancy, etc.

Synology BC500 IP Cam Settings vs Generic Cam
The Synology BC500 (top) has many more settings and customization options than a third-party camera.

Most importantly, all of these settings are well-designed, with practical default values, making them useful before you need to set up the parameter one by one manually.

It’s worth noting, though, that not all features of the BC500 are available to NAS servers. For example, some useful analytics, such as people/vehicle counting, license plate reader, or facial recognition, require Synology’s DVA series, such as the DVA1622.

Synology BC500: Detail photos

Synology BC500 IP Camera Retail BoxSynology BC500 IP Camera Package Content
The Synology BC500 retail box and its content. The camera doesn’t include a power adapter or a PoE injector.

Synology BC500 IP Camera Solid Ports
The Synology BC500’s network and charger port.

Synology BC500 IP Camera UndersideSynology BC500 IP Camera miniSD card slot
The Synology BC500’s miniSD card slot is on its underside. The camera can host cards larger than 120GB.

Synology BC500 IP Cam Edge Recording
The miniSD card slot works with the Synology BC500’s Edge Recording feature, which enables the cam to store its own security footage.

Synology BC500 IP Camera In actionSynology BC500 IP Camera Front
Synology BC500: Mounted and in action. Note its mic and night-vision sensor.

Synology BC500: Excellent performance

I used the BC500 for over a week before publishing this review, and it proved to be a reliable cam for a serious home security system.

The video and sound qualities are excellent, too. In the short motion-activated video below, you’ll note the detail and how the camera can pick up the sound of folk unloading wood slaps across the street, almost 200 feet (60 meters) away.

It’s worth noting that I set the cam’s detection sensitivity level at 50%.

We’re talking about a security camera — chances are it won’t be used to make a movie. However, the BC500’s picture and sound quality are good enough if you need footage for a family video. They are among the best I’ve seen for a 5MP security cam.

Other functions of the cam worked well, too. It never missed any motions in my testing, and the night vision was also excellent.

I also tried out the Edge Recording feature, which allows the BC500 to record to a mini SD card based on certain events, and it worked as intended. By the way, the cam’s miniSD slot supports cards larger than 128GB. I tried a SanDisk 400GB, and it worked with no issues.

Unfortunately, the only way to view the Edge Recording footage is to take the miniSD card out and plug it into a computer, which can be a hassle if you mount the cam in a hard-to-reach place. There’s no way to do that via the network.

Synology BC500 IP Cam Vehicle Detection
The Synology BC500 has excellent object (people, animal, vehicle) detection.

Overall, while far from perfect, it’s safe to say the BC500 is one of the best if not the best static security camera I’ve used. But considering the cost, there’s no surprise there.

Pros

Stellar 5MP video and HD sound quality

Excellent integration with Surveillance Station; camera license included

Superior reliability and lots of customizability

Cons

High cost with no PoE injector or power adapter included

No Wi-Fi; no PTZ; multiple useful features require Synology DVA hardware.

MiniSD card recordings are not accessible via the network.

Conclusion

With included camera license, which otherwise goes for almost $60 a pop, the Synology BC500 is still very expensive. After all, it’s a simple camera that costs $219. With that price, you can get much more advanced PTZ hardware, such as the Reolink RLC-823A.

But it’s the first security camera that can give you all Synology’s Surveillance Station offers. And if you are into the intricate details of a security system or want to take advantage of all the advanced settings, that novelty might be enough to make it worth the cost.

I do hope, though, that the BC500’s price will go down at some point. In the meantime, it can be something to look forward to. Per Synology, the cam will be available for purchase comes early May.



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