Paul's Travel Pictures

Night Owl CCTV DVR & Security Cameras System Review
A consumer's opinion of the Night Owl 8BL-81TB CCTV DVR and night vision security cameras system with install guide.

Main Menu                 Home                Digital Cameras                Misc. Pictures                 Articles                 My Blog


Night Owl 8BL-81TB
8 Channel CCTV System
Package Contents
A friend purchased this Night Owl CCTV security system at Brandsmart for about $500 and asked me to help with the installation at a small shopping plaza.

Included in the package is an 8 channel DVR (digital video recorder), 8 color bullet cameras with IR night vision, 60ft BNC wires for each camera, a USB mouse, a remote control, power adapters, various cables (audio, video, ethernet), a driver CD, security stickers, mounting hardware, a manual and a quick set up guide.

The Night Owl 8 Channel DVR features a pre-installed 1 TB (~1,000 MB) hard drive, H.264 video compression, IE 8 and Android / iPhone / Blackberry smartphone remote internet viewing capability and also audio inputs / outputs

The included weatherproof CCTV cameras have 1/4" color CMOS sensors, 400 TV lines of resolution, 24 IR LEDs, and 6.0mm lenses with a 42 degree field of view. Two of the cameras feature microphones to deliver audio to the DVR.

What's In The Box
DVR Connections
Camera Specifications
After unpacking everything in the box, I decided to test out the system by setting it up in my living room.

I ran a long Ethernet cable from our AT&T Uverse 2Wire fiber optic modem / router to the DVR, plugged in the mouse, and connected a few of the cameras including one equipped with an audio microphone.

DVR Specifications
704x480 Resolution
Customer Support Info
The initial setup was very easy and I had the DVR online in a matter of minutes.

All I had to do was visit the administration page for our At&t 2Wire modem / router to open up a few ports.

Since this was just a temporary setup I placed the Night Owl DVR's IP address in to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) of the router which opens up all inbound and outbound ports.

DVR & Camera Boxes
Night Owl Warning Stickers
Install CD - Remote Batteries
In order to view the CCTV cameras from an outside network, I had to take advantage of the free Night Owl DynDNS (Dynamic DNS) service.

I signed up for a subdomain at and entered it into the DVR's internet setup DDNS menu.

At the shopping plaza, they had a static IP address from Comcast internet for the DVR, which was just as simple to enter into the DVR and then begin viewing the cameras on our computers or smartphones.

Remote, Wires, Mouse
Front of DVR Controls
Rear DVR - Inputs / Outputs
If you have trouble viewing the CCTV cameras on your Night Owl DVR via Internet Explorer 8, follow these steps.

Choose "Tools" from the top menu. (If you don't see the top menu "File" "Edit" View" etc - then hit the "Alt" key.) Select "Internet Options". Choose the "Security" tab at the top. Choose "Trusted Sites".

Slide the security level slider down to "Low". Then click on the "Sites" button, uncheck "Require server verification", type the DVR IP address or subdomain into the top window and hit "Add". Close that window.

Click on the "Custom Level" button, scroll down to the ActiveX controls options. Change "Download unsigned ActiveX controls" to the "Prompt" option.

These steps may also work for Internet Explorer 7 and the new IE 9.


60 Feet BNC Wires
RCA Adapters, Power Splitter
Camera Mounting Screws
I also set up the DVR to allow viewing from smartphones by entering a user name and password on the mobile viewing menu page. We tested the mobile camera viewing functionality with both an iPhone and an Android smartphone.

Both mobile operating systems needed to have the "ASee" app installed.

Once you load up the ASee application, all you have to enter is the IP address or subdomain of the DVR, the mobile viewing port (E.G. 18004) and the username / password.

Unfortunately, I was not able to test the mobile viewing of this Night Owl DVR with a RIM Blackberry smartphone.

Night Owl CCTV Camera
24 Infrared LEDs Night Vision
Sun Shade, Mounting Bracket
Another cool feature of this CCTV system is that two of the cameras are "audio enabled" with built in microphones that deliver sound which is recorded on the DVR and also allows you to listen in remotely while viewing the cameras on your computer.

We chose to run just one long RCA extension cable in order to have a single CCTV camera in the front of the shopping plaza equipped with sound. As far as I know, the sound feature doesn't work on a smartphone.

Camera With Audio Out
Setting Up DVR
Test Camera Connected
The only downside to this CCTV security system package is the CCTV cameras themselves.

The "work" just fine but they are lower quality cameras than the ones I've used for other installations in the past.

Here are the specifications of a Night Owl "bullet" CCTV camera: 1/4" CMOS image sensor, 400 TV Lines of Resolution, and a 6.0mm lens with a 42 degree field of view.

I would have preferred vandal proof "dome" style cameras with larger 1/3" CCD sensors, at least 420 TV lines of resolution, and a wide angle 3.0mm lens with a larger field of view.

But I can't complain too much considering the entire package cost just $500 for a great DVR computer, eight CCTV cables and eight cameras.

You could easily spend $500 on what CCTV installation experts would refer to as a "good" DVR or $1,000s on a top of the line DVR. Then you'd still have to spend another $50 to $75 for each camera!

Dynamic DNS Service
Night-Owl-CCTV-DVR-Security-Cameras-System-Review-026 Night-Owl-CCTV-DVR-Security-Cameras-System-Review-027
Entering DDNS Info
Overall we were very pleased with the Night Owl DVR and the 8BL-81TB package is definitely an excellent value.

But now we realize we should have spent another $200 to $300 for a system with slightly better cameras.

We already have plans to eventually replace most of the Night Owl cameras with the weatherproof dome cameras commonly found on eBay for about $40 to $50 that have 1/3" Sony CCD sensors, 420 or 480 TV lines of resolution, and a wider field of view 3.0mm lens.

To see screen captures of the live cameras as viewed in Internet Explorer 8, scroll down to the last two images on this page.

Email Alert Setup
Network Setup
Mobile Phone Viewing Setup
I captured a sample video clip from the Night Owl DVR while viewing in IE8 using the Capture Wiz software. To view the video clip, click on the blue link below. To download the video to your hard drive, right click on the link and choose "Save Target As" or "Save Link As".

(Please note, the CaptureWiz software compressed the video clip so the image quality while viewing the cameras live in IE8 is slightly better, but not by much.)

Night Owl 8BL-81TB CCTV DVR & Security Cameras Sample Video Clip

Restarting Night Owl DVR
Internet Explorer 8 Login
Samsung Android Smartphone
Setting Up ASee App
Night Owl DVR On IE8
View Cameras On Android
Running Long BNC Cables
Hooking Up RCA Cable
Electrical Tape - Connection
Night Owl Camera Mounted
Camera Screen Capture
Night Time Screen Cap
For more, check out my other related reviews or guides by clicking on the following links: EverFocus DVR & Sony Cameras CCTV Security System Review & Install Guide, CoolPodz CCTV DVR & Dome Cameras Review, Cheap eBay Made In China CCTV Security System Review.
If you found this site to be helpful, please consider making a small donation by clicking on the "Donate" button located to the right of this paragraph. Thank you!
(Note: I am not a registered charity. Donations are not tax deductible.)

Please help support this website by shopping at Thank You! 

Main Menu            Home            My Digital Cameras            Misc. Pictures            Articles            My Blog


Copyright 2019 ©
 All Rights Reserved

Privacy Policy     About Paul & Author Contact Info