The Bottom Line
I've had a few full kit security systems come through over the years. More recently, Super HD and Ultra HD has made its way into the market and even come down in price ever so slightly. Annke is a company dedicated to home and business security, offering a wide range of solutions from Baby and Pet monitors to PoE and wireless NVRs. One of their most recent releases is the Helm I5, a four-camera kit that has the ability to expand as your needs grow.
The Helm I5 is a flexible solution aimed at small businesses wanting to keep track of and monitor their property. Configurations include either 4 or 8 5MP PoE cameras and a NVR with 1,2,3 or 4TB of storage. Features include 5MP 2560x1920 resolution cameras that take advantage of PoE installation and are IP67 certified for dust and water.
Additionally, the cameras offer EXIR night vision supporting 100ft night vision capabilities. On the NVR, we have a powerful unit capable of H265+ compression and an HDMI output up to 4K30 and VGA to 1080P for viewing all four or eight cameras at once. Bandwidth for the NVR is capped at 80M allowing for four channels at 1080p or one channel at 4K. The Annke Helm does support ONVIF for integration with 3rd party systems like a NAS.
MSRP of the Annke Helm I5 in the four-camera 2TB configuration comes in at $509.99 with a one-year warranty.
Annke Helm I5
Packaging and a Closer Look
Packaging for the Helm I5 is quite different than most. Each component is individually boxed, allowing them more flexibility in matching cameras with NVRs. The NVR for the Helm offers branding and an image centered. Down below we see this is a 4K and H265+ solution supporting motion detection, smart playback, etc.
Scope of delivery for the NVR includes the 48V power adapter, ethernet cable, and HDMI. We also have the remote and mouse.
The front of the NVR has media controls on the right side, along with a few LEDs for power and status.
On the backside of the NVR, we have the eight PoE RJ45 ports for the cameras along with Audio in and out. Video outs are the VGA port that supports 1080p and the HDMI port that can go up to 4K30. We then have the LAN port for connecting the NVR to your network and USB port for the mouse.
The cameras were all separately boxed as well and include a user manual and mounting hardware.
Each camera has an aluminum and polycarbonate enclosure; the base is a cheaper plastic that is adjustable in several directions.
The lens of the camera is centered with an array of IR LEDs hidden.
The PoE connection to the camera offers a weather-tight seal and secondary power for those systems without PoE functionality.
Test System Setup and Web Management
Tyler's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Prime Z370 (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i3 8350K (buy from Amazon)
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 32GB 4x8GB DDR4 3200 (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Corsair Hydro H115i (buy from Amazon)
- Case: Corsair Air 540 (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Samsung 960 EVO 250GB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM850x (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
- Wi-Fi NIC: ASUS PCE-AC88 (buy from Amazon)
- 10Gbe NIC: ASUS XG-C100C (buy from Amazon)
- Thunderbolt 3: ASUS Thunderbolt EX3 (buy from Amazon)
The Helm I5 has two methods of control and three methods of viewing. The WebGUI seen above is secondary to using the mouse directly on the NVR unit. That said, the GUI does offer Live view with a browser plugin. I wasn't able to get it working on Edge or Firefox.
Moving into the configuration, we start with local settings that include live view settings and recording parameters.
Sliding down to the maintenance section, we have the reboot and restore items along with the ability to export NVR settings and update the firmware.
Camera management allows you to add or remove cameras. By default, the system is setup to automatically detect and add Annke cameras.
We now move to networking settings, here you to connect the NVR to a network. We also have options for DDNS, PPPoE, and NAT config.
In the advanced settings, you can able platform access for using the Annke Vision iOS/Android app.
Video/Audio allows you to setup each cameras main and sub stream settings for quality or performance.
In addition, you can setup motion controls and events to have the NVR push recordings to a NAS. You can also setup a schedule and alarms if needed.
Last, we have the storage menu. Here you can setup each camera individually to record 24/7 or on motion or by time. Further in the menu system, you can manage storage and upgrade the HDD if needed.
The App - Annke Vision and Final Thoughts
I used my iPhoneXR for testing the Annke Vision application. It's freely available from the App Store seen above.
Once we are in, the app goes through a language setup, and then we move into setup.
Two options are available in setup, one is local camera setup and the second requires an Annke login and enables you to view your cameras away from home. For this article, we used local setup.
Clocking local cameras allowed me to input the IP address of the NVR along with its username and password. I return the app loaded all of my cameras seen above.
Settings are quite simple for the app and include the ability to enable or disable notifications along with hard-decoding and traffic stats.
From the main menu, you can tap on each camera to open up the live view window seen above.
Above we have a shot of the yard camera with settings pushed to the max. That said the mobile stream is always the sub-stream and quality maxes at 480p.
Closing this out, the Annke Helm is a solid platform for large homes and businesses that exceed the capabilities of what current wireless platforms can provide or that want the increased quality and control over recordings. Build quality of the cameras is top-notch, and the use of different materials both cut costs over traditional solutions that may use a single piece all-metal design.
Image quality from the cameras is excellent when viewed directly from the NVR at 1080p; the app does suffer degradation due to the 480p limitation. As for the NVR, we have an all-metal chassis in a 1U design, really no noise to talk about.
I had no issues with performance of the NVR either in direct use or through WebGUI apart from the plugin for Live View. Clarity is on point with all four cameras in use with only a minor bit of lag or screen tearing with quick movement across the screen. H265+ does attempt to help with performance, and I did notice after enabling it, a minor decrease in tearing and a slightly sharper image in the static areas.
The app worked without issue in setup and deployment, although we did not test the remote functionality. That said the app is quite simple and doesn't allow you to directly change any settings in the NVR; it's just for viewing.
Pricing of the 2TB Annke Helm is quite competitive in the current market. Comparable systems from ReoLink and Amcrest come in at $549.99 and above making the Helm a solid budget option.
For startups or businesses on a budget, the Annke Helm is a fantastic place to start.