A few months ago I made some observation of how Grandstream had come to be in-use around my home & office. I especially appreciate their surveillance gear. The GVC cameras and NVR are in 2/47 service and have served us well the past couple of years.
That said, two problems have cropped up recently that bear examination.
Most typically, the devices are setup using a web browser to access them remotely. In the case of the NVR, it’s possible to perform setup locally, but it’s terribly inconvenient. Web-based remote access is much more commonplace.
To actually see the video streams presented requires that the browser load a plug-in. At the time when we initially installed the gear this was ok. I could access the cameras and the NVR using either Chrome of Firefox. The use of the plugin was merely an annoyance.
In 2015 Chrome disabled NPAPI plugins. Thus our ability to view the video stream in Chrome was lost. At the time, the change in Chrome was not a big deal. I simply used Firefox when I needed to access the surveillance gear.
Given that change, at present, the only browser I have on-hand that can see the device streams is Microsoft’s ancient Internet Explorer.
In Grandstream’s support forum their staff recommend IE or SeaMonkey to users. One user reports that they managed to use Firefox 52 Extended Service Release (32 bit) but I haven’t managed to make that happen as yet.
There are very legitimate reasons why Internet Explorer is no longer installed or supported. The current release of SeaMonkey is built upon Firefox 49, even as Firefox 52 is more generally in use. The project is run by a small community that moves very slowly. It’s largely unknown, not widely adopted.
The collapse of browser support for NPAPI puts Grandstream in an untenable position. They need to move past the current requirement for a plug-in. They need to commit the resources to get that done, or drop the products.
Better ONVIF Support
ONVIF is a standard protocol used in surveillance devices. It’s THE way that IP surveillance devices from different manufacturers can be assembled into a complete system. It stipulates how the devices communicate, even how a network video recorder (NVR) can configure cameras remotely.
Grandstream makes quite general claims about ONVIF support. However, they are not completely open or truthful in making those claims.
Since I was using Grandstream cameras with their own GVR-3500 NVR everything worked perfectly. It wasn’t apparent that the cameras use a proprietary protocol to connect to the NVR.
According to ODM, the encoder supports ONVIF v2.4. I was able to see it using tinyCam Monitor Pro on Android, Blue Iris and Sighthound surveillance software on Windows. Even so, there was no way to get the Grandstream NVR to “see” the encoder.
This was curious. I had thought that the NVR “supported ONVIF.” After all, the maker claimed as much. Further, some time ago I had tried cheaper Amcrest IP camera. While that camera was unsatisfactory, the NVR has no issue seeing its output stream.
Nonetheless, the Grandstream NVR could not be made to see the HD encoder. I infer that the NVR supports only some older ONVIF standard, as would be implemented in a simple camera.
I engaged Grandstream support to no avail. I was eventually able to confirm that ONVIF support is lacking in their NVRs. In the end I was forced to purchase a truly ONVIF compliant NVR (Dahua) to go forward with the project.
Grandstream continues to grow it’s product range, most recently offering some potentially attractive SMB Wi-Fi gear. I hope that in their effort to grow they don’t abandon those of us using their existing gear, which plainly needs some attention.