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Synology BC500 Review: Surveillance Station’s Solid but Pricey Native 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 the suggested retail price of $219 -- the street price will vary based on demand -- it's about three times the cost of other similarly-specced non-Synology cams. And it only works with Synology network video recorder (NVR) hardware.

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.

Synology BC500 IP Cam Mounted
The BC500 looks like a typical generic bullet IP camera, but it's a proprietary Synology-only device.

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 5 MP 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.

ResolutionH.264MJPEG
1 MP (1280 x 720)2 Mbps6 Mbps
2 MP (1920 x 1080)4 Mbps12 Mbps
4 MP (2560 x1440)8 Mbps 24 Mbps
5 MP (2880×1620)10Mbps30Mbps
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.

I tested the BC500 with a few Gigabit and Multi-Gig standard (active) injectors I had readily available (PoE, PoE+, and PoE++), and it worked flawlessly with each. Technically, you can use any standard low-cost injector or PoE switch, and that'd make no difference.

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

Synology BC500 vs TC500: Hardware specifications

Synology BC500 Synology TC500
Synology BC500Synology TC500
General Specifications
DimensionsØ4.33 x 6.34 in
(Ø110 x 161 mm)
Ø3.82 x 3.46 in
(Ø97 × 88 mm)
Weight0.78 lbs (353 g)0.85 lbs (387 g)
Weather ResistanceIP67IP67
Impact ResistanceNoneIK10
Power SourcePoE (802.3af)
or 12V DC
PoE (802.3af)
or 12V DC
Power Consumption4.8 W4.8 W
Network Port1 x Fast Ethernet (100Mbps) PoE1 x Fast Ethernet (100Mbps) PoE
Built-in StorageMicroSD
(up to 128GB)
MicroSD
(up to 128 GB)
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)
• 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
CertificationIP67, FCC, IC, CE, BSMI, VCCI, RCM, UKCA, KC, JATEIP67, FCC, IC, CE, BSMI, VCCI, RCM, UKCA, KC, JATE
Environmental SafetyRoHS compliant, WEEE, REACHRoHS compliant, WEEE, REACH
NDAA / TAA ComplianceYesYes
Package Contents1 x BC500 main unit
1 x Installation guide
1 x RJ-45 connector cap cover
1 x Screw pack
1 x TC500 main unit
1 x Installation guide
1 x RJ-45 connector cap cover
1 x Screw pack
Warranty3 years3 years
US AvailabilityMay 10, 2023May 10, 2023
US MSRP$219$219
Optical
Lens2.8 mm
(110° H, 56° V, 132° D LDC ON)
2.8 mm
(110° H, 56° V, 132° D LDC ON)
ApertureF1.8F1.8
Night vision30 meters30 meters
Shutter speed1/16000s~1/30s1/16000s~1/30s
DORID: 60m, O: 24m, R: 12m, I: 6mD: 60m, O: 24m, R: 12m, I: 6m
Video
Max. Streaming Resolution5 MP (2880×1620) @ 30 FPS5 MP (2880×1620) @ 30 FPS
Sub Streaming Capability1920×1080 @ 15 FPS or 1280×720 @ 30 FPS1920×1080 @ 15 FPS or 1280×720 @ 30 FPS
Video CompressionH.264, H.265H.264, H.265
Image SettingsBrightness, 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
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 OrientationRotation (0°, 90°, 180°, 270°)
Flip
Mirror
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
People & Vehicle Detection (including Crowd Detection and Loitering Detection), Intrusion
Detection, Motion Detection, Tampering Detection, Audio Detection
Instant SearchPeople, Vehicle, MotionPeople, Vehicle, Motion
SD Card Event RecordingDisconnection from NAS
People & Vehicle Detection
Intrusion Detection
Motion Detection
Audio Detection
Tampering Detection
Disconnection from NAS
People & Vehicle Detection
Intrusion Detection
Motion Detection
Audio Detection
Tampering Detection
Hardware specifications: Synology BC500 vs TC500

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 Main Synology 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 -- or better yet, a Synology DVA unit, such as the DVA1622 -- as its network video recorder (NVR) via the free Surveillance Station app.

So in many ways, the BC500 is a niche IP cam design for Synology's ecosystem. There's no reason to buy it unless you're going to use it with the company's NAS server or NVR unit.

I used my DS1821+ for the testing, and the BC500 made things much easier. (You'll get the same experience with any other server running DSM 7.1 or later since the cam requires Surveillance Station 9.1.)

As I mentioned in the app's review, with a third-party generic IP cam, the setup portion can be involved. You'd first 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 users can perform the hardware initialization and ongoing maintenance directly from the app without prepping the cam separately in advance. The whole process took me just a couple of minutes with a few clicks. (Not including the time to mount the camp, run a long network cable, and other tedious but necessary tasks of getting any PoE device ready.)

Afterward, the Synology cam has dozens of settings unavailable in third-party cameras, as shown in the table above and the screenshot below.

Examples of useful features include the ability to customize people and vehicle detections based on various parameters such as crowd size, loitering pattern, vehicle motion/occupancy, etc. Other extra helpful settings also exist for recording, viewing, and event detection. Some of them I didn't know existed.

Synology BC500 IP Cam Settings vs Generic Cam
The Synology BC500 (top) has many more settings and customization options than a third-party camera. Note the number of menu items to the right -- in the case of the BC500, you'll have to scroll down to see the rest.

Most importantly, most of these settings are well-designed, with practical default values -- they are useful before you need to set up the parameters 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, and facial recognition -- require Synology's DVA series.

But it's safe to say most homes and small businesses won't need more than what they can get from the cam using a standard Synology NAS server.

Synology BC500: Detail photos

Synology BC500 IP Camera Retail BoxSynology BC500 IP Camera Package Content
Inside the Synology BC500's retail box: the cam itself, mounting accessories, and a standard port protector. The camera doesn't include a power adapter or a PoE injector.

Synology BC500 IP Camera Solid PortsSynology BC500 Drill Hole
The Synology BC500's network and charger port. If you want to hide the cables behind the cam's base, drill a 2-inch wide hole through the wall. That's the case with most standard PoE cams.

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 details in the picture quality and how the camera picked up the sound of folks unloading wood slaps across the street, almost 200 feet (60 meters) away.

The cam detected the car from over 100 feet away and added extra seconds before it appeared, which is a common and customizable feature of the Surveillance Station app.

For this footage, I set the cam's motion detection sensitivity level at 50% and didn't use sound detection for the recording. By the way, I cut the video some ten seconds shorter at the end per the driver's request.

The BC500 is a security camera -- you don't get it to film a movie. Still, its picture and sound quality are good enough for some candid family memories. They are easily the best among the 5 MP cams I've used.

Other functions of the cam worked well, too. It never missed any motions in my testing, and the night vision was also excellent. Again, there are deep settings for these functions.

Flexible, reliable, yet rigid Edge Recording

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 default, the cam records to the card when it's disconnected from the NAS server. The idea is that it'll transfer the footage to the server when reconnected. And that worked in my trial.

But you can also make the cam record to the miniSD card and the NAS server simultaneously based on standard parameters, such as motion detection/audio and so on.

In the latter case, there's no way to view the Edge Recording footage directly without taking the miniSD card out and plugging it into a computer, which can be a hassle if you mount the cam in a hard-to-reach place. It would be nice if there was a way to access the card via the network.

Contrary to the specs table above, the cam's miniSD slot supports cards larger than 128GB. I tried a 400GB SanDisk card, and it worked with no issues. A larger card might work, too.

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, that was within my expectations.

Synology BC500 IP Camera's Rating

8 out of 10
Synology BC500 IP Camera Mounted on wall
Performance
9 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Design and Setup
8 out of 10
Value
6 out of 10

Pros

Stellar 5MP video and HD sound quality

Excellent integration with Surveillance Station; camera license included; easy to set up and manage; optional Edge Recording

Superior reliability and lots of customizability

Cons

High cost with no PoE injector or power adapter included; only works with Synology NVRs

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

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 painfully expensive. It's a simple Synology-only camera that costs over $200. With that price, you can get a much more advanced PTZ generic cam, 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.

Considering that each Synology NAS server includes two camera licenses, it doesn't make financial sense to get the BC500 as your first or second cam. But as the third or fourth one, it's a sensible buy, and there's a chance you'll appreciate its convenience and features enough that you wish you had decided to build the entire system with it -- only one way to find out.

I do hope 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 10 this year.

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8 thoughts on “Synology BC500 Review: Surveillance Station’s Solid but Pricey Native IP Cam”

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  1. Hey Dong, thanks for your Syn Cam review, looks like I would like to update, but I have an existing Analogue CCTV using AHD/BNC cabling and want to convert to IP cameras and Synology … is there an adapter that can connect an IP cam to AHD/BNC cabling at the camera, and then again at the other end before it connects to the POE injector / network? It is too hard to replace the cables as all the walls are sealed, thanks

    Reply
  2. Dong, do you know when the BC500/TC500 will be released? Your article says May 10, but can’t find them for sale in the US. Thanks

    Reply
  3. Hi Dong
    Can the camera connect directly to a POE cable?
    If not how long is the multi function cable to connect the camera to POE/DC Power supply?

    Reply
    • It works via PoE, Stuart, as mentioned in the post. And I tested it with an injector. You can basically use any active (standard) injector or PoE switch.

      Reply
      • Hi Dong,
        I would like to replace a nest cam IQ, so would like to know for the BC500 or RLC – 823A
        1) how long is the cable from the camera to the female Ethernet connector
        2) the maximum hole diameter required to feed the cable to the camera.
        3) Can the cable be disconnected from the camera to reduce the feed through hole size required

        Thanks for your help

        Reply
        • 1. Check out this post on PoE. It adheres to the standard.
          2. This is standard for any PoE cam, so the hole should be large enough for the network cable (if you don’t mind some wires dangling by the camera) or large enough for the port protector if you want to hide the wires completely behind the cam’s base, as shown in the 2nd photo in this section.
          3. See #2.

          Reply

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