If you are considering installing a video surveillance system, or upgrading a system that uses VCR’s, you need to consider what you will do with the video. If you want to record it, the current choices are a Personal Computer with an internal video card that will digitize the analog video, or stand-alone digital video recorders (DVR), which are stripped down PC’s that do the same job.
By knowing what to look for in a digital video recorder, you can save a lot of headaches, time, and money. It starts by choosing a system that is made of high quality, reliable components, with plenty of storage space, as well as the correct video recording speed, to give you good quality video that you can give to law enforcement.
If you got a good deal on a system, and you can’t even see the criminals face, what good is it? If you can’t figure out how to make it record or set it up, how are you going to protect your property?
The first thing you should decide is to choose a stand-alone DVR, or a PC with a DVR card. Both have advantages and disadvantages and this will form the basis of which way you will go in choosing a video surveillance system.
A stand-alone DVR is really a stripped down PC that only has what it needs to record video. Often the only expansion option is a bigger or additional hard drive. Pretty much everything else is fixed. If you choose a four camera DVR, you cannot expand it to 8 cameras. You will need to buy an new 8 channel DVR.
The cost of a DVR will be less than a PC with a DVR, so if you know you won’t need to expand in the future, and you are on a tight budget, a stand-alone DVR might be your best choice. If you think your needs will grow, then you should consider a PC with a DVR card.
A PC based DVR system will allow you to add additional Video cards to handle more cameras, increase the memory, and increase the hard drive storage space. You can also install various operating systems like Linux, or proprietary software that is based on the Windows CE platform, which eliminates a lot of the bloatware found in Windows XP, etc.
There are many PC’s and DVR cards out there, and it will be important to choose one that is robust enough to handle the job it was chosen for. You will want a PC that uses good quality parts and is reliable because if you choose a $200 PC made from garbage components, and it fails, then you have no video. It’s wise to choose a good maker of PC’s that is reliable and offers warranties.
Then you will need to look at your DVR card and choose one based on the frames per second. 30 frames per second is considered the standard for real-time video. It is very clear, and you will have no problem making out faces and body types. With 30 in mind for the very best video, you would then multiply 30 times the number of cameras you will need. For a 8 camera set up, you will need a video card that records at 240 frames per second, or FPS.
Another thing to consider is what components the DVR or DVR card maker is using. The very best Digital Signal Processor or DSP chips come from Texas Instruments. The best audio is Ogg Vorbis, and by using the best, you get a product that should not fail as easily as products made from generic or inferior products. Does your families safety, or businesses security deserve anything less than the very best you can afford?
If you choose a DVR card with a slower recording speed, your video will be choppy and jerky. The rule of thumb is 30 fps x the amount of cameras, to decide which FPS you choose for your DVR card. Make sure the manufacturer is using this, and not saying each camera can record at 240 frames a second, which is impossible.
Next you want to look at what format they record the video. The current Codec standard, which stands for compression/decompression of the analog video is MPEG-4 part 10, or H.264, which allows for stunning video quality, in ultra small file sizes. The technology is super efficient and gives great results over wide ranges of bandwidth from 3gp to HD.
The H.264 files will be the smallest you can obtain and will allow you to store longer time frames on your server before you back-up, and will also make your archive smaller since you will store more video per MB.
The final thing to consider is the amount of storage space you will need. With hard drives going for a couple hundred dollars for a 1 TB drive, it makes sense to start with a minimum of 250 to 500 GB of storage space, and increase it for larger applications. Businesses need a storage server just for video files that will allow a central repository for the files for easy accessibility.
That’s a basic overview of what to look for in a Digital Video Recorder. For more information on Digital Video Recorders and DVR Cards, visit EyeSpyPro.com
Spy & Surveillance Products Expert