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Security Camera Systems: Different Features of Security DVRs

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By: thomassujain

June 26, 2018

Installing a home or office security camera system is not as simple as it looks. While people may be aware of the importance of getting a proper digital video recorder (DVR) system, they need to know what exactly to choose. There are a number of options available in the market, and selecting the right DVR can be a complex task. Camera systems these days come with such a wide range of features and technologies that even many security professionals can find selection to be an overwhelming task.

So, there are various factors to consider when buying DVRs. If you are new to this, every two DVRs you see may look similar to each other. However, the cameras may be totally different in terms of function and utility. The primary decision to make is whether you need an entry-level baseline unit or if you want to consider a high-end system to meet your needs. Further, we will discuss the specifications of different DVRs to make the purchasing decision easier.

Frame Rate

A frame rate is a unit of measure denoting the number of frames recorded in each second by a DVR in a specific resolution. You have to make the calculations based on the real-time frame rate of about 30 frames per second (FPS). It means that in order to record the real-time video on a standard 16-channel system, you need a DVR unit that has 480 FPS.

While considering DVRs, you should keep in mind that many sellers may claim real-time images as the units display live video at about 30 frames per second on each channel. Don’t be misled by it, as this needs to be assessed based on the recorded video footage and not based on the live video. A basic unit may record videos at less than 30 FPS per channel. A top-end unit may be capable of 30 FPS recording on each channel.

Video Resolution

Resolution is the size of the image displayed or recorded. The most popular resolution when it comes to CCTV video recording is CIF - 360×240. Considering all available options now, the highest resolution when it comes to recording with a standalone DVR is specified as D1 - 720×480. You can find several DVR options in between these.

Resolution is an important measure to consider. With large recorded images, you can get additional details at a later review. For example, 4CIF recorded images can feature views detailed four times as much as a base CIF image. You will find that most of the baseline DVRs record at CIF resolution. Higher-end versions may be at 4CIF, and the top options available now are of D1 resolution. You will also find some DVRs claiming 4CIF and D1 resolution recording at real-time, which is 30 FPS on each channel simultaneously.


Once the video is transferred to the DVR for storage, it is first compressed to save storage space and to make Internet viewing fluid. The compression standards can vary from basic to nearly no compression protocols like MJPEG or wavelet to the top-end compression methods like MPEG4. The highest compression standards to date are H.264, which is also available on some DVRs.

These compression methods may vary in some digital video records. There are also hybrid DVRs, which are capable of using a combination of compression methods. These can also be used to do compressions separately for Internet streaming as well as for recording. Many of the latest model DVRs in Security Camera Systems Philadelphia now feature H.264, which is 40% more efficient than the previous version, both regarding storage and streaming.

Storage Space

Another critical aspect to consider while buying DVRs is storage; how much data can a DVR hold? The baseline DVRs in the market now may allow one or two hard drives only. The advanced models now offer 6, 8, or more internal hard drives based on user requirements.

Going a step ahead, the most popular DVRs also offer redundant storage (RAID) configuration as well as FTP uploads. The FTP uploads feature gives the advantage of allowing backup of a video for the DVR at an off-premise FTP server. This will help avoid any possibility of loss even in the case of a local system crash. With FTP server backup, the user can retrieve the video even if a smart thief steals the DVR during a robbery.

Audio Recording

Sometimes, it is important to record both audio and video footage. Some of the DVRs can also accommodate synced audio with the video. The lower-end versions may usually have one to four channels of recording audio, whereas the higher variants may have up to 16 channels of recording audio.

Video Output

The lower-end DVRs may only offer BNC video output. This may require a BNC to VGA converter if you want to view the video on a VGA monitor. Top models of DVRs will have VGA output ports too, along with BNC. Nowadays, some high-end models have come out with HDMI output.

Viewing Remotely

The new-age DVR systems are networkable over IP to let the users access it via the Internet to view security camera footage from anywhere. The most advanced systems will allow individuals to view more than one DVR at a time. The software used in such DVRs have features such as camera groupings, e-mapping, different levels of user privileges, and the ability to control access to functions and cameras for different users.

While selecting DVRs from different manufacturers, you have to choose one that has the capability of DSP chipsets and other add-on features. There are options like triplex or pentaplex, where the pentaplex supports all five functions of recording, live display, playback, Internet view, and configuration at the same time. As there are various options available in DVRs in the market, be diligent and knowledgeable while considering the options. Take enough time to research and compare the choices to identify the most appropriate one based on requirements and budget. There are numerous other articles available on the Web. You can go through them to learn more.

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