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When you need a better quality picture, more control, and even more flexibility than a traditional home or business security system can provide, then security NVRs are a great choice. These devices connect to IP cameras rather than standard analog security cameras, and they give you control over resolution, frame-rate, and more.
The Difference between DVR and NVR
To put it simply, a DVR is a Digital Video Recorder. It receives an analog signal from an analog camera through a coaxial cable. It then converts the analog video into digital video for recording and playback. Although this system works well in many applications, it does have its downfalls. The DVR cannot communicate with the cameras at all; it can only receive a signal from them. What's more, the longer the analog signal must travel from the camera to the DVR, the more degradation occurs, which can result in grainy, poor-quality images.
Security NVRs solve all of the problems that people experience with DVRs, but they require a different sort of camera. NVR stands for "Network Video Recorder", which indicates that video signals travel over your home or business network rather than via a coaxial cable. Security NVRs connect to IP cameras, which capture digital video at the source. Then, the digital video travels through an Ethernet cable (which also supplies the camera's power) to the NVR, where there is no signal degradation and the video is perfect. The NVR and IP cameras can communicate with each other, too. This means that you can control things like resolution, recording times, and more directly from the NVR software.
A Buying Guide for Security NVRs
If you are in the market for a surveillance system, or if you are looking to upgrade from your current DVR system, there are some things to keep in mind when you shop for security NVRs.
How many channels does the NVR have?
The number of channels an NVR supports relates directly to the number of cameras you can connect to it. For example, if an NVR has four channels, you can connect four cameras. Some offer as many as 16 channels in a single unit, and you can record or display one or all of those channels at once. The best advice is to choose security NVRs that will scale along with your needs. For example, if you have four cameras now and you buy a four-channel NVR, you have no room to expand if you decide you need to add another camera here or there. Purchasing an NVR with more channels than you need gives you scalability.
How much storage space does it offer?
If you are upgrading from a DVR to an NVR, bear in mind that you will need more hard drive space to store the same amount of video footage. This is because NVR offers higher-quality video, and high-quality video takes up more space. Although you can compress the video and even change the resolution, figure on using at least 50% more storage space for the same amount of footage.
Can you connect your existing analog security cameras?
If you need high-resolution security on some parts of your property but you are satisfied with the standard video elsewhere, you might want to consider a hybrid DVR/NVR unit that offers you the best of both worlds. Your traditional analog cameras connect via coaxial cable, and your IP cameras connect with Ethernet cable. Some offer you up to 24 combined channels.
Does it take a lot of bandwidth?
IP cameras and NVRs utilize quite a bit of bandwidth. In fact, a single camera providing full-HD footage may use around 7Mbps, and this really adds up as you add more cameras. That is why NVR technology is best for buildings with existing high-bandwidth networks. Otherwise, you may find that the video transmission slows your web browsing or downloading to a crawl.
Do I really need NVR?
NVR technology is better than traditional DVR in two situations. The first situation is when you need to locate your main data hub far away from your cameras. In this case, with regular DVR, signal degradation would have a tremendous impact on your video quality. The other is when you prefer high-quality HD video as opposed to an analog video converted into a digital signal. Security NVRs offer better resolution and a higher frame-rate.
As you can see, while security NVRs accomplish the same goals as their DVR counterparts, they do so in a much different ways. They utilize the bandwidth of your home or office network to reduce picture degradation, and they give you far more control over how and when your cameras operate.