Are you on the look out for a new set of cameras for your business that records all the footage to a local device instead of to the cloud?
Have you considered a Digital Video Recorder (DVR)?
It will allow you to save hundreds of hours of high quality footage from multiple cameras and to view it remotely all for a one off cost.
Doesn’t that sound a lot better than the relentless drain of monthly cloud subscriptions?
What is DVR?
DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder.
In the realm of surveillance camera systems, a DVR digitally records and stores motion and video footage fed by security cameras.
The images are then displayed on an external monitor.
Unlike its analog predecessor, a DVR provides higher quality videos.
It is not cumbersome to install or operate because it’s largely a plug and play system.
With DVR, the monitoring and surveillance can be done using a computer or local device.
Signals that come from the digital security cameras are captured and recorded digitally on a hard drive.
Depending on the memory of the DVR card, the security system can run for weeks or months with little to no maintenance.
Unlike the traditional security system of recording and storage where it requires a substantial amount of scanning to retrieve data from hours of footage, DVR allows you to search specific footage by time and date.
This makes data retrieval faster and more precise.
A DVR is highly customizable too.
It gives you the ability to control the system remotely with options to rotate, zoom, tilt, and pan the cameras.
It makes monitoring and surveillance much easier to do.
Additional features like night vision, auto recording, and motion detection are available in many DVR models available in the market.
How do they work?
A DVR security system requires a set of closed-circuit video cameras that are connected to a DVR unit or a computer that is capable of digital recording.
The number of cameras to use depends on the size and layout of the area you want to monitor.
Many DVR security systems come with four bullet cameras as a standard package, but it can be expanded to eight or more depending on the model.
Upon set up, the cameras will record captured digital videos onto the DVR hard drive.
The camera will keep recording until all the space is used up.
It will automatically stop recording when the hard drive runs out of space.
However, you can program the DVR to overwrite old data once it reaches the capacity limit.
With that said, you are limited by how much space your hard drive has.
Most DVR security systems have 1TB of hard drive space included, while others come with 2TB and expandable to 4TB, depending on the brand.
Space limitations also affect the quality at which video footage is recorded.
Higher quality videos have a high number of frames per second, so they eat up a lot of space.
So, you have to take into consideration the trade-off between quality and storage space when setting up your system.
The recorded footage is converted into digital files and can be accessed from the hard drive.
Since the footage is digital, it is much easier to scan and browse through the desired event or time.
Browsing is much more efficient because you don’t need to rewind or fast forward.
All you have to do is to go through the date and time stamp.
What is the difference between DVR and NVR?
NVR stands for Network Video Recorder.
Both DVR and NVR have the same basic function, which is video recording.
Their difference is in how they process the video recordings.
While a DVR processes the video at the recorder level, an NVR system encodes and processes the video at the camera before it is streamed to the NVR recorder, which is also used for remote viewing and storage.
Evidently, since a DVR system and an NVR system handle video data differently, they require specific types of cameras.
An NVR-based system can use either wired or wireless Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, while a DVR system requires wired cameras to go with its wired security system.
As such, it’s tougher to set up a DVR system because of all the cables and hard wirings.
In terms of image and audio quality, DVR has a lower quality image compared to NVR because the cameras transmit analog video through coax cable directly to the recorder.
However, in terms of camera cost, a DVR system has the advantage because it is less expensive compared to an NVR system.
DVRs vs SD Cards vs Cloud Storage – Pros and Cons
Storage is a key component in any security system.
There are several storage options when it comes to storing video data and the three most popular are DVRs, SD Cards, and Cloud Storage.
While there are security cameras that support multiple storage options, there are also cameras that use one specific storage type exclusively.
Local storage like DVR hard drive is still a popular storage option because of ease of use and you have complete control of how your data is stored.
There’s no third-party to deal with.
- DVR security systems already come equipped with 1TB or 2TB hard drive space and can be expanded.
- Local storage is not susceptible to hacking or theft unless the entire unit is stolen.
- DVRs don’t require an internet connection to access the footage.
- It only requires a one-time upfront fee, which is the cost of the unit.
- For multiple camera security systems, the standard storage space may not be enough and require a much higher space that can be provided by cloud storage.
There are now security cameras that allow storage using internal SD cards.
It’s a good alternative for those who want a simple security set-up with flexible storage space capacity.
- SD cards come in different storage capacities, which gives you the freedom to choose the size that fits your storage requirements.
- SD cards are relatively cheaper.
- SD cards are not as durable as hard drives and they are prone to damage.
- They may not be able to withstand prolonged continuous recording,
- They are susceptible to damage from the elements and theft when the camera is used outdoors.
With the space limitations of hard drives and SD cards, cloud storage becomes the best storage option especially for a security system with multiple cameras at multiple sites.
- Cloud storage offers easy remote access in real time from anywhere using PC, laptop, smartphones or other smart devices.
- When a security system changes storage requirements, it’s easy to change cloud storage plans accordingly.
- In case of break-ins, there’s no risk of data being stolen, unlike in hard drives.
- Cloud storage is vulnerable to hacking if the server has no robust security measures.
- It requires internet connection to access the videos stored in the Cloud.
- It requires subscription and recurring payments to a Cloud storage provider.
Who are the ideal buyers of DVRs?
DVRs are ideal for users who want a robust security system that they can have complete control of at budget-friendly price point.
These are users who are in the process of shifting from traditional analog surveillance system to a digital security system for homes or offices.
Can DVRs be remotely accessed?
Yes. DVRs can be remotely accessed using an app or a web browser.
To access the DVR using your smartphone or mobile device, make sure that your network and internet connection are configured correctly.
Typically, DVRs have their respective apps available for Android and iOS devices, which can be downloaded and installed into your mobile devices.
Installation and configuration vary across DVR brands, so you have to check if your mobile device is compatible with the app.
Using the app is mostly intuitive once everything is configured and set up.
For remote access using a web browser your router must be configured to allow outside traffic to your DVR.
Router brands have different configuration and settings, so consult the router manual for detailed installation and setup.
By using the app or a web browser, you can view footage remotely in real time or watch the playback. Remote surveillance is possible using multiple camera viewing.
How can I back up my DVR?
You can back up your security DVR to a secondary recorder or a network video recorder.
You just have to connect the two recorders in the same network using the LAN ports of the router.
However, the easiest way to back up your DVR recordings is through the use of USB flash drive.
The DVR has a USB port where you can insert the flash drive in. You can go to the DVR’s menu and look for the backup option.
You can choose the date or time you want to start backing up from (either live or playback). You can also select how many cameras you want to make a back up from.
What does H.264 mean?
H.264, also known as Advanced Video Coding (AVC), is the current video encoding standard that can achieve high-quality videos with greater compression.
This means that it can stream high-quality videos over the web in half the size of the existing formats commonly used like MPEG2, MPEG-4, DivX, etc.
In H.264 format, there is a significant improvement in perceptual quality and at the same time, it can provide a DVD-quality video at less than 1Mbps.
H.264 is more efficient as it can provide low transmission bandwidth for videos streamed online in real time.
In addition, it reduces the bandwidth requirement when sending video file over the network, so it does not eat up the available bandwidth.
Because of the reduction in the size of video files, you can save 50 percent on storage space.
This is beneficial to businesses who store massive digital video files as part of their operations.
While the features of the H.264 are impressive, the format also has some disadvantages.
Not everyone can fully understand the complex coding standard so vendors are not quick to adopt the new standard. As a result, compatibility issues arise.
Aside from that, it requires more hardware processing as well as processing power, therefore, there are some additional costs involved.
Vendors may also find that it’s cost-prohibitive to get H.246 licensing agreements because of required royalty fees.
What is auto pairing?
Auto pairing is a method of establishing a connection between two devices without user intervention.
Both devices automatically perform the pairing either wirelessly or through a wired connection, which saves the user time and effort.
In the realm of security and surveillance, auto pairing can happen between a security camera and a DVR or NVR.
When the wireless camera is activated, it can auto pair with the DVR so that the system will instantly link up.
What are channels? How many channels do systems have?
In a DVR security system, channels indicate how many cameras you can install into your system at a given time.
The system allows you to view footage from different channels simultaneously.
Typically, we see 4-channel and 8-channel DVRs available in the market, but many DVR brands can support 8, 16, and 32 channels.
There are also 48, 64, and 128 channels used by large companies with very big premises.
Tip: The number of the channel ports you see at the back of the DVR unit indicates the number of cameras the DVR can support.
How does camera resolution and frame rate affect the storage?
A DVR unit has a hard drive where video recordings can be stored. Not all DVRs are created equal.
Even though DVRs have their respective storage capacities, they are just estimates and can be lower than what was listed in their specifications.
This is because there are many factors that affect hard drive storage. How much storage you need would depend on compression format, resolution, frame rate, camera type and features, and recording retention period, among others.
Camera resolution must be factored in when deciding how much storage to get. The higher the resolution, the larger the storage space requirement. High-quality videos have larger data and thus eat up more storage space.
Frame rate refers to how many frames play per second.
As a point of reference, motion pictures use 30 frames per second (fps), television uses 24 fps, and real-time security camera recording uses 30 fps.
The higher the frame rate, the smoother the playback. But it also means that higher frame rates will take up more hard drive space.
The 4 elements of a fantastic DVR system
A DVR system is designed to provide video surveillance and monitoring of your home or business. It has individual elements that work together seamlessly. Here are the main elements that make up your DVR system.
Monitor — This is the display screen where footage from the camera can be viewed. Monitors can be any video display unit such as a security monitor, a TV set, or a PC monitor.
Regardless of the type, a monitor can be connected to the DVR through a VGA port, an HDMI port, or a DVI port.
Some monitors connect with USB, Thunderbolt, or DisplayPort.
Mouse – This is the handheld input device that controls the DVR software. It is a convenient way to navigate the security system interface because you can interact with the on-screen menus as opposed to using a controller.
Router – This is a device that allows multiple devices to join the same network. In a DVR system, a wireless router is used to connect your smartphone or mobile devices to the DVR to enable remote access and monitoring.
Security Cameras – These are the video cameras that capture and record activities to detect suspicious movements and possibly prevent crime. A DVR system can have multiple cameras installed on different locations to cover more ground and minimize blind spots.
Top Features of DVR Security Cameras
To build a robust surveillance security system, you must choose a DVR camera system that includes the following features:
High-Definition (HD) and Wide-Angle View.
A wider range allows you to see more footage and less blind spots.
With HD, images are clearer and there’s less guesswork.
Night time surveillance is effective when there is a night vision feature.
You can see images even in low-light conditions or in pitch-black darkness.
Big Storage Capacity
DVRs with 2TB hard drivecan store up to 500 hours of HD content and 2,000 hours of standard definition.
More storage capacity allows you to store more high quality footage.
DVRs allow you to control the security system remotely, giving you the option to rotate, zoom, and pan the cameras to view all possible points in the area.
Motion Sensors and Automation
HD security cameras can be configured to detect motion and trigger recording when suspicious activities are detected.
Kittyhok 1080p FHD Pan Tilt Wireless Security Camera System (33 | 4.3)
Kittyhok amped up its outdoor Wi-Fi camera by adding flexibility with its pan tilt feature.
This enables you to view, playback and control the camera to get different angles from any point and record footage in the trusty 8-channel NVR.
Out of the Box
Kittyhok’s four bullet design cameras are as basic as they come.
The protruding antennas are a little bit unsightly but you know that they are functional rather than aesthetic.
When installed and doing their panning and tilting, that’s when the four cameras’ beauty shines through.
Kittyhok’s wireless security camera is easy to set up because it’s essentially a plug and play system.
Once the cameras are plugged to the power source and the base unit is connected to the TV, the system can stream crystal clear footages with audio because of the 1080p full HD resolution.
It also comes with night vision LEDs that irradiate up to 100 feet in complete darkness.
This means that the camera can capture anything and everything that your eyes can’t.
With its IP65 rating, the camera is weather-resistant and protected from dust, but has limited protection from high-pressure water jets.
You can control the cameras to tilt 55 degrees and pan 180 degrees.
With a 65-degree view angle, the camera covers a bigger area.
By using the 4x zoom function, you can get a closer look at what’s lurking in your property.
With the Kittyhok App, you can have remote access via your mobile devices.
It’s not only limited to just viewing videos from anywhere, but you can also record to your device and share the video clips.
It’s also capable of sending motion-triggered alerts to your mobile or email including snapshots of who or what was detected.
This 8-channel NVR has 1 TB HDD storage space, which is the standard size for a security camera of this kind.
With its 24/7 continuous recording, the system can loop record for 30 days.
Kittyhok’s outdoor Wi-fi camera is for the no-frills security-conscious small office or business that want an all-seeing pan and tilt security camera in full HD.
Tonton 1080p WiFi NVR (4.3 | 30)
Tonton makes a splash in the wireless security camera by hitting the competitors where it hurts the most—extra storage space.
A plug and play NVR system with amped up security features makes surveillance work simple and uncomplicated.
Out of the Box
The Tonton’s black and white color combo adds to its menacing look, which resembles robotic eyes that can shoot laser.
This security camera feels solid and sturdy, which explains the IP66 rating, making it totally protected from dust and high-pressure water jets.
It’s also weather-proof, which means it can withstand heat, water, and snow; but maybe not a polar vortex.
At first glance, the 2TB HDD may be the biggest draw of this wireless security camera because it’s 1TB more than what most competitors offer.
However, when in action, Tonton’s passive infrared (PIR) body temperature sensor is what really separates this camera from the pack.
This means that it will only trigger an alert if it detects heat, which makes the system very picky on what it flags as threat.
With a more precise PIR and motion detection in place, false alarms can be reduced by up to 95%.
The motion detection is customizable too so you decide how little or how big the motion would have to be to have the app alert and notify you.
Through its own app, you can view, playback, and record footage remotely.
It also has audio recording capability so you’re getting a full experience similar to watching a horror film when you’re on a surveillance kick.
This 4-camera 8-channel wireless NVR security system delivers clear and sharp images via 1080p full HD video.
Night vision is clear and crisp but the range covers only up to 65 feet.
It shouldn’t be an issue if you just want to see the immediate vicinity even in low light condition or in total darkness.
The Tonton wireless NVR security camera is ideal for homes, stores, offices, warehouses, and users that need more storage to meet the demands of 24/7 security surveillance at a budget-friendly price point.
Firstrend 1080p NVR (225 | 4.4
Firstrend is a true plug and play wireless NVR security camera system that gets to work as soon as the power is turned on.
The 4-piece camera ensemble captures, detects, and records for a worry-free 24/7 security surveillance.
Out of the Box
Firstrend didn’t see the need to deviate from the bullet-style camera design and opted for a generic look.
It’s as standard as it can be and will not stand out in a sea of security cameras.
However, it has a solid design and sturdy feel with its IP66 rating, which makes it totally waterproof and dustproof.
Firstrend delivers crystal clear images with its 1080p full HD resolution.
Although the NVR kit comes with four cameras, it is expandable and can support up to 8 cameras in total.
Remote monitoring is made possible by the free app that can be accessed using smartphones and mobile devices.
You can opt to get app alert or email alert whenever the camera is triggered by its precise motion detection system.
This way, you don’t get unnecessarily spammed by your own security camera at the slightest movement.
It also lessens the incidence of false alarms.
The 6 IR LED allows a 65-foot night vision range, which is enough to monitor low-light surroundings and even no-light moments.
With its 72-degree wide angle view, the camera covers a bigger area.
So, with 4 mini cameras monitoring your property, you’re assured that you won’t miss a thing.
The streaming is only as good as your wireless connection, so 24/7 surveillance will rely solely on the strength of the signal transmission.
If you’re planning on a stakeout, better make sure that your connection is robust and up to par.
This 8-channel wireless NVR camera system comes pre-installed with 2TB HDD but can support up to 4TB, which is every storage geek’s dream.
Firstend is ideal for offices and warehouses that are just starting their foray into wireless NVR security camera because of its true plug and play system that require nothing more than a power source and a Wi-Fi connection.
HisEeu WiFi 1080p NVR (147 | 4.4)
Hiseeu is the all-seeing wireless NVR security camera that can be used indoor or outdoor.
Even with its highly affordable price point, this plug and play NVR kit delivers with all the bells and whistles normally found in high-end surveillance cameras.
Out of the Box
Bullet-design cameras are pretty much the standard in wireless cameras and Hisseu opted for a minimalistic design to match its quick no-frills setup.
It doesn’t have the heft of other cameras in its class, but it’s sturdy enough to withstand the elements.
Its impressive IP66 rating pretty much makes it dustproof, snowproof and waterproof.
It’s extensible too, so it’s ideal for outdoor surveillance.
This 4-pc wireless security camera ensemble delivers clearer and sharper details with its 1.3 Megapixel HD video.
The 75-degree viewing angle covers more areas within your property range and could reach a distance of 28 feet, enough to see a vehicle plate.
The 3-array IR LED is good for 65 ft night vision range even in total darkness.
The 8-channel NVR delivers clear footage in 1080p pure HD resolution.
Remote access is possible with Hisseu’s own app, which allows you to view live videos anytime and anywhere as long as there’s a mobile device on hand.
The app also allows you to view all the feed from the 4 cameras simultaneously so you can monitor 4 different areas in just one screen.
This simplifies monitoring and you can easily and quickly respond when an intruder is detected.
The motion detection feature triggers email and app alert notification, so you’d know when someone is moving about or something sinister is afoot.
It does not lack in the storage department with its 1TB HDD, which is good for 20 days of uninterrupted video recording.
In addition, with H.264+, the system is able to double data compression ratio which improves video quality even with low bandwidth.
This saves up to 50% of video storage space, which maximizes the pre-installed 1TB HHD.
The inexpensive full-featured Hisseu wireless NVR security camera is ideal for small offices, businesses, storefronts, homes, warehouses, and pretty much any one with a tight budget but don’t want to miss out on great security features.
Smonet WiFi 1080p NVR (331 | 4.4)
Smonet wireless NVR security camera will reel you in with its clear high-definition video and will astound you with its storage and speed options.
This is a true plug and play system that delivers sophisticated security features at an affordable price point.
Out of the Box
The Smonet 4-pc camera ensemble can camouflage as a mini outdoor spotlight that can catch visitors unaware.
Don’t let the minimalistic design fool you because its loaded security features more than makes up for what it lacks in the aesthetics department.
It’s small but sturdy and durable, which can withstand severe weather conditions, thanks to its IP66 rating.
The Smonet may only be a 4-channel NVR, but it’s loaded with security features not found in competitor cameras.
It delivers full HD 1080p video that captures clear night vision footage up to 65 feet away even in low-light or pitch-black darkness.
With the Smonet App, you can view footages remotely anywhere using smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other compatible mobile devices.
It also allows you to view up to 8 cameras simultaneously, which is ideal if you’re on surveillance work or entrapment operations.
Motion detection is automatically set up with email or app alert, but it can be customized to prevent false alarms and alert notification spam.
This works well with 24/7 live surveillance, especially with the NVR’s multiple recording modes.
Aside from motion detection recording, it also supports manual recording and time scheduled recording.
Scheduling the video recording helps tremendously if you want to save up on storage space.
The real draw of this security system is that it is preinstalled with 2TB HDD storage, but with its smart coding and compression technology, the NVR system can support up to 4TB.
Data from the camera can be saved for 30 days.
There is also an option to change from HD to SF to speed up the video transmission.
The Smonet wireless NVR security camera is for storage junkies who want to record as much footage as they can when doing surveillance.
Zosi WiFi NVR 8CH (1365 | 3.9)
Zosi’s wireless NVR security camera impresses with its full HD resolution and customizable motion detection.
It stays true with its plug and play promise by getting rid of video cables and letting the system run through your internet connection.
Out of the Box
Bullet cameras rarely impress, but Zosi has that minimalistic appeal which makes the cameras blend will in many outdoor home design.
The aluminum casing is sturdy which can withstand different weather conditions.
The IP66 rating makes it totally waterproof and dustproof, which makes it ideal for outdoor installations.
Zosi’s 8-camera, 8-channel NVR surveillance kit makes installation so easy that you don’t have to deal with pesky video cables.
Everything is connected and accessed through the internet.
With that said, a strong and stable connection is a must to make this surveillance system work without hitches.
Zosi delivers 2MP 1080p full HD live video streams and recorded footages, which is ideal for night surveillance.
The camera can pretty much see outlines and details with its night vision range of 65 feet.
The free app lets you view live and recorded videos anywhere using smartphones and other mobile devices.
With its customizable advanced motion detection, the notification system is smart and precise, so there’s less email blast and even less false alarms.
Video recording schedules can be set based on your security and surveillance needs.
You can start and stop the recording based on time, alarm or movements.
This saves precious storage space, but it comes with its own risks.
It comes pre-installed with 2TB HDD which can record up to 30 days of footage under motion detect recording mode.
You can also share the wireless kit to family and friends by granting access to the device features you want to share.
The Zosi wireless NVR security camera system is for users who want to skip the complicated installation process, get rid of the unsightly cables, and let the camera do its work straight away.
OOSSXX 1080p HDD wifi (182 | 4.3)
OOSSXX updates its wireless NVR secure camera system by amping up the features and the storage space.
It has its own Wi-Fi network so it’s not dependent on the internet to do its job.
With added features, this camera becomes a legit contender in both residential and commercial security solutions.
Out of the Box
The no-frills bullet design of the OOSSXX is perfect for the minimalist user.
It is diminutive compared to the other metal bullet cameras in its class, but it packs a solid punch when it comes to security features.
The IP66 rating makes it weatherproof and keeps it protected from dust, high-pressure water jets, and other elements.
The security system includes an 8-channel 1080p NVR and 8-pc camera ensemble that deliver full HD videos.
No internet is needed to set things up or to make it run because of its on robust network.
However, if you want to use remote live view and playback, you need to use an internet connection.
The 3-array IR-LED allows night vision at distances of up to 60 feet.
With the 70-degree viewing angle, it can cover more area.
The infrared mode of the camera is activated in low light conditions or in pitch-black darkness, so intruders or burglars won’t stand a chance.
Their every move would be captured and illuminated as the footage streams on the screen.
The system is pre-installed with 2TB HDD, which is enough for up to 30 days of recording.
With 8 cameras on 24/7 surveillance mode, your home or office would be well-monitored.
Although the system has a robust wireless system, live monitoring may require a stronger connection if there are obstacles or interference.
In this case, a special Wi-Finder extender is the solution.
Motion detection triggers multiple security responses—it can turn on the alarm, send an alert using the app, alert with a snapshot, or start a recording.
You have these options so you can monitor and respond accordingly when there is a threat.
The OOSSXX wireless NVR security camera is ideal for shops, office, or high foot traffic areas because of the immediate security response options in cases where suspicious movements are detected.