Hybrid: not just for cars
Pretty much everyone in the security industry can agree that the definition of a ‘hybrid’ is a DVR that can simultaneous record analogue and IP cameras. For smaller legacy installations, a hybrid DVR can be a good migration path to IP, as analogue cameras can be preserved and newer IP camera technology, such as HD and megapixel cameras, can be added.
The ideal end users for this type of product are typically small surface stores, banks, elementary schools and small commercial/industrial sites. When trying to determine when hybrid DVRs should be chosen over the traditional DVRs or an IP management software platform, there are a couple of factors that will help integrators and end users decide.
In my opinion, hybrid DVRs make the most sense for sites with under 16 cameras. If a site has a large subset of cameras, it is more advantageous in terms of cost and space to use an off-the-shelf Windows server with IP video management software (VMS). Most IP VMS can manage from 64 to over 100 cameras on a single server and instead of using DVR inputs for legacy analogue cameras, a rack-mounted encoder with up to 64 inputs can make for an easy switch over from a matrix and/or DVR farm. So, it does not make sense to use multiple hybrid DVRs for any large installation, an option historically used with regular DVR systems. Hybrid DVRs real potential is in the multisite, small camera count projects.
Like all projects, knowing what the end user wants and needs is the key to a successful project and this is no different when selecting the right hybrid DVR. Considering elements such as IP cameras preferences and storage options can be pivotal to a successful deployment. For one, it is important to validate if the selected hybrid DVR will be able to accept new IP cameras as they come on the market, via software upgrades or patches. It would be disappointing for the end user to be stuck with a hybrid that only supported today’s cameras, when there are so many technological advancements happening in the industry. In similar respects, it is also important to inquire if the hybrid DVR is open or closed architecture, as having the additional freedom to choose the types of IP or analogue cameras is an added benefit no end user should forgo. In parallel, DVRs that support the newest compression technology, such as H.264, can benefit from storage capabilities, as the video is more compressed and takes less storage space, whether internal or external.
More so, for integrators with less experience with IT, hybrid DVRs are a good stepping stone. Some hybrid DVRs even come with built-in IP switches, so an integrator can directly plug-in IP cameras, almost like plugging analogue cameras into traditional DVR inputs. For small surface projects, the integrator may not even have to supply an Ethernet switch.
At the end of the day, selecting the right hybrid DVR makes transitioning to IP easier and more cost-effective for small sites with existing analogue cameras. If the selection criteria for the hybrid DVR is well examined, and the right choice is made for a multi-site, low camera-count project, both end users and integrators will reap the rewards that this new technology has to offer.