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Ask the Expert: How do I select the best video recording solution for an application?

There are a variety of solutions for recording video available today. The options include cameras and encoders with built-in storage, embedded or PC-based digital video recorders, network video recorders, and cameras and encoders that stream direct to storage without any intervening hardware.

August 10, 2010  By Chris Johnston

The customer’s requirements help to narrow the field during the selection process. Considering the amount of cameras, the number of facilities, the communications infrastructure, the alarm handling needs, and the degree of integration with other systems, among other factors, are all important when designing a system. 

Solutions for common applications
Smaller systems with just a few analogue cameras often need only a basic recorder that is ready to use straight from the box — just plug in the cameras, add power and the DVR begins recording automatically. For other small applications, a Secure Digital flash memory card that can store days of recorded video in the camera or encoder is adequate.

A customer who has analogue cameras already installed and who wants to expand the system with IP cameras will benefit from a hybrid digital video recorder. These DVRs can record video from both analogue and IP cameras and display the video from each side-by-side on one monitor. A hybrid system that provides H.264 compression will reduce the amount of storage required for recorded video.

For larger systems or customers that need continuous recording at the highest resolution and frame rate, it may be best to take advantage of direct attached storage or storage area networks (SANs), which can hold large amounts of data and tend to be a more cost-effective option.


A PC-based DVR or NVR may be required for customers that need more extensive alarming and interface capabilities or integration with other systems, such as access control platforms, alarm panels, ATM and POS terminals, fire alarm systems or licence plate capture equipment. More advanced embedded devices can also provide this functionality with just one unit to set-up — eliminating the need for the separate server, PC client and storage components that increase installation times by 50 percent. Embedded systems also provide the benefit of reduced maintenance costs, as there are no operating system patches or anti-virus software to install and manage.

If a customer will want a future system expansion or currently needs to manage recordings across multiple facilities, a DVR that has the capability to connect to other DVRs is important. For example, some devices have software that allows you to connect and control multiple DVRs in a system – providing access to all recorders from a single workstation.

Defining requirements leads to success
In the following example, the integrator chose a DVR-based system for a restaurant franchise management company that needed the ability to centrally operate multiple recording solutions across a range of locations. This customer required recorded video from each of its restaurants to be accessible to stakeholders located in the company’s corporate headquarters and other areas.

The integrator chose a DVR series with a user interface that allows live and recorded images from multiple locations to be viewed simultaneously on a single PC. As a result, franchise management company employees, as well as the companies’ external legal counsel, can view recordings from several cameras at once or full-screen video from a specific camera via their own computers. They can also search recorded video based on the date and time of an event or using other criteria to quickly find incidents of concern — eliminating time-consuming manual searches.

The DVRs also make it easy for the franchise management company to provide video as evidence in legal proceedings. Images are displayed with the date, time, location and camera name — important details in the event of a claimed slip and fall accident or other incidents where company liability comes into question.

Understanding all of these requirements in advance helped the integrator select a perfect recording solution for the franchise management company. The customer’s current needs are met, and the system is easily expandable to accommodate the addition of new cameras in each restaurant or new locations to the chain.

As this example demonstrates, defining the customer’s recording needs in advance is an important factor for the success of the system. Let the customer be your guide to finding the best solution every time.

Chris Johnston is a product marketing manager for video surveillance equipment at Bosch Security Systems Inc., responsible for the company’s digital recording solutions. He can be reached at christopher.johnston@us.bosch.com or at 717-735-6372.

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