Camera Corner: What happened to HD analog?
September 19, 2022 By Colin Bodbyl
In 2015, HD analog exploded on to the video surveillance scene.
With record low prices and unparalleled install simplicity, it seemed like HD analog could become a real competitor for IP video. Seven years later, we hear very little about HD analog. IP cameras are clearly the leading technology, but that does not mean HD analog has any less merit than it did back in 2015.
For those unfamiliar with HD analog, it is an alternative video transmission technology to IP that doesn’t require any networking knowledge or configuration. Like traditional analog CCTV, HD analog cameras simply need to be powered and connected to an appropriate recorder and they will instantly start working. There are no IP addresses to set, nor usernames and passwords.
The simplicity of HD analog made it a real competitor to IP. For integrators to adopt IP technology, they needed technicians with network training. HD analog required almost no training at all. In addition to its simplicity, HD analog was significantly cheaper than IP. HD analog cameras were some of the first mainstream cameras to cost less than $100 each.
On top of the low camera costs, HD analog did not require any software licences. Where VMS manufacturers were charging fees for each IP camera channel, HD analog recorders did not require any licensing, further reducing the total cost of ownership.
With all the obvious benefits, it’s difficult to understand why HD analog is not more prevalent in the industry today. A few factors have played into HD analog’s slow adoption and eventual decline in popularity.
For one, the simplicity of HD analog came too long after the introduction of IP cameras. In 2015, most integrators had already shifted their business to IP and completed all the training and retooling necessary, so very few were interested in going back to an analog product.
IP camera prices also dropped. When HD analog was first introduced, IP cameras typically cost several hundred dollars. Today there are plenty of IP camera options in the $100 to $200 range.
Large VMS manufacturers also refused to adopt the technology. Enterprise VMS systems could not support HD analog without encoders which often wiped out any cost savings, and added an additional point of failure and complexity.
Finally, U.S. bans on certain products which came into effect in 2018 targeted some of the biggest manufacturers of HD analog cameras in the world. These new laws forced some HD analog users to switch to IP.
Despite these setbacks, HD analog is still alive and well, and the technology remains an excellent choice for a variety of applications. DIY installers with no networking skills are a great fit for HD analog.
The technology is both simple to install, and cost effective, two key requirements of the DIY market. In addition, for anyone new to the video surveillance market, HD analog is a safe place to start that journey before learning the networking skills required to install and support IP products. Finally, applications where low maintenance is required, such as camera system inside buses or trains, HD analog can be a perfect fit due to its plug-and-play technology.
Though it is impossible to predict what technology will displace IP, it is unlikely to be HD analog. The technology has faced too many setbacks, and the industry as a whole is now entrenched in IP technology. That being said, it is still a great fit for certain applications. HD analog might not be the leading choice for CCTV, but it still has a place in the industry.
Colin Bodbyl is the chief technology officer of Stealth Monitoring (www.stealthmonitoring.com).
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