How to Choose a Video Surveillance System in 2017

eDigitalDeals Inc.
310-370-9500 x101


1. Define objective. What do you want to see, in what level of detail, and how far away? How many megapixels and what focal lengths are required to achieve viewing objectives? Are objects moving? If so, what size are they with respect to the field of view, and how fast are they moving? How many cameras will be on the system? (Most recorders or VMSes support a maximum number of cameras.) Will more cameras be added in the future? Are there multiple locations, and if so does the corporate headquarters want administrative control of each location? If so, would there be a network admin who would want to apply modifications to each location’s server in bulk using Federated Architecture (Milestone XProtect Expert or Corporate)? Will the system be recording on a schedule, continuously, on motion detection, or both?


2. System design. How many clients will be viewing the cameras simultaneously, and from inside or outside the network? (If a lot of clients viewing multiple cameras at a time on a Milestone Expert or Corporate system, a separate Mobile Server should be used.) Are clients PCs or Macs? Are mobile clients Android, iOS, or any others? How many users are there? If there are a lot of users, would it be more ideal to to use Active Directory to manage all the users and their permissions? Is the network LAN/WAN bandwidth sufficient to support all the remote clients? Will any cameras be connected via wireless LAN or wireless bridge? Is there a need for any monitors to be displayed for viewing purposes, and if so how many cameras per monitor, and are any controls needed or is the monitor just for viewing? Should the server hardware include multiple points of redundancy, e.g. power supply, RAID storage, multiple video cards? Should a RAID10 live database be used to maximize performance? For how long should footage be retained, and should certain cameras retain longer than others? Should the frame rate be reduced for long-term retention, e.g. “grooming“in Milestone XProtect? Will there be a need for any add-on products to be integrated into the surveillance system such as access control, LPR (license plate recognition), POS text overlay (for POS machines or cash registers), and would there need to be a searchable database for the add-ons? (For example flagging a vehicle license plate of a discharged employee who tries to enter the parking lot will send the proper notifications to Security, who will then diffuse the situation before it gets out of hand.) There should be a camera list in most deployments identifying the camera’s location, type of camera, and special features required, IP address of each device (if network-based), installation height, and if any mounting accessories or lenses should be included.


3. Existing infrastructure. Are there any existing cables, recorders, cameras, or Wi-Fi access points? Does any part of the existing equipment need to be integrated into the new system? Are any of the existing cameras going to be upgraded? Are the cables in good enough condition to re-use, either for new cameras or for caryring network data to a PoE switch to which numerous cameras will be attached? Will the existing cables support the resolution needed to accomplish the objective for each new camera? Are there any existing client computers or laptops? Are there PCs or Macs, and are they powerful enough to run multiple HD camera streams with controls? If there is an existing PC-based server, is it powerful enough to run a VMS (video management server)?


4. Network and technical knowledge. Is there going to be any network administrator on-site or for deployment and maintenance purposes? Will the camera network be on the same as the main network, and if so what is the network capacity of the switch and workstations? Will there be a separate switch for cameras (requires at least dual NIC on the server–one NIC for the camera network and one for the main network). Is it desired to have network cameras and recorders pre-configured so that they are plug-and-play once the equipment is received?


5. Budget.  Recurring maintenance costs of software to keep software current, e.g. Milestone XProtect. If existing infrastructure is in place, and/or if the client wants an easily deployed plug-and-play system with with little maintenance and administration, better to go with a non-PC based standalone Hybrid/Tribrid or multi-function DVR. Will the equipment be purchased all at once or over time?


For additional information or for a free consultation, please contact us at, or start a web chat, or call us toll-free at 1-877-DEALS-79 (1-877-332-5779) x1 M-F between 9am to 6pm PST.

January 9, 2017

Posted In: Video Surveillance

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IP NVR or HD-DVR? Here is a web chat I had today. Read best practices here.

Chatting with Guest
Ray/eDigital: Hi, what can I do for you?
Guest: Is this a good unit. It seems the price is extremely reasonable.
Ray/eDigital: yes but I have a better one for you, same software. One moment
Guest: Does this unit actually act as an alarm interface.
Guest: and what is that
Ray/eDigital: There is this one, which is very similar, but lower price and better warranty:
Ray/eDigital: same exact software and hardware; just different logos on the box
Guest: why the difference in price
Ray/eDigital: And then there is this one:, which is double the channels you were originally looking at, better warranty, double the bitrate, and just $40 or so more
Ray/eDigital: genuine Hikvision versus LTS Platinum, both of which are trusted names in professional video surveillance.
Ray/eDigital: Hikvision just has a much larger marketing budget
Ray/eDigital: You can use LTS Platinum cameras with Hik NVRs, and Hik IP Cameras with LTS Platinum interchangeably because it’s all Hik hardware and software
Guest: it looks like the first 16c has CAT5 while the second 32c has analog input
Ray/eDigital: I’m actually doing that for another customer as we type
Ray/eDigital: no these are both NVRs with built-in PoE
Ray/eDigital: no analog inputs
Ray/eDigital: but we do have hybrid and tribrid DVRs with analog and network inputs, if that’s what you want
Guest: I was looking at the photos included on the link
Ray/eDigital: that rear photo is definitely wrong. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I will have them change it.
Ray/eDigital: datasheet:
Ray/eDigital: correct photo is there
Guest: so would a switch be needed or are there actually 32 LAN inputs in the secone
Ray/eDigital: no only 16 PoE ports
Ray/eDigital: 1 Gigabit LAN input
Ray/eDigital: we also have systems with dual-Gigabit LAN inputs, in case you want to separate your camera network from your main network
Guest: what is the advantage of the separate networks, how does that work?
Ray/eDigital: The switch is ideal for applications where the camera is no more than 100m away in theory, but sometimes the actual distance is less when working with NVRs with built-in PoE
Ray/eDigital: main network –> NVR
Ray/eDigital: cameras –> camera switch –> NVR
Ray/eDigital: since the NVR gets connected to both the main network and the camera network, it serves as the sole access point to the cameras on the network
Ray/eDigital: it helps prevent unauthorized access to the cameras, and it separates the data-hungry megapixel cameras from the critical infrastructure such as VOIP, POS, etc.
Ray/eDigital: two separate networks
Ray/eDigital: can also be done with an NVR and external PoE switch
Ray/eDigital: but the NVR would need to have dual-LAN ports
Ray/eDigital: most people just go with single-LAN ports because they cost less.
Ray/eDigital: just make sure you have a gigabit or better network
Guest: I hate to say it, but every time I think I am starting to understand all of this I learn something new that I need to consider
Ray/eDigital: you’re not the only one, and that is why i don’t recommend IP systems to most people
Ray/eDigital: ask yourself this: do you have a real need to surpass the 1080p threshold?
Ray/eDigital: if yes, then go with IP. If no, then go with HD-SDI or HD-TVI
Guest: I am relatively knowledgeable and capable, but I am also new to the camera systems. I like to have better than acceptable, but don’t need the best. More like a Corvette than Camaro or Lamborghini guy, if that makes sense
Ray/eDigital: yes. Do you have any existing cables ran?
Ray/eDigital: I’ll help you make your decision for you and save you $ in the process
Guest: I am also a police officer so I know the benefit of a quality image for identification purposes
Ray/eDigital: understood
Guest: nope, no cables run
Ray/eDigital: best image quality outside of IP can be achieved with HD-SDI
Ray/eDigital: is this for a home or business?
Guest: I thought about setting up a separate router and running wireless dedicated to the IP cameras, but I am not sure that is the best idea
Ray/eDigital: i would definitely recommend wired over wireless
Ray/eDigital: the cost of HD-SDI cameras is a fraction of IP, and you get more features
Guest: is HD-SDI analog?
Ray/eDigital: yes analog HD over coax
Ray/eDigital: you are not going to see much of a difference between IP and HD-SDI
Guest: so separate power needs to be run, correct
Ray/eDigital: yes with siamese cable
Ray/eDigital: here:
Ray/eDigital: that is our most popular HD-SDI DVR. There is a live demo link on that page. Install the app on your smart phone and/or desktop/laptop. It is excellent
Ray/eDigital: pinch to zoom features for your mobile device
Guest: Yeah, I looked at that and wasn’t overjoyed
Ray/eDigital: plus it is hybrid, which means you don’t have to use all HD cameras if you don’t want
Ray/eDigital: what did you like about IP?
Guest: I want to future proof the system a bit
Ray/eDigital: IP is ideal for future-proofing
Ray/eDigital: plus you will have network cable for infrastructure, which is going to be better 5-10 years from now over coax
Ray/eDigital: we do Milestone XProtect for police stations and other mission-critical deployements.
Ray/eDigital: deployments*
Ray/eDigital: is this for your home or business?
Guest: I like the idea of having more capability than just enough, though I think 16 cameras for a 3000 sq ft home is probably more than enough
Ray/eDigital: yes it is fine. The LTS Platinum solution is what I’d recommend.
Ray/eDigital: They have some wireless cameras as well, but you still have to run power to wireless cameras, so they are not entirely without without wires.
Ray/eDigital: one thing you should keep in mind is WDR. Are you familiar with it?
Guest: no
Ray/eDigital: here is a video:
Guest: I was thinking of going with a computer based system, but I am beginning to rethink that
Ray/eDigital: i can give you pros and cons if you want
Guest: I’ll watch the video and be back…
Guest: I would think that the cameras have auto aperture, is this something different?
Ray/eDigital: yes. Auto-Iris is a feature of a lens, but it’s only available on varifocal lens cameras; not fixed lens
Ray/eDigital: all the cameras you will be looking to purchase for your home, at least for the interior, should be fixed lens
Ray/eDigital: because fixed lens is substantially less expensive and much smaller form factor
Ray/eDigital: no one wants a dome camera bigger than the size of their heads to be installed inside their homes.
Ray/eDigital: WDR is found on these economical fixed lens cameras in digital form, or D-WDR
Ray/eDigital: it is not going to achieve the same result as true WDR, so the way to prepare yourself is by installing indoor cameras near doors or windows, and pointing away from the door/window so as not to have the exposure effect.
Ray/eDigital: auto-iris and WDR go hand-in-hand, and that is why you will typically only see WDR on varifocal-lens cameras, especially when it comes to IP.
Ray/eDigital: A lot of our HD-SDI and HD-TVI fixed lens cameras have true WDR.
Ray/eDigital: so other than that, all you really need to do is to calculate your bitrate
Ray/eDigital: let’s say you will have 16 x 3MP cameras
Ray/eDigital: you will use H.264 for best compression
Ray/eDigital: you will typically use 8-12 frames per second (fps) for home applications
Ray/eDigital: so at the best image quality, you should expect a total bitrate of 83.88Mbps at 10fps using this caluclator:
Ray/eDigital: It is a best practice not to exceed 75% of an NVR’s bitrate limitation
Ray/eDigital: the lower-end NVR is 80Mbps, and the higher end is 160Mbps. So if you’re going to go with the lower end, you should consider keeping your frame rate lower, and possibly sacrificing your bitrate (quality) to keep your total bitrate at an acceptable level
Ray/eDigital: to run at nearly capacity will almost certainly result in one or more dropped video feeds, network instability, and a host of other network-related issues.
Ray/eDigital: Does this make sense?
Guest: I seem to have lost the link to the 32c for $849
Guest: trying to take it all in
Ray/eDigital: think of an IP/NVR system as a vehicle with manual transmission. It’s not “plug and play” like its analog counterparts, which is a lot like driving a vehicle with automatic transmission. There is pre-configuration and monitoring of the network to ensure an NVR is going to function properly.
Guest: so you have a better understanding of what I want/need than I probably do at this point, do you have a recommendation based on our discussion?
Guest: I am not afraid of having to work to get the system to work
Ray/eDigital: yes LTS Platinum 32ch NVR with 160Mbps for $839.95. And for dome cameras I like these because they are vandal-proof with infrared and weatherproof, and are available in 4mm lens (around 75 degree horizontal field of view) and 2.8mm lens (around 85 degrees_
Guest: is this what you are talking about
Ray/eDigital: yes
Ray/eDigital: go with the LTS brand for that extra year of warranty
Ray/eDigital: for cameras which will be shooting down the side of your house, parallel to it, i recommend a 3-axis bullet camera such as this:
Guest: and all these require is a single PoE Cat5 Cable to operate up to 100m
Ray/eDigital: because the dome won’t be able to get that angle without a wall mount
Ray/eDigital: domes are better for vandal-proofing
Ray/eDigital: correct
Ray/eDigital: in theory
Ray/eDigital: but as as i said sometimes you may not get that full distance with built-in PoE switches
Guest: a wall mount might be easier going through the attic
Ray/eDigital: i haven’t heard any complaints with LTS, but I have heard complaints with Dahua
Ray/eDigital: another very popular brand
Ray/eDigital: a wall mount for a dome camera is L-shaped
Ray/eDigital: here it is:
Guest: I have read bad things about Dahua on Amazon
Ray/eDigital: we can drop the price on that
Ray/eDigital: should be like half that… I’ll update it on your quote
Ray/eDigital: but the mini bullet is ideal if you don’t need vandal-proofing
Guest: do these cameras ptz a full 180 plus up and down?
Ray/eDigital: no need for a mount either
Ray/eDigital: you can flip and rotate the image on an IP camera using the web menu
Ray/eDigital: but those domes are ideal to install with mounts to get the best angle
Ray/eDigital: they are mini and not 3-axis, if that is what you are asking
Ray/eDigital: the 3-axis domes are the larger units with varifocal lens and more features, and around 2.5x the price
Guest: do these IP cameras need anything other than the PoE Cat5 for full power, PTZ, video
Ray/eDigital: no, and there is no PTZ
Ray/eDigital: PTZ is when the mechanism on a camera pan, tilts, and zooms
Ray/eDigital: you can digitally PTZ using megapixel cameras
Guest: so they are just dome cameras, the same as bullet cameras
Ray/eDigital: also referred to as “ePTZ” for electronic PTZ
Ray/eDigital: but no moving parts
Ray/eDigital: we do have those, but they are more expensive, and are only ideal for applications with security guards, really
Ray/eDigital: do you want to see some IP PTZs?
Guest: I still need the question of, only one cable, Cat5 for power and video
Ray/eDigital: or perhaps fisheye cameras to get that full 180 degree view?
Ray/eDigital: correct just one cat5 per camera for power and video
Guest: what is this camera
Ray/eDigital: that is that larger dome, ideal for more commercial jobs, or for residential with high ceilings
Ray/eDigital: motorized lens offers the ability to zoom optically
Ray/eDigital: and remotely zoom/focus the camera
Guest: what is the motorized part, and what does de-branded mean (no name?)
Ray/eDigital: true WDR
Ray/eDigital: scroll up for motorized function
Guest: got it
Ray/eDigital: de-branded means it’s not genuine hikvision. We are going to give you the same exact camera without the hikvision logo, same warranty, same lifetime support
Ray/eDigital: i actually used this camera over a cash register in a high-end restaurant deployment in beverly hills, ca
Ray/eDigital: it is excellent
Ray/eDigital: once the owners saw the image quality, they decided to go mostly IP for their other restuarants
Ray/eDigital: but the image is the same as the mini dome, for the most part
Ray/eDigital: just more features like built-in WDR, motorized zoom lens, etc
Guest: so most of these cameras are fixed focus, if the focus is off a bit, there is nothing that can be done.
Ray/eDigital: yes, what you see is what you get
Ray/eDigital: if you want i can prepare a design for you to show you what angle camera you should choose and what type of pixel density you will achieve
Ray/eDigital: something like this:
Ray/eDigital: scroll down for the sample design i did for another client
Ray/eDigital: that will eliminate guess-work on your side, and you can be confident that what we recommend for you will be in alignment with the design. Basically no surprises
Ray/eDigital: it’s a free service we offer.
Ray/eDigital: I can do it in another 30 min or so. Please email me your address to
Ray/eDigital: let me know the approximate mounting height of the cameras
Ray/eDigital: the areas which you want to cover, e.g. front door, driveway, front lawn, right side looking forward/backward, left side looking forward/backward, back yard, pool, etc.
Guest: yeah, I was thinking five or six outside, one n, one s, two front, two back, one or two basement, one upstairs, two or three main level, two in the garage and (maybe) one or two in the attic
Ray/eDigital: ya go with 2.8mm lens cameras for most of your indoor cameras, mount in the corner of the room to get most of the room
Ray/eDigital: those mini domes are excellent for inside the house
Ray/eDigital: there is also a fisheye camera
Ray/eDigital: it will give you a full 360 with no blindspots
Ray/eDigital: here are examples:
Ray/eDigital: more coverage, but less quality
Ray/eDigital: and excellent digital PTZ using the dewarped lens
Ray/eDigital: here is a video
Guest: that might work well over the outside entry and upstairs hallway
Guest: image quality suffers a bit with this last suggestion
Ray/eDigital: these are ideal in hallways, especially intersecting hallways, so that you can see people going in and out of doors
Ray/eDigital: it does, and i did mention that
Ray/eDigital: you are taking a few more megapixels and spreading them out 360-degrees (from ceiling) or 180-degrees from wall mount
Ray/eDigital: ideal mounting height for a fisheye is 8-12 ft for ceilings
Guest: do you work on commission?
Ray/eDigital: no i own the company
Guest: oh, that explains a lot.
Ray/eDigital: if you want me to save your info in our system and email you a quote on paper, just reply with your name, email address, phone number, and shipping zip code
Ray/eDigital: shipping is free within the continental USA
Ray/eDigital: yes it does explain a lot! =)
Guest: knowledgeable, informative, patient, not too techie, professional
Ray/eDigital: thank you
Guest: Honestly, I have talked to a few other companies, and it has been very difficult to deal with some of the support staff
Ray/eDigital: we have dedicated toll-free support, and you can chat or email as well
Guest: a price that will be there for a while, I still have to think about all of this, but I have been taking notes
Ray/eDigital: yes, we don’t really raise prices on this type of equipment
Ray/eDigital: if anything you may see a promotion here or there, so sign up for our email newsletter to be informed of updates
Guest: just signed up
Ray/eDigital: Great. The best thing to do when you’re getting ready to buy is to call or email me and ask if there are any promos on the equipment. There are always promos, but maybe just not on that brand
Guest: the last question is the most important to me. Is the
Guest: a good system that I can rely on for years
Ray/eDigital: there is a reason why hikvision is the number 1 company surveillance in china, literally
Guest: I would rather pay more, and get good than pay a little less and get much less
Ray/eDigital: i have seen more government solicitations with hikvision in the past 6 months than I have ever seen
Ray/eDigital: If you are open to using a PC-based system, I can show you a MUCH better option
Guest: I was planning on using a pc based system
Ray/eDigital: I know, but you said you scrapped that idea
Ray/eDigital: it will cost you less
Ray/eDigital: actually you will need a PoE switch, so the price of the PC-based solution will be $100 or so more, but it is the Lamborghini of video surveillance
Ray/eDigital: and i can get you a free trial so that you can see if it works for you
Guest: i am listening
Ray/eDigital: watch this video presentation I did for another client. It’s a long one, but it will give you the whole navigation of the software
Ray/eDigital: Milestone XProtect is arguably ranked in the top 3 VMS (video management software) solutions on the planet.
Guest: Like I said, I am a police officer and have worked dignitary protection with secret service training for years, but I cannot afford what the government buys
Ray/eDigital: you can use Xprotect Essential, which is the home/office version of the software, whereas a police department would use Professional or Corporate
Ray/eDigital: here is a link to Milestone XProtect Essential:
Guest: this is pretty much what we use at work
Ray/eDigital: yes it most likely is
Ray/eDigital: I have designed this solution for government buildings around the world
Ray/eDigital: and if you already use it at work, then it’s one less thing you need to learn
Ray/eDigital: oh sorry i already sent it
Ray/eDigital: this solution is truly enterprise-grade, scalable, and will give you a lot more value.
Guest: It is just that we have a couple of tech guys do all the install, I just use it, so I don’t know the best route to proceed
Ray/eDigital: So for example, you can mix and match different brands of cameras
Ray/eDigital: ya understood
Ray/eDigital: well I’ll make you a deal
Ray/eDigital: we typically offer free configuration with complete package purchases (server, cameras, PoE, etc.), but since you already have the server I can have someone login to your system to pre-configure it for recording, users/passwords/permissions, and remote viewing on your mobile device
Ray/eDigital: and instead of charging you the normal rate of $30 per camera, we will do it for a flat rate of $199.
Ray/eDigital: you would need all your cameras connected to the network switch, and we would need supervised access to your server, as well as the user name and PW for the router to set it up for mobile viewing
Ray/eDigital: there is already a link on that page to download a trial if you want to play around with it, but i recommend you just watch that video presentation I gave you
Ray/eDigital: milestone is releasing a new XProtect in March
Ray/eDigital: there are a lot of “body worn camera” solicitations right now. I was doing a conference call with Oklahoma City PD a few days ago
Guest: yeah, our department was thinking of it too, I was suppose to be in charge the project, but they went with a consultant
Ray/eDigital: Well… perhaps you can forward him/her my info so that I can give you guys some insight as you gather your research.
Ray/eDigital: also, you should make sure your server meets the minimum recommended specifications for Milestone. I can help you with that when you have decided on your cameras.
Guest: They kind of pissed me off when they took me off the project, but I will definitely consider talking with them, but I doubt they will listen anyway as the consultant would do anything to avoid being suggested to (cut off his nose to spite his face)
Guest: The computer I was thinking about using is an AMD Athlon 2 2700
Ray/eDigital: 3MP cameras all around, right?
Guest: I am not sure I need that, I just sent my address
Guest: interior may be different than exterior and sides of the house might require less than the front and back
Ray/eDigital: you can really get away with 1.3MP inside the house in the attic and in areas where you are not as concerned as entry areas where there is a door or window
Ray/eDigital: 3MP outside is recommended
Ray/eDigital: I’ll just do a quick design
Guest: my concern is the entry and driveway, and the back yard
Guest: those would be primary points of entry. Maybe a decent resolution in the three and a half car garage
Ray/eDigital: what about the front door?
Ray/eDigital: it would need it’s own camera. You can put a 1.3MP
Guest: that is the hardest for me to decide
Ray/eDigital: definitely should have it
Ray/eDigital: that way you never have to wonder who’s at the door
Guest: and may be the hardest to run wires to
Ray/eDigital: you can wire it from outside
Guest: yeah, I can run the soffit, but it would be difficult
Ray/eDigital: run wires outside, under the eave on the roof to the front. Use black or brown cable.

February 20, 2015

Posted In: Video Surveillance

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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