A video surveillance system can give you peace of mind as it provides an extra measure of security for your home or business establishment. Video security systems generally fall into two categories, NVR (network video recorder) and DVR (digital video recorder). The NVR vs DVR debate has been going on for a while, so which is better?
To make the right choice you’ll need to understand how they work, their features, functions, similarities and differences. Both have the same purpose, protect your property, but they go about it differently.
- DVR vs NVR Comparison Table
- What is NVR and DVR?
- Why You Should Buy an NVR System
- What to Look for in an NVR
- Why You Should Buy a DVR System
- What to Look for in a DVR
- NVR vs DVR Channels
- Conclusion– Which is the Better Option?
DVR vs NVR Comparison Table
|Definition||Digital video recording||Network video recording|
|Camera||Analog CCTV camera||IP camera|
|Camera Type Support||Compatible with all analog CCTV cameras||IP cameras work with only specific types of NVR|
|Signal Stability||Stable||Less stable|
|Set up||Intermediate to advanced||Easy|
|Storage||Hard disk drive||Hard disk drive|
|Access||Remote access||Direct video access|
|Video Input and Encoding||The DVR does the encoding||The camera does the encoding|
What is NVR and DVR?
Before we go over their differences in depth, let’s define each one.
What is DVR?
A DVR (digital video recorder) is a device that works like a video encoder. Using an analog CCTV camera, a DVR obtains an analog video signal which is compressed via H.264 and stored in a hard disk drive.
DVRs rely on a coaxial cable to connect the recorder and camera. While there is backwards compatibility with CCTV cameras, the latest models use new technologies to improve performance and quality. When you look at the latest DVR NVR debates you’ll see DVRs with HD-SDI and HD-CVI cameras for higher resolution.
Check out our detailed DVR buying guide in this post.
What is NVR?
An NVR (network video recorder) records video as it is being relayed over a network cable. An NVR is linked to an IP camera via a LAN or an Internet network. Depending on the set up you may still utilize an IP camera without an NVR. In this instance you’ll need a video management application for IP cameras.
Check out our best NVR system buying guide here.
How DVRs and NVRs Differ in Operation
When people ask what is the difference DVR and NVR, it can be summed as follows.
- An NVR works with IP cameras and is a network video recording device.
- A DVR is a video processor that works with CCTV analog cameras and also functions as storage.
- A digital video recorder inputs data straight from the cameras. The DVR encodes and processes the information.
- An NVR works like a computer program as the device inputs off the network. It is the IP camera that does the encoding and processing.
- A DVR relies on analog cameras linked by a coax cable. An NVR utilizes IP cameras using a network cable.
Here’s a video that explains the difference between a DVR and an NVR.
What is HVR?
An HVR is a hybrid DVR NVR, i.e. it is compatible with NVR and DVR so you’ll be able to use IP and CCTV cameras. However the HVR is not strictly another type of video recorder as it is really an NVR variant.
Why You Should Buy an NVR System
Proponents of NVR systems say it is the better choice as it is more technologically advanced. Indeed a lot of commercial and business establishments are using it. Let’s take a look at its benefits.
What to Look for in an NVR
NVRs are very popular right now, so are you one of those thinking of getting one? Here are some factors to consider.
Why You Should Buy a DVR System
What to Look for in a DVR
Confused by all the options for DVRs currently available? Use the following as a guide. Many of the tips given for NVRs earlier apply here to and vice versa.
NVR vs DVR Channels
Both DVR and NVR systems come in different sizes, and these are expressed in channels. The most common are, 4, 8, 16 and 32 channels. An 8 channel system means you can install and record 8 cameras, while a 16 channel allows you to install 16 cameras.
An 8 or 16 channel may seem like overkill if you only use 4. However it’s a good thing to have additional channel support just in case your needs increase. You can never tell when you’ll need more cameras so it is better to have the slots available.
NVRs are generally easier to install, but when it comes to using the devices both are easy to figure out as they have menus that you choose options from. On NVRs are a bit complex because of the need to set up an IP address. However, their automatic camera detection makes up for this.
DVRs do require a bit more cabling, but there is no need to program or set up the camera as it is ready to be used. These are also plug and play so no need to change other settings. Both NVRs and DVRs offer remote video access and high definition recording.
No DVR vs NVR comparison will be complete unless we talk about wiring. For many people this is really what makes the difference. As mentioned earlier if you’ve got a CCTV system and coax cables it’s more practical to buy a DVR.
But if you’re in the market for a new surveillance system and want the highest quality resolution it might be better to invest in an NVR. Another benefit of an NVR they support wireless protocols so you don’t have t mess around with too many cables.
Aside from deciding whether to get a DVR or NVR you also need to consider the type of camera to use. There are a lot of different cameras, but the following are the most common.
These are dependent on coaxial cables to relay data, similar to what HD-SDI does. The biggest difference is that HD-CVI has greater range. Even with a standard coaxial cable the signal can be transmitted up to 1500 feet. This feature makes it handy for those that length wire runs installed.
The HD-CVI system also lets you input the on-screen display of the camera from the recorder. What this implies is you’ll be able to modify the settings from the DVR and not have to tinker with the camera.
This is a very convenient feature especially if your camera is situated 10 feet high up outdoors. Now you don’t have to get a ladder and try to change the setting. An HD-CVI camera also lets you utilize CAT5 cable for video transmission.
HD-CVI currently has a maximum resolution of 1080p or 2 megapixels. For a lot of people this is good enough for security surveillance.
An HD-SDI recorder or camera enables video transmission over coax cable similar to analog cameras. The cameras run on a 24vAC or 12vDC. The transmission range is from 400 to 600 feet, and quality depends on the cable used. These cameras come in various types such as PTZ, full size, drones and bullets. One of the drawbacks with these units is you need to adjust settings on the camera itself.
Supported by NVR and hybrid DVR NVR systems, IP cameras use CAT5/6 to transmit data over networks just like what your laptop or desktop computer does. They’re packed with more features than regular HD cameras and offer higher resolutions. While 5 MP is consider the high end there are now 20 megapixel cameras available.
The advantages of an IP system is it lets you program the camera even if it is not connected to the NVR. You could for instance, set up your camera so it is connected to your network and use it minus a network.
There are a lot of options on an IP camera that gives you more flexibility and control, but there is a bit of learning curve involved here. Another shortcoming of IP cameras is the range is limited to 330 feet. For longer distances you’re going to need a booster or repeater.
IP vs HD Analog Camera Technology
The following table offers a quick comparison between IP and different types of HD analog technology.
|Video Output Quality||True colors, sharp images, high resolution||Excellent in daylight, not very crisp in low light||Good, colors not very accurate, image not as crisp||True colors, 1080p, sharp clear images||True colors, 1080p, sharp clear images|
|Maximum Resolution||5.0 Megapixel (2592 x 1944p)||1080p (1920 x 1080p)||1080p (1920 x 1080p)||1080p (1920 x 1080p)||1080p (1920 x 1080p)|
|Transmission Distance||Twisted Pair (CAT5)||328'||650'||492'||350' (needs a digital converter)||700'|
|Coaxial Cable (RG59)||Requires media converter||1600' (720p), 1300' (1080p)||1600'||492'||1600'|
|DVR Input Compatibility||IP||Any configuration or channel for supported IP cameras||Supported IP cameras in select configurations and channels||N/A||N/A||2 channels for supported IP cameras, any kind of configuration|
|HD Analog||N/A||Any configuration, any channel for similar HD-CVI cameras||Any configuration, any channel for similar AHD cameras||Certain types of HD-SDI cameras, configurations limited||Any type of HD-TVI camera in any configuration or channel|
|Analog||N/A||Every analog camera, select configuration and channels||Select configurations and channels, all analog cameras||Limited configurations, channels and models||All types of analog cameras, any configuration and any channel|
|Format Compatibility||Cross compatibility restricted to similar brands, open standard||Patented technology||Open standard||Open standard||Open standard|
|DVR Hybrid Capabilities||Selected models with hybrid properties||Configurations are limited||Configurations are limited||Configurations are limited||Unlimited configuration|
The information in the table above is for guideline purposes only. Refer to the product manual that came with your system to get its specifications.
So in the DVR vs IP camera debate, it’s clear that there is no single winner. It really depends on your needs so you need to look over the specs to determine which is ideal.
Conclusion– Which is the Better Option?
We started this guide by asking the question what is the difference between DVR and NVR, and now you know what they are. So now the question is which is the right one for you?
It depends on what type of surveillance security you need. If you already have a CCTV camera, are on a budget and all right with a 720 to 1080p resolution, a DVR system is ideal. I
If you want an easy setup, high resolution IP cameras and don’t mind the higher cost, go for an NVR system. If you want a bit of both there is the HVR as it is compatible with DVR and IP cameras. Whichever of these you choose you’re going to benefit from their security features