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Video Recording

Despite some superficial similarities in the hardware involved, it's important to recognize that the video recording DVR's attached to your security network is a fundamentally different piece of equipment compared to the DVR that records your favorite TV shows. Reliability and sophistication are much more important for security use. Security DVRs are designed from the ground up to work with multiple CCTV inputs, recording footage from four to 16 cameras simultaneously. Complete review of every second of footage taken is a necessity. Modern security DVRs are even designed as standalone units, which means they come right out of the box pre-loaded with all of the software they need to do the job. Hard-drive-based DVRs make it easy to review surveillance footage without any time-wasting rewinding or fast forwarding, and their images are always sharp.

With modern communications technology, you want your surveillance system to blend seamlessly with your personal connections. Accessing your cameras remotely is crucial. In many cash-strapped security systems, a cheap DVR or a personal computer pressed into service is the weak point in remote surveillance. Low-quality DVRs and computers expose your security system to electronic intrusions. Thus there are sound safety justifications for equipping your system with a purpose-built security DVR.

This is hardly the only benefit of utilizing such specialized equipment. It's easy to not just monitor cameras but even control them. Most security DVRs are capable of switching cameras on and off (usually based on motion) in order to make the system more efficient. All video recorded through the DVR comes with an authoritative time stamp on each frame. The stand-alone software used in security DVRs is also a point in their favor because it isolates your security software from any possible online intrusion.

As noted above, DVRs for security use can detect motion. What you may not realize is that this is a function of the DVR itself, not the cameras. Software analysis detects pixel changes on the incoming video feeds. This technology can even eliminate "false positives" caused by fixtures like ceiling fans by comparing inputs from multiple cameras.

At the very cutting edge of security technology you'll find miniaturized DVRs. These pieces of equipment are optimized for recording video from a single stream. Why? So that they can be placed on-site with a hidden camera. Using memory cards to store video, these tiny DVRs can capture 24 to 48 hours of footage on an ordinary 16 GB card. (Greater storage capacity is possible with higher-capacity cards, of course.) Motion sensing technology can extend this recording life even further. Swapping out the storage card when it's full makes it easy to review the captured footage on any computer.

Using this set-up, it's possible to hide both camera and storage medium virtually anywhere. It's surveillance with true mobility built right in. Anywhere that the camera can be powered -- a clock, a mirror, a stereo -- becomes a potential surveillance site. Small businesses can get a lot of mileage out of this kind of surveillance, especially to check up on suspect employees. In the home, the same principles can be employed to set up virtually undetectable nanny cams.

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