HD-SDI Vs. IP Surveillance - Upgrading To HD
By Christian M Gillman
Whether you're trying to update your surveillance system or get a brand new HD security system, there are two main paths you can take; either HD-SDI or IP based surveillance. When it comes to choosing one over the other there are some key advantages and downfalls to each that should be considered. So read on as we discuss the main features and flaws of each, and help give ideas towards what would work best in your application.
Before we delve into the specifics and ideas behind both systems, we will first discuss their main overlapping benefit; HD video! Both systems regardless of which you choose are capable of utilizing HD surveillance cameras and equipment to provide superb clarity and definition. This is the main reason we will compare and contrast the systems other features, as they both are roads that lead to HD with different obstacles and choices in achieving it.
No matter which system you decide to go with, you will have to (at a minimum) replace your older DVRs and security cameras with newer HD capable devices. There is no getting around this obstacle for either system.
Installation and/or Upgrading
The way these two systems are installed and connected is quite different from one another, and HD-SDI has one big advantage when it comes to upgrading older cctv systems in particular. HD-SDI has the capability of using your already installed cctv cables. By using your pre-existing cables you are saving on the cost of having to run and install new cabling. This can be of particular benefit in larger systems were the cost itself could be prohibitive and time consuming. Not only can you use the same cables as an older analog system, but you can use the same BNC connectors as well. Ultimately all you need to do to install this new system would be to buy new cameras and a new DVR (digital video recorder). At that point it would simply be a matter of plug and play connections to get your surveillance equipment up and running.
Now when it comes to IP surveillance systems, they provide a key advantage when it comes to installing brand new systems as opposed to upgrading an existing infrastructure. This advantage lies in the use of CAT network cable as your transmission medium. In an IP system you're using network cable as not only your video line, but also your power line; this is achieved through what is known as PoE (power over Ethernet). PoE allows your system to power your cameras and transmit video at the same time using only one cable. This eliminates the need for Siamese cabling where both a power line and coaxial video line are needed for your cameras. This makes it easier to run and install your cabling as well as needing only a single power source back at your NVR (network video recorder). In fact some NVRs have PoE ports built directly into them for easier installation.
Remote Monitoring and Configuration
When it comes to configuring an HD-SDI system for remote monitoring and network accessibility it is pretty much the same as setting up an analog system. The steps of assigning an IP address and port forwarding in your router are the standard configurations you will have to do. So from an ease of use stand point the HD-SDI system is a good way to go, but that is about as much as you will be able to do with it.
The IP surveillance system also involves the same type of setup in the NVR as the HD-SDI system does in its DVR, but the difference comes in the sheer capabilities that IP surveillance has when it comes to networking.
The first main example of a great feature of an IP surveillance system is that each and every camera has its own unique IP address. This gives you the ability to pull up only certain cameras rather than all of them at once. Configuring this can be a bit time consuming as each camera comes set to a default IP address, and you will have to change that to a unique address for each one, one at a time. If you don't do this, you will end up with IP address conflicts that may freeze the system up or simply not allow you to access certain cameras.
Since each IP camera has its own address, this leads us into another great feature; the ability to centrally monitor multiple systems. If you wanted to monitor multiple surveillance systems at once in the past, you would need CMS (central monitoring software). With an IP surveillance system your NVR can act as a central monitoring station itself. Let's say you have a 16 channel NVR and have 4 different locations around the country each with 4 IP cameras. You can use your NVR and remotely pull in each and every one of those cameras and view them all at once. On top of all that you can even pull in older analog systems and HD-SDI systems into the NVR and watch them as well, as long as they are remotely accessible. This is quite an amazing feature that cannot be accomplished with an HD-SDI DVR. Now to be fair it's a much more complicated setup when it comes to using these features, but they are quite useful if you have the patience and know how to implement them.
It should be noted that if you plan on doing a remote system as exampled earlier, the one big downfall is that it's a very bandwidth intensive configuration. To accomplish this you will need a strong and reliable internet connection to maintain it.
In the end my basic advice is this. If you're upgrading an old analog system or just want a simple home setup I would recommend HD-SDI. If you're looking to install a larger business based system and plan on doing any networking between multiple locations, I would recommend going with an IP based solution.
Additionally as one final note. No matter what system you decide to go with, you will be able to find comparable security cameras when it comes to features such as IR LEDs, lenses, body style, etc... so this should not be a factor when deciding which system to choose.
Christian M Gillman has worked in the surveillance industry for over 7 years. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, learn more about surveillance, and find great products at http://www.cu1.com
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