One of the most important questions you need to ask your self about your security system before you make any final decisions is, “What home security system DVR do I plan to use?” The digital video recorder that home security systems utilize to actually drive the functionality of the system is a pretty significant device that most people take for granted. We want to help you have the safest home in Chicago, so we’re going to help explain the basics of how you can choose the right security DVR and system for your home protection plan.

Start With Broadcasting Type

The type of DVR that you choose will determine the type of system that you have. There are many variations that you can choose from, but the three basic broadcasting systems are: analog, IP, and HD-SDI. Analog systems, which are available in both wireless and wired fashion are often the cheapest systems on the market. Analog systems broadcast across the coax cables used for television broadcasting, which are the same frequencies that wireless systems use. Wireless IP systems are far more reliable than analog wireless systems because the digital signals have gotten much stronger, but they are also more expensive. HD-SDI systems, in wired form, have really begun to grow in popularity as they provide such incredible images- but we’ll get to resolution later.

Consider Stand-Alone or PC


DVRs come in one of two fashions, the stand-alone version which is specifically designed for security systems alone. And the PC tower versions, which are intended to create more versatile systems that can allow for expansion and program integration. Stand-alone machines are a very good choice for your security system. Being hardwired to specifically provide you with quality display as well as compression and recording you can count on them to do their job without much to-do. PC towers can provide you with the capabilities that make them great for running recognition programs or other handy programs—but with more software and less hardware they’re easier to hack and if they fail you can lose your entire security system.

Resolution and Compression

The job of a DVR device is to provide you with three basic services:

  1. Live feed from your cameras
  2. Compression and recordings of everything viewed
  3. Wireless accessibility for home automation.

Cameras help provide your DVR with a high quality image, but DVRs are specifically responsible to make sure that you’re viewing an image that is useful. This is done by paying attention to the resolution available through your system. Nearly all systems provide your viewing display at 720p, a high quality image, however HD-SDI systems can display footage at a whopping 1080p- or cinema quality.

Resolution and compression come after the live feed has played. During the process required to store your footage away on the hard drive the DVR has to compress the footage so that you can fit hours upon hours. Compression will diminish the resolution that your footage will be able to play at when being reviewed. Many systems must surrender resolution quality to fit the footage in storage. Look for the highest resolution and smoothest compression possible for a long time CIF (360×240) was the best with compression of JPEG2000. But lately the industry is finding new heights with HD-SDI DVRs, which provide an incredible 1080p image even when playing from storage! This is possible as they use a unit of compression known as H.264 resulting in better footage, it does take more space though.

As you consider which security system to purchase, don’t forget the importance of  choosing a quality security system DVR and getting surveillance you can actually use.