CCTV Buying Guide (HD versus IP)


CCTV, or closed-circuit television, is a system that allows you to keep an eye on what’s going on in and around your home or business. Cameras and monitors enable you to view events live, and recorders archive footage for later reference. There are two types of CCTV systems available, HD (Analogue) and IP (Digital).

What is HD CCTV?

HD CCTV (also known as HD Analogue, AHD, HD-CVI or HD-TVI) is compatible with the same cables that were used in legacy analogue CCTV systems over the last 30+ years. In an HD CCTV system, the cameras transmit the video signal from the camera to the recorder as an analogue HD signal using coaxial cable. Power for the cameras is usually supplied using an additional cable and power supply. Recently PoC (Power over Coax) systems have been launched by Dahua and Hikvision, these allow the recorder to supply power to the cameras using the same coaxial cable they are receiving the video signal on.

The recorder, known as a DVR (Digital Video Recorder), will receive the analogue HD signal, convert it to digital format, display it on a monitor, compress it and record it on to its hard drive or send it across the network/internet for viewing from a Smartphone, Tablet or PC/Mac.

What is IP CCTV?

IP CCTV also known as (Internet Protocol or Network CCTV) runs on wired and wireless networks. The same networks that local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN), such as the Internet use. In an IP CCTV system, the cameras capture images and convert them to a digital signal within the camera itself (in an HD Analogue CCTV system, the cameras send analogue signals to the recorder, which then converts them in to a digital signal). The camera also compresses these digital signals (streams) prior to them being sent to the recorder, which is known as an NVR (Network Video Recorder). The NVR will also allow viewing from a Smartphone, Tablet or PC/Mac.

Which one is right for me?

The table below compares HD CCTV to IP CCTV, this should help you decide which is right for you. For further details click on a heading. 

Picture Quality (Winner: IP CCTV) click for more info
HD CCTV Available in various resolutions up to 8MP (4K). Video is captured in an analogue format and then converted to digital by the recorder or monitor.
IP CCTV Available in various resolutions up to 12MP for home and commercial use and above that for specialist applications. Video is captured as a digital signal and stays digital end to end.
Summary HD CCTV systems convert analogue HD signals to digital at the Recorder, whereas IP CCTV systems have a digital signal throughout the system. Since IP CCTV systems are not converting the signal, the recorded images are clearer on an IP CCTV system when compared with an HD CCTV system.
Winner IP CCTV


Cabling and Power (Winner: Depends on application) click for more info
HD CCTV HD CCTV systems run over co-axial cable.

The standard cable run between camera and recorder is 100m, using higher quality coaxial cable this can be extended to 500m, and using additional equipment such as Baluns, this can be extended even further.

The majority of HD CCTV cameras are powered using a separate cable and power supply. However using Plug & Play cable, it is possible to still run only one cable, since this type of cable is pre-made and has multiple cables within it, for power and video. This make installation simple.

PoC (Power over Coax) systems do not need a Plug & Play cable or separate power, as the PoC Recorder will supply power to the cameras using the same coaxial cable the video signal is running on.
IP CCTV IP CCTV systems run over networks. They are connected to these networks using CAT5/6 cables.

The standard cable run on an IP CCTV system is 100m between camera and recorder. This can be extended to 250m by using additional equipment. It can also be extended by using Network switches.

IP CCTV systems support PoE (power over ethernet), allowing them to be powered over the same cable as the digital data.
Summary HD CCTV systems are perfect for upgrading existing CCTV systems that run on coaxial cable, as in most cases the same cable can be used for the HD CCTV signals.

IP CCTV systems run over IP networks, making them ideal for buildings where an existing network infrastructure exists.

If you are fitting a new CCTV system rather than upgrading, it is better to fit an IP CCTV system, unless cost is a concern. IP CCTV systems are more futureproof than coaxial based systems, since they use network infrastructure.
Winner Depends on application


Cost & Performance (Winner: Depends on application) click for more info
HD CCTV Lower Cost than IP CCTV systems.

Offer standard performance, to meet everyday requirements, such as live viewing, recording, remote viewing/playback across the internet.

Recording speeds (fps) are lower than IP CCTV systems, especially at higher resolutions like 5MP and 8MP (4K).
IP CCTV Higher cost than HD CCTV systems, however IP CCTV cameras have powerful processors, this also allows the cameras to be used independently of a recorder, since they can be accessed directly by a Smartphone, Tablet or PC. If the IP camera has the facility to record on to a Micro SD card then it is possible to record without a separate recorder too (so in this scenario it could be more cost effective to use an IP camera, rather than an HD camera and recorder), however adding a recorder (NVR) will allow you to record for longer as these use Hard Drives for storage.

Offer high performance and special features such as AI Video Analytics and Real Time (25fps) recording.

The recorder (NVR) in an IP CCTV system receives digital data streams directly from the cameras, allowing it to record these directly to the hard drive. This allows the NVR to free up resources for other functions such as Remote Access and Live Viewing. The net result of this is that remote viewing of cameras is smoother and clearer when viewing IP CCTV cameras compared to HD CCTV cameras.
Summary HD CCTV systems are better suited to applications where cost is a concern or where basic features are required.

IP CCTV systems offer performance advantages over HD CCTV systems, but at a higher initial cost in most cases.
Winner Depends on application


Futureproofing (Winner: IP CCTV) click for more info
HD CCTV In an HD CCTV system the cameras are dumb devices that send an analogue signal to the recorder, which is the brains of the system as it has a powerful processor. This limits the upgrade path for HD CCTV systems, as only the recorder can be upgraded by software updates.
IP CCTV In an IP CCTV system the cameras are intelligent devices, they have powerful processors that can perform additional functions such as AI Video Analytics.

IP CCTV cameras can be updated by upgrading the software on them, enabling new features and improving existing ones.

IP CCTV systems run on networking infrastructure and cables. This type of infrastructure is in nearly all modern buildings.
Summary IP CCTV systems provide better futureproofing than HD CCTV systems.
Winner IP CCTV


Ease of use & Configuration (Winner: HD CCTV and Standard IP CCTV systems) click for more info
HD CCTV HD CCTV systems are simple to use as they are designed to offer standard functions that the majority of applications require, Recording, Live Viewing and Remote Access.

HD Cameras require minimal setup, simply mount the camera, focus if required and wire the camera back to the recorder and power source.
IP CCTV IP CCTV systems where the cameras and recorder are the same brand and where the cameras are being directly connected to the recorder are as simple to use as HD CCTV systems.

IP CCTV systems where the cameras are located on a different location or network to the recorder, will require a network engineer to set them up (our Product Support team can help you with this).

IP CCTV cameras that support advanced functions such as AI Video Analytics can take time to setup correctly, however the results are worth the effort needed.
Summary HD CCTV and Standard IP CCTV systems are easier to setup and use when compared to Advanced IP CCTV systems.
Winner HD CCTV and Standard IP CCTV systems


Compatibility (Winner: HD CCTV) click for more info

HD CCTV systems are available in different resolutions and signal types. The recorder and camera type must match, so for example a 2MP AHD camera will only work with a recorder that is compatible with 2MP AHD cameras.

The signal types are:

    • AHD - This is the most common HD signal type
    • CVI - HD signal mainly found in Dahua products
    • TVI - HD signal mainly found in Hikvision products
    • CVBS - This is the legacy analogue CCTV signal - it is not HD

    The video quality of the 3 HD signals is similar. They are all available in a variety of resolutions.

    It is very easy to mix different brands of HD CCTV equipment together, providing only video and audio are required, advanced functionality such as PoC (Power over Coax) and UTC (Up the Coax) control, will require both the recorder and cameras to be the same brand and support the same features.

    IP CCTV IP CCTV systems communicate over LAN (Local Area Networks) and WAN (Wide Area Networks, such as the Internet). They send data over these networks, between the camera and recorder. Each manufacturer has its own protocol, however some also provide support for a common protocol called ONVIF.

    ONVIF protocol is available in different versions, with the most basic version providing support for video only and the most complex adding advanced compatibility.

    Unless you require basic integration of cameras and recorders, as in video only, it is best to not mix different brands of IP CCTV equipment.
    Summary HD CCTV systems have better compatibility across different brands than IP CCTV systems, unless very simple compatibility is required (video only).
    Winner HD CCTV

    If you are unsure of which is better suited to your requirements, HD or IP, please give our CCTV experts a call on 020 8126 6666, and they will advise you on the best choice for your requirements.