HD CCTV Recorder Buying Guide

The HD/Analogue CCTV Recorder (also known as a DVR, Digital Video Recorder, Hybrid Recorder, XVR) will be the heart of your CCTV system. The recorder manages and records the cameras, as well as adding additional features to your CCTV system.

This guide will help you decide what specifications and features your recorder has to have. Once you have decided these, use the filters in the product sections to find your ideal recorder, or call 020 8126 6666 to discuss your requirements.  

Choose by Signal Type click for more info
The DVR should be able to accept the same signal type as the cameras you are connecting to it. Some DVRs are Hybrid, which allows them to connect to both HD/Analogue and IP CCTV cameras, these Hybrid Recorders are also known as XVRs.

      • AHD - The most popular HD signal type
      • CVI - Mainly used by Dahua but also supported by other manufacturers such as IQCCTV
      • TVI - Mainly used by Hikvision but also supported by other manufacturers such as IQCCTV
      • CVBS - Allows connection of older non-HD analogue CCTV cameras, such as D1, 700TVL and 960H
      • IP - The DVR has additional IP camera inputs for connecting IP cameras and HD/Analogue cameras at the same time

Choose by Resolution click for more info
The DVR determines the resolution and quality of your recordings. The recorder can support higher resolutions than your cameras, however the cameras will still record at the maximum resolution they can output.

      • 2MP (1080P)/3MP - These recorders will record cameras at 2MP (1080P) and 3MP resolution. They are the lowest cost recorders in our range.
      • 5MP Lite/5MP - These recorders will record 2MP (1080P), 3MP and 5MP cameras. The 5MP Lite recorders offer recording resolutions visually similar to 3MP recorders, whilst the 5MP recorders record in true 5MP resolution. This range of recorders offers the best balance of cost versus performance.
      • 8MP (4K) - These recorders offer the best performance and are perfect for those considering upgrading in the future as they support the latest 8MP (4K) cameras and will also record 2MP (1080P), 3MP and 5MP cameras.

Choose by Camera Inputs click for more info
The number of camera inputs you require on your recorder will be determined by 2 factors:

      1. How many cameras are you connecting to your recorder?
      2. How much spare capacity do you need for adding additional cameras to your system?

In our experience it is always good practice to have 2 camera inputs spare for every 2 cameras you have on your system. So for example if you will be connecting 4 cameras buy an 8 camera recorder so you have room to expand your system in the future.

Choose by Frame Rate click for more info
When looking at recorder specifications you will notice that fps is often mentioned. This is an abbreviation for Frames Per Second. A DVR's recording rate is measured using this format.

For example if a 4 channel DVR records 4 cameras and has a recording rate of 25FPS per channel. This means that the recorder will record 25 frames a second from the camera. The best way to think of a frame is as a still picture, so the recorder is recording 25 still pictures from the camera every second. When these are viewed, they will give you smooth real time video, without any gaps in the footage. If the recorder was recording 1 fps (frame per second) then when the recording was viewed it would be like viewing still images not a smooth video, and 96% of every second of recorded footage would be missing!

The best frame rate is 25fps and in an ideal world all systems would record at this. However the higher the fps and resolution the more processing power and recording space the recorder will need, so different recorders have different limits on how many fps they can record each camera at.

See our recommendations for fps below:

Application Ideal FPS Lowest FPS
Identification or High Risk (such as cameras located in premises that serve alcohol or handle cash)  25 15
Recognition or Medium Risk (business premises) 15 10
Observation or Standard Risk (homes) 10 5
Detection or Low Risk 5 1


Choosing Storage Space click for more info
There are four factors that will need to be considered when you choose the hard drive size in your DVR.

      1. The video codec type of the DVR - Older DVRs use the H.264 codec which does a great job of compressing the video file size so extended recording times are possible even on smaller hard drives. However the very latest codec, H.265, offers comparable picture quality but with half the file size.
      2. The recording frame rate of each camera - The higher the frame rate (fps) each camera is recording at, the more storage space it will require.
      3. The recording resolution - The higher the resolution the more storage space is required.
      4. The activity level if recording on motion only - All of our DVRs have motion detection as standard, this allows the DVR to record only when there is movement in the camera scene. For example a motion activated camera used in a business environment typically has motion for 50% of a 24 hour period, so it will be recording for 12 hours compared to 24 hours continuously. A camera in a residential application will typically record for 25% of a 24 hour period, so 6 hours.

On the product information page of all of our DVRs you will see a Storage Space Requirements Table which will show you how many TB of recording space is required depending on the above factors.

Choose by Remote Access compatibility click for more info
All of the DVRs we sell offer one or more of the following remote access features.

      • Multi-Site (DVR) Monitoring from a Windows PC - Optional software is available that allows multiple cameras from DVRs in different locations to be viewed simultaneously on a single PC. Recordings can also be played back remotely and backed up on the PC. DVRs can also be cofigured remotely.
      • Multi-Site (DVR) Monitoring from an OSX PC - Optional software is available that allows multiple cameras from DVRs in different locations to be viewed simultaneously on a single Mac. Recordings can also be played back remotely and backed up on the Mac. DVRs can also be cofigured remotely.
      • iOS/Android App for Remote Access - Offers live view, playback and configuration of multiple DVRs from anywhere in the world, using an iOS or Android smart phone or device.

Choose by Special Features click for more info
Some applications will require special features to ensure that you get th most from your CCTV system.

      • Active Deterrent (Deterrence) Camera Support - Works with Active Deterrent (Deterrence) cameras, which will proactively respond to what they see. The cameras will detect movement using an integrated PIR detector. Once detected they can turn on or flash a white light, sound a siren or play a recorded message. The camera can also alert you via the DVRs PC/Mac software, APP or by Email.
      • Active Deterrent (Deterrence) TIOC (White Light, Blue/Red Light Visual Alert & Audio Alert) Camera Support - Works with Active Deterrent (Deterrence) TIOC cameras. When connected to these, the DVR will use AI to detect breaches of perimeters, humans and vehicles. Once detected the DVR will turn on or flash the camera's white light, turn on its blue and red strobe lights, sound its siren or play a recorded message. The DVR can also alert you via the PC/Mac software, APP or by Email.
      • Audio - DVRs with audio inputs can record audio from cameras equipped with microphones or from external microphones plugged directly in to them.
      • AI Video Analytics - DVRs with AI Video Analytics use Artificial Intelligence to reduce false alarms and detect intelligent information from the camera image.
      • Face Detection - Records and recognises authorised and unauthorised faces, and provides notifications based on this.
      • Perimeter Detection - Detects humans and vehicles that cross trip-wires, providing Ai enabled perimeter protection for minimised false alarms when compared to motion detectors and similar technology.
      • POS - Supports point of sale integration which can show video and POS information on both live views and during playback. Text search allows precise searching of products scanned and prices, so you can find related recordings easily and quickly.
      • Human Detection - Uses AI to detect a person in the cameras image.
      • Vehicle Detection - Uses AI to detect a vehicle in the cameras image.