Best Remote Viewing NVR Or VMS?

I would like to get some opinions from all of you pros. I am and end user so I don't get to compare systems side by side. I am in LP for a retail chain of stores and do a lot of remote viewing both live and archived video. In your expert opinions which brand of nvr or vms would provide me with the best streaming speed and quality. I don't want something that streams fast with poor picture quality, it needs to be a balance. Thank you in advance for any responses.

Newell, good to hear from you and good question!

While I am sure some people have had good experiences with different brands, it is not a simple question to answer or straightforward to pick one company over others.

There are some important considerations to keep in mind:

Bandwidth Consumption of Camera

NVRs and VMSes are constrained by the bandwidth consumption coming in from cameras (presuming their IP) or from encoder (analog).

There is huge differences in camera bandwidth consumption (e.g., IP Camera Bandwidth / Storage Shootout).

The big thing now is smart codecs (which especially for retail chains with lots of areas with relatively low motion most of the time) could reduce bandwidth consumption 50-90% without any quality loss. On the other hand, this means either new IP cameras or DVRs for analog cameras. In the long term, smart codecs is really what you should be planning / working towards if remote viewing is important.

Investigations More Challenging

With live video, a lower resolution stream is often sent (multi-streaming or transcoding) to reduce bandwidth (e.g., you record at 1080p but you stream remotely at VGA, ~1/6th the resolution).

Some VMSes do that with recorded video, but as you mention, this can become a big problem when doing investigations because you really want to get all the details at full resolution. This is one of the reasons why moving (eventually) to smart codecs will really help.

Net/net, if you want all the details (which generally you do during the investigation), it's going to be slow unless you increase bandwidth efficiency (smart codecs, etc.).

NVR / VMS Configuration

Most NVRs and VMSes will benefit from configuring their remote monitoring settings (sometimes these are client side, other they are server side) that at least let you adjust how it streams out remotely.

Related, VMS Remote Monitoring Tested

Let me know what questions you have or if we can help.

I regularly do demos with Avigilon using my phone as a hotspot to show customers one of our 230 camera systems. Avigilon handles both live streaming and recorded video without transcoding to a low resolution very well over low bandwidth WAN connections. Best part is there is basically no configuration on the ACC server or cameras to make this work so well. Other systems make you setup mobile streams on the cameras which really only affects the live video so when you search recorded you dealing with the HD stream which slows things down or you have to configure a second recorder to handle the low res stream and then manage everything.. I think Avigilon handles this very well with no configuration needed.

Another nice feature is the pixel and people/vehicle search. You can search areas of the video for motion/people or vehicles and have near instantaneous results over a LTE connection. Once you see the results you can see them in low res and HD stream again without any configuration or manual management of the streams.

Avigilon handles both live streaming and recorded video without transcoding to a low resolution very well over low bandwidth WAN connections...

If the streams are not transcoded and assuming the full camera FOV is in view on the client, is this accomplished by sending only I-frames?

Ok, how can you have the "least amount of storage" if you have to record the high resolution stream anyway? I can agree that the server might send a lower resolution stream to the client when a high resolution one is not needed.. but the high resolution stream has to be recorded on its entirety, so, in the end of the video it says HDSM system guarantees the least amount of storage.. how? If you receive 5mbits from the camera (for a very high resolution stream), you HAVE to record it unless you are doing some transcoding, which would not make sense since you would probably lose quality..

Ok, stop, this is not going to be a debate about HDSM.

This is a real end user who wants our professional feedback, not a debate on HDSM.

If Newell wants more info on HDSM, he can respond and let's continue. Otherwise no more comments for or against Avigilon.

ok.. I just wanted to understand the technology :)

Once again the question is probably going to be what's your budget. From the tests on here per camera Axis Zipstream is probably going to be the best codec. But they are also a lot spendier than say a Hik camera. Avigilon is fine, but the problem once again is price per megapixel * bandwidth efficiency since you are also looking for a good picture quality. If price is no option I would probably go Axis Zipstream with Exacq or Avigilon VMS.

Tyler, Hikvision has H.264+ on most of their cameras, and it delivers close to the same bandwidth reductions as Zipstream.

See: Hikvision H.264+ Tested

As for Avigilon, they do not support smart codecs, which is now a significant negative for them, given the advances their competitors have made.

Here's real-time bandwidth metrics remotely viewing the following live:

  • 16 MP
  • 30 MP
  • 5 MP
  • 2 MP
  • 2 MP PTZ
  • 8 MP
  • 3 x 3 MP Multisensor

You'll notice this is currently being viewed at 3 Mbps utilization.


Digitally zooming on an image ( license plate on 16 MP camera) will spike bandwidth as it will send over the full resolution tile associated with that area of the camera's field of view. Still considerably low at an additional 4 Mbps as this camera alone is likely recording locally at ~25 Mbps.


2, to clarify for others, you are remotely viewing those cameras but you are not remotely streaming or displaying the full resolution. I know you know this but not everyone does and the way you phrase your opening makes this unclear.

You have a 4 x 3 matrix, so each camera is probably displaying on the monitor at roughly CIF to VGA resolutions, correct?

Correct. The first image is indicative of the low-resolution stream, roughly CIF to VGA on all cameras represented. My intent in showing the second image was to provide a comparison in bandwidth utilization when digital zoom triggers the full-resolution image( in the example provided, 16 MP) of that one tile or bite-sized chunk of the camera's field of view. You are seeing full resolution of the 16 MP in the 2nd image, just of the area it is digitally zoomed into ( license plate).

I apologize if this was misleading as i certainly did not intend for it to be. Thanks for clarifying.

If price is no option I would probably go Axis Zipstream with Exacq or Avigilon VMS.

I would not recommend Axis Zipstream with Avigilon to improve remote viewing . You will lose the advantages of the HDSM, pixel search, object classification search which make remote viewing smooth and easy. Plus since the I frames are all over the place scrubbing video is very choppy.

Aloha John,

I would like to thank you and all the pros for your responses. To answer the question about price, price is no object. I am based in Hawaii and need to remote view stores as far as Guam and Saipan. Everything is flexible from the camera resolution to the VMS. The ultimate goal is, If I need to watch an incident that occurred days ago. I can pull up the video and view it with good picture quality and it won't require hours of loading just to view 5-10 minutes.


price is no object.... need to watch an incident

If those are the two main considerations, you want to buy cameras with the greatest bandwidth efficiency because you will need the full resolution to do the investigation remotely.

For that, smart codec cameras are certainly the choice. The good news is that smart codec camera availability is one the rise. We have tested: Axis Zipstream, Panasonic Smart Coding and Hikvision H.264+. Axis Zipstream has the overall best performing smart codec but Hikvision H.264+ is fairly close and notably less expensive.

Use one of those 2 camera manufacturer's supported cameras with your choice of VMS. That's the best way to get quality and bandwidth efficiency at the same time.


I suggest trying using my VMS:

It only takes few moments to try. Try it with the thick client.
Nx VMS is optimized for low bandwidth channels( we pull 2 streams out of the cameras and dynamically automatically switch image quality based on available bandwidth).

You are more than welcome to address any questions on our support portal


To be clear to readers, lots of VMSes support multi-streaming. It is one of the reason I did not mention any VMS by name here.

Also, the problem with multi-streaming to lower resolution / image quality streams, is the loss of image quality that is key to investigations.

The reason I mentioned Nx VMS here is because we pay a huge amount of attention to our adaptive algorithm of automatic(!) switching between hi and low qualities. This is one of our key features if you wish. Practically with low bandwidth channel, you can overview video and do not have any downsides while doing investigations. The whole process is transparent to the end user. No need to control quality manually or even know anything about it.

you can overview video and do not have any downsides while doing investigations.

Of course, there is a downside if you switch to low resolution in low bandwidth, you lose details that are generally important in investigations.

I am not against what you do. I think multi-streaming can be useful but if you are doing an investigation, generally you need / want full resolution and the best way to get that is to use a more bandwidth efficient camera.

Then they can put that camera on your VMS or other VMSes that support multi-imager streaming and get the lowest bandwidth full resolution stream and the lower res overview stream.

One more very important item to be considered is the cost of Licensing IP Cameras and systems vs Systems with No licensing fees whatsoever. John is correct the HikVison is a very good choice indeed and another clear advantage of HIKVISION over AXIS, Avigilon, Samsung, Panasonic and many others is you do not pay ridiculous license fees.

The pocketbook is important, ask your customer to take a test of each and let them decide if you think your product is superior?

Free can also mean not as developed or not as well done or not as secure. Everything comes at a cost, and that is also a consideration when evaluating a solution. Also given Hikvision's security concerns, if this equipment is attached to the Internet, that should be weighed along with the effectiveness of the mobile interface.

The pocketbook is important...

Price is no object...


Do you have an idea of the available upload speeds from the local ISPs at all the sites you need to view/review video from?

Although I don't work for IndigoVision I recall a casino evaluation that placed them beat at low bandwidth with high resolution.

Actually I'm a competitor! Where is Carl?

Anybody knows another VMS which has the same/similar streaming technology as Avigilon HDMS 2?

Undisclosed 5,

I probably can obtain that info from my IT dept. However, assume the worst upload speed you have ever dealt with for discussion purposes. What VMS and camera combo would you recommend to your customer.

You can buy/drive a Cadillac (hi res/hi quality NVR/VMS video), but the roads (bandwidth restrictions) you have available to drive that Cadillac on are muddy, full of boulders and pot holes and other hazards - which will most likely prevent your Cadillac from performing up to it's specific capabilities.

No matter what NVR/VMS you are using, slow upload speed at the recording locations is going to have a huge impact on your ability to view anything live - and will take forever to load recorded video (especially at hi res/hi quality).

Smart codecs can help reduce bandwidth (as has been mentioned) - but your available upload speed will still be your limiter.

lol - so someone disagrees with me.... and yet doesn't post why I am wrong.

For that person:

As John already posted in this string, check out VMS Remote Monitoring Tested.

or, just inspect the below - which is from that same IPVM article:

Key Findings

Here are the key lessons from our testing:

  • Higher definition cameras clearly and significantly increased load times over SD ones. 3MP took about twice as long on average as SD.
  • Going from 56Kb/s to 256Kb/s made a dramatic difference in usability in almost all thick clients. Going to 1.5Mb/s made all VMS thick client almost as responsive and fast as having unthrottled connections.
  • Thick clients were far less usable than web clients, largely because web clients offered better options to reduce bandwidth demand (primarily transcoding).
  • Even among web clients using transcoding, performance differences were sizeable with Exacq loading the fastest and providing the most granular options as well as ability to transcode for search as well.
  • Among the thick clients, Genetec Security Center exhibited serious problems maintaining a connection at 56kb/s and 256kb/s. Client connections kept dropping not giving cameras a chance to load. Milestone had similar issues.
  • While multi-streaming with a secondary low stream is billed to improve remote monitoring, in our tests, many VMS's low stream took almost as long to load as the high stream with negligible benefits in real-time performance.

Undisclosed 5,

Thanks for the feedback. However, using your analogy, if I was going to drive on an off road trail I would buy a 4 wheel drive vehicle not a Ferrari. Like I said in my original post, I am not interested in the shiniest car on the lot. I want the car that can get me from point a to point b the fastest driving through mud.

I understand.... but where my analogy is flawed is that - as the referenced report appears to show - no one VMS/NVR is as good in the mud as you need it to be.

Certain manufacturers can claim that they are better than others in delivering video across low bandwidth connections - but none of them can ignore the laws of physics.

They can constrain the size of the video files [cars] by using compression and/or smart codecs, but they are still limited by the networks throughput limitations [size of the road]

There is no magic formula that can move a file of a certain size across a network that has limited throughput to move that file.

Seems like some significant sales pitching from a manufacturer in this thread. I thought that was frowned upon, John?

8, which manufacturer? Do you mean Network Optix who I responded to and criticized?

Sorry if I did something wrong(did I?)
Before I posted the comment
I went here

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I believe I met all conditions.