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What Is A Good Low End NVR That Doesnt Have The Playback Issues That Hikvision Does?

As if now I use Hikvision/LTS for customers who want an a basic NVR, and Avigilon for customers who want a lot of features/ease of use.

I like the price range of the Hikvision/LTS (about ~$300 for an 8 channel system), but while their live viewing is decent, their playback is terrible. It takes time for videos to buffer, it is hard to jump around and searching is terrible. Downloading is even worse, where you have to download the videos in the precut clips that they have it stored.

So I am looking for a differnt NVR for my customers that are on a budget. Preferably one that is close to that price range, but that is much easier to use, and doesnt have the same playback issues.

Any suggestions?

David, that's a great question. I ask myself a similar variant each time we test a low end recorder because there search interfaces tend to be bad.

I don't have a solution to that in the requested price range.

Let's see if Ethan or anyone else has anything to add.

That price range would be perfect, but it would be good also to have a third option to offer customers that may be a bit higher. What price range/device can you suggest?

Thank you

David, I have been looking around and it appears that an equivalent 8 channel NVR from a non Chinese provider typically runs in the $1500 to $2500 range.

That seems to be the challenge / gap. Yes, there are NVR appliances in the sub $500 range but I don't know of anything close to that point that has sophisticated video management / search.

David, if the $1000-$2000 range is ok, Razberi has some decent units that have a PoE switch built in. They run most of the common VMS packages out there. They also sell some pre-loaded with Milestone Arcus. Don't know if you are aware of them or not. I haven't used one, but an upcoming client is asking us to begin integrating them. I guess we will be finding out soon.

IP Video Surveillance Appliances | Razberi


Which Razberi model are you alluding to in the $1,000 to $2,000 price range? And does that include the VMS software price in that number?

Razberi RAZ-MPRO8-1T is under $1200 online. I have no idea what they run from distros. Our client will be providing all hardware and we are just integrating.

That price is sans VMS. But it also relieves the need for a PoE switch, so that may save another $200~$300 off the budget, which also will offset the VMS costs.

I'm not giving this product my endorsement by any means, just throwing it out there.

That is interesting, given the built-in PoE switch. Thanks.

With VMS licenses, it will be $1500+ but still, compared to big brand appliances, worth considering.

AvTech has nice NVR's but I they lack a good CMS.

Look for the AVH408.

Also I might be worng but I have the feeling they are moving from the IP to the TVI business.

David, we haven't found any DVR that is as easy to use as a full featured VMS (ex DW Spectrum). We do use Dahua OEM DVRs for all of our smaller installs. They aren't what I would call "easy to use", but for the money, they ARE reliable and have decent quality. We have used other more expensive units, like Speco, Digital Watchdog, NUVICO, and Everfocus, but we have found that the Dahua will work for most clients just fine. If we have a client that needs frequent playback, we simply spec out IP cams and DW Spectrum. That combo is about as easy as I can imagine.

[IPVM Note: Poster is from Exacq]

The MSRP of the 1TB exacqVision LC-series is $1500. That comes with exacqVision Start and 4 IP licenses. The LC has Gb NIC, Ubuntu OS, and comes with a 3 year warranty.

Another interesting alternative is building an exacqVision server off of Intel NUC hardware. This is what our exacqVision trainers are currently using to conduct training classes. They can cart in 10+ NUCs in a single Pelican case quite easily. ...This solution does require the integrator to get hands-on to build the NUC with memory and disk and install the OS, but I think it could be built for less than $700 for a 1TB solution.

Do you have any NUC in service? We have heard negative stories about reliability in service.

We don't sell systems based on the NUC, but as I mentioned, our trainers do use them, and are about 6 months into using them, so it's probably too early to say with any confidence about reliability. So far I haven't heard anything bad from them.

I personally have an i3 NUC system running at home for over a year with no issues, however that's not statistically relevant.

Sounds relevant to me. A year in use is a decent amount of time. Do you have it in use as a VMS server? How long do the trainers use them at any given time? After six months, I think you would find major flaws if they existed.

We haven't used the NUC because we had heard from other IT centric peers that they were having horrible failure rates on them. We don't have any first hand experience with them.

Has FLIR/Digimerge been considered?

This DNR208P1 is a 8 ch, 4 POE NVR for $396. They have others in that range and higher.

Apologies if it is just a Hikua rebadge, I can't be certain.

That is for sure a Dahua OEM product.

So everyone submitting suggestions, great, but do you know or have an idea how the playback performance is? Since that was the original objective of the post.

I myself and not surprised at poor playback on low end NVR's or DVR's. You're trading off something for that price, more often lots of things. Reliability, features, performance, usability, compatibility. I doubt those are Core i7 CPU's in those things. Maybe a lot of features aren't needed, but performance always seems to take a nose dive with price discounts. Seems anyone can make an NVR that can record and play live video. Beyond that.... well, that requires an "upgrade".

Actually Luis, the original objective of the post was NVR's with better playback AND in the $300 range. Seeing as there was nothing close to that range suggested so far, I offered the FLIR unit which I have never used personally, but I did check in the manual to see what it's playback capabilities were. Here is a shot of the player:

Also supports 4 camera playback, which is no guarantee of performance, but one would hope it could do one camera at least. In addition, it's not some noname brand, members should know this line and hopefully will comment...

I don't think a Dahua OEM rebrand is what he was asking for. It's no easier to use than the Hik.

But it is at least different from the Hik, right? That was the only manufacturer qualification that was given.

Of course it needs to perform better than the Hik, which you say it doesn't. Does it have the same problem buffering also?

"That was the only manufacturer qualification that was given."

Different and better at playback

Please do not suggest something unless to a very specific request unless you have some relevant experience.

I would ask that you re-read my post again, I think it should be clear that when I said 'manufacturer qualification', I meant exactly that, i.e. what brands were to be excluded or included from consideration. This was in direct response to Jon commenting that the OP doesn't want an Dahua OEM rebrand. To clarify I then also acknowledge immediately that "of course it needs to perform better than the Hik", so obviously I understand what's being asked by the OP.

And I do have very relevant experience to my suggestion, since I have been testing out a different OEM's version of the same model as the Digimerge, for several weeks now and think it's amazing for even double the price.

I wasn't 100% sure that they were both the same Dahua unit until Jon convinced me the Digimerge was in fact a Dahua, like mine.

Here's my unit

Curiously the Gen IV label was underneath a different OEM label. I'm afraid to peel anymore though...

Here is a very amateur clip I made of the screen while playing back 4 synced tiles. I recorded a 3MP Dahua and a Samsung 1.3 MP both at 25 FPS, playing back on a 1080P monitor at 1080P. Since I only had the two cameras, I duplicated each of the streams an extra time to stress the NVR as much as possible. Ease of use is hard to quantify, but I certainly see no buffering or glitchy playback issues, even when jumping around. Anyway, I can't make a test vid to save my life, so I'd like to leave that up to you guys. Do you have any test or shootout of this Dahua NVR in any of its forms? If not, tell me what is a fair load to test and I'll do my best!

Here's a link if the embed is not working:


Different in brand, but not superior in any measurable way.

Jon, you obviously have a lot of experience with both Hik and Dahua, which I respect immensely. So when

the OP described the problems with the Hik unit like this:

their playback is terrible. It takes time for videos to buffer, it is hard to jump around and searching is terrible.

and then you described a Dahua unit like this:

They aren't what I would call "easy to use", but for the money, they ARE reliable and have decent quality.

To me it sounded like the Dahua was at least a step up from terrible. But apparently you are saying they are the same. But I don't have both, so I can't say how bad the Hik is.

But I can say that the Dahua I am suggesting doesn't seem to have any buffering or playback glitchyness, for me at least. Which is a primary concern of the OP, along with ease of use.

So specfically, can you say whether you feel the Dahua models you have used have these same playback/buffering issues? And have you had a chance to use the model I linked to (or its branded/unbranded equivalent)?

If they don't glitch then the Dahua would be at least some improvement for the OP, no?

Ok, back to square one. I have used so many Dahua and Hik products that I have lost track. The reason why I use them time and again isn't because of their ease of use. That would not be one of the features of either brand. Playback and investigations are very tedious on both brands. I don't know if either has an edge on each other because they both are terrible at playback IMO.

More current models are able to keep up and haven't had as much buffering issues because they generally have faster and sometimes multi core CPUs now. In the past it would take 10-20 seconds to fill the timeline with motion events. When you want to find something quick, it is frustrating.

Now let's assume you find your event and want to preserve it. There is no way that I have found to "bookmark" that event and keep it from being overwritten. You have to export that video to another device or media. Thumb drive backups on the Dahua (when using motion recordings) nets you a potential for many independent files for each section of motion detected and again separate files for non-motion sections. You could end up with 20 video clips for a 5 min event for just one camera view. Try playing that back later and see how much hair you have left. Mine is all gone for sure.

Next you should try their CMS software on a PC instead of directly using the DVR/NVR. This software will be clunky and very hard to use when compared to quality VMS software. They use terms that just don't make sense. There is one main page for live views and playback is buried on another page, which usually restricts you to just four camera views for playback (the newer CMS allows up to 16 views but crashes all the time). Then when you find your event and begin to download it, it is much slower than the USB local backup. Usually you wait 10 mins or more to find out you forgot to click a checkbox and have to repeat the process.

I have seen this process take HOURS to retrieve five minutes of usable video. It is painful and really tests your patience.

That said, when I commend their quality, I mean they just keep running and I have rarely had a product die. In fact, I'm sure I've had one die, but I can't remember when. They do a great job of recording 24/7/365, but just don't ask to get that video exported.

We now ask our clients how often they plan on using playback. If it is often, we will recommend using DW Spectrum as the VMS. If they are cheap or don't really use playback too much, we will use a DVR/NVR.

I hope that helps.

Helps a lot! In particular this is encouraging:

More current models are able to keep up and haven't had as much buffering issues because they generally have faster and sometimes multi core CPUs now.

Because if the box can't keep up with the streams being played back to begin with then no one cares how easy it is to use.

As for the exporting issues, you are right, that is a royal pain in the ass! It also sounds like what David is referring to in his OP. So that's definitely a real pain point.

It's also quite fixable in software by Dahua, as are label confusion and layout issues. Whether they will or not is anybody's guess. Just a thought, have you tried using a free Avi combiner to create a single file for viewing? Have you seen them making any improvements with respect to usability of interface at all?

Once you need to playback more than 4 synced screens though you're likely to run into horsepower problems in any event, and probably need to look at a different system, like you recommend, with DW.

BTW, have you anything to say about NUUO? I have noticed that there are more than one vendors selling the NVRMini 8 ch for under $400, (possibly discontinued?). I have used their PC VMS (decent), but not their embedded appliances.

I have never tried a NUUO product. I have heard of the name only. I really only have plans on selling HD-CVI DVRs on the low end and DWS for mainstream clients. I will continue to re-evaluate that, but for now, it seems like a simple one-two punch.

My suggestion of the Razberi line seems to fit his need for ease of use, but it just isn't going to be anywhere near the $300 mark.

Please note that the Razberi solution is actually a high end PC hardware with preinstalled high end VMS.

I'm not saying its bad in any sense but that you can just go and buy a low end PC hardware and install the VMS on it.

Yes, I agree. That is where you need to be in order to acheive his goal of "easier to use" and more functionality. I don't think it is that overpriced considering the built in PoE and network segregation (router). I can see a difference between this engineered product and off the shelf hardware. I think the Razberi isn't the lowest cost solution by any means, but as a complete solution NVR, it seems pretty logical to me.

Out of curiosity what version of the firmware is loaded? We had a lot of issues a year ago but have not had any since we loaded the most recent version (2.3.10 for 76xx series) and (3.1.1 for 96xx and 77xx series) I have personally sold 30 NVRs in the past 14 months (mostly the 7716). I have found play back is much easier in the client software most recent version is v2.02.03.03_141022. Hik is terrible about posting the latest firmware and shipping it out. I keep an open connection to their FTP and make sure I load ours at the office with the latest and test before installing it on a customers.

We have used a few of these in some marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores and fuel stations where evidence needs to be retrieved regularly, its never taken us longer than a couple of minutes to download to a USB. I have had several drug enforcement agents, lottery enforcement agents and police officers comment on how much easier the Hik system is to use than others.

Samsung's SRN-472S 4ch NVR would seem closer to fitting the bill. It is easy to use, smooth, built in POE and about $600 with client software and apps. Take a look and decide for yourself. Full disclosure: I rep Samsung

D, is Samsung's vms software the same across its NVRs and DVRs? I am asking because last year we tested a Samsung DVR.

Where can we see a live demo of the NVR UI?

Thank you to all the suggestions.

So far besides maybe the samsung option just mentioned, there does not really see to be that many optons. Once I am crossing the $1K range, I would use already a higher end NVR that is based off of a computer. I can put together a computer with 4TB of storage that can support 16 cameras for about $400. A good 8 channel dvr license can be as about $550. Throw in a poe switch for another $150 and you have a $1100 high end DVR.

I hope you don't mind me asking, but what type of PC can you build with 4TB of storage for around $400? I only ask because we have been trying to do this ourselves and haven't found any success yet. Our best attempt to build a PC of VMS level of quality is around $800, which is double what you have found. We recently found some Lenovo barebone servers, which we are considering, but even then, we are still around $600 when including an 120GB SSD OS drive and WD 4TB Purple.

I dont have the actually part numbers right now. But in the past we have used a dell t20 server with a 4tb hard drive and a smaller drive for the OS. The dell T20's have been on sale for as low as $240.

Or we put together out own with the same basic specs.

The most cameras I have ever used with such a system were 18 cameras running off of an Avigilon. One thing to note, that most of the viewing is doen via pc clients, but I have used the system itself to export video faster.

Not to sound too much like a sore loser, but is it fair to assume that Jon called right when he said you probably are not interested in Dahua?

Thing is that I don't see anything else even approaching $300 for 8 channels. And mine has smooth, 4 MP channel sync playback to a 1080P monitor, without any buffering, though the interface maybe clunky. Over here Matt talks about his experience with HIK vs Dahua. FWIW. Good luck.

I am willing to try anything. However from experience (albeight a while ago), Hikvisio nand Dahua had the same issues. I Dahua manged to fix up their playback issues and made it easier to jump around and export videos, then I would give it a try. What model are you refering to?

Check this out, this is on Hikvisions TVI DVR. We installed one at my dads house the other day. Last night I discovered you can playback using VCA. Helps to cut down searching through false activations, last night we had a snowstorm so there were many. When you search VCA it highlights what you searched. This is being done remotely.

For the price can't beat it,thanks for the video.

I just checked the HD-TVI client that I had and I dont see the VCA option below the search results. How did you get it?

Make sure the DVR (3.1.2) is the latest firmware and the client software ( Here's a video on how to set it up. If you contact your Hikvision rep they can get you access to their FTP so you can always have the latest firmware. If you watch the previous video I posted there is an example of how to download the exact clip you want. If you want, we could get on web meeting and I can answer questions you have. It took me about a year and 30+ systems to get it all figured out.

I use HIK all the time and video does't have to be downloaded as pre defined files.There is option to downlad specified time frame as on any other DVR/NVR out there. Also I don't experience buffering issues even over poor DSL connections. As somebody else mentioned firmware updates are very important and that applies to all manufacturers of NVRs and cameras alike.


Would you expand on how you download or export a specific timed clip? The only way I found to get a specific clip is to use the snip function during playback. When trying to export a specific time it has always ended up being the recording block that contains the time requested. This can be a 15+ minute block of unneeded video. We have been using OEM'd Hik for about a year and I like everything about them except video exporting. One version of firmware caused the snip function to be off by exactly a minute and was pretty frustrating.


I use IVMS software which gives you 3 methods of downloads:NVR clips that you mentioned,by specific time and by flags.I assume that NVRs are connected to the Network and all users have PCs to load them on.

I really, really hate to ask this but any recommendations on a 16-ch or 32-ch DVR? I have a client that has about 96 analog cameras and currently he is leasing the DVR's from another integrator. He is not impressed with the inability to search for events so that is important feature. Also, he currently has digital watchdog installed with miscellaneous brands of cameras I think.