Pelco's Hybrid DVRs (DX4700/4800) Examined
In this note, we examine Pelco's 2 new Hybrid DVR series: the DX4700 and 4800 series. Pelco is marketing these recorders to users who want to add in megapixel cameras to existing analog systems. Pelco reports high interest in this offering with over 500 people registering to attend their webinar [link no longer available]. For video surveillance standards, this is a massive amount of people. However, how good or innovative are these new products?
Previous DX4000 series systems, namely the DX4104 and DX4500/4600s, are strictly DVRs, supporting up to 16 analog cameras. The higher end DX8100 series does support IP cameras but only SD resolution. By contrast, the new DX4700/4800 are Hybrid DVRs supporting direct analog plus up to 2 megapixel IP cameras (up to 3MP resolution each).
Additional features of these DVRs:
- Front Panel video viewing controls
- 4 Drive Bays for up to 8 TB recording
- Looping video inputs
- The new DVRs can be managed / viewed from the same UI as other DX DVRs.
Note: the main difference between the 4700 and 4800 series is the analog recording quality. The 4700 supports 30fps CIF while the 4800 supports 30fps 4CIF.
Pricing for the series ranges from a low of $4,784 MSRP for the DX4708-250 to $7,404 MSRP for the DX4816-250.
For organizations already invested in Pelco systems who are generally content with analog/DVR technology, this is likely to be appealing. A good example might be those applications that require just a couple of megapixel cameras per location/DVR for critical high definition applications (e.g., to identify human subjects) or large areas (like a parking lot).
While these are the first Pelco DX series HVRs to support megapixel IP cameras (DX8100s only support SD IP cameras), they are limited to only 2 IP channels and 4 Mb/s - 7 Mb/s througput (the greater the analog load, the lower the bandwidth available for the IP cameras). The bandwidth limits may impact those looking for higher frame or quality megapixel video.
More importantly, these DVRs will not meet the needs of those who want to migrate many (or most) of their cameras over the expected 5 - 7 year average life cycle of the DVR.
Another limitation is that 3rd party IP camera support for the DX4700/4800 series is currently limited with support for only Pelco and Axis IP cameras.
Of the 'big brand' manufacturers, a close competitor is the Bosch 700 Hyrid DVR series [link no longer available]. In general, this line has similar feature sets and price range. Main differentiator is higher IP camera channel count / bandwidth throughput.
In Pelco's home market of North America, one of the strongest contrasts would be Exacq's EL Hybrid series [link no longer available] which offers higher IP channel counts at significantly lower prices compared to Pelco. The Exacq 0800-24-0250-ELS, the closest comparison to the Pelco DX4708-250 (8 channel units with 250 GB hard drives) has an MSRP of $3,060 - more than 30% less than Pelco (even after factoring in separate charge for 2 Exacq IP camera licenses). Moreover, Exacq supports up to 24 total IP cameras and maximum IP camera bandwidth of 144 Mb/s, far higher than Pelco's. For significantly less money, this alternative provides a full migration path. However, this Exacq series has 240fps/4CIF max, does not have front panel for controlling / viewing video, only has a single internal drive bay and looping only on the 8 channel unit.
While we are skeptical about the competitive value of this offering, Pelco has massive market power plus the ability to provide a single client/monitoring solution to their existing customers. As such, we would expect adoption amongst Pelco's channels but question the overall competitive strength, especially the limitation on IP/MP camera expansion.