How Often Do You Use Encoders?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Dec 01, 2011

When moving to IP video surveillance, a number of choices are available. One of the most common options over the last decade has been encoders (or video servers as they are called in some countries). Video feeds from analog CCTV cameras are input into the encoder. The encoder converts those feeds into IP streams and then transmits them to network recorders (typically VMS software). Encoders are most often used when customers have existing analog cameras they want to keep when migrating to an IP video systems.

However, a number of other options also exist:

  • Hybrid DVR/NVRs: These are appliances that bundle VMS software, encoders and storage into a single 'box'. These are like the traditional DVR but with upgraded software to support integrating IP cameras as well. One common downside is that many of the biggest VMS software providers do not offer any hybrid DVR/NVR models.
  • Replacing Analog cameras: Another option is simply removing existing analog cameras and replacing them with new analog cameras. Since encoders cost money (typically $100 - $300 per channel) and today's new IP cameras offer much higher resolution, many users will find it more sensible simply to upgrade to the most current technology - IP MP cameras.

Of course, there is no universally correct answer and, in practice, a mix of all three options are used. However, it would be interesting to see how real world use breaks down and why people choose what they do.

Share Your Comments

What do you think? To get the discussion going, I really dislike encoders and find them costly and cumbersome (see a review of encoder weaknesses). I am happy to expand in the comments but I think encoders should really only be used for niche applications.

UPDATE: Encoders vs Hybrid DVRs comparison report released.

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