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Home Security Cameras
The year-on-year increase in sensors and cheap computing, loosely known as Internet of Things (IoT), has given rise to new areas where technology is making day-to-day life smarter and more efficient. We see this trend in cars, fitness gadgets and, slowly but surely, extending out to smarter cities.
Home security is also being taken to a new level with the emergence of cheap, ubiquitous computing. Having multiple cameras recording to a centralised computer was the preserve of the rich just 10 years ago, but the rise of IoT has cascaded this technology down to the grasp of the everyman. It's now possible to buy a high-definition camera and recording equipment for a tiny fraction of the price paid at the turn of the millennium.
With privacy becoming more of a concern and technology breaking the economic barriers to entry, home security kits, particularly those centred on closed-circuit television (CCTV), have become increasing popular. So what does the average home owner need to take into account when weighing up the purchase of a kit? We outline the main fundamentals in this TekSpek.
In its barest form a CCTV kit comprises of a camera or cameras that connect to a digital video recorder (DVR) by either traditional wires or, lately, wireless connectivity. The DVR records the footage obtained by the cameras. Sensible recording practices mean that the hard drive only starts to be used when the camera(s), through intelligent algorithms, begin to sense movement.
The cheapest kits use low-resolution cameras and DVRs equipped with small drives that hold just a few hours of footage. These kinds of CCTV kits often retail for under £100 and are suitable for smaller properties where basic deterrence is arguably more important than the recording ability. On the other end of the scale, multiple full-HD cameras, wirelessly connected to a 6TB DVR, can cost close to £1,000 for the very best models. Premium models, too, tend to have access-anywhere apps for smartphones and tablets which, as the name suggests, enable the user to log-in from anywhere in the world and see exactly the cameras are recording.
Premium kits offer what is known as Power over Ethernet (PoE) support. Operational power and video is supplied in just one cable, rather than having batteries in the externally-mounted cameras, and this is the preferable solution if you plan to deploy multiple cameras on site.
Most external cameras are weatherproof and therefore carry IP66 certification. This means they are dust-tight and protected against powerful jetting. Some cameras adhere to a higher specs known as IP67 or IP68 that offer temporary protection against water immersion or continuous protection, respectively. These cameras are most suited for environments that are likely to flood.
Typically, a DVR with a built-in 1TB mechanical drive can hold 360 hours worth of footage from four cameras using a 720p resolution and 25fps recording. Such efficient use of capacity is made possible by on-the-fly compression using the popular H.264 codec that's also used for streaming high-definition media from the web. The next iteration of this compression codec, H.265, promises the ability to record twice as much detail without increasing the space footprint.
If the user doesn't need a local centralised store such as a DVR, there are now simpler, cheaper CCTV cameras that upload their recorded activity straight to the web, or the cloud as it is more commonly known. Such CCTV units are usually designed for indoor use, and are activated by motion detection in normal daylight and infrared during night time, recording in colour and black and white for the two scenarios, respectively.
The Right CCTV Kit For Me
Given the large variation between kit prices and levels of functionality, choosing the correct one can be a daunting task. In simple terms, those looking for basic functionality are best serviced by a single indoor camera that can upload content to the web. Offering some peace of mind when you're away from home, such cameras commonly have an alert feature that notifies you, via a smartphone app, if motion has been detected in an otherwise empty house. Such cameras start at around £50 rising to £150 for the best-featured models.
Those who want a more comprehensive recording feature-set and extra sophistication in terms of placement are best advised to consider a centralised DVR unit equipped with, say, a 1TB drive. The unit is able to accept multiple cameras, usually located outside, and process their feeds simultaneously. Handy if you have a large home or commercial premises that needs to be monitored on a 24/7 basis. Oftentimes these premium DVRs are controlled by a remote and have a USB port used to back up or transfer recorded content from one computer to another.
Look out for CCTV units that have simple plug-and-play functionality, rather than a complicated domain-name system (DNS) that only speaks to the tech-savvy. Companies have realised that attracting the largest possible audience for CCTV units means they should be very simple to administer and use.
The domination of CCTV-only kits is now being challenged by specific network-attached storage (NAS) boxes that tout very similar functionality. Historically thought of as a store for networked computers in your home or office, certain NAS units can be fed by multiple cameras and do what they do best: record video on their cavernous hard drives. Synology, QNAP and Thecus, amongst others, retail CCTV-compatible NAS boxes.
Scan Computers sells a wide range of CCTV kits suitable for small homes, large estates and business premises alike. Please head on over to here to peruse our selection.