Recording critters at the zoo, need a good recorder
June 9, 2008 6:57 PM   Subscribe

I need recommendations for a digital video recorder designed for multiple video inputs, including sound, (four cameras point at an animal enclosure at a zoo) that's designed to allow for easy access to the videos recorded. Networkable would be really great, or standard removable storage (USB/SATA). I'd prefer it if the device recorded directly in a standard video format so no conversion from a proprietary format is needed.
posted by krisjohn to Technology (1 answer total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: We're currently looking at Pelco hardware for our system, ours is a lot bigger (~65 cameras) but for your end of the scale they offer a 4 port one (about $700-$1,400 if I recall correctly, depending on storage chosen). They take cheap analog cameras which range from $260 to $600 a camera depending on IR/dynamic range options and record them digitally in MPEG4, the backup option saves the files as .avi which can play it in any media player. You also might need to invest in some external enclosures if they're going to be battling mother nature, they range in price from $70 upwards depending on features (heaters, coolers, panning, vandal-proof etc).

They're fully networkable, web accessible, so you can just add another box when you need to expand-- and Pelco is *the* name in large security installations so it's unlikely to fall apart.

The Pelco site has all the manuals and installation guides, so you can have a flick through and see if it's a good fit for you. An option is to get the cheap DVR and put your own bigger drive in it (you'll void your warranty) which would save you many, many pennies. The only difference between the $700 one and the $1400 is a 500GB HDD instead of a 160GB. Instructions for replacing a HDD are on the Pelco site, the DVR's might be hard-coded to only use X Gb's of the drive for that reason, but might be worth an investigation.

The other option someone else might suggest are Axis bundles, like the Axis 210 Surveillance Kit ($2,500) but I don't think you'll see a notable difference in quality, those Axis are 640x480, compared to the Pelco 720x480 and you'll need a computer to run the software/store the video. Benefit is each camera has it's own webserver built in, but because of that you're paying more per camera, rather then just having a central hub that digitizes everything. Axis do some absolutely great cameras though, on the higher end.

I do rather sound like a salesman, but I've had to go through this myself, so I've put a fair bit of time getting quotes for different systems and the Pelco system especially once it's scaled to something our size, absolutely destroyed the other options, both on price and storage.
posted by Static Vagabond at 8:16 PM on June 9, 2008

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