The switch from VCRs to digital video recorders (DVRs) began a few years ago and has been slow; howe

Since 1996, more than 100 so-called digital video recorders (DVRs) have been introduced into the market. As a result, there has been a tremendous amount of information and propaganda dispatched.

The key to understanding the category and offering your customers a digital alternative to videotape is recognizing the basic features and benefits of true digital recorders.

Determining the 5 True Features of a DVR

The obvious benefits we hear about are the elimination of videotapes and the space needed to store them, improved image quality and zero VCR maintenance. All are true. But if your goal is to switch a videotape user to a digital solution, then you need more ammunition.To survive and prosper, it is imperative that the recorders you choose have the following five features to be truly categorized as digital and to replace a VCR: 1. Ability to download video to an external media.Many low-end digital recorder units are missing one of videotape’s key features. When an incident happens, such as a robbery, police will ask for the tape. With videotape, this is simply a process of removing the tape, handing it over to the authorities and placing a fresh tape in the VCR.Amazing as it may seem, there are digital recorders on the market that do not have an easy way to provide police with a copy of the event images. The entire machine has to be given to police, leaving the establishment without a recording device.  What you should be looking for is a digital recorder that allows the user to simply and quickly download images to some type of external media, such as a Zip(tm) disc.  2. Play and record at the same time remotely or on-site.The ability to play back images and record at the same time is a huge advantage. VCRs simply can’t do this. But be wary, because not all digital recorders offer this feature.When in playback mode, some digital recorders stop recording. True digital recorders offer peace of mind because they are always recording.The same thing applies when viewing live images. Digital recorders should be capable of multitasking or “duplexing” by performing the record and playback or live viewing functions simultaneously.3. Remote access to live or recorded images.One of the most attractive features digital recorders have to offer is the ability to view live or recorded images from a remote location. This feature alone generates interest and often leads to a decision by your customers to make a purchase.Users quickly recognize the benefit of monitoring multiple sites for both security and operational purposes from the comfort of their own office. The reduced travel time is usually enough to justify the cost.The method of connecting to a remote unit can also be an issue to consider. Ideally, the user will have multiple options but, at the very least, you should be able to access the unit via a standard telephone line.4. Internal or integral motion detection to maximize storage and search capabilities.Many digital recorders available today can easily save images for 90 days and longer. One reason is that the cost of adequate hard drive space has dropped significantly and is very affordable.But the bigger reason is a feature known as internal motion detection. This feature extends the hard drive storage capacity – in some cases up to 50 percent – to more than was previously thought possible.Capacity is increased because the only images saved to the hard drive are those where motion is detected. Plus, recorders with internal motion detection will create a searchable audit trail by camera every time there is motion.  The audit trail of motion is the single most important feature when it comes to searching for images. Unlike videotape, you can instantly find images by date and time with a digital recorder. Also, you only need to look at images that have activity.5. DVRs are multifunctional devices.A true digital recorder is a multifunctional device. The very nature of the technology allows a single unit to replace not only the recorder, but also all of the accessory items needed to run a VCR-based CCTV system. There is no need for multiplexers, switchers or any other device other than cameras.There are products claiming to be digital recorders that require the user to have a multiplexer or some other device. These products will not survive the digital revolution once the consumer is educated and understands the availability of products that perform multiple functions.All five of these basic features must be present to persuade your customers to switch to digital recorders. Miss any one of them and you may not overcome customer resistance – but your competitor might.

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