There was an attempted break-in at my house a few weeks ago (I have a video of the attempt up on youtube) and I finally realized what a pain-in-the-ass it is for me to get video content from my present security DVR to a format that is useful for the police to research.
I have a 16 Channel DVR that I purchased from CCTV Factory a few years ago. It is a decent system and has most of the features I want but it uses a proprietary '.DVR' format for video exports. To view this, you must use a specific DVR player software that is not the easiest thing to use. Exporting video to DVD (I upgraded the included CD-RW drive) usually ends up in corrupt disks and export to USB is painfully slow (I am guessing it is USB 1.1?).
My recent solution to overcome this to purchase a Dazzle DVD recorder for about $40 and capture the video out from the security DVR. This worked very well (well, at least after upgrading to Pinnacle Studio Ultimate v12), but it still created another step in getting the video from me and to the proper authorities.
I have tried PCI capture cards in the past, but I went the inexpensive route via eBay and purchased two "SKY-104" 4 channel 30fps cards for about $25/ea. I was not very impressed with the quality and it was hard to find software that worked reliably.
I decided to take the plunge and purchase one of the famous GeoVision cards.
After a little research, I decided on the GV8000-4 card; this is a 4 channel card with 120fps and 4 audio channels (although I would need to re-wire to use the audio portion). It goes for about $350-$400 online and after some research I went back to CCTV Factory (by the way, they were VERY helpful at handling my order!).
One main issue is that some of the cards labeled 'GeoVision' are not true OEM products (or they are older versions?); a good indicator for this is if they can run version 8 of the GeoVision Surveillance System software- and this is a primary reason for purchasing a GeoVision card!
The card installs rather easily; Windows XP detects eight devices (four GV800_4A Video Capture devices and four GB800 Audio devices). Note that the drivers are not signed by Microsoft so this software will not work on 64bit systems (or Vista as of yet).
Nest the surveillance software is installed and cameras are connected to the BNC ports. The software has all sorts of bells and whistles that I like, such as:
- up to 720x480 recording resolution per camera
- email/SMS notification on alarms/motion detection
- Web page viewing interface (IE only!)
- Remote view software
- PDA software (Symbian, Palm and Windows Mobile- but I have yet to get this working on my HTC Touch).
- Up to two zones of motion detection per camera source, with 5 levels of sensitivity per zone.
- Video stabilizer and noise reduction options
- auto-restart of real-time recording if idle for a set number of minutes.
- Recording in Geo-MPEG4 or Geo-H264 video format.
There are lots more features as indicated on GeoVision's web site.
The biggest feature for me was that video is recorded to the hard drive in the specified (GeoVision customized) MPEG4 or H264 format- so as long as I have the proper codec installed I can edit them directly in any video editing software. The software saves the files in folders based on camera number, date and brakes the video files up into 5 minute (max) files for easy viewing/editing.
There are a few issues with the remote view software and Vista x64; the software will allow remote viewing of the cameras, but it can take 2-3 minutes to close the program after clicking the button. I have also had two occasions where the cursor would go to a strange corrupted icon look and the computer would BSOD or just freeze and reboot.
I am very happy with the GeoVision software/hardware and I will be purchasing a 2nd card to allow for additional cameras (I have one already wired up and plans for 3 more).