Digital Video Recorders

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Any professional security installer who is involved in the day-to-day installation of CCTV systems will know one thing; if you don't like any of the DVRs in the market-place, just wait a moment - there will be another few along in a minute! No matter what features and functions you are looking for, you would be forgiven for believing that such a combination already exists out there, and in all reality it probably does. However, one thing we have started to see in the market-place is a backlash against much of the low cost products from new or unknown suppliers. Installers are demanding back-up and after sales service as well as performance and reliability.

Nowhere has the impact of low cost poor quality equipment being shipped in from all corners of the world been felt as severely as the DVR market-place. When all is said and done, the DVR is a central vital component of most CCTV systems, and it has become the battle ground for many of the less scrupulous suppliers seeking to make a quick profit out of the security market. However, a string of failures, technical problems and unhappy customers has meant that an increasing number of installers are turning their backs on such offerings and demanding quality, support and back-up, and business partners who understand the CCTV sector. Interestingly, they are also realising that the so-called low costs the others were offering represented false economies, and products from reliable CCTV manufacturers are actually the most cost-effective!

From a recent professional test of DVR Equipment.

Digital Sprite 2, Digital Video Recorder

The New Digital Sprite 2 provides true flexibility to any CCTV security solution. It provides an intuitive interface allowing easy local user operation and IP connectivity to provide remote monitoring and system configuration capabilities.

It also provides a high quality, 6, 9 or 16-channel recorder capable of storage and playback of images from 1 to 6, 1 to 9, or 1 to 16 camera inputs.

The internal hard disks provide high quality, continuous digital recording, with an option to record up to 50pps or 100pps. The unit is also compatible with the Dedicated Micros RAID and JBOD units to extend the storage solution.

High quality JPEG image recordings are accessible locally to the user from a single button selection or via a powerful GOTO and an event recall facility. Remote operators are also able to utilise MPEG-4 compression technology to view live images across an Ethernet network by using the Dedicated Micros NetVu ObserVer software included with the Sprite 2 or optional embedded DV-IP Decoders.

Variable alarm configuration allows remote notification of alarms via a variety of communication channels. There is support for pre-event alarm recording to ensure sufficient images are captured before the incident occurs and high quality bi-directional network audio provides on-site communication.

It is supplied with a built in DVD-R writer providing a quick and easy solution for copying images to DVD-R or CD-R media, supports the option to utilise FTP archiving to allow evidence to be transferred over the network and also supports digital watermarking to help identify and eliminate any tampering with recorded images.

The New Digital Sprite 2 is a single box solution which includes in-built co-axial & twisted pair serial telemetry control.

Unit Capabilities

The Sprite 2 is available as a 6, 9 or 16 camera input unit and will support a main and spot monitor for displaying images from cameras. It also incorporates a triplex multiplexer for live multi-screen viewing and playback of images without interrupting multiplex recording and allows live and playback images to be viewed in the same multiscreen display. Each segment within the multiscreen display is selectable for viewing live images or playback of recorded images. The unit also incorporates an advanced network server for remote monitoring, alarm handling and configuration, and a user-friendly, paged menu system that is controlled from the front panel keys of the Sprite 2 and viewable on a composite monitor (not included) that can be connected to the main monitor output.

Screen menus are provided in any of eleven languages including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Hungarian and Swedish.

Maintains all user-defined programming in the event of power loss or power down, provides a Text-In-Image feature that enables text (such as POS, ATM data and production line) to be received through the RS232 COM ports, associated with a camera and recorded with the video. The unit also supports both JPEG and MPEG-4 compression, the option to view live and recorded images over a high speed network in JPEG compressed format, the option to view live and recorded images over a low speed network in MPEG-4 compressed format and will always record in JPEG format to ensure high quality recording is maintained independently to compression format being used for viewing.

Recording Capabilities

The Sprite 2 is able to record video images to disk in the following ways: - continuously, upon motion detection, on receipt of an alarm or according to a time schedule. It is capable of simultaneously: recording images, archiving background images, and allowing multiple user network viewing and playback with no loss of record performance.

It is available in two record rate versions:-

Record rate of up to 60 PPS (pictures per second) (NTSC) or 50 PPS (PAL).

Record rate of up to 120 PPS (pictures per second) (NTSC) or 100 PPS (PAL).

It supports standard and variable rate recording. The standard and variable record settings are configurable as either pictures per second or milliseconds per picture. It also supports four modes of operation, these are - Rate, Day, Night and Weekend. The record rates are configurable for each mode of operation. The unit also provides standard record scheduling options for Record Rate, Event Rate, Event Active, and Event Mode. The Record Rate is the record rate for standard continuous recording. The Event Rate is the record rate upon motion or external alarm. The Event Active provides options to enable alarms, activity, or both alarms and activity. The Event Mode provides the option of overriding the standard recording mode upon event or alarm notification, with interleave or exclusive recording mode. The interleave mode prioritizes standard recording of active or alarmed cameras in the multiplex sequence over non-alarmed cameras for the duration of the event. The exclusive mode records only the active or alarmed cameras in multiplex sequence and disables standard recording of non-alarmed cameras for the duration of the event. The internal hard drive capacities are as follows:

The 6-channel 50/60 PPS unit contains 80GB, 160GB or 320GB internal hard drives to record and store up to 1 week, 2 weeks, or 1 month (respectively) of digital recording. This capability is based on the equivalent of 24-hour time-lapse mode, at 6 PPS and 18KB file size.

It records to the internal hard drives on a "first in, first out" sequence.

The 9-channel and 16-channel 50/60 PPS units contain 80GB, 160GB, 320GB or 600GB Internal hard drives to record and store up to 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month or 2 months (respectively) of digital recording. This capability is based on the equivalent of 24-hour time-lapse mode, at 6 PPS and 18KB file size. It records to the internal hard drives on a "first in, first out" sequence. The 6-channel, 9-channel and 16-channel 100/120 PPS DVR units contain 160GB, 320GB or 600GB internal hard drives to record and store up to 2 weeks, 1 month or 2 months (respectively) of digital recording. This capability is based on the equivalent of 24-hour time-lapse mode, at 6 PPS and 18KB file size. The unit records to the internal hard drives on a "first in, first out" sequence. Also provided is a buffer where variable rate pre-alarm images are stored. The available buffer space is between 16 Kilobytes and 16384 Kilobytes.

An option to protect images or crucial incidents from being overwritten is also provided. The Protected Images option allows the start and end times of an event to be defined and protected against overwriting. The Alarm Protection option protects panic alarms, global input alarms or both from being overwritten. The Pre-alarm and Alarm Duration option allows the user to protect video before the alarm occurred and after the event has ended. The unit also provides the option to identify a video expiry period this is defined as the maximum time the images remain on the hard drive, supports a schedule function and a user-programmable function to automatically: select time of day for recording, select cameras to be recorded, switch alarms and activity detection on/off, select interleaved or exclusively recorded alarm and activity events, alter the record rate for standard and event recording.

Server Capabilities

The Sprite 2 includes a web interface to allow remote configuration of the system parameters, maintains all saved user-defined programming in the event of power loss or power down and provides the capability for the user to read the configuration menus and help pages in any of nineteen languages which include English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Russian, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Hungarian, Portuguese, Turkish, Croatian, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Arabic and Swedish. The unit has the option for multiple users to connect to the same Server in several different languages simultaneously. And also supports SMS text message functionality.

It has the option to send a message on:- Alarm, Camera failure, VMD activation and System Startup. Ensure the text is transmitted in a format that can be understood (verbose message) by a cell (mobile) phone.

It also supports the ability to configure Service Centre details for text message services, supports pin number configuration for SIM security and can convert the DVR to an SMS Server to centrally store SMS messages received from other NetVu connected DVRs. The unit provides the option to e-mail notification of an alarm, this alarm has the option to include a visual verification in the form of a still image. The resolution of the image configurable to accommodate low speed network links. Also provided is a Text-in-Images feature that enables text to be received through the RS232 COM ports, associated with a camera or cameras and recorded into the image header, also provided is Remote Reporting capabilities. The unit transmits a message using TCP/IP to a central Alarm Monitoring Station and provides support for a connection from the Alarm Monitoring Station to provide control of video, audio, telemetry and a list of recent alarm events.

The unit supports numerous tools to assist in system verification including: Video scope and Relay Testing.System variables. It also supports numerous log files. The web interface of the unit allows configuration and access to the logs for monitoring purposes. The system logs include: Connection log, Anonymous FTP, Security log, E-mail log, Sent message log, FTP Download log, Logfile (system log), Logfile backup and Tamper log.


The Sprite 2 provides composite BNC inputs for up to 6, 9 or 16 colour or monochrome cameras. The video inputs have 75 ohm impedance. The unit also provides a loop through BNC connection for each camera input, with software-configured termination, will auto-detect connected cameras and begin recording automatically upon power-up and features time-base correction to eliminate the requirement for external camera synchronization. It provides a user-programmable camera title for each camera which will be optionally displayed on-screen, this being programmable via the OSD menus and the web interface and includes a user-programmable, 12-character title for each camera.

The option to view all or selected cameras, without affecting camera recording.

Hidden Cameras

The unit provides the capability to view all or selected hidden cameras via the network, has software-controlled contrast adjustment for each camera and software-controlled colour adjustment for each camera. The unit also includes protocols for recommended Pan/Tilt/Zoom dome cameras, provides on-screen indication on the main monitor if power or video capability is lost from any or all cameras and has a global trigger light duty relay output (500mA at 48V max) for camera fail. It reports camera failure or sync loss to a central station via TCP/IP alarm reporting, e-mail or SMS text messaging and creates an entry in the event database.

Realtime Monitor Viewing

The Sprite 2 provides full screen and full screen programmable sequencing of camera views for the main and spot monitors and the unit's main monitor provides the following, by model:-

The 6-channel DVR's main monitor - programmable multi-screen in live and playback mode for: Picture-in-picture, Quad, 6 way

The 9-channel DVR's main monitor - programmable multi-screen in live and playback mode for: Picture-in-picture, Quad, 9 way

The 16-channel DVR's main monitor - programmable multi-screen in live and playback mode for: Picture-in-picture, Quad, 9 way, 8+2, 12+1, 16 way

The main monitor has x2 electronic zoom and freeze frame, provides the option of using a composite video BNC connector or S-video 4-pin, mini DIN connector for the main monitor and provides a composite video BNC connector for the spot monitor.

Communications and Networking

The Sprite 2 has a standard 10/100Base-T Ethernet connection, supports remote network access to allow remote configuration or adjustment to settings via a Web browser. The Ethernet connection on the unit supports a configuration option to force a 10Base-T configuration. The Ethernet connection allows live and recorded viewing on a networked PC running Windows 2000 or Windows XP using the included Dedicated Micro's NetVu ObserVer, or via web pages over a standard Internet web browser.

It supports the ability to allow a maximum bandwidth to be set for data transmitted across the network and optional interface with a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server allowing the user to automatically assign an IP address and manually assign an IP address.

The unit supports usage of external Domain Name Server (DNS) functionality, connectivity via a supported modem using Point to Point Protocol (PPP). Monitoring and control is achieved over Ethernet via the 10/100BaseT network port where supported protocols include IP, TCP, UDP, DHCP, FTP, TELNET, ICMP, HTTP and ARP. The unit also supports an on-board firewall for security. The firewall provides support for preventing responses to ICMP traffic (PING) and restricting access to authorised users based on identifying authorised IP addresses, identifying port numbers for UDP traffic and identifying port numbers for TCP traffic.

The unit also supports the option to enable a secondary web server port where default port settings are already in use on the network. The format is:-

http://<IP ADDRESS>:<PORT NUMBER>/ (e.g. 

There is a Web Cam function allowing enabled cameras to transfer images via FTP to a web server for integration into a web site. Each video input can be individually enabled for web cam operation. The FTP upload is on a timed basis using a dwell time setting. Transfer of images is sent as either a single FTP session or batch transfer. Image resolution of the FTP image is configurable. There are options for the Web Cam function to be disabled, permanently enabled or enabled for certain time periods. The unit has a Maximum Transmit Unit (MTU) option to control the size of the data packets transmitted across the network and Internet.


The Sprite 2's alarm contacts have individually programmable polarity, provide 18 hardware alarm input contacts, with the ability for up to 8 alarms to trigger one camera and/or one alarm to trigger multiple cameras. The unit also supports the option to include additional alarms to the system via up to 16 485-bus alarm modules. Zone alarm inputs are user-definable for Boolean-style configuration where 'AND', 'OR' or 'NOT' options are available. The unit also provides up to 999 seconds of tagged pre- and post alarm recording per event. An internal pre-alarm buffer allows the pre-alarm to record above the standard record rate, or when the unit is configured as an event recorder.

There are configuration parameters for the pre-alarm record rate, such that a camera can record at a slower PPS than the pre-alarm buffer record (e.g., Camera 1 records at 2 PPS; the pre-alarm buffer at 4 PPS), on alarm, pre-alarmed images are downloaded from the pre-alarm buffer to the hard drive and co-located with the alarmed images and the administrator is able to define the pre-alarm record rate and the number of pre-alarmed images.

It also has the option to automatically send an e-mail on receipt of an alarm, support the option to protect alarm images from being overwritten for a set time or indefinitely, support an alarm database, which is configurable to allow the number of entries to be set and has the capability to sequence alarms on the spot monitor The unit supports an option for the main monitor display of the last camera to enter into alarm, or a sequence of cameras currently in alarm, or a multiway display of all cameras currently in alarm and return to pre-alarm display when all camera related alarms have been cleared. The unit provides the facility to trigger a telemetry preset on alarm, support up to 8 presets on alarm per camera, with an option to support up to 32 additional presets on alarm zones that can be assigned to any camera. The unit also has the facility to activate a buzzer on alarm, provide support for capturing a global/panic alarm input on an optional keyboard attached via 485-Bus as an alarm zone input with a default action to force all cameras into an alarm condition at the alarm record rate and has the facility to trigger a light duty relay output (500mA at 48V max) on alarm.


The Sprite 2 supports numerous third party protocols for the control or PTZ / Dome cameras and analogue matrices.

The third party protocols are for coaxial and serial devices.

Coaxial protocols include:- BBV, Dennard and Pelco.

Serial protocols include:-

DM, BBV, Dennard, Ernitec, JVC, Kalatel, MarkMercer, Panasonic, Pelco, Philips, Samsung, Sensormatic, Ultrak, Vantage, VCL, AD-matrix, BBV-matrix and VCL-matrix

Control of these serial devices are available locally using an optional keyboard or across the network using an appropriate viewing application.

The unit also provides the ability to configure the PTZ / Dome camera menus using integrated commands.


The Sprite 2 supports bi-directional audio, simultaneous audio recording and playback in real time. Audio is controllable over the network using an appropriate viewing application to establish a bi-directional audio link. The unit also supports the option to configure the audio across the network as a UDP with bi-directional support and the monitoring of live and recorded audio via a UDP connection or via a TCP connection inline with the video being monitored.

Video Motion Detection

The Sprite 2 supports the facility to enable video motion detection on any video input, provides a 16 x 16 masking grid for basic activity detection on each camera view, provides the option of five levels of motion sensitivity for activity detection on each camera view and provides advanced video motion detection (VMD) across sixteen independent rectangular zones per camera. The unit also provides an 80 x 64 grid resolution for defining the advanced VMD rectangular zones and supports a number of actions that can be automatically triggered on notification of Activity Detection or Advanced VMD:- create an entry in the DVR Database, change record rate - standard and variable, record a still image, report to a central location, create a zone input which can automatically trigger a number of alarm actions, transmit an e-mail, protect VMD images, archive event recordings automatically and provide a virtual alarm input to alarm zones.

The unit provides up to 999 seconds of tagged pre- and post activity recording per event, the option to protect VMD images for a set or an indefinite time period, a mechanism to verify the configuration of the VMD prior to completion of the installation; this shall be possible with a walk test facility, an option to activate a buzzer activated upon activity and advanced VMD and has the facility for the global trigger of a light duty relay output (500mA at 48V max) for video motion detection.

Video Motion Search Facility

The Sprite 2 has video motion search to allow recorded searches on the hard disks, based on movement in a particular area of the image, provides a 16 x 16 masking grid for defining a video motion search, provides a list of the activity events that occurred within a defined area and provides the option of five levels of motion sensitivity for activity detection on each camera view and the same sensitivity will be used for video motion search.

Search and Playback

The Sprite 2 offers VCR-style keys for: one button touch playback, fast forward (and frame advance), fast rewind (and frame rewind) and pause keys, event log, including event log filter with quadrant preview facility and can be programmed by event type, time and date and/or camera number.

Event type options include: external alarms, activity detection, system events, activity list of a defined area or object, including a preview screen, GOTO time and date, playback in multiscreen, quad, picture in picture and full screen and copying recordings to an archive list for downloading to the internal DVD writer or FTP server.


The Sprite 2 provides a mechanism to archive selected video images, alarm and VMD tagged video partitions, provides both an internal DVD writer and an Ethernet network connection to allow recorded images to be archived, the internal DVD writer allows images stored within the archive list to be written to CD-R or DVD-R media. The unit continues to record to internal hard drives while archiving and generates an optional MD5 digital watermark of images archived to the CD or to the FTP server. The NetVu ObserVer software is automatically saved along with the archived images on the CD / DVD to allow images to be replayed from any PC running Windows 2000 or Windows XP. The archive process is initiated by the following events:- on connection to a network (FTP) or connection to blank media (DVD), at a scheduled time each day, at regular polled intervals, when sufficient events are queued to fill blank media (DVD) and when manually initiated through the user interface

It also provides an option to clear protection from images when download is complete to allow disk re-use, provides drivers for recommended external SCSI devices for extending hard drive capacity and will automatically detect recommended SCSI devices on power-up.

Remote Alarm Monitoring

The Sprite 2 supports user notification upon alarm over Wireless Ethernet, ISDN and PSTN to remote PC-based central stations. The information sent to the Alarm Receiving Centre shall include: IP address, name, primary Camera associated with the alarm and Alarm Zone/VMD zone that was triggered.

It provides the following selectable actions when an alarm zone has been triggered: create a database entry, change the standard record rate, change the variable record rate, send an email, connect to a central station via Ethernet, PSTN or ISDN, record a still image to the internal HDD, protect the image in the disk, auto archive alarms over the network and switch the mode of operation.

The unit also provides the Operator with status via the main monitor of the following system events on a camera by camera basis: Video Motion Detection, Camera fail and Alarm input.

It also creates an entry within the on-board database of general system events including system restart.

E-mail Notification on Alarm

The Sprite 2 automatically supports e-mail upon alarm and is capable of notification of the following events on a camera by camera basis: alarm, activity and camera fail. The unit is also capable of notification in the event of a system restart and supplies the following information in each e-mail sent: machine site, ID, primary camera number, alarm zone, description and optional JPEG picture of primary camera image on first alarm

Realtime Webpage Viewing

The Sprite 2 web interface supports an option for displaying images in web pages using a Java or Active X plug-in and the unit's web browser provides multi-screen options in live mode for: Full display, Quad display, 9 way display, 16 way display.

The web browser has the option to take control of any video input that has been enabled for telemetry control including: Pan and Tilt control, Zoom, Focus and Iris control, auxiliary control (wash, wipe, lights), autopan, patrol mode initiation and send to preset.

Access to the telemetry menus.

Menu access and configuration is achieved via the Telemetry Setup page, the Sprite 2 also offers the facility to select any enabled camera inputs for display in live mode. The resolution of the displayed video shall be controllable for: High resolution video, Medium resolution video, Low resolution video.

The web browser gives the option to playback recorded video by selecting a time and date or selecting a recorded file from the event list. Also offered is the facility to select any of the camera inputs to display the record image associated with that input. The resolution of the playback video is controllable for: High resolution video, Medium resolution video.

A filter option is available for the list of recorded files, the options are:- VMD, Alarm and System reset.

There is a VCR type control with frame advance, frame rewind, fast forward, rewind, play and pause. A speed control option is provided for video playback. The unit's web browser provides a number of demo pages where video can be selected and viewed via:- DuoView™, Multisite and Camera Map.

A DuoView™ web page is supplied for simultaneous viewing and comparison of live and replay footage from the same Server. The screen display options are available in:- Full display, Quad display, 9-way display, 16-way display.

Search for recorded files is based on time and date. There is a VCR type control with frame advance, frame rewind, fast forward, rewind, play and pause. A speed control option is provided for video playback. The Sprite 2 supports a Multi-site web page where images from two Servers are displayed simultaneously. The screen display options are available as: Full display, Quad display, 9-way display, 16-way display.

The video displayed is able to support either: live images from both Servers, replay images from both Servers and live from one Server and replay from one Server.

There is a VCR type control with frame advance, frame rewind, fast forward, rewind, play and pause. There is a speed control option for the playback of the video. Search for recorded files is by time and date. A Camera Map screen allows images to be selected and viewed in live mode. The Camera Map screen has the option to select corresponding video inputs from camera icons located on a map. The camera's icons show the location and direction of the camera.

Daylight Savings Time

The Sprite 2 provides a default clock setting to automatically self-adjust for daylight savings time and supports the function to momentarily synchronise the time and date with the PC being used for configuratio

Colour Resolution

The Sprite 2 has a colour resolution sampling rate of 13.5 MHz to CCIR 601and the following number of pixels: Live images at 720h x 448v (NTSC) or 720h x 512 (PAL) and Multiplexed/recorded images at 720h x 224v (NTSC) or 720h x 256v (PAL)

The colour resolution has 16.8 million colours with 256 levels of grey, and eight-bit luma.


The Sprite 2 has 2x 9 Way D-type connects for RS232 serial communication. Configuration options available include;- Debug, General purpose, Text in image, PPP and RS232 telemetry.

A 2x 9 Way D-type connects for RS232/RS422/RS485 serial communication. Configuration options available include;- Debug, General purpose, Text in image and RS232/485 telemetry.

The unit supports termination dip switches to ensure correct transmission of RS485 data, has 2x 485-bus MMJ connectors for 485-bus peripheral device connections, an SCSI-2 narrow, 50-pin, high-density connector, 1x Ethernet RJ-45, 10/100Base-T connection and supports one audio in and one audio out RCA (phono) sockets for bi-directional audio.

Temperature Range

The Sprite 2 is operational in temperatures ranging from 41 - 113 degrees Fahrenheit (5-45 C).

Relative Humidity

The Sprite 2 is operational in a relative humidity range of 10 - 85 percent, non-condensing.

Physical Properties

The Sprite 2 measures 3 1/2 inches (H) x 17 5/16 inches (W) x 17 1/2 inches (D), or 89mm (H) x 440mm (W) x 445mm (D). The unit and power supply unit weighs a combined 25.1 pounds (11.4Kg), has a 180W internal power supply and supports an input voltage of 100 - 240 V AC 50/60Hz


An infrared remote control unit is provided for system operation with the ability to: change cameras and camera views, playback images from the hard disk and search using the GOTO function and review the event log.

The Sprite 2 is supplied with 485-bus cable to provide connectivity to any additional DM alarm or relay modules. A standard Ethernet cable is supplied to simplify the installation process. A set of rack mounting accessories is supplied with the Server to allow mounting of the unit in a suitable rack unit.


IP - Internet Protocol TCP - Transmission Control Protocol UDP - User Datagram Protocol DHCP - Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol FTP - File Transfer Protocol TELNET - Terminal Emulation over a Network ICMP - Internet Control Message Protocol HTTP - HyperText Transfer Protocol ARP - Address Resolution Protocol

See also: Digital Imaging Procedures and Digital Evidence Kit.