China has a fast-growing DVR supplier base. Increased demand for products and availability of newly developed compression software and hardware technologies (such as eight-channel DSP-processing video and audio) are expected to bolster growth in 2008.
Benefiting from advances in DSP technology and huge domestic demand, Chinese DVR vendors are taking on an important role in the global manufacturing. Powerful DSP increases functionality and stability, enhancing R&D efficiency. Leading suppliers like Blue Sky, Dahua, Dali and Hikvision are developing full-feature DVR products with good scalability. DSP, SoC and ASIC technologies have also spurred dozens of local vendors to produce DVRs.
Chinese standalone DVRs are differentiated mainly by resolution and real-time recording. At the high-end are products with real-time recording speeds of D1 for each channel ; mid-range performs half D1 in real time. For cost-effective products, D1 resolution for live view is possible, but real-time recording is supported only in CIF. There are even cheaper products for small applications where real-time recording is not a must. These price-attractive products feature CIF recording resolution and a maximum of four frames to five frames per second of recording for each channel.
Mos t high-end and mid- range products have quadplex (simultaneous live viewing, playback, recording and network viewing) with multichannel pl ayba ck func t ions and H.264 compression, Linux or RTOS-based operation. They also feature more efficient backup choices (SATA HDD and USB2.0) for external devices and optional DVD burners. User-friendly interfaces offer multiple operating methods from panel buttons, IR remote controls, mouse controls or network remote parameter settings. Software, CMS and SDK are provided. In addition, quick time search of events, intelligent log lists and automatic memory functions are embedded.
Entry-level products have compression codecs like MJPEG, MPEG-4 and H.264; they feature maximum triplex functions (live viewing, recording, network surveillance) and CIF real-time recording speeds with ASIC or SoC. They are, however, less flexible and more limited, especially with regard to USB backup. Such models may support only USB1.1 (transmission speeds that are 40 times slower than USB2.0). Simple remote surveillance software is provided. Suppliers include Chenova, Chenxi, LSVT, Ray Sharp, TVT and XSJ.
For PC-based DVRs, major vendors include Dahua, Hanbang, HighEasy, Hikvision, and Thakral. Two of these Dahua and Hikvisionprovide one compression board with 16-channel D1 resolution (not real-time recording); others adopt the latest DSP chip processing and encoding (using one chip for converting eight channel signals) for more cost-effective solutions.
Buyers are looking for all-in-one DVRs. They do not want to choose to have either mouse control, USB, VGA, H.264, network, software, ActiveX, PTZ, CD-RW, alarm input, looping outputs or spot monitors because these are supposed to be standard. Experienced buyers are looking for comprehensive products at the best price. They want to connect IP cameras, analog DVRs and PC-based DVRs with the same software. They do not want complicated IP decoders. Buyers also expect the software (even remote software) to be intuitive like Media Player with a playback control bar or double click function to bring up a full screen.
Hence, all-feature DVRs with user-friendly interfaces are the main focus. Most have USB flash disks, USB hard disks, and USB CD-RW and DVD-RW for backup, remote configuration of settings, and PTZ positioning and monitoring. Blue Sky is experienced in bank surveillance, while Dahua and Hikvision both have excellent IP cameras, DVSs, DVRs, compression boards and mobile DVRs. Dali excels in thermal-imaging technology and 32-channel standalone DVRs. Its standalone products feature individualchannel compression so image quality of each channel can be adjusted according to surveillance needs.
Blue Sky's DVR series ranges from small-scale to large-scale financial applications. Blue Sky products have had network capability since 2001. BSR5050 Trendl ine DVRs have MPEG-4 compression, D1 resolution, and quadplex functions. They support eight built-in HDDs with unlimited storage capacity.
Meanwhile, Blue Sky's BSR6000N series for ATM applications supports multiple protocols of ATM card information insertion, and multiple recording modes of cash receipt, cash filling, card numbers, manual, scheduling, alarm and motion detection. D1, high-resolution, real-time recording enables monitoring and recording of staff and every corner inside banks. The products also feature huge storage capacity of four built-in HDDs (each with a maximum of four terabytes). Blue Sky is working on more advanced analysis capabilities such as movement detection, threatening actions and facial identification.
Dahua DVR products are being used in the National Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Its DVRs support three-dimensional targeting and zoom in during playback with speed domes. Standalone DVRs have corresponding parameter settings for ATM or POS protocols. SATA HDD and USB2.0 backup are supported. The Dahua LB series provides intelligent functions , such as smart video detection, camera setting, smart HDD management, smart alarm management and three-dimensional, intelligent positioning. The series also has a built-in web server, multisite client and CMS. The network can be used for live view, recording, playback, setting, system status, event log, e-mail and FTP. It supports intelligent ATM card number search with card number insertion onto video data.
Then, Hikvision's DS-8000HC series of network digital video recorders is the third generation of digital surveillance products. It uses RTOS and embedded MCU, supporting DVRs and digital video servers (DVS). The DVRs support multizone detection, masking, view of alarm tampering, view of camera blocking, configurable OSD, constant bit rate, adjustable frame rate and NAS. The SDK and demo source codes provided shorten development time.
Dali's DV-MP32 is equipped with 32-channel, real-time video and H.264 compression. It supports synchronous, four-channel video playback, SATA HDD and dual-video output as well as a 32 x 4 matrix. The stable Vxworks operating system and two-way communication with auto-bad sector skip (HDD) ensure non-stop recording. It also supports motion detection (192 detection areas), video shelter protection and PTZ control.
Network capacity enables remote monitoring, file download, playback, search, control, parameter configuration, software updates, individual-channel bidirectional voice communication and network delays of less than 0.5 seconds. It comes with three levels of user management with multi-password control and watermark technology for event video encryption. The DV-MPF series supports an eSATA port for RAID5 as well.
To achieve the goal of complete products at competitive prices, suppliers have adopted the latest DSP chip processing and encoding (using one chip for converting eight channel signals) for compression board products. Hanbang, HighEasy, Jinpeng and Thakral agree that enhanced processing capability will reduce manufacturing cost. This improves integration flexibility in extending channel numbers and, thus, ensures simpler system infrastructure. "We found that major technological improvements are taking place every two years," said Liqun Wang, President at Hanbang. "From MPEG to MPEG-4 to H.264, every advance leads the industry to a higher level, and the cost efficiency increases by 50 percent or more."
Take Hanbang's HB18 series capture cards, featuring TI DM645 DSP chips. Embedded H.264 and patented multi-image processing technology support CIF to D1 resolution for flexible applications. PCI and PCI-E interfaces are selectable.
Tungson has also come out with a new D1 PCI-E compression board series. Its TE-208E comes with conexant 23885+25836 10-bit decode chipsets that support one to eight channel video inputs, two channel audio outputs and one channel TV out with D1 preview and recording resolution and PCI-E slot.
To offer greater choice of housing and operating interface, vendors like Aopvision, Jinpeng, Santachi and TMvideo are providing sophisticated products with similar features. The following selections include a JPEG2000, MPEG-4 with extension up to a maximum of 64 HDDs , dual-streaming, Windows-embedded DVR and economic H.264 models.
Jinpeng's KM-E8020F is equipped with a Linux operating system and redundancy (OS and backup system) to ensure operation during malfunctions. Its XFS documentation system ensures that HDD data is undamaged when the DVR encounters problems or needs to reboot. Remote alarm management is supported with three-layer password user protection. "At this moment,"said Xuejun Yang, General Manager at Jinpeng, "network transmission capacity is 32 megabytes; this will continue to be enhanced in 2008 to better satisfy different user bandwidth environments."
Aopvision's AOP2000 series with JPEG2000 compression comes with CD-RW that supports triplex functions. The AOP1000 series has MPEG-4 compression, supports IEEE 1394 for an extension up to a maximum of 64 HDDs. Hanbang's HB8200 has H.264 compression and D1 resolution with embedded web server capability that supports remote monitoring via IE browsers and dual-streaming transmission.
Wave-P has launched a Windowsembedded DVR to improve stability. This comprehensive design combines advantages of both standalone DVRs and PC-based ones. The embedded Windows operating system prevents crashes in PC system when hard-disk drives are damaged; it features an easy-to-operate interface. The WAPA series Windows-embedded DVRs come in four, nine and 16 channel models with selectable H.264 or MPEG-4; they also support e-mail alarm notification with event images.
Still other players are looking at cost-effective H.264. Take TVT's new TVT2304L H.264 model. According to TVT General Manager Mike Kwo, it is designed to satisfy both local recording and remote monitoring needs. It supports dual streaming, achieving VCD image quality with bandwidths of 383 kilobits per second. SoC combines CPU, DSP and hardware enhancers for system efficiency. It also features hidden-channel settings, remote configuration, playback, loading and backup via Internet, FTP and USB stickers for software updates, and system log lists for better view and efficient search by log type screening.
Chenova's CF-DVR16C4 with H.264, Linux OS and MIPS processor with triplex delivers live view, one-channel playback and network monitoring. It is equipped with one USB1.1 port for backup and links to external DVD or CD burners. Client software for multisite surveillance and management is provided and it supports dynamic d oma i n n ame s . I t s CF-DVR0 4 economic series offers H.264 with real-time recording in CIF, four-channel D1, non-real-time recording and watch dog function.
Finally, Hikvision has its DS-7000H non-real-time H.264 series for simple surveillance and Aopvision's AOP8800 series features one USB port for flash, CD-RW backup with H.264 and playback resolution of QCIF or CIF.
Outlook for 2008
DVRs are increasingly reliable. Embedded devices are more reliable but less flexible, and sometimes more cost-effective on a smaller scale. DVRs are going to be around for a long time because the vast majority of people do not have network infrastructure that they can rely upon. For comprehensive designs, Chinese vendors have dual codec or dual streaming to ensure video transmission over limited bandwidth. Hikvision and Jinpeng, for example, are working on enhancing networkability of standalone DVRs. Dahua, on the other hand, launched its network video storage (NVS) system. Dali's DV-MPF and DV-MPC series support selectable dual-codec MJPEG and H.264, and dual-streaming network transmission.
Another topic for DVR manufacturers is high definition. Vendors are working on 1,280-pixel by 1,024-pixel resolution for higher image quality. In the future, there will be more IP intelligence and increased flexibility for systems integration. Dahua has combined its video compression board to support analog and IP camera inputs to come out with a hybrid PC-based DVR. According to Dahua, its embedded hybrid DVR will be launched next year. Then, Dali launched its DVS IP products. "For standard DVR products," said Huimin Pang, General Manager, Dali, "we reserve an intelligent programming space for future customization according to different intelligent video analysis requirements. "Products can be customized for traffic, retail stores or border surveillance. "If intelligent video technology matures, recording devices can work more efficiently as they record events, balancing recorded data and storage capacity," said Pang. Dali's intelligent standalone DVRs will be launched in March 2008, with image qualityenhancing technology to make the DVRs self-adaptive to environments with serious light interference, darkness or fog; the system will enhance image quality automatically.