IDawn Technologies

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The Catches: CCTV in Sri Lanka

As one of the few companies in Sri Lanka that provide proper high end CCTV Solutions we face a major problem when it comes to marketing and sales now because of the really cheap CCTV Solutions available in the market today. You know what I’m talking about – those little Rs. 2,500/- adverts in the Hit-AD with prepaid phone numbers advertising CCTV Systems with Four Cameras for only Rs. 55,000/-.

Frankly, I can’t even begin to imagine how they do it so cheap and still keep a clear conscience. It’s a lot of false advertising, and the lack of consumer knowledge is driving this! So here you go, from your friends at IDawn Technologies we bring you a two part series about the Catches when it comes to CCTV Systems in Sri Lanka.

This being the first part we will talk about the Recorder (DVR), and Hard Disk (HDD) Space. Part 2, coming out next weekend will talk about Cameras, Wiring, and Power. So without further ado, let us dive into this.

CCTV Recorders or DVRs generally come as 4 Camera, 8 Camera, or 16 Camera Systems, in the industry we call the Cameras “Channels” so that’s how I’ll be referring to them from now on. 12 Channel, 24 Channel, and 32 Channel Systems are also manufactured, but quite rare to find in Sri Lanka. Each recorder from each manufacturer has different features, even if they look the same on the outside, they’re worlds apart on the inside. What most Chinese/Taiwanese manufacturers do is that they use the same outside casing for multiple different models so in this case you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!

When it comes to selecting a DVR for yourself what you need to look out for is the Recording Frames per Second (FPS) and the Recording Quality (QCIF, CIF, Half D1, and D1). The FPS is pretty self explanatory I think, so let me move on to talk about the Recording Quality: The fancy acronyms I talked about above basically stand for different resolutions as follows:

D1                : 704 X 576
Half D1         : 352 X 576
CIF               : 352 X 288
QCIF             : 176 X 144

When your CCTV is completely installed, you’ll see a very clear image on your screen, that’s great for live monitoring, but what you don’t realize is that what you’re seeing on screen is sometimes even better than D1 quality. Unfortunately, what is being recorded on the DVR is CIF or QCIF quality. When something goes wrong, and you go to your recordings to pull up footage of an incident, you are left looking at mostly unidentifiable blurry blobs moving around the screen. This is something that we’ve seen customers get caught out on time and time again, and this is how CCTV Systems are installed for so cheap. I’ll talk about a price comparison a little later on when talking about the HDDs.

Click Image to View Full Size | Source : Max Secure

Long story short, when you pick a DVR make sure that it has Full D1 Recording on all Channels, and can support up to 25 FPS/Channel (DVR Technical Specs talk about the Total FPS of the System, so a 4 Channel System should be able to record at least 100 FPS, an 8 Channel 200 FPS, etc…)

Now that you know how to pick a fancy ‘shmancy’ recorder that will fulfill all your recording needs to the fullest, you’ll need some storage space to put all this high quality footage on. That’s where the HDDs come in. For this part of the post I am going to talk exclusively about our DVRs, and certain other Models or Brands may have (very slightly) differing values for the ones I am going to be using.

When you set the Recording (or “Encoding”) parameters of a DVR you can see how many bits/second the recorder uses to store video from that particular channel. Quick Side Note: 8 Bits make a Byte, 1024 Bytes make a Kilobyte, 1024 Kilobytes make a Megabyte, 1024 Megabytes make a Gigabyte, 1024 Gigabytes make a Terabyte.


So as you can see in this picture, Channel No. 1 of this particular recorder is set to record at D1 Resolution at 10 FPS. The reason for the lower FPS is so that we can conserve space on the HDD, while still maintaining above average Video Quality. The reason that I said you should look for a DVR that can do 25 FPS/Channel is because if you need better quality you have the flexibility to upgrade your HDD and just change the settings.

As you can see recording in “Good” quality on D1 resolution at 10 FPS will be consuming 754 Kilobits/Second. So now let’s do some math:

  • Since this is in KiloBITS you need to divide it by 8 to get the number of KiloBYTES/second: 754/8 = 94.25 KB/S
  • Multiply that number by 60 to get the number of KB/Minute: 94.25 * 60 = 5,655
  • Multiply that number by 60 to get the number of KB/Hour: 5655 * 60 = 339,300
  • Multiply that number by 24 to get the number of KB/Day: 339,300 * 24 = 8,143,200
  • Divide that number by 1024 to get the number of MB/Day: 8,143,200/1024 = 7,952.344
  • Divide that number by 1024 to get the number of GB/Day: ~7.8
  • So now we know that to record a single camera for an entire day (24 hours) it will take us about 7.8 Gigabytes. This means that if you have 8 Cameras that are recording 24 Hours then you’ll need about 62 Gigs of storage space PER DAY.
  • That’s a total of about 1,864 GB per Month, which works out to about 1.8 Terabytes.
  • Because of this reason, IDawn Technologies installs 2 TB Hard Disk Drives in all our 8 Channel DVRs. In the same way, we install 1 TB for 4 Channel Systems, and 4 TB for 16 Channel Systems. The math remains the same.

So now that you are well educated on Recording Quality, FPS, and Storage space, let’s talk about Money. One of our 4 Channel DVRs would cost you Rs. 55,000/- (yes you read that right, you would pay as much as an entire “Hit-AD System” for only our DVR). About Rs. 15,000/- of that is for the 1TB Hard Disk we put in (this pricing can be verified by calling any computer shop in Sri Lanka) and the remaining Rs. 30,000/- is for the actual DVR on which we give a 6 month 1 to 1 replacement warranty, and an 18 month repair based warranty. During the entire warranty period if your recorder needs to be removed from site for more than 24 hours, then a temporary replacement will be issued till your recorder is returned to you. And THAT ladies and gentlemen is why you pay as much for one of our recorders, as you would for an entire system you buy off the Sunday newspapers.

The higher cost of our recorder alone does not justify the higher prices of our entire system. Coming up next week: The cameras, cabling, and power supplies we use, and why those make a difference to you, and your security.

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