Security cameras might be a challenging subject for newbies, so having a handy guide of the  CCTV  jargon or glossary is the best way to understand and get familiar with all the terms that you might find among the different systems while shopping around.

Here we are going to explain some of the most popular terms that describe the basic functions of any CCTV camera or DVR.

DVR, NVR, and Video Recording Features


Video Storage

Is the capability of your DVR to store video events.
When recording High Definition images, the capabilities of every DVR can vary depending on the number of connected cameras, the resolution of the cameras, and the recording resolution of the DVR.

In most DVRs, the amount of storage is found at  Menu >>> HDD  information.  CCTV Storage is directly affected by recording features and  is a subject with too many variables but for standard purposes just remember this:

2 TB Hard Drive = 4 HD 1080 P Cameras  4 Weeks Continuous Mode Recording 


Motion Detection

The DVR will be recording only when the cameras sense motion. This feature has to be preconfigured, and the cameras have to be capable or featuring this option.

When configured property you can save a lot of storage space, and time when searching for events. Make sure to set the pre-recording time frames in order to avoid skipping important portions of video recording.

DVRs can be pre-configured with a recording schedule to combine continuous mode recording and motion recording.

At the DVR side, the areas of the live view can also be adjusted through a grid to tell each camera channel which areas of the live view are enabled with motion, leaving this way aside constant moving areas, like where you see tree branches or busy streets not important for your surveillance.

Make sure to properly set this feature to avoid missing important events.

H.264 Compression

The H264 Codec used is the same as the one used in Blue Ray Digital Video Disks. Most DVRs are lately featuring this feature giving some extra free space for recording.

Mostly included with every DVR manufactured after 2015


Pentaplex Operation

True Pentaplex System allows multiple simultaneous operations without sacrificing the monitoring of current events. The system allows the user to search, or playback events, all while recording in the background.

Mostly included with every DVR manufactured after 2015


Push Notification

The NVR or DVR  Sends notifications generally to an email account.  Alarms are triggered through optical sensors within the cameras or wired sensors connected to an alarm input, in order to receive alarm signals and send alerts or notifications the DVR and or the cameras have to be capable.

Alarms from physical wired sensors are more reliable than optical sensors within the cameras, as optical can trigger with a shadow or a flying object too often.


Watermark Protection

Watermark Protection is a Technology made to ensure the authenticity of images and video.
The recorder automatically stamps each image and video file with an encrypted algorithm, when an image or video file is tampered or modified in any way, the watermark will change and the file will not be verified.

This feature is useful when required as evidence in a court of law.


Two Way Audio

The DVR or Camera features an optional microphone and speaker. The included monitoring software establishes communication to access the cameras and within the same video channel, an audio communication can reach the other device where speaker and listeners can chat.

Not a very popular feature as requires codec compatibility of the two devices. It also requires some extra programming on the DVR side.


eMap Function

The eMap Screen shows the pre-defined layout of different areas under a floor plan. New areas can be loaded through software. Icons of the cameras can be stamped within the layout to show camera locations within the floor plan.

Useful for big camera installations, a bit confusing for the user to set up depending on the DVR or NVR’s brand.


Dual Streaming

This feature allows the recorder to compress the High-Quality Video for viewing remotely. This significantly reduces the Network traffic while preserving the image quality at very high refresh rates across, even at the slowest network connections.

Not often shown in the boxes of the products but present in most DVRs.


Cameras Accessibility  Terms or Features



Remote Viewing

No need to connect a monitor directly to the DVR, Live Video and Playback control are completely accessible using an internet connected device.

Once you have a proper configuration you will be able to access the video of your cameras from a local computer or a mobile device.

Watching live video and requesting a playback can be done but requires a good network speed when is done in your local network, or high internet speed connection, preferably above 1.5 Mbs.

The most convenient way to access your CCTV cameras over a local network or through the internet.  


CMS Software

Access through dedicated software can be very convenient but more machine demanding. If you have an old computer bellow I3 Processor and you use your computer for multiple tasks while you want to watch your cameras live, it can slow down the performance of your computer, so try to get a high performance computer if you need to share live view of your system, or get a dedicated computer for the specific purpose.

A CMS software for a Security Camera System is recommended and very useful when you want to integrate DVR ( Digital Video Recorders), working in different geographical locations. 


Phone App

Most Security Cameras are accessible through a Mobile App, camera manufacturers provide a free phone application that might be found with the DVR in the box, or downloaded from the Apple store, or Play store depending on the platform of your mobile.

Requires configuration is done on the internet router, and phone or with a P2P function when available.


Spot Monitor 

There are situations where a second monitor is required to serve as a deterrent or to provide the video feed to a second room.
DVRs, in general, come with two video signal out ports, VGA and HDMI, one can be used as a local monitor and the second as Spot. In the past old DVRs had a specific spot video port, but it was a composite video port that is no longer popular due to its low-resolution capabilities.

If required check with your provider or installer to make sure your DVR will have specific Spot Monitor Output.


Other Video Surveillance Terms or Features


PTZ Camera 

A camera that can move controlled by the DVR, and Joystick or from the Phone’s app. They can work with a specific wiring and DVR input ( RS232 ), or through the existing coaxial video cable.

The Pan Tilt and Zoom Cameras are great for zooming and they turn 360 degrees giving you endless possibilities of coverage.

Don’t use them to replace a fixed camera location as their moving advantage can become your system’s weakness.


Hosted Dynamic Domain Name Service

Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide Dynamic IP addressing with their internet connection plans, this makes it difficult hold an active link between your Router, DVR, and your Phone, as the Public IP addresses change dynamically.
ISPs will charge additional fees if you want to have a Static IP address.

Oracle DYN is one of the most popular providers of IP hosting which will update the dynamically changing address by updating the link with the new one.


Point Of Sale Integration

With an optional USB adapter, Point Of Sale Transactions can be logged directly to the recorders
The recorder can overlay the transactions so it’s easy to see what was put through a cash register and how much change should have been given
You can even search for products being sold. For example, a search for ‘pepsi’ will display a list of transactions where ‘pepsi’ was purchased; playing back the event will display the camera that recorded the transaction


Timeline Search

A time may come when some recorded events need to be retrieved. With the built-in Search function, finding and backing up recorded security camera events is easy.
Using a mouse, remote control or front panel buttons, it’s just a matter of selecting the date and scrolling through the hours and minutes.
There’s no need to sit through days of recorded video in Fast Forward. The recorded events are already marked for you.

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