I took a few hours to review Digital Video Recording and surveillance products and specifications. I’ve learned they’re all pretty much the same re-branded Chinese boxes with Linux embedded and ultimately it comes down to hardware capabilities and if there is a company associated and reviews.
As far as most features, best price, highest quality video and 16 channel video and audio support, I would recommend this unit:
This one is nice because it has more features, two network cards, good quality D1 recording, H-264 and 16 channel, but does NOT include a hard drive. Also it is Generic and a lot of security “companies” buy these, brand them and charge $1200. So this one is around $600 but add on a hard drive for another $100. This unit does not include cameras.
This following DVR pretty much has the same features as the unit above but no dual network card and seems to be supported better and includes a 2TB hard drive. I would consider this unit to be the Ebay Special. A no-name – chinese knock-off that is just the same as all the others but includes better marketing and possibly a company behind it to get some kind of assistance if there are questions.
I recommend this unit because it looks like it has a company behind it, includes the hard drive and DVD-RW drive. If it’s DOA, then you can do an EBAY return. This one is $400.
This following DVR is from a reputable seller (newegg), has a 1 year warranty, but only has 4 audio inputs, and does not include a hard drive:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16881338138 This one is $500.
I looked on Fry’s website and they didn’t have anything with close to the capabilities of the 3 models above.
Here is a good article about choosing the right DVR:
Essentially it says the newest/best DVR’s are capable of recording in the highest D1 resolution on 4 channels with H.264 compression. If audio recording is a capability you need then the first two units I listed have 16 audio inputs. Other systems only have BNC and no audio inputs, but there are RCA-to-BNC connectors and microphones available to convert a BNC video cable into a working Mic.