IP cameras vs. PVR boards


Active Member
I would like to get some cameras going, and I'm having a hard time deciding on the topology. To me, logically, IP cameras seem like the best option, as they do all their compression internally, and can "stand alone"... considering the resources the PVR cards require, I'm not sure I'd want it on either my Homeseer machine or my HTPC, but I'm not too keen on adding yet another 24x7 PC in my home. While a 24x7 PC would be needed to record the output, simply capturing a stream, and even doing motion detection on an available stream, is a much more light duty task than doing the actual encoding of multiple cameras. Plus, it seems I often see threads of configuration hassles. I like the autonomous nature of an IP camera who's output can be viewed from anywhere, even if the "recording" pc is down. And of course, a camera can be added at any time - no worry of outgrowing the number of inputs on a PVR card.

Despite the advantages I see of IP based cameras, it seems like most people are going with conventional cameras and a PVR card (or in some cases, a dedicated PVR device). Some of the reasons are obvious to me: much wider selection of cameras, and probably generally higher camera quality, as well as lower per camera cost for a given quality. Is there anything else I'm missing? I'd really be interested in hearing the opinions of those who have more knowledge on the subject than I (which is probably most of you). Another thing I'm considering is simply waiting for a while for IP cameras to mature a little (and therefore become cheaper, with a wider selection and higher quality). Any thoughts on the pace of that market?
I would be interested in hearing peoples thoughts as well even though I recently made a decision to probably go IP. (I haven't purchased anything yet so I could still change my mind). My reasons were as follows:

1- After using a Panasonic demo site I was really sold on the advantages of browser based pan and tilt controls.

2- I also didn't see where I could implement a camera server without bringing another PC on line.

3- It will be easy to have a browser running on say the music server to feed camera views to a modulator without impacting the resources needed for the music server app.

4- I'm pretty sure an IP camera will work with the new Stargate (RCS) touch screens but I'm not sure if I could integrate a PVR app as easily with these proprietary devices.
My entirely personal opinion is that I want to keep a system as stable as possible for the price point. Each IP camera has webserver logic, ethernet circuitry, etc, built into it. As I'll have 8 cameras, that's a lot of unnecessary/redundant bits. More bits=more points of failure. (also more bits=more $$)

I'd just as soon "keep it simple", get a camera that does just that. Then, i'll get other devices that focus on the task I need them to do, rather than a bunch of stuff that could break.
I am about ready to go DVR PCI but ... I am hearing horror stories about the DVR cards and DVR SW consuming a machine. I would really like to understand the issues and select a decent DVR 4 channel card. I have not looked into IP cameras - maybe I should as I expect to have only 3 cameras. Other than IVB, anyone using a DVR card they can recommend?

My next major undertaking will be a camera system. I am also leaning towards Wireless IP for a few reasons.

1. Wireless are easy to install and more expandable than 2.4 ghz in my OPINION.

2. Easier to view on a PC either at home or away and you dont need a dedicated PC running 24/7 unless you want to record everything.

3. Prices are coming down and choices are going up.

4. More flexibility in the long run in my OPINION.

I also like the panasonic camera's especially the PTZ units. I have a contact there and I am hoping he can get me a break on them. Most likely I will start out with 4 and build up over time.

There are definitely cons Wireless IP but no system is perfect.
I looked at the D-Link 802.11g cameras (DCS 3220g, 5300g, 6620g) but all reviews have trashed them. I have a 802.11g WiFi network (as well as a wired gigabit network) so I thought a 802.11g camera makes sense. Still looking. I guess I'll hold off on any decision until the fog clears.
I will probably use wired IP cameras to avoid some of the wireless "issues". The demo that made me decide to go with Panasonic is HERE.
The beauty of IP cameras is all of the streaming software comes with the cameras. The security to access the cameras is also built into the self contained web server. It's a more plug and play operation and there is no hardware in the "server" loop meaning web users connect directly to the camera and no server hardware is needed. The problem is a really good quality outside IP camera is expensive. Your embarking on one of the most confusing aspects of HA so keep reading.
Rupp said:
The problem is a really good quality outside IP camera is expensive.
But keep in mind they often include Pan and Tilt. A wired outdoor camera, plus pan and tilt unit, plus cabling, plus PVR... As a sloution that I can implement quickly and expand incrementally (as my budget allows), I think IP is actually going to be more cost friendly in my situation.
I want to locate one camera in front and one in back facing the house from the edge of the property so I can see the house itself. With a Wireless IP Camera I can do that and even power it remotely with a 12 Vdc battery and a small solar cell to charge it. With that and a UPS on my router and modem I can check on the outside of my house in a power outage as well (not likely to happen often).

I will also have camera's on the house facing out to the edge of the property as well. They can be powered off the regular AC.
I was wondering if anyone has used a camera from the rear/front extremes of their property. I want a camera in my neighbors house to I can watch my house. :) I wounder if any of the new IP based cameras use the Power Over Ethernet options. Now that would be a nice touch.