How to choose a home video surveillance system?

How to choose a home video surveillance system?

There are so many choices in video surveillance these days that even professionals are overwhelmed by the available choices, and there simply isn't enough time for anyone to do the due diligence to test all the available options.  Any "consultant" who tells you he has is simply "blowing smoke."  You can spend as much or as little as you like, and you can even install a simple system by yourself.  
 
When I asked a potential customer how much she wanted to spend on a system, she gave me a very intelligent reply.  "I'd like the most bang for the buck."  Therefore, she put the ball back in my court and relied on my experience to sift through the myriad of choices.
 
Your choices can basically be broken down in the following categories:
  • IP cameras
  • with NVR software
  • with software provided by the manufacturer of the camera
  • Analog cameras
  • with standalone DVR
  • with PC based DVR
  • Hybrid System
  • combination of both analog and IP cameras
  • PC based DVR with either NVR or manufacturer software
 
OK, so this is probably clear as mud, right?  Well, I plan on greatly expanding the scope of this article in the future, but I just wanted to get something online right away.  Let me first tell you what I chose for my home-based business:  A NUUO PC based DVR with H.264 compression; the NUUO SCB-5004, it is a 4 channel card that allows for D1 resolution for two channels and 120fps.  
NUUO SCB-5004 PCI DVR card

Since I have a four channel IPusb dongle, I'm able to plug this into the PC and add IP cameras at any time for testing purposes.  In truth, this is it's most important function to me.  If I were to buy a system purely for the functionality of it, I would probably buy a budget standalone DVR for the following reasons.  You can still get D1 recording resolution for 4 cameras (though only for 7 fps), and it requires very little skill or maintenance (it won't crash like a Windows based PC.  There is also the added benefit in the cost and energy consumption, and I'll get to that subject in the near future.  Consider this article a work in progress.
Stand Alone DVR System

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