Hikvision Series 4-Channel Network Video Recorder

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The Hikvision HIDS7604NI Network Video Recorder (NVR) has everything you’d expect, a few things you’d want, and a couple that you wouldn’t expect in an NVR. It’s a feature-filled surveillance center that allows you to not only individualize your IP cameras, but gives you Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) camera control, customized recording quality, the ability to add/delete/edit users, and a host of other features and functions that will be discussed below. For now, put away your pre-conceptions of what you think an NVR is capable of and learn what this one can do for your surveillance needs.

Hardware

First, let’s talk about the hardware, since it’s the backbone of the system. It comes with your choice of 1TB or 2TB of storage capacity. You can upgrade to up to 8TB, with two 4TB SATA drives. There are four Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) IP camera inputs, an RS-485 terminal to connect a PTZ control cable, an Ethernet port for Internet connectivity, RCA audio in/out, HDMI & VGA video-out, and two USB 2.0 ports. You may notice some things are missing that you’d expect to see. There aren’t any Alarm In/Out ports; there’s only a single audio in/out, and a single PTZ terminal. Remember that many IP cameras have their own audio, alarm, and PTZ terminals. If you need these, make sure your IP cameras have the features you need, and all you have to do is run a single Cat5e/6 cable and you’ll be able to control them through the software.

As for the PoE ports, they enable you to run a single cable to a compatible camera that can carry video, audio in/out, power, alarm in/out, and PTZ commands. A single wire handles everything you need. This greatly reduces wires and cables being pulled, not to mention reduced costs for material and labor.

The front panel is sleek and minimalistic, without buttons or control points, just some indicators for power, for when the HDD is reading or writing files, and a transmit/receive light that blinks when the network is working properly. There is also a USB port for a mouse or flash drive. If your NVR is accessible, you can use a USB mouse and a virtual keyboard that can be called up for editing camera names, changing settings, adding/editing users, or entering passwords. You can also use it with a virtual joystick for PTZ control, but more on that later. There is an included IR remote that gives you access to the menu options, playback controls, and PTZ. For additional security, the remote can be disabled to prevent people on site from accessing the NVR. An auto-lock feature will lock the NVR automatically after a pre-determined period of time without any entries being made. When it has locked, a valid password must be entered to access the NVR menus.

The Basics

Now we get to the nuts and bolts of the system: the software and its capabilities. To start, the live-view window is loaded with icons that will give you an at-a-glance overview of what is currently happening. Events, like video loss, tampering, motion detection, or alarm, have an icon. There are Record, Audio on/off, PTZ control, digital zoom, image settings, and instant playback icons; and clicking on any of the icons will open a pop-up window for further options. So, if you click the PTZ icon, the virtual joystick will open and PTZ mode will engage. Clicking the image-settings icon will open the camera menu to adjust the image. The Instant Playback is a nifty feature that allows you, simply by clicking the icon, to show the record for the last five minutes for a given camera. Need to see who just drove by or entered the building? Click the icon and see what just happened.  This icon system gives you instant access to important features without having to navigate through menus; especially convenient if you don’t use the menus frequently, and can’t remember where that certain submenu is located.

You can program preferences for the live view. Strategies let you customize what you see and how you see it. This includes the display resolution, and how the live feed looks. Choose from three strategies: real-time, balanced, and fluency. Real-time is direct feed according to the camera settings. Balanced and fluency will automatically adjust bit and frame rates to smooth out the viewing experience. You can also choose the placement of cameras and the configuration of the multiview, from equal-sized blocks for each camera, to a larger single-camera view with smaller boxes for other cameras. 

Recording Capabilities

Since you’ve installed cameras and an NVR, you’re going to want to record at some point, and you have a few options. The most basic choices are Continuous and Event. Continuous recording is just what it sounds like: it captures everything. While this provides the most coverage, it will fill your hard drive faster than Event. Event recording is customizable, and conserves the hard-drive capacity by capturing footage only when something happens. It also makes it easier to find specific occurrences, since you won’t have to scan through hours of footage to find a few minutes of activity. The resolution will be dependent on the capability of the particular camera you’re configuring. If you have connected a camera with audio capabilities, you will have the option to record the audio or not. You can specify the hard drive to which you can save specific channels, and even have footage saved to multiple hard drives for constant backup.

You can further reduce the amount of wasted hard-drive space by configuring a recording schedule. This will begin and end the recording at pre-set day intervals, with multiple periods programmable throughout the day. This allows you to capture everything, but only when you need to; like when no one is at home, or when activity is lightest. Up to eight discontinuous periods can be set for any given day. This feature can be configured per channel for optimal coverage. A Holiday mode is also available for pre-programming specific days throughout the year for special recording preferences.

“Event” is an ambiguous term that can describe a variety of triggers that will begin recording. It can be from the digital motion detection, or from wired external devices like door/window contacts, PIRs, relays, or alarm panels; and you can adjust the pre- and post-recording time intervals to ensure you capture what you need. For pre-recording, the NVR stores a few seconds of footage in a buffer without recording it. When an event happens, it immediately saves those seconds before the event so you don’t miss anything. The post-recording is the number of minutes or seconds you want the NVR to record after an event occurs—again, so you don’t miss anything.

The motion detection is customizable with up to four detection zones for a single camera, and adjustable sensitivity. When motion is detected, you can have the NVR start recording that channel, and other channels if you have overlapping coverage, have it send emails with attachments, and trigger external relays to sound a siren or turn on lights.

If you’ve programmed both Continuous and Event recording to run together, when an event happens, recording will automatically switch to the recording preferences for Event-mode if they differ from Continuous settings. Also, when you configure the streams, you can choose, for example, to have audio on the recording channel, and no audio for the viewing stream. “Streams” are supported by many cameras, and this NVR.

Let’s touch on “Streams.” Many cameras, and this NVR, support multiple streams. What this means is that the same camera can send different feeds for different purposes with different configurations. You can have a high-resolution stream for recording, and a separate medium- or low-resolution stream for live view. What this does is to make sure you capture every detail in case you need it later, but saves your computer the workload of processing that high-resolution feed for live viewing. This multiple-stream capability enables you to see live view remotely without overworking your PC, while capturing footage at the highest quality for later playback.

If your coverage area includes sensitive areas, you have the ability to "mask" sections that won’t be recorded, and won’t show on live view. This can be a person’s computer monitor who frequently has sensitive information on it, an access-control keypad to block individual codes, or even a restroom door where privacy and discretion is especially important. This feature is commonly used at ATM locations, with the keypad blocked so someone monitoring the camera can’t see PINs as they are entered. This can be an invaluable feature.

Viewing

If something happens, you’re going to want to "go to the tape" to see it. You have some options for how to find files. Search by day/date/time or events. If you’ve configured different events, like motion detection and door contacts, you’ll be able to further refine the search to event type. Playback controls use icons familiar to anyone who’s worked a VCR or similar devices: Play, Fast Forward, Rewind, Skip (forward and back) will all be intuitive. You’ll also have an option to trim clips, capture snapshots, and save clips with over-write protection. You can choose single cameras to view or multiple if you’re looking for multiple angles of the same event. A nice playback feature will let you add customized tags for recorded files. This lets you "tag" similar events for easier and faster playback, saving, and backup. Clips can be Merged to create a continuous file of multiple events for backing up or saving that can be played as a continuous file.

Remote Access

The NVR, by it’s nature, is accessible remotely. The network configurations are entirely customizable, but since most people only need, and are happy with, the pre-set configurations, writing out all the ways it’s customizable seems like it will be lost on most people. Let’s just say that for the network settings, EVERYTHING (literally, everything) is completely customizable. If you need to change port settings, router… any network setting… you can, and leave it at that.

Users and Security

OK. You’ve installed your cameras and you’ve set up your NVR. Now you’re up and running. What’s next? Users. You’re probably going to want to restrict access to the system based on what you want the people you’ve granted access to be able to see. You start with a single Administrator account and password, and from there you can add more users, with individual access and passwords. In addition to more administrators, you can also choose from Guest or Operator. Guest has a pre-set configuration of live view only, while Operator can be customized to specific functions and features. This will let you give permissions from as little as view-only to camera settings, recording settings, shutdown/reboot, log search, and two-way audio. This access can further be specified for local use and remote use. So an Operator user can have live view only for remote use, but more advanced permissions at a local level. This allows you an incredible degree of control over what your users can see and do.

There’s a feature called Exception. An exception is an event that doesn’t have anything to do with a camera or recording. When the NVR detects one of these Exceptions, you can have it perform an action. There are several types of Exceptions: HDD Full, HDD Error, Network Disconnected, Illegal Log-in, and Recording. These are all selectable, with actions like sounding audible alarms, automatically sending emails, and external alarm triggers. This last one can be a siren or notifying a connected alarm panel to trip an alarm.

Pan/Tilt/Zoom

Pan/Tilt/Zoom control, as stated above, can be controlled locally with the included IR remote, and an OSD virtual joystick using the mouse. You can also operate the PTZ functions remotely. But there’s more to a PTZ camera than moving it manually. You can set up presets, patterns, and patrols to provide even more detailed coverage. Multiple pre-sets can be set for a single camera, for using at different times and under different circumstances. You can set specific points to which the camera to pan and zoom in. Patterns and patrols are similar in that you can have the camera automatically follow a route, with zoom-ins, that give incredible detail to important areas.

Conclusion

That’s a pretty detailed overview of the features and functions of the Hikvision DS-7604 NVR. Not only does it do everything you need your NVR to perform, many of the features and functions are incredibly customizable. This is a menu-driven system, so navigation isn’t too complicated, and with the OSD icons for many of the camera and recording functions, setting/changing/tweaking is quick and easy. 

Video/Audio  
Number of Channels 4
Video Output Resolution Per channel at 60 Hz: 1920 x 1080p, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 1024, 1280 x 720, 1024 x 768
Monitor Out 1 x HDMI port
1 x VGA port
Decoding Resolutions 5MP, 3MP, 1080p, UXGA, 720p, VGA, 4CIF, DCIF, 2CIF, CIF, QCIF
Synchronous Playback 4-Channel: 720p, 2-Channel: 1080p, 1-Channel: 5 MP
Audio In Connectors 1 x RCA channel
Audio Out Connectors 1 x RCA channel
Pentaplex Operation Full
Display Modes 1, 4, Sequential
Hard Disk  
Storage 1TB or 2TB
Hard Disk Ports 2 x SATA ports, up to 4TB each
Connectors/Interfaces  
Network Interface 1 x Ethernet 10/100/1000 port
Camera Interface 4 x 10/100 Power-over-Ethernet interfaces
USB 1 x USB 2.0, front panel
1 x USB 2.0, rear panel
Alarm In 4
Alarm Out 1
General  
PTZ Control Included IR remote, OSD virtual joystick with mouse, Remote use
Power Supply 100 - 240 VAC, 47 to 63 Hz, 3A
Power Consumption 67 W, including 4-port PoE
Rack Mountable 19” rack mountable 1U chassis
Environmental Operating Temperature: 14 to 131°F (-10 to 55°C)
Humidity: 10 to 90%, non-condensing
Dimensions 17.5 x 11.4 x 1.8” (44.5 x 29.0 x 4.5 cm)
Weight <5.5 lb (<2.5 kg)