For some time now, encoders have been the technology of choice to help end users move from analog to IP video systems on a camera-by-camera basis. But hybrid recorders are an up-and-coming alternative that are making inroads.

“The big trend is with hybrid DVRs that support both analog and IP camera connections, to make it easier to transition smoothly to IP systems,” says David Choi, product manager, Speco Technologies, Amityville, N.Y.

With a hybrid recorder, customers are able to not only swap out their cameras on a case-by-case basis but also continue to use the hybrid (provided it offers full IP capability) once the transition is complete — something that isn’t necessarily true of encoders.

“Hybrid is a weaning process. In a new NVR box, you can have 16 analog cameras that you can bring into the new system, and you can also add 10 IP cameras,” says Jeff Burgess, president of BCDVideo in Northbrook, Ill. “The best part is you’re not running on coax but Cat6 data cables. It’s not only the cameras and the boxes, but also the wire between the two. Sure, you can’t go 1,000 feet with Cat6, but that’s why we have patch panels.”

One reason many organizations are turning to hybrid recorders is consolidation of companies, says Dan Cremins, director of product management for Ottawa, Ontario-based March Networks.

 “We’re seeing more demand on the commercial side where you have different security teams with different systems that corporate decides to consolidate,” he says. “Hybrid recorders are pretty common for customers who purchase other organizations and are combining and consolidating their operations and dealing with their acquisition’s cameras and systems.”

But in the overall scope of things, how prevalent are hybrid recorders?

 “That depends on the vertical. In retail, most install analog. They want so start to move to IP, but they’re not going to immediately throw out their analog cameras,” Cremins says. “They like IP and want to install IP. With a hybrid, they can play in both worlds but plan to migrate to all IP.”