A User's Guide to Digital Video Surveillance

Obsolescence


One of the more frustrating things about technology is how quickly it becomes obsolete. Buy something today and before it’s up and running the next improved model is out.  The VCR dating back to the 1980’s never changed significantly.

This becomes more frustrating to a large enterprise who is spending significant dollars to find out that by the time the installation is complete, its’ technology is old news and devalued. Some customers want to standardize across all their properties and lock into a single solution. The problem arises that logistically by the time the customer gets to outfitting the last property, it may be several generations old. So they are going to pay yesterday’s prices today for old technology. Hardware costs universally go down in price not up. Whether it’s HDTV’s, digital cameras, etc. gravity always takes hold in electronics.

Would you want a purchasing program where you are locking in today’s prices with today’s technology, for installations which will be completed over the next few years? The philosophy doesn’t work. From the technological side the issues are quite apparent. Financially, all you are doing is locking in higher prices. Technically, you are locking in older technology.

When manufacturers produce DVR's they often “flash” (install) their compression technology to the processors in the DVR card, which stores the compression technology data. These programs are either temporarily or permanently stored on the processors.

The permanent solution is Application Specific Integration Circuits (ASIC). It is specific to that particular application and cannot be changed.
The use of re-programmable DSP's (digital signal processors) has become all the rage. What is so special about re-programmable DSP's is you can upgrade the codec to the chip. Products no longer have to become obsolete in order to be upgraded with newer technology.

Don’t confuse companies who say you may be able to “upgrade” software. It is still running on the same old platform and codec and what is being upgraded is a software interface or function, not the underlying quality produced by the codec.

Therefore, if a customer buys a DVR today which uses an ASIC with last generation codecs and new technology comes out, the system becomes even further obsolete than it already is. Even more frustrating, if they bought many systems and then want to expand the security initiative, they may find out the new equipment is no longer compatible with the old and the components are no longer available. Some manufacturers say they will sell you their present solution which can seamlessly transition to the newer codecs, which is impossible. Fact is, ASIC cannot be upgraded regardless of what a sales person tells you.

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