The New Hikvision -I Series of NVRsHikvision have recently released their new -I series of NVRs into the UK market, and we're currently receiving stock and testing the new kit ourselves.
With 4K cameras looming on the horizon, many surveillance manufacturers are having to gear up in preparation for the demanding hardware jump to support them, and H.265 is also set to see more use in the following years. Both of these currently would not be possible on the existing -E series of NVRs, hence the demand for an upgraded series.
The -E series of NVRs have proven to be one of our bestsellers, and the 7608NI-E2 and 7716NI-E4 variants have been very popular in particular. Now, it looks like they're set to be superceded by the improved 7608NI-I2 and 7716NI-I4 variants, and so we grabbed a couple from our stock to put on our demo system and check out the improved features.
In terms of physical appearance, there is a clear design difference between the -I series of NVRs and the -E series. Whereas the -E series are relatively simple and subdued, the new NVRs are sleek and modern, with a touch-sensitive panel on the front with illuminated white buttons to either display information regarding the NVRs power and status, or to navigate the menus on a larger model (7716NI-I4 for example).
Below is a picture comparing the front panel of both the 7608NI-E2 and the 7608NI-I2 - interestingly, the 7608NI-I2 is slightly smaller than its older counterpart, measuring in at 380 x 290 x 45mm as opposed to 445 x 290 x 45mm.
Improved Hardware (4K support)
Comparing the datasheet of the 7716NI-I4 with the datasheet of the 7716NI-E4 reveals some key improvements made in hardware.
Designed with 4K compatibility in mind, the incoming bandwidth has been increased from 100Mbps to 160Mbps, allowing greater flexibility with camera bandwidth requirements, particularly when it comes to high-resolution cameras (up to 12MP).
However, more notably the outgoing bandwidth has been dramatically increased from 80Mbps to 256Mbps, allowing multiple 12MP cameras to be viewed either locally or remotely, something that simply wouldn't have been possible with the previous generation of NVRs, and indeed would be a tax on many PCs, so having an NVR with the capability of locally outputting a 4K stream is both convenient and impressive.
Similarly, the datasheet also reveals that the -I series of NVRs are capable of recording streams of 12MP, 8MP, 6MP and 4MP resolutions, as well as those supported by the -E series. 4K resolution starts at 8MP for reference, and so the 7716NI-I4 is definitely more future-proof and capable of handling the demands of higher resolutions.
Finally, the -I series datasheet shows developments in video encoding compatibility with regards to H.265 support, as well as higher resolution output for local monitoring via HDMI and VGA, and indeed both simultaneously thanks to dual monitor outputs.
Both NVRs now natively support Hikvision's own H.264+ video encoding, which aimed to optimise the existing H.264 video encoding and thus reduce the amount of bandwidth and storage required by your cameras. However, the -I series supports the next development in video encoding technology, H.265, which again aims to further improve video efficiency. Currently, the -E series simply won't be able to support it, and it's doubtful a future firmware update would be able to provide compatibility.
H.265 will be absolutely vital if your intention is to record a >5MP camera, and it is a video codec that is seeing increasing implementation.
Unfortunately, we currently don't have a H.265 compatible IP camera in the office with which to test functionality (hopefully soon!), but looking through the 7716NI-I4's familiar interface reveal mentions of H.265 compatibility, such as the below image which would allow you to enable H.265 by default when adding a camera to the NVR instead of having to do it manually whilst the camera potentially taxes both your network and the NVR too heavily.
Dual-Monitor Output Support
Both the -E and -I series of NVRs are capable of connecting locally to a monitor via either a HDMI or a VGA connection, and the output resolution was configurable to whatever was necessary. However, due to the 4K support of the -I series, Hikvision have implemented them with dual monitor outputs simultaneously, both of which are independently configurable. Similarly, you can configure what both monitors display locally via the NVR on the fly.
This is particularly useful when you want to monitor a 4K camera on a 4K monitor, but simultaneously would like to monitor the other connected cameras at a lower output resolution, such as 1080p. This avoids needlessly taxing the NVR with outputting two monitors at 4K, but also allows you to closely monitor a single high-activity camera for example, whilst not leaving the others completely unmonitored in the meantime.
The below image is an example configuration.
As is always the case, these are still early-days in this range's lifespan. With further testing and indeed future firmware updates, I'm sure we'll find many more features we like about the -I series of NVRs. This applies more so for this new range as the technology they're aimed at facilitating is itself still developing - 4K and H.265 is seeing widespread attraction and rapid improvements as time goes on.