How do I choose a Video System?
Things to look for in a video system

How Do I Choose A Video System?

Where do you start when buying a video system for your buses? When digital first came to market, we were impressed with the ability to store a week or even two weeks of video, although there was a compromise.

To get the storage we needed, we typically had to sacrifice the quality of the picture. Well, like all technology, advances have been made.

The trick now is now do you pick the best solution for you? Unfortunately, when it comes to digital video, it is a bit trickier than sorting the apples from the oranges.

There are a lot of claims made by video suppliers offering high frame rates, high resolution, GPS & wireless capabilities, big hard drives etc. While these are some of the things you will likely want, the devil is in the details!! You need to ask specific questions to start to understand the differences between competing products.

Here are a few questions/thoughts to consider:

Can the system record 30 frames per second, with four cameras running at the same time? (If not, your picture quality will suffer.)

Is the frame rate variable from camera to camera? (This is a must especially when using cameras outside the bus.)

Is the video compression engine at least Mpeg4 with multiple quality settings? (The size of the hard drive does not mean much if the compression engine is inferior.)

Is the highest resolution 720x480 AND can this resolution be maintained when four cameras are running at the same time? (If not, your picture quality will suffer.)

Does each camera have an independent audio channel? (It should. Not two, four!)

Is the system small, light and easy to install? (The day of the big security box is gone!!)

What do you have to do to get the video from the bus to the people who need to see it, securely? AVI video files are a big no-no. Protecting the privacy of your organization, staff, and passengers is of utmost importance. Simple, fast and authorized user restricted is what you are looking for.

Asking these basic questions will get you started toward a quality purchase. There are a lot of systems out there claiming a lot of things, but seeing, is believing. Test before you buy. Compare, compare, and compare again. Make sure the claims made are true.

At the end of the day, the quality of the picture is very important and with today’s advanced systems, picture quality does not have to be compromised for storage. You can have both!

Look at the overall picture and see how a video system will fit into your operations. If you need special hardware in the office, or if the viewing software is complicated and slow, what’s the point? We need solutions that make the job easier. Find out the detailed steps taken to get video from the bus to the office. Speed and simplicity is essential.

Most suppliers today offer ‘other’ add-ons like GPS, wireless, USB downloading and sensors. These features are good and add to the system’s value, but don’t forget that the heart of what you are buying is a video system. You want great pictures. Pictures of people and things in motion, sometimes at high speeds. You likely want multiple cameras. Video systems are now used to assist with accident investigation, driver training, dispute resolution and oh yes, keeping an eye on the kids too!

Regardless of the configuration, never compromise the quality of the picture!