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An Internet protocol camera, or IP camera, is a type of digital video camera commonly employed for surveillance, and which, unlike analog closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras, can send and receive data via a computer network and the Internet. Although most cameras that do this are webcams, the term "IP camera" or "netcam" is usually applied only to those used for surveillance that can be directly accessed over a network connection. An IP camera is typically either centralized (requiring a central network video recorder (NVR) to handle the recording, video and alarm management) or decentralized (no NVR needed, as camera can record to any local or remote storage media). The first centralized IP camera was Axis Neteye 200, released in 1996 by Axis Communications.IP cameras are typically available at resolutions from 0.3 (VGA resolution) to 29 megapixels. As in the consumer TV business, in the early 21st century, there has been a shift towards high-definition video resolutions, e.g. 720p or 1080i and 16:9 widescreen format.
A digital video recorder (DVR) is an electronic device that records video in a digital format to a disk drive, USB flash drive, SD memory card, SSD or other local or networked mass storage device. The term includes set-top boxes with direct to disk recording, portable media players and TV gateways with recording capability, and digital camcorders. Personal computers are often connected to video capture devices and used as DVRs; in such cases the application software used to record video is an integral part of the DVR. Many DVRs are classified as consumer electronic devices; such devices are sometimes referred to as personal video recorders (PVRs).
A network video recorder (NVR) is a software program that records video in a digital format to a disk drive, USB flash drive, SD memory card or other mass storage device. An NVR contains no dedicated video capture hardware. However, the software is typically run on a dedicated device, usually with an embedded operating system. Alternatively, to help support increased functionality and serviceability, standard operating systems are used with standard processors and video management software. An NVR is typically deployed in an IP video surveillance system. Network video recorders are distinct from digital video recorders as their input is from a network rather than a direct connection to a video capture card or tuner. Video on a DVR is encoded and processed at the DVR, while video on an NVR is encoded and processed at the camera, then streamed to the NVR for storage or remote viewing. Additional processing may be done at the NVR, such as further compression or tagging with meta data. Hybrid NVR surveillance systems exist which incorporate functions of both NVR and DVR; these are considered a form of NVR.