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What is a video encoder?

A video encoder, or video server, makes it possible to move toward a network video system without having to discard existing analog equipment. It is ideal for integration with existing analog CCTV (closed circuit television) system. A video encoder brings new functionality to analog equipment and eliminates the need for dedicated equipment such as coaxial cabling, monitors and DVRs – the latter becoming unnecessary as video recording can be done using standard PC servers.

A video encoder typically has between one and four analog ports for analog cameras to plug into, as well as an Ethernet port for connection to the network. Like network cameras, it contains a built-in Web server, a compression chip and an operating system so that incoming analog feeds can be converted into digital video, transmitted and recorded over the computer network for easier accessibility and viewing.

Besides the video input, a video encoder also includes other functionalities and information which are transported over the same network connection: digital inputs and outputs (I/O, which can be used to trigger the server to start recording and transmitting images, or activate alarms and devices such as lights and doors), audio, serial port(s) for serial data or control of pan/tilt/zoom cameras and devices. With image buffers, it can send pre-alarm images. A video encoder can also be connected to a wide variety of specialized cameras, such as a highly sensitive black and white camera, a miniature or a microscope camera.

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