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Best Video Surveillance Systems for Business: 2016 Edition

Best Video Surveillance Systems for Business: 2016 Edition
Credit: Vasin Lee/Shutterstock

We know that different businesses have distinct needs for video surveillance systems. We researched and reviewed approximately 50 of the most popular video surveillance systems and came up with the ones we think are best for a variety of business types. Here is a roundup of our best picks and an explanation of how we chose them.

TRENDnet offers an impressive selection of video recorders and cameras, allowing you to create whichever system best suits your needs and budget. Our particular recommendation is to buy TRENDnet's prebundled four-channel NVR system with a 1TB hard drive and two outdoor IP cameras to get started, and then expand the system as you wish. TRENDnet also sells power-over-Ethernet (PoE) switches that can expand the size and scale of the system, allowing you to indefinitely add more IP cameras to your network. The company also keeps a healthy stock of different camera models, from bullet and dome cams to motorized pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) models. We created a hypothetical five-camera system consisting of the prebundled NVR, a five-port PoE switch, two IP dome cameras and one IP PTZ camera, along with TRENDnet's central management software, all for $1,421.94. Find out more about TRENDnet on the vendor's website, or see our full review for more information.

Editor's Note: Trying to find the video surveillance system that's right for you? Fill in the questionnaire below, and you will be contacted by our partner vendors to help find the right system for your business.

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One of the most inexpensive and simple video surveillance systems we came across was SecurityMan's NDVR bundle, which includes eight cameras. While it lacks the more advanced functions of more expensive systems, the sticker price is less than $1,000 for eight cameras — a steal by any measure. SecurityMan also boasts a feature known as "auto ID plug and play," which makes setup easy and eliminates the need for any complicated system configuration. We recommend SecurityMan's NDVR system for entrepreneurs who want reliable protection without excessive research and installation headaches, or for small businesses owners operating on tight security budgets. Find out more about SecurityMan on the vendor's website, or see our full review for more information.

Finally, our choice for the best hybrid video surveillance system, in which analog cameras and IP cameras can coexist, is Alibi. This option is good for the small business owner who has an older analog system with cameras that are in good condition, but who wants to add some IP functionality to the system. Entrepreneurs can achieve this by spending just a few hundred dollars on an Alibi hybrid video recorder and a couple of Alibi IP cameras, rather than the thousands it might take to purchase and install a network video recorder and buy an entirely new set of cameras. With the hybrid option, you'll have fewer IP cameras, but you'll be able to strategically position them to take the best advantage of their advanced features, all while keeping your working analog cameras. This type of system is not for everyone, but it can save you some money if you don't plan on making a complete transition or expanding the size of your system. Find out more about Alibi on its distribution partner's website, or see our full review for more information.

We take the process of recommending vendors seriously, so we invested substantial time in researching various video surveillance systems and their features. We gave each vendor equal consideration. 

We started the process by coming up with a comprehensive list of vendors that offer video surveillance systems. To do this, we searched the web and consulted other lists and reviews of the most popular vendors. We ended up with a list of about 50 video surveillance systems to examine further. 

From there, we visited the websites of each vendor, to compare pricing and features. We looked at all of the details, including the variety of systems offered, such as digital or network video recorders or the variety of cameras available. We spent considerable time comparing features — for example, does the system support IP cameras, mobile viewing and motion detection? Can you easily scale up the system? Does it cover multiple locations? We watched product demos and tutorials when they were available. At the end of this process, a pool of 35 candidates remained.

Next, we called all the services we were considering, posing as a customer (with the exception of the few that offer email-only contact). Beyond just the marketing rhetoric on websites, we wanted to get a feel for how the companies handle actual customer interactions. We asked all of the customer service reps the same set of questions about features, options and pricing, and we noted our reactions to the experience. Company representatives who were friendly and forthcoming got higher marks, and those who were less than helpful or too pushy scored lower. We realize, of course, that customer service interactions can vary, based on whom you reach, but we thought that this was an important part of the process nonetheless. 

For our overall best pick, the decision came down to which company offered the best balance of affordability, robust features, and ease of setup and use. We shied away from vendors that offered extremely low-priced off-the-shelf solutions that might not be as durable as other systems. We also decided not to go with the more expensive and specialized services that cater to one industry in particular, or that offer very advanced capabilities. Many of these services are great — and worth the investment for some companies — but our goal was to choose the service that provided the best value and benefits to the largest number of businesses. 

Ready to choose a video surveillance system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's Note: Trying to find the video surveillance system that's right for you? Fill in the questionnaire below, and you will be contacted by our partner vendors to help find the right system for your business.

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Here is a list of 35 video surveillance systems we reviewed and a summary of what each company claims to offer. This alphabetical lists also include our best picks. 

ADT Security Services – ADT offers the ADT Pulse video surveillance system, which also can be coupled with a monitoring service for an additional fee. Only ADT's cameras can be utilized with the system. http://www.adt.com/video-surveillance

AFA Protective Systems – AFA is an integrator that provides hardware from a variety of manufacturers. AFA can also integrate your video surveillance system with existing alarms and security systems. The company offers analog, IP and hybrid solutions. http://www.afap.com

airVision – airVision, also known as UniFi-Video, is an Australia-based company that offers network video recorders and accompanying IP cameras. Between a wide array of "airCams" and airVision's video management system, the manufacturer makes it easy to build your own system. https://www.ubnt.com/unifi-video/unifi-nvr

*Alibi – Sold through Supercircuits and Security Cameras Direct, Alibi is our best pick for hybrid video surveillance systems. In addition, Alibi also offers network and digital video recorders, along with IP cameras and analog cameras. See our full review, or check out Alibi's selection at http://www.supercircuits.com/lp/alibi-megapixel-ip-security

Amcrest – Amcrest is an excellent source for prebundled, plug-and-play systems that don't require a lot of technical know-how. The company has a variety of "NVR" kits that come with a handful of cameras and hard drives powerful enough to record days' worth of footage. amcrest.com/security-camera-systems.html

Annke – Annke gives you the ability to either build your own system or select one of its prebundled kits. Annke's selection includes IP cameras and wireless cameras that are night-vision-enabled and can be monitored from a mobile device. http://www.annke.com

Brickhouse Security – Brickhouse Security offers video surveillance solutions from a number of manufacturers, including Swann, Vivotek, Lorex and Defender. Most of Brickhouse Security's offerings are systems that come with several cameras. http://www.brickhousesecurity.com

CPI Security – CPI Security offers the complete InTouch Business System, which includes two motion detectors, two door and window sensors, two HD indoor cameras, and free access to the InTouch mobile application. https://cpisecurity.com/business

D-Link – D-Link maintains a full stock of video surveillance components, including cameras, switches and video recorders. The company also offers a variety of video recorders for businesses of varying sizes; NVRs for small businesses, network-attached storage for midsize businesses, and storage area networks for large businesses. http://us.dlink.com/business-solutions/ip-surveillance

Defender – Defender offers both wired and wireless security systems, in complete kits or component parts. The company keeps dome and bullet-style cameras, as well as offers monitors to view your system on-site. http://www.defender-usa.com/cameras-accessories?mode=list

FlirFX – FlirFX offers a small selection of indoor and outdoor cameras equipped with night vision and audio capabilities. The cameras connect through Wi-Fi to either your smartphone or a cloud server and do not utilize a video recorder. https://fx.flir.com

Foscam – Foscam offers a midsize selection of indoor and outdoor cameras, including plug-and-play IR cameras. Many of Foscam's cameras can shoot in high definition. Foscam's video management software works with other brands as well, such as Amcrest. However, the company does not sell video recorders. http://foscam.us

Frontpoint – Frontpoint's video surveillance systems are tailored specifically to your unique circumstances. The company also offers a monitoring service along with its surveillance systems. To find out more, the company requires a personalized quote. http://frontpointsecurity.com

Funlux – Funlux offers both full NVR and DVR kits complete with up to sixteen cameras, as well as individual IP and wireless cameras and component parts. Funlux makes affordable systems for homes and businesses. http://www.funlux.com

Honeywell – Honeywell's products cover the entire spectrum of video surveillance systems. From IP cameras to hybrid video recorders, Honeywell maintains a huge selection that allows you to build your own video surveillance system to your precise specifications. https://www.honeywellvideo.com/products/video-systems/

LaView – LaView offers both complete video surveillance systems, as well as DIY customizable kits for both NVR and DVR systems. You can also purchase individual components parts, such as IP cameras and hard drives. http://www.laviewusa.com/product-18/all-products.html

Linksys – Linksys' network video recorder supports up to eight channels, which can be expanded with the use of a PoE switch. Linksys also offers two dome IP cameras, an outdoor bullet IP camera and one mini-dome camera. http://www.linksys.com/us/

Lorex – Lorex's wide array of video surveillance systems and components are generally affordable and adaptable. With IP cameras and HD NVR and DVR systems, Lorex's products can be tailored to your specific requirements. https://www.lorextechnology.com

Netgear – Netgear's Arlo series of security systems don't rely on a video recorder. Instead, you can connect up to 15 of the Arlo cameras to the cloud and then check in via mobile device or computer to live-stream up to five of the cameras at once. The cameras use an SD card for backup when internet service is interrupted. https://www.arlo.com/en-us/?cid=gwma

Protection 1 – Protection 1 is geared primarily toward home security, but it offers an affordable solution that could be of use to a small business. With an indoor and outdoor wireless security camera, a pan-tilt-zoom camera and storage on the company's server, Protection 1 is a unique solution for entrepreneurs. http://www.protection1.com/video-surveillance

Q-SEE – Q-SEE has a number of different series for varying video surveillance needs. Whether it's a traditional analog system, a more modern BNC HD system or a high-tech IP system, Q-SEE has components to build it. The company is geared toward simplifying the complexities of surveillance. http://www.q-see.com

Revo Lite – Designed for easy setup, Revo Lite has a single cable that is used for power, video and audio. Revo cameras are night-vision-enabled, come either separate or as part of prebundled kits and can be viewed over mobile devices. https://www.revoamerica.com

Samsung – Samsung offers both high-definition and standard-definition video surveillance systems. Samsung has a limited selection of IP cameras to accompany its kits, including dome cameras and the table-top "smartCam." http://www.samsung.com/us/security-and-monitoring/security-systems

*SecurityMan – SecurityMan is our best pick for inexpensive video surveillance systems. Although the company's eight-channel NDVR prebundled kit is slightly more expensive than comparable kits in its class, it doesn't sacrifice quality and longevity, and still comes in under $1,000 for the bundle. See our full review for more information, or visit http://www.securitymaninc.com.

Sharx Security – Sharx's products do not use a video recorder, but instead stream video live to a computer or mobile device. The cameras also can record to a local SD card if there is an internet outage or you want to view archived footage. https://www.sharxsecurity.com/products.html

Swann – Swann is focused on providing options for every budget. The company offers high-tech IP cameras with advanced functionality, as well as the more traditional analog cameras that have lower resolutions. http://www.swann.com/us/security-cameras

Synology – Synology's Surveillance Station 7.2 is designed to allow for quick connections and setup for people without any knowledge of networks. Synology's system is designed to handle up to thousands of cameras across a number of locations. https://www.synology.com/en-us/surveillance/7.2

Toshiba – Toshiba serves as an integrator for video surveillance systems from a number of manufacturers. Toshiba's tech support can help you determine which systems integrate well with one another and will perform testing upon request as you build out your system. https://www.toshibasecurity.com

*TRENDnet – TRENDnet is our selection for the best overall video surveillance system for small businesses. We chose TRENDnet because it's an affordable, simple and effective solution that can be adapted to a number of specific needs. See our full review, or visit http://www.trendnet.com/products/business.

Tyco Integrated Security – Tyco maintains a wide selection of IP and networked video surveillance systems, along with component parts like cameras and recorders. To begin building a system with Tyco, log on to the company's website for a quotation. https://www.toshibasecurity.com

Vimtag – Vimtag's CloudBox video storage system eliminates the need to save footage locally. There is also no monthly fee for Vimtag's cloud storage system, which can be linked directly to a variety of wireless cameras. http://vimtagusa.com

Zmodo – Zmodo has a wide array of complete, prebundled kits to choose from. You can also browse a vast selection of individual cameras and video recorders to build your own system from scratch. Zmodo's mobile applications allow you to access your video feeds on the go. http://surveillance.zmodo.com

Adam C. Uzialko
Adam C. Uzialko

Adam received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University. He worked for a local newspaper and freelanced for several publications after graduating college. He can be reached by email, or follow him on Twitter.