Choosing the best display for CCTV

When viewing live or recorded CCTV footage directly from your DVR or NVR, you will need a display monitor, screen or TV with compatible video input connections. Choosing the best display for CCTV is simple when you understand the key features you need to look for.

You can happily use most common home TV's and it will work well as most are high resolution and offer a selection of video input connection types. But to get the most from your surveillance equipment and to ensure that your image looks correct on screen, take into consideration the maximum output resolution displayable by your DVR or NVR and choose the right monitor with the correct resolution and aspect ratio to go with it.

Aspect ratio describes the proportional relationship between the height and width of an image regardless of resolution. Common aspect ratios in CCTV are 4:3 and 16:9.

Consideration into the screen size of a display monitor is quite important and is often overlooked. Typically, the more cameras you have connected to your surveillance system, the bigger you would want your display monitor to be. Imagine having footage from 32 cameras displayed on a small 15" display monitor? It would be very difficult to view the images as the small 15" inch display monitor will be divided up into 32 equally sized squares - Not something that we would recommend.

Standard Definition (SD)

The highest resolution that an analogue DVR can display, record, and playback is 960H (960 x 576), so as long as the resolution of a display monitor exceeds that size you should be okay. Typically, display monitors come in standard 4:3 or widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. Analogue CCTV can record in both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. Consideration into the aspect ratio of a display monitor is very important. If you were to record at D1 resolution (720 x 576) and view the footage on a display monitor with a 16:9 aspect ratio the image will appear stretched. Likewise, if you were to record at 960H resolution (960 x 576) and view the footage on a display monitor with a 4:3 aspect ratio the image will appear squashed.

High Definition (HD)

For CCTV equipment capable of producing high definition footage, ideally you would want to get a display monitor, screen or TV with the highest resolution that you can get your hands on. This is where a modern home TV would perform best.

Megapixel camera resolution at 1.3MP gives you a 1280 x 1024 pixel image. If you had a 5MP camera it will be giving you a 2560 x 1920 pixel image. So, to see the full size and clarity of your 5MP camera, you would need a display monitor that supports that resolution. A display monitor that has 2560 x 1920 pixel resolution is quite expensive (not to mention very big in physical size!) and truthfully speaking, a display monitor with a smaller resolution is perfectly capable and would still be able to display footage from a camera producing a higher resolution image.

Connectivity

When purchasing a display monitor for your CCTV system, check the video output connections on your DVR or NVR and choose a display monitor with compatible video input connections. Most modern DVR's and NVR's will have BNC, VGA and HDMI video output connections. Most modern display monitors will have VGA and HDMI video input connections with specialised CCTV display monitors having an additional BNC video input connection. Common home TV's will usually have an array of connections including RCA (CVBS).