IN a DVR market that’s torn by the transition to full digital and pressured by intense competition it takes plenty to stand out from the crowd. Flexibility of operation and good looks are important elements for success but you need some serious horsepower if you want to stand out from the crowd. What sets Siemens Building Technologies’ new Sistore MX apart from the mainstream is its ability to wrangle 64-inputs – 32 analogue and 32 digital. Designed for small-medium applications, Sistore MX accurately reflects the current CCTV market, pointedly straddling the analogue/digital divide.In terms of feature set, the Sistore MX offers a recording speed of 100ips on the analog side and 96ips on the digital. Onboard storage is a single HDD – you’d get 750GB if you opted for the latest Seagate constant duty drive. If you need more storage space than this it’s a matter of linking external storage devices across the network or directly via USB. Standard recording resolution is 384 x 288 pixels, while high resolution recordings are laid down at 704 x 288. The compression used is MJPEG giving file sizes are between 10 and 80Kb. According to Piotr Dolecki, product manager CCTV, BT Products, the greatest strength of Sistore MX is its operational flexibility. He says the unit delivers a range of intuitive features that make set-up and operation surprisingly simple. A key element of Sistore MX is ease of set-up and configuration regardless of whether you’re setting up analog or digital cameras. “Sistore MX’s configuration mode allows users to set-up user access rights, to configure parameters of either analogue and digital cameras including brightness, contrast and colour saturation,” says Dolecki. “The ability to manage both analog and digital cameras from a single window makes things much easier from a set-up point of view. “Adding IP cameras is easy too and you can specify image quality and size all the way up to megapixel cameras,” he explains. “When you’re setting up Sistore, you control the unit through a keyboard and mouse from 1 to 4 monitors – set-up is very simple and the set-up software is designed to assist administrators to manage the set-up process.”You can also set up recording of pre-alarm history as well as recording time and image record rate. Motion detection is more flexible than most DVRs offer. Instead of being locked into a set grid you can create your own grid shape using a mouse.“It’s extremely simple to configure cameras,” Dolecki says. “You select resolution, data rate, languages, you can configure anti-tamper masks and multiple masks, can be done for each camera – most DVRs don’t have such flexible masking.”The same config window that allows you to specify performance also lets you sort out camera parameters for motion detection as well as other areas of functionality including 32 alarm inputs, 8 digital inputs and 16 switch outputs. There’s also an audio channel. You can configure alarm contracts, signal outputs, time control, alarm forwarding, transmission and email.While you’re undertaking all this, you use the same config window to map out network parameters including ISDN and LAN, as well as to make decisions about bandwidth limitations. Dolecki says flexibility in managing alarm inputs allows the system to perform a range of useful security management function most DVRs aren’t good at.“With Sistore MX you can configure alarm inputs – whether positive or negative polarity – and you can configure special functions,” Dolecki says. “Alarms can also be configured to be ignored during the day and to activate at night when the site is locked down.” In terms of general user interface, Sistore operates in display mode and users can select the number of cameras displayed from 1 to 64 should you have a large video wall. Along with cameras, the display mode also shows all events including loss of video signal, alarm activation and system malfunction, with events logged in an overview screen. You view images and events using Sistore MX’s revision mode. This mode is specifically designed to allow review of all recorded sequences and it’s built around a database that allows operators to query specific events and associated images. This mode offers restricted access and while users are deploying its features recording and image display continue in the usual way. Search function is enhanced by a SearchMask that can be configured using the mouse to ensure you only get the images you want to see. Searches are undertaken using a range of options including timeline, logbook, SmartSearch, CDM data and time and date. You can search 4 cameras simultaneously over LAN or ISDN.“Searching is an easy process,” Dolecki explains. “You can click on a time and see images gathered at this time, and then step forward to a new time – this makes for more intuitive searches. Footage can be archived to USB – specified to relevant format – video and still images can be exported, saved and printed.” Meanwhile, monitoring of Sistore MX is enhanced thanks to its ability to support up to 4 video monitors giving a basic video matrix function of 32/4 with a selection of static, alarm connection and cycling. Along with all this, Sistore has a bunch of other neat features starting with camera sabotage recognition which alerts operators to scene changes or camera masking, with alarm events displayed in the overview screen. If you’re monitoring the system from a remote location you use Siemens RemoteView software, which gives all the functionalities you get when using the configuration and revision windows when directly connected to Sistore MX. A great feature is the generation of a direct connection from SiStore to the RemoteView application in the event of an alarm event. Other features include temperature management, automatic alarm messaging, status indication for switch outputs, interface to SiPass access control, storage of reference images to assess camera preset positions and a multi-client function that allows 16 authorised clients to connect to a single Sistore MX.Important too, is the system’s ability to support full PTZ control for speed dome cameras using the CKA48xx control unit. “A big range of PTZs are compatible – all the majors, Pelco, Panasonic, Sanyo, Ganz, Samsung, Sensormatic and many more,” says Dolecki. “You click to configure the PTZ, set up parameters of operation, privacy masks, you can also set up motion zones and draw the zone in myself to allow better accuracy. You can save PTZ masks once they’re created for future use making maintenance and upgrade much easier.”