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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.
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 remove storage media). The first centralized IP camera was Axis Neteye 200, released in 1996 by Axis Communications.
IP cameras are 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.