$1 For An HD IP Camera

Never seen this before.

And it looks pretty clever.

Grandstream has announced a $1 beta for its new HD IP dome camera in what it calls its 'Beta Club'.

The beta tester gets the camera essentially for free. The manufacturer gets some feedback about how well the product works.


A few positives I see:

  • Good marketing campaign to build awareness and interest (similar but better than ACTi's early offer pricing).
  • Increase likelihood that new integrators will consider / use your products overall
  • Hear issues / problems early

Alternative Approaches

Many manufacturers give away free beta units to their most loyal / technical integrators to get feedback that way.

This is fine but you don't get the marketing / promotional benefits of it.

Last, and least, there is Arecont's beta approach. Pay full price, force you to repeatedly upgrade firmware, yell at you when the product does not work.

How many integrators will turn around and resell this gear at full price?

And if the beta stuff turns out a mess, how many will throw Grandstream under the bus to their customers for 'bad product'?

I see where Grandstream is selective of participants here, this is good. For their sake, they need to be.

Sell 1 camera? It's a risk but not much.

Oh, I did not catch it was for only 1 camera.

Sounds like a win-win for us integrators ;)

I'm sure there's something in the terms and conditions that prevents this, even for just one camera. In the real world I would imagine integrators would think twice before installing a beta product at a client site.

The first bullet of the terms is...something:

  • Participants must submit at least 10 bugs and/or improvement suggestions in the Grandstream Beta Club forum (the “Beta Forum”) within the predetermined time frame after receiving the Product. Failure to do so will remove the Participant from the possibility to participate in any further beta tests from Grandstream.

What if it works perfectly and needs no improvements, huh?!?

Mostly kidding, but finding 10 bugs or improvements to be made is probably challenging for most people, and you could very easily end up with the beta club posting junk just to meet their quota.

That's kind of crazy... how many bugs do they think their cameras will typically have?

Good catch. That is onerous, though it includes improvements so one could easily rattle off lots of things - higher resolution, longer ir range, higher frame rate, make it work with IE6, etc....

I never heard of this so I went to look into it. They are into their 4th product of beta testing this way with more than 1,100 applicants and more than 150 participants. Seems like there is an approval ratio of 10%, more than enough for me to try. As an organization new to video surviellance, I am always looking for opportunities to increase our knowledge of whats out there. IPVM was a great and natural choice for us. I think using Grandstream this way would be too.

One thing to note.

We tested Grandstream's encoders in our Cisco VSOM and they failed. We recently tested VTech encoders and they worked beautifully.

David, thanks for the feedback.

Btw, I am not endorsing Grandstream products. I just think the $1 beta program is an interesting approach that other manufacturers might do well emulating.