Subscriber Discussion

Small, Low Cost Remote Display PC

Any alternate product to fit-pc?

Currently we use fit-pc for transmitting videos to remote display panels. But these one’s fail quite often due to power dissipation issues and will go to hibernation mode and only resurrect with manual intervention. We have corporate meeting rooms, where mangers want to display CCTV footage on TV screens and see what's happening in the campus ?

Okay: assuming you need something small and quiet:

Intel NUC ($150-$300 + ~$70 for SSD + $30 for RAM)

Lenovo ThinkCentre M72e Tiny ($500 all inclusive):

Pretty impressive test/validation labs at for the M72e - now thats what huge firms should be doing - exploitating their vast resources to ensure product reliability

We have also used the Giada i35V which is half the speed (Atom vs i3) but also half the price at $200.

The default fan profile on these are over aggressive but you can change it in the BIOS to make it very quiet.

By the way with the Giada i35V $200 is all inclusive - we normally go for the model with 2GB ram and 32GB SSD.


how do the managers in these meeting rooms use the system? Do they choose what they want to view or they are always looking at specific cameras? Do you have an automation system in these meeting rooms? Depending on requirements an HDMI matrix distribution system or digital signage (iptv) system might also be solutions.

They usually use the rooms as multi purpose. They use the TV for presentations and also to display local PC input in the room. They always want to view cameras not playback. There is AMX control equipment in the room. How does digital signage or HDMI can help. Currently they use local PC to view CCTV GUI. If they want to show anything on screen and monitor campus they should be able to switch TV display input to cctv video

I use an Axis P7701 ($550) to display images to LCD or TV's in my control rooms. I'm not trilled with my solution but it does work and gets rid of the Personal Computer. The PC requires patching, Antivirus, OS issues, etc. The P7701 has no fan, is small, and is reliable. It connects directly to an Axis camera, bypassing any VMS software.

My issues wiith the P7701 is that is doesn't offer a quad display, but you can rotate thru several cameras. It only supports Axis cameras, not a huge issue for me, but still not thrilled. The price is a bit high, you can buy a PC for $550.

I still prefer the P7701 over a PC, the Total Cost of Ownership is lower with the P7701 than a PC.

I see an opportunity for the industry to standardize on a set of protocols to handle PC-less camera viewing over IP.

BTW: I'm watching this topic to see if someone has a better product/solution than the P7701.

Aaron: I have no doubt that this is a reliable method from the client side perspective - but what you are doing is takeing a seconds stream from the camera - depending on how heavily loaded the switch is this may cause issues for all cameras. Personally I do not think the risk is worth it because the problem may end up being intermittent - or worse crash the switch in the middle of the night (when bandwidth traditionally spikes due to noise).

A worse case scenario is if the camera you are connecting to is wireless - in this case bandwidth would be very easy to starve - potentially causing lost of evidence - The case gets even worse if there are multiple units of those Axis decoders throughout the campus, then you are in real trouble.

THe PC can be loaded with Ubuntu/Debian/CentOS and easily locked down for zero maintainence, THe PC will take a stream from the VMS server - thus not increasing camera outbound bandwidth. the VMS server will have a gigabit connection to can sustain 10X the outbound throughput. In addition - it is simple and cheap in most cases to add another gigabit NIC to the server for addition bandwidth if there are too many clients.

This discussion raises and important issue with edged based solutions - unless there is a NAS/VMS server (no real difference in cost - a fast NAS costs about the same as a fast server!!!), all video streams will come straight off the edge device (camera) - and all hell can break lose if there are too many clients.

Bohan: I am indeed intrigued by the small Android PoE devices (and the like). I have seen some hints at the possibilities from IPVM posts, but was hoping for a real example or video of a working system. It appears each vendor would have to provide a unique application for each device, and not all vendors seem to support all devices. Auto booting & launching apps to display the approriate video seems complicated. Would changing layouts after install be difficult. I know IPVM likes Exacq, perhaps he could show a fully functional example of how such a setup would work. BTW: I use Milestone Xprotect.

I'm not excited about loading Linux (or any OS) onto a cheap/small PC, now were are impinging on the whole TCO issue. The firmware based, preloaded, Androids and Raspberry PI's seem like less of a hassle, but I don't know much about this topic, thus my overall interest in this thread.

I was aware of the second stream and so far that hasn't been an issue. Each camera uses at most 2 streams, one for the VMS, the second for remote monitoring (optional). I haven't needed to use a 3rd stream for a second remote monitor of the same camera, yet. I agree getting the feed from the VMS would be ideal.

Aaron: stay away from those unless you are doing it for free and have told you client it may not work...soon down the track.

1. Those $30 devices have very little thermal engineering and will be even less reliable then the fit-pc in the long term.

2. They are basically Android Tablets without a screen - so if some app works on tablet it will usually work on the HDMI sticks - but not always! (due to lack of touch and other idiosyncrasies that the app expects to be available for navigation)

"I'm not excited about loading Linux (or any OS) onto a cheap/small PC, now were are impinging on the whole TCO issue. The firmware based, preloaded, Androids and Raspberry PI's seem like less of a hassle" - this is a notion carried by many, and though not wrong per se, can be avoided in practice. Let me explain:

With Raspberry and Androids - the firmware is not necessarily stable for the app you want to run (let me tell you that remote viewing apps the load multiple H264 stream tax the device like no other load can) - however - if this is the case you are mostly stuffed - because good luck getting a firmware updates to fix the problem for a $40 device.

With a $200 mini PC like the Giada i35V - this is what we do:

1. Do research to find driver compatibility with the Linux distro in mind.

2. Load the OS, drivers (where applicable) and thick clients for your VMS (where applicable)

3. test performance and stability

4. create a disk image with Clonezilla and stash it (guard with own life, etc...) - this is now your "firmware" - next time it takes just 10 minutes to load the image on top a new device and you go to go.

If effect this is what company like Exacq does to make their NVRs: configuration-testing-validation-image

IF you can afford it, the Intel NUC would have the lowest hurdles to jump over initially dues to great Intel support for Linux drivers wise.