Would You Choose Exacq With Arecont, Genetec With Axis Or Video Insight With Advidia?

Any help would be appreciated, I have received quotes for 3 different systems. It's not a matter of the cost, is it worth paying the costs for Exacq or Genetec over Video Insight? Thanks

Undisclosed A:

Can you give us some more details about your application? Is this a school, a hospital, an industrial warehouse? How many cameras?

I used to represent ExacqVision and may be a little biased towards its ease of use and simpicity. It is interesting to note that of the 3 options you have Genetec is the only TRUE open platform currently that is not associated with a camera manufacturer like Exacq (American Dynamics) and Video Insight (Panasonic buys video insight). Exacq does have the Tyco ownership hovering over its head right now so that is also something to monitor. They have been making changes by firing rep firms as well.

Ultimately we need more detail about your application to really advise you.

There is 5 locations in the financial industry with 6-13 cameras per location. There are no specific requirements, we are updating from an old analog system. The 3 quotes vary greatly, cost is important but not the deciding factor. There will be 3 NVRS (1) 36TB and (2) 48 TB units to record 60 days of data is what was quoted. Is it worth to pay the annual software fee's by Axis and Arecont if advidia offers them free? Any thoughhts on the 20MP Arecont camera, is it worth the money, the others do not offer this camera? I know everyone is busy, any comments will be greatly appreciated. Thank you

Axis and Arecont do not charge any ongoing fees. I think you are alluding to Exacq and Genetec. I believe with Exacq, if you buy their NVRs, you get 3 years free.

You should take a look at each VMS software but, from our testing, I don't think Video Insight is in the same class of software sophistication and feature sets as Exacq or Genetec. That said, I am not sure if you need or value that.

As for Arecont, their big problems are quality and support. Of the 6 you mention here, Arecont, by far, is the riskiest to deal with.

Of the Arecont super high resolution cameras, the Omni (see test results) is the most interesting / novel. However, you need to determine if you really need that or can make it work with a few regular HD cameras.

That is a tremendous amount of storage for 60 days!! Using a calulator on that and figuring out your real needs should be your first concern to get that cost down.

If all you need to do is record a few weeks of video on a couple of dozen cameras it really doesn't matter. But you are asking so I would bet there is something else at stake. Are you integrating into anything else? Are there very few clients or many? Few cameras or lots? Single storage or distributed? Many viewers of a single camera, bandwidth restrictions? Regulations such as gaming.

On the VMS side, some general comments comparing the 3:

  • Exacq is the easiest to use
  • Genetec is the most powerful
  • Video Insight is.... less expensive

On the camera side, if you go Exacq, you might as well go with Illustra, as the price will be less, they are sold together as a solution and Arecont has a bad track record.

We addressed Advidia here.

Btw, are these from the same integrators or from multiple integrators? If one is more responsible, more technical that might help sway it.

John, can you offer your thoughts another item I am confused with regarding the quotes, installation costs? Most new camera's will be installed in the current locations with new cat 6 cable oth interior and exterior. Of the 3 quotes, 2 vendors are within a few grand of install costs but the 3rd quote is over 15 grand more. The material costs are within $300.00 for all vendors, the high quote is estimating many more hours and appears to be charging a much higher per hour laor cost from what I can figure out. thanks

In general, it's not shocking to find quotes separated by large amounts. Without knowing who the specific bidders are, there are some possibilities you might want to consider or check for.

The much higher quote might be from an integrator:

  • who is a large or national integrator that has a much higher cost structure, refuses to compete on cost and therefore prices themselves a lot higher
  • who foresees some issues that the other two do not
  • who is already busy and does not really want / need the work, ergo pricing high (if they get it, great, they make a killing, otherwise no real loss)

As for the high bidder, if it was me, if I really liked their proposal otherwise and had a good feel for their skill / professionalism, I'd ask them point blank why they were so much higher and attempt to understand or negotiate. Otherwise, I would throw it out, knowing I had two other bids.

Btw, I am surprised that the material costs are so close. Genetec/Axis, everything else equal, should be more expensive than the other two.

John, my peers are leaning towards the Arecont cameras since they have the 20MP 180" view versus using a PTZ camera. The vendor was out and sold everyone that we are crazy to spend money for a PTZ camera when the 20MP can offer more and the undustry will be phasing out PTZ cameras all together soon. Do you know if Axis or any other name brand camera manufacturers have anything similar to this Arecont camera? Thank you again for your comments.

First of all, PTZs are not being 'phased out'. Who is telling you this? I would not trust such a person.

There are still quite a lot of new PTZs being released, though overall usage is declining given higher resolution options.

That said, you probably should not use PTZs regardless unless you have someone who is going to be monitoring them regularly.

On the multi-imager side, there are only a few manufacturers making them and none are much better options. Axis has a multi-imager but it can only used with a PTZ.

On the other hand, I don't see why you need to use multi-imager cameras at all. Those Arecont multi-imagers are expensive compared to fixed MP cameras and are underpowered (i.e., low frame rate, problems with multiple streams, etc.). If you need more pixels / resolution, use multiple fixed cameras.

Finally, to reiterate, whoever is telling you that PTZs are being 'phased out' 'soon' is lying to you and should not be trusted - period.

First off, PTZs are not being phased out, and certainly not soon.

Really the two cameras serve two very different purposes. You can try and use a PTZ on an auto-tour to cover a large area, but you really end up missing more than you capture in that scenario.

Panoramic cameras primary serve the purpose of converting multiple fixed cameras into a single fixed camera. You have cost savings on the camera side because somethings like Ethernet electronics and housings are now shared across 4 "cameras" instead of just 1.

A multi-sensor panoramic camera is just 4 (or however many) individual sensors pointed in different directions to give some amount of coverage. You can achieve the EXACT same coverage using 4 individual cameras, the tradeoff being (potentially) cost and aesthetics.

If you are concerned about detail at a distance, a decent PTZ will generally give you more detail than any panoramic camera, but you need a live operator to control the PTZ. If your application is more of the record-and-review variety, then you need to determine for yourself how much detail (usually expressed as pixels per foot) you need at a given distance and then it is a pretty easy calculation to find the right camera/sensor.

Usually in a case like yours I would work backwards on the design. How much detail do you need? Let's pick some camera options that can deliver that in the conditions required. How long do you need to retain video for? Let's pick a storage blob that exceeds that by about 10%. Who is going to interface with the system, and when/how will they do so? Let's pick a VMS that delivers the required features with a user interface that would be most comfortable for the typical user.

For your camera choices, did you look at demo video from day and night time? Assuming of course that you care about night time video, but if so don't choose based on a demo done at mid day when the scene lighting is ideal.

Hi John,

My CCTV quote process drama continues. A vendor is now quoting the Video Insight Software with Arecont cameras versus advidia. They are stating I can get the 1x and annual camera software upgrade for the Arecont cameras at no cost if I buy the NVR's from them. The other vendor is charging a 1x cost per camera which is fairly costly. I'm ready to flip a coin at this point in time.

One other question, I'm sure most shake their head I am asking this, but why on the camera calculator and comparison tool is there not an option to compare the advidia cameras?

Thank you again for taking the time as well as others for their comments.

"A vendor is now quoting the Video Insight Software with Arecont cameras versus advidia."

Seems like the worst of all possible options....

"if I buy the NVR's from them."

What NVRs do they sell? Is this something they are building in their garage or is it a real NVR from a real manufacturer? Sounds troublesome.

"The other vendor is charging a 1x cost per camera which is fairly costly."

Can you clarify? What is the actual cost in dollar terms? $100? $10? $500? I ask because this is not a common used pricing technique, which also concerns me.

"why on the camera calculator and comparison tool is there not an option to compare the advidia cameras?"

Because Advidia does not make their own cameras, they buy from Hikvision, ACTi, etc. and just place their label on them.

I personally tested Video Insight with Arecont at my office (we have a 20MP camera from Arecont) worst combination I have experienced, video and recording was random and unreliable at best. If you’re interested I would be happy to give you a link to the camera so you can see what the video quality is like (no longer hooked up to Video Insight). John H can contact me and get address if you’re interested.

Thanks for the feedback. After much research and discussion, it's narrowed to Exacq with Arecont cameras or Milestone with Arecont cameras. I know there has been many comments regarding the Arecont quality, but my peers are sold on the 20MP camera versus having to have more than 1 fixed camera or a PTZ. I never mentioned the use of Milestone before, the vendor provided the recommendation after I stated we only want to use Arecont cameras. Does anyone have any comments on the use of Exacq versus Milestone with Arecont cameras?

The Arecont 20MP has a max specified frame rate of 3.5. In practice, it can even be lower.

Are your peers comfortable with that super low frame rate? You are going to spend $1500 for a camera that does 3.5fps or less when you can buy multiple 3MP / 20fps fixed focal outdoor minidomes for $200 each.

Milestone is fine, at a high level similar to Exacq. You might prefer one over the other. Compare: Milestone XProtect 2014 Tested and Testing Exacq VMS.

cool factor over rational.
John already pointed out one of the shortcomings, I personally would go with the 12MP one if you have to use one of the regular SurroundView units. Arecont's quality has improved over the years, but one of my main issue with those multi-imagers is that they are in fixed positions and it can be tricky to get the FOV you want on all 4 imagers, which in itself already begins defeating the purpose of the unit. I do like their Omni though for that reason, and have had some success implementing it under proper conditions.

No to Arecont, no matter what VMS you use. You're better off with something else. I would be willing to sell you my 20MP dome if you're interested. I've been trying to get rid of it for a year now.

When you say financial institution, will there be a requirement to interface any transactional information? Do they process checks or credit cards and therefore subject to regulatory agencies?

I maybe wrong but I was under the impression 3VR is the leader in the financtial/banking world with the ability to capture an image store it tagged to an account and use it to verify the customer in future transactions.

"I maybe wrong but I was under the impression 3VR is the leader in the financtial/banking world"

Yeah, you're wrong :)

The 'big 3' classic bank branch providers in North America have traditional been March, Verint and 3VR (3VR the smallest and relatively newest of the 3).

That said, any of those who would be worth considering for a pure bank branch application. The question to Undisclosed A is: Have you looked at them and rejected or?

I have not heard of the companies you mention. There are no requirements to record transactional or the handling of money. The 3 quotes I received are to replace 3 old systems that are running on Desa, Pelco and something else. Unfortunately, I have zero knowledge of the CCTV world, that's the reason I signed up for access to this website. I gave the vendors the locations of the interior and exterior that needed coverage, explained we want a good system that will provide the ability to keep current with the technology changes. The installation costs, software and camera costs are so different, it's clear as mud to me. Thanks again for any comments.

3VR may be the smallest of the three, but they certainly have garnered some heavy duty investor firepower. http://www.3vr.com/about/investors. Looks like they backed the truck up to Palo Alto

When you mentioned financial institution it left room for some pretty big errors. You appear to have a pretty normal system with the requirement for 60 days being the only odd duck. I'll add a few more questions for you to look at and I'm sure there is a study by IPVM that would help. Why are you thinking 20mp or very high resolution imaging. This relates directly to the amount of storage which can become the largest expense and require the most management? Integrators will offer you based on your comments so I would consider evaluation the number of PPF for each camera. You want to know what your actual recorded video will look like with a sample. Send the quotes to John ..... Let him glance at them first.

You are correct, I could have provided a better description and Financial Instituition left it wide open. Again, this was an odd situation where I had no clue what to provide specs and requirements. I asked 3 well known companies in the area to provide quotes for cameras and software to provide a good working system. I never imagined there was this much to a system until the past 30 days. At this point, I do not care of it's Blue or Red, I just want to be able to provide our Owner with the best recommendation based on cost, quality and on-going maintenance. I'm checking off the storage costs as complete, if this gets more than 60 days, all the better. One vendor put all 5MP cameras on the outside of the buildings and the other put 2MP saying the 5MP were not needed. Lux, PPF, Lens, P-Iris, it's just mind boggling what and why one system is better or worse. Again, thank you for your time and comments.

There is absolutely no need to apologize.

Every one has a first time and there are many end users on this discussion source that have experienced your pain. There are 20 ways to design the systems you are asking about and most of them are correct. In fact, there are many integrators that have experienced the pain of having someone learn on one of their projects!

You could install a small integrated NVR with local storage and have much better than what you have from some of the least expensive solutions. I am VERY familiar with the DESA. But just having something better doesn't mean it's best for you long term.

You could install a name brand VMS connected to servers and raid arrays and still not meet your untimate needs.

Maybe one of the end users would be willing to look at the plans and proposals for you and make suggestions. There are still questions to be asked. Of course, you could just go with the integrator who you think best understands your needs as explained since they will ultimately be the root of success or failure.

Whenever I submit a proposal I always try and get in front of the customer with the software and/or give them a remote connection to our system at the office. I recommend to all end-users that they try out each VMS before buying anything. It's important that you and anyone who will be using the system be comfortable with viewing live video, searching recorded video and downloading recorded video. Too often I run into end-users who purchased something without extensively trying it out and the end up regretting the purchase.

Obviously you are willing to pay for good equipment. Why wouldn't you bring a vendor in that specializes in the financial industry and see what they can offer you to enhance you whole operation?

If your just need quality pictures, analytics and other integration features are not a concern very good pictures can be had for cheap these days. ie Hikvision.

I seriously doubt you need 20 megapixels unless your looking to catch license plates in parking lots. Even then a few well placed cameras at exits and entrances will handle that.

Network stotage can be attached to almost any recorder these days.

John, you can say what you want about Arecont's quality and support. But the fact is that Arecont is deployed at both [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] in massive deployments on both 3VR and Verint. I can provide references from both end users that have had no issues with product quality and or support. Also no issues from the SI's either. Yes I work for Arecont.


There's a large volume of evidence of Arecont's ongoing problems both in quality and support.

That said, I will take you up on your offer. Please send me contact information for the representatives at both companies and I will talk to them directly. Email: john@ipvm.com

John, I would gladly offer that up to the Undisclosed A end user. You can have them contact me for a call with my references.

That's ok. We have contacts at those organizations and have reached out to them already.

In the meantime, undisclosed A would be wise to read the numerous accounts above of integrators and users burned by Arecont.


We have removed a reference to an end user cited by an Arecont Vision
employee as the they did not have authorization to do so.

Note to all manufacturers, please be respectful of your end users and do not use them for public endorsement unless you have explicit approval.

I tried the 3130 model years ago spent all kinds of time trying to get a good pictures called support then sold it on ebay and returned the lenses to my distributor. Never tried again. I had my fill.

Support is the the most important thing a company can offer next to never needing support. When your at a customer you need to be able to pick up the phone and have the solution on the other end or a replacement on the way. No questions asked. No call backs or emails days later.

Here's my honest opinion, and I'm leaving my name visible so you can consider the source, as I would understand if you thought that I was biased or gaming you.

In one of the comments in this thread, you mention that you're relatively new to surveillance. Taking that along with the information in your original post, I'm going to recommend that you go back to the Exacq vendor and ask for a new quote that keeps the Exacq but without Arecont.

The Axis or Panasonic cameras that the others suggested would work well, but Samsung and Bosch would be comparable choices that would also perform. Your vendor should have some input in this, because you're asking him to support the installation. He may not regularly stock one brand or another, and his field personnel may not understand the menu options of a camera they're unfamiliar with.

Out of the three software options you mentioned, Exacq is best suited to your level of mastery. Genetec is a great product, but I have always believed that it gives too much control to inexperienced users, in the forms of configuration power and options. Video Insight is a young product that is closer to Exacq in terms of ease of use, but Exacq will give you more options for vendors and for integration with other systems.

Full disclosure: I work for one of the many integration firms that represents Exacq. We do not represent the other two. You're welcome to conclude that these opinions are based on, or at least influenced by that, but Exacq is not our only product and certainly not the only one we've evaluated. This is just what I would want someone to recommend to me if I were you.

Quick adjustment: I just realized that I was assuming Panasonic cameras, even though your post clearly says Advidia. Sorry about that.

I'd stick to the Axis from the Genetec quote, Samsung, Bosch or Panasonic over the Advidia and Arecont.

One thing I never see end users research is the financial stability of the vendors. I believe the three you mentioned seemed to be in great financial shape. 3vr's, that is mentioned in comments,financials would make me take a deeper look. As for cameras, they really have become a commodity. Some manufacturers make cameras that are better for some applications. I would always look for the system that is the most open. It doesn't matter to end users as much but for integrators to take on a VMS that OEMs their product out puzzles me.

All of the vendors are private companies, but I have researched their BBB ratings, state license registrations and all have been in business for over 25 years. I researched the vendors before asking for a quote. All of them have very small to large clients. Thats what is making this quote process so hard to understand. 1vendor puts 5MP on the exterior, the other says 2MP & 3MP are fine and 5MP is over kill. In summary, all vendors appear stabile and have a history of providing services to the commuity.

A, with regard to 2MP vs 5MP, you note:

"1vendor puts 5MP on the exterior, the other says 2MP & 3MP are fine and 5MP is over kill."

5MP might be helpful outside, especially if you are monitoring a broad or distant area. As a rule of thumb, if the area is more than 40 feet wide, 5MP might provide a benefit in capturing faces or license plates.

However, and this depends on the specific models specified, but 5MP cameras are more likely to be worse in low light and worse in direct sunlight conditions as well as offer lower frame rate and consume roughly double the storage per camera.

It's hard to abstractly say which one is 'right' with the level of information we have right now but you should consider those pointers at least when checking.

The big question for me why did the 3 companies sell brand name products rather than solutions with specifications. The customer had no interest in your fancey brand names. They wanted a reliable solution to replace what they had, not an education in the security industry. If it was simpler for the end user to make the decision the end user wouldnt have wasted all this time and we would have nothing to chat about. This has become a Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Honda contest. Do you really think the end user needed anything more than a reliable working installation with dealer support and a 100% satisfaction guarantee along with a 3 year warranty. Assuming the pricing was close that would have been the closer. Some of us tend to be to proud of the brands we carry and deminish the value of our own company. I can make a living selling anything.

If your awesome put your money where your mouth is in writing and make the end user decision an easy one.

"The customer had no interest in your fancy brand names....

Some of us tend to be too proud of the brands we carry and diminish the value of our own company. I can make a living selling anything."

That's an interesting comment. Thanks for sharing!

I do think there is some value in knowing the brand. Because he knew it was, for example, Advidia, Arecont, Axis, he could more easily find feedback on the companies (including highly negative results).

Imagine the opposite. Let's say "Sammy the Security Integrator" gives him a quote for "Sammy's SuperHD cameras." Since so few people would have direct experience, wouldn't it be a lot harder to know the risks involved for Sammy's 'cameras' vs big name brands?

Listen John I appreciate your website all all the great information compiled here. Its a awesome source. You miss understand, not every end user needs all the details .

When I buy a new truck I want to know its reliable. I don't want to know who made the brake pads, bearings, Struts and CPU and anti lock breaking system. The 5 year 100k bumper to bumper warranty is more interesting to me. When I have a patio installed I dont ask where the lime for the concrete came from. I want to know if the patio is cracked in 3 months if he is going to stand behind it.

What I'm saying is there should be a certain level of competance in the sales force to maintain a sustainable buisness. Obviously if someone called you they believe you can do the job.

One of the questions I always ask is do you have a brand preference? then you know if you need to through the brand names around.

I can appreciate selling from a technical angle but it is a rarity that is is really needed.

I would love to here a sales pitch of a sammy winner. I can assure you its now I have a Genetec/ Axis soultion for every for every customer where do we start.

"You miss understand, not every end user needs all the details ."

Thanks but you are strawmanning me here....

I agree not every end user needs all the details but this end user is evidently looking for a lot of details (ergo this long discussion). And my experience is that most end users want / benefit from a brand.

You may not want to know about the components of your truck but most end users want to know the brand of the truck, so they can do some basic due diligence on performance, quality and cost.

To that end, if I had to choose between a truck built by you (or anyone else on this site) vs one made by Ford, I am going to be pretty reluctant to choose yours vs Fords :)

Oh perfect prodeasionalism. Let's attack a guy learning when the industry in a whole is clear as mud. As I said in the beginning, there are self contained products all the way to large VMS solutions. I tend not to bash the competition since the integrator will be the final solution. The selection of cameras and resolution ties to the quality of image required at a distance, how much storage you are willing to pay for and surely available lighting. It's been shown that a 2 or 3 MP cans provide a more usable image in some locations than a 5 MP. I haven't seen the site and would like to know who on this board has? From what I have read I would certainly ask the bidder with a high cost on labor what he saw that the others didn't.

Hello and welcome A. I have been an integrator for FI's for 30 years. If you have no integration needs (tellers or ATM) then there are several that will work well for you. We have installed over 2500 March systems. Verint is good, and so is 3VR. Just my opinion not knowing your details; 20MP is overkill for sure. You can take that money and spread it all over your lobby and workrooms and still get excellent video. As John said, 5MP sounds high on the outside, but if you have a large parking lot, it might not be.

You did not mention if the branch staff will have any access to the software, but all things being equal, they will not. Statistics also recommend installing a Lobby Monitor. Let potential robbers know you are recording. You don't have to show them all the cameras.

Make sure you use WDR cameras. Most FI's have a lot of glass, and they are open later (in the winter months), ATM machines, night deposits, and the lighting will be every type you can imagine.

I would make sure you choose a VMS FULLY integrates a broad range of cameras to interface with. This system will last you years and you need to be able to integrate new features down the road. If they do a good job keeping up with the software camera manufacturers develop, that will help you two, three years from now.

I do like Exaq as well, but the whole Tyco thing bothers me as an integrator. Will they lock me out of certain features in favor or ADT? I have seen it before.

Your VMS does not "have" to supply the cameras, but in the IP world, it does help. They will always fully support their own product.

As for cameras, Samsung is good, Panasonic has always had a good product, I do like Hikvision despite their recent bad press and all of them can be bought for a reasonable cost.

As for the VMS, don't concentrate on price as much as use. You will use it for days, then not turn it on for days. It needs to be easy to use. Can you use it after not having used it for days or weeks at a time? Does it help YOU? Keep it simple. Good solid VMS, good solid cameras, good strong sound switches. FI's don't have the time to manage IT. They are in the money business. I would also choose a recording device as opposed to loading software on a server. A purpose built box will generally be simplier and easier to manage and last a little longer (IMO). I would recommend that you be able to offload video with a watermark, AND that plays in a univeral media player. The police won't want to take the time and effort to download a player unless it goes to court.

It sounds as though you put your decision into the hands of someone else. There is nothing wrong with that as long as they have a good reputation. Make sure they are certified. If they are installing on your network, make sure they have network experienced installers. It will be important at some point. Decide from the gut. Who are you comfortable with? They should have your interest at heart. Don't worry as much about the equipment as the people involved. Ask to meet the installers and service techs. Do they install their own equipment or sub it out? We are all in the people business.

One last thing. I know a ton of people think 30 frames/second is cool and it is. Just my opinion, it is overkill, particularly in an FI. For years we made 1 frame/second work well. Cut down on the frame rate; you can cut your storage cost and bandwidth and still have plenty of video evidence. 5-10 frames per second is plenty. Keep it simple. But yes, it is way different than analog and yes there is a ton to know. It is far more complex. Good luck to you!!

I would personally stay away from Video Insight. We've been a customer for many years and we are in the process of moving to another vendor. I chose Video Insight over Milestone and several other solutions due to cost and simplicity. However, I've had nothing but trouble with the system. I've tried multiple servers and operating systems, but it has always been unstable. We mainly use our system for forensic analysis of events, but more often than not, the software has crashed and didn't record what we needed. Recordings are frequently corrupt as well. Every time a camera is reset the software has to be restarted. I haven't had a bit of trouble with our new system and I don't have the expensive support contract I had with Video Insight.

How much is the support contract with Video Insight? Is this direct from the manufacturer or via an integrator?

Direct was 50% purchase price for yearly software support.

50% purchase price? Really? :)

Perhaps the purchase price was super low as we've heard numerous cases where Video Insight comes in far lower than their VMS competitors but the normal percentage is in the 10-20% range (assuming regular $100 to $200 per camera purchase price).

Related: VMS Annual License Fees - Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?

Hm, I would reccomend calling and getting an updated price list then. You can get an unlimited support license for the lifetime of the system for $250 a camera. If you don't want to go unlimited, the per camera yearly support fee is $25 and they wont back-charge you for the years you didn't purchase the maintenance fee if you decide you want to upgrade in the future.

H, you are unbelievable.

First, you are an [undisclosed] employee of Video Insight.

Secondly, G, as he mentions, is an end user using your products. He posts about how bad his experience with your company is and instead of being ashamed or trying to help, you criticize him? what the hell...

With all due respect to the many, very smart contributors to this site and all the great advise given to Undisclosed A End User, Greg Cortina was correct - "There are 20 ways to design the systems you are asking about and most of them are correct." Short of taking the time to fully understand all the differences and literally design the system yourself, "A" needs to pick whichever one of those bidders he/she trusts and give them the project. Barring that.....

I think "A" would be best served by spending a few dollars on retaining the services of a qualified Security Consultant, one with experience technically designing systems. For a small fee, they will be happy to review all the bids and help you evaluate the bids, the equipment and the integrators. With thier experience, the consultant may have other ideas for solutions that you haven't thought about. In my experience (27yrs), end users often end up with thousands of dollars invested in a system they ultimately hate because they got "sold" by an integrator who cared more about selling the project than about what the end user REALLY needs. Until you've come up to speed (and you will if you continue to actively utilize IPVM), you might want to consider getting some professional assistance in the form of a Security Consultant.

John H.: do you have a list of good consultants you could pass on to "A"? If not, I know a couple that I'd be comfortable recommending and I'm sure other posters could contribute to that list.

"I think "A" would be best served by spending a few dollars on retaining the services of a qualified Security Consultant, one with experience technically designing systems."

What do you mean by a 'few dollars'? Like 50 bucks or a 'few thousand'?

What's the minimum fee a consultant will charge to engage? How does the buyer know that the consultant has in-depth enough experience to navigate the existing bids from the existing vendors for a 'few dollars'?

I think Undisclosed A could benefit from expert direct assistance, I am just not sure how they are going to get it from hiring an expert consultant for a few dollars, yes/no?

How does the buyer know that the consultant has in-depth enough experience to navigate the existing bids from the existing vendors for a 'few dollars'?

There are industry certifications, like BICSI and CPP, PSP That can help them separate the ones who really know thier stuff from the ones who just call their favorite integrator to be the "subject matter expert". If you don't already have a list, like I said, I'll be happy to give you a couple names/numbers & maybe other members of IPVM would add to that list. At the end of the day, just as they are doing the due diligence on the integrators & vendors i.e. financials, years in business etc., they should do the same with consultants. They should also ask them for thier qualifications statement and check out a few of thier references.

What do you mean by a 'few dollars'? Like 50 bucks or a 'few thousand'?

Thats like asking an integrator how much a camera system would cost. It depends on the job. I think a pretty common hourly rate for security consulting is in the $125.00 to $200.00hr range (much like a CPA or lawyer, afterall, you're paying for specialized professional assistance.) They would have to describe the scope i.e. how many bids need evaluating, do they want the consultant to evaluate/recommend other vendors not provided in the bids, overall size of the project etc.

An example: several years ago, I had a client who needed a formal RFP with drawings to send a project to bid. I referred him to a consultant in town who I knew was qualified. The overall size of the project was 54 IP cameras. The consultants scope was to write a generic IP spec using a particular manufacture (one I recommended) as the quality measurement, provide drawings for camera placement, evaluate the bids (there turned out to be 5 on this project) and recommend which one to award. They charged my client $7k for this work. I would imagine a lot of that was because of the drawings. My client was very happy with thier outcome & it gave them a measure of confidence that they weren't being "sold a bill of goods" because the consultants are, by definition & nature, typically neutral to vendors. (this being a case in point - I did NOT win this bid even though I'm the one who introduced the client to the consultant :) )

"There are industry certifications, like BICSI and CPP, PSP"

How does having those certifications help them make a decision amongst Arecont, Axis, Genetec, Exacq, etc.? Those certifications have almost nothing to do with modern video surveillance systems and, of course, don't even touch the products being considered here.

I am not arguing against consultants but I am saying (1) it's going to be hard to find one that really can help and (2) by your own example, one that won't charge them thousands.

You can feel free to recommend someone but please make sure they have in-depth video design and deployment experience, not just a CPP.

I would agree, we spent $4K on a consultant for our new building security system. They didn't make any recommendations on a vendor, but just validated the designs provided by the vendors.

I would have rather had that money back to purchase more camera's, but unfortunately we had to hire an expert to validate the expense because the architects budget for access control and video surveillance was enough to buy a few camera's from Costco.

Personally, I felt that all the integrators I worked with designed excellent systems at reasonable costs, without having to pay an outside entity. I'm not sure a consultant is going to offer much that you can't get from doing a few demo's and reading reviews on here.

" because the consultants are, by definition & nature, typically neutral to vendors.

Not my experience as a rule.

I was going to say the same thing.

In theory, I think they are neutral in the sense that they want to try and find the "best" solutions, but the complexity of options prevents this from happening.

Instead, it seems that many consultants end up with deep knowledge of 2 or 3 (at best) products in a category, and then shallow knowledge of several others. For mainstream things like cameras or VMS, this isn't always so bad as the ones they've chosen to specialize in will at least often rank high in overall features/utility. But they get in this feedback loop where they attend the annual training events (I use that term loosely) of their preferred products and get deeper rooted in their specialty knowledge of those systems, and lack of knowledge of other systems.

The problem is when the consultants are asked for specifications on things that are less mainstream, video analytics being an easy example. In these cases their knowledge can often be very limited, or biased by what their lead VMS company recommends. In many cases they will set bad expectations about what can or cannot be achieved. I've seen similar examples with biometric access control devices or other niche and cutting-edge technologies.

I would not pick anything with Arecont. We have had issues with Arecont and have subsequently stayed away from Arecont.

The cost contrast may have some to do with infrastructure. The new IP cameras are Power over Ethernet and can be connected with cat5 or cat6 directley to a PoE switch as long as the distance is under 300'. One integrator may be reusing the old coax cable with an Ethernet over 2-wire device an each end while the other may be pulling all new cable. The new IP cameras will work on an older non-PoE switch with a power supply or mid-span injector. All cost factors.

As for camera brands, I prefer Axis because they supply a management software (free) that allows you to monitor status and software revisions of all your cameras. You can also manage credentials and other camera parameters in bulk. If you use the UPnP name to give your camera a meaningful name, that name will display on your Axis dashboard along with the IP address, firmware revision and MAC. I understand Arecont has a similar management software but I am not that impressed so far with it. The Arecont cameras have suprisingly good image quality but there are other issues that are not so desirable. A lot of the other camera leaders in the industry do not have a management software available. Axis also has some pretty nice analytics and output relays built in and you can download a nice variety of other analytics if you need them.

You say you are a financial institution. If you are monitoring your data center, you may need 90 days for PCI compliance. You need to chack that before buying any recording equipment. I have our data center cameras set to a really low frame rate to get 90 days out of the recorder and it satisifies the PCI audits.

You can use a 5mp camera and set the recording rate to your recorder to as low as CIF (VCR quality) and if the camera has a local memory card, you can record at the highest resolution (with audio) for about a week - at least you can do that on the Axis cameras. We have solved a lot of crimes using the higher resolution clips off the memory card and you usually know about an incident or crime before the card is overwritten.

The worse camera I have had to program is a Pelco Sarix. It has to reboot after any kind of change (even a user name/passowrd) and it takes at least 5 minutes or longer. Their technical support has a lot of room for improvement. Pelco was my favorite camera during the analog days with their CCC- and Spectra series but since they were bought out, they have fallen to the back of the pack in my book.

Mobotix is in a league near Axis as far as quality cameras and management software goes but they do not use standard video formats so a VMS has to use Motion-JPEG which uses up a lot of memory and bandwidth. Only the Mobotix software can dewarp their panamorphic camera streams. Some of their cameras even have a speaker built in so you can use it for a door intercom. Mobotix will give you their own VMS system for free but you can only use Mobotix cameras on it. They have their place but we only use them when no other camera will do the same job.

Hope this helps.

As an end user I loved Exacq. As an integrator, I still love Exacq. A solid, easy to use product that continuously evolves and is affordable. Granted, your specific use-case and customer requirements determine which platform would serve best overall, but with minimal information, I would pick Exacq/Arecont hands down. Genetec is nice, but pricey and does so much more than most end users need. I can't speak to Video Insight, so someone else would need to make the case for that product.

What about Milestone with Arecont? Would you still go with Exacq and Arecont? Thank you for your response.

I think it is more important to base your decision based on the VMS, which is how you will interact with the system and less on the camera manufacturer. Our experience with VMS's has led us to lead with Exacq as the VMS on 90% of our installs. We used Video Insight 2 years back, the end user experience did not match Exacq’s ease of use even though they compare similarly on a feature list. But that is dated now as I have not seen any newer versions of VI. Milestone has always been a second choice for us and in the end there has been little to compel us to change from Exacq for our customers.

I understand it is probably because of the way the integrators are pitching solutions to you but one of the reasons we like Exacq is because you do not have to use just one brand of cameras. You can mix and match due to the broad compatibility. We use Arecont a lot. But we use Panasonic more, in particular in financial institutions and storefronts. We do a lot of Panasonic inside and Arecont outside for example. In the end trust the integrator to give you the right camera for the right application, Arecont and Axis both have a wide line-up to meet most applications. Arecont and Axis are both in my rotation as is Panasonic like I mentioned. Of those 3, Arecont has the most problems, followed by Axis and Panasonic is our most reliable. But that is all relative and the Areconts offer a good value and image quality in many situations. Areconts 12MP Surroundview has been very popular with our end users. We recommend it over the 20MP flavor if you are looking at those models.

So my two cents is first to go with the integrator you feel most comfortable with. This echoes someone else’s comments above that there are many ways to design the system and most are right. So check your potential integrators references with the solution they are pitching. Ask how they like the system. The integrator is (hopefully) pitching a specific solution because they have had good experiences with that combo and feel comfortable they can support it. Second choose the VMS you feel best using as that is what you will be looking at. Download demo versions of the VMS if you haven’t. Then third the cameras. If the first 2 are right the third should be fine no matter what the name on the camera is. Panasonic and Arecont both have 3 year warranties. Axis has a mix of 1 and 3 year depending on the model.