How Good is ACTi's Video Quality?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 10, 2009

An increasing number of budget priced IP cameras are coming onto the market. The key question, though, is how good are the cameras? We all know Axis, Sony, Panasonic, etc. offer high quality products. The key concern, for many, is the affordability of those products.

Budget Priced Alternatives

A few months ago, we contrasted ACTi and Axis where we drew the analogy of Honda to BMW. While ACTi is not as high quality as Axis, given ACTi's significantly lower price, we asked whether ACTi would be 'good enough' for many mass market applications.

Problems in Determining Quality

Historically, it's time consuming and expensive to determine the relative quality of products, especially when it comes to video quality. Generally it requires one to do one's own testing which is possible for a few cameras but infeasible to do field testing for many cameras.

At the same time, the Internet offers a great low cost way to share rich information globally at miniminal cost. This can significantly cut down on the costs of doing one's tests.

ACTi Shares Video Clips

ACTi has released a series of over 20 video clips from production deployments. While vendors often offer canned demos and stills, I have not seen many (or any) offer a directory of videos from field deployments. Equally as interesting, they offer YouTube clips as well as AVI downloads.

The benefit of field deployment videos is that they better show real life problems. I have selected a few representative clips so that you can judge for yourself.

Construction Site

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This video clip is from a construction site using an ACM-1231.

Beijing City View

This clip is from a view of the Bird's Nest at the 2008 Olympics using an ACM-5611.

Night Time Car Theft

This clip is from a night time car theft in Lithuania captured by an ACM-1231.

Evaluating Video Quality

The great thing about video clips is that it helps one judge for themselves and not be subject to either vendors or people like me.

With all surveillance cameras, users are generally interested in two main concerns: (1) what level of detail is needed and (2) what environment/lighting conditions the camera will be placed in.

As an example, the night time car theft video does not show a clear image of the suspect. If you want/need such an image for identification purposes this camera would not be satisfactory in this condition.

For other scenarios, like the first two videos, the quality may be sufficient and the lower cost savings may drive the purchasing decision.

General Thoughts

It would be great to get more videos from production deployments from various manufacturers. We could all benefit from this as it eliminates one of the most challenging issues - knowing if there is something else better without having to test everything ourselves.

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