Testing Archerfish Solo Smart Camera / DVR / VSaas (Cernium)

Author: Benros Emata, Published on Aug 08, 2010

Combining many video surveillance functionalities in a single device is a growing trend. The hope is providing a turn-key, 'all-in-one' solution simplifies deployment and provides everything one needs less expensively.

In this report, we test the Cernium Archerfish Solo, a cube camera that integrates video analytics, an on-board DVR and a managed video solution into a single $300-$400 device. Billed as bringing "Homeland Security Technology" to the home and SMB user, we bought one from Amazon to better understand the product's effectiveness.

The below introductory video overviews our test coverage:

The test results indicate most home and SMB users will be unsatisfied. Archerfish's analytics performed poorly, demonstrating an alarming amount of false negatives and a modest number of false positives. Unless buyers find value from their video analytics, the price point is far too high for the rest of the product's features compared to many home/SMB alternatives that demonstrated far more stability than Archerfish.

Recommendations

While the Archerfish Solo bundles many features in a single product, numerous product limitations, system instability and a comparatively high cost will make it difficult for most residential or SMB users to find this product a strong choice.

Given the products high rate of false negatives (missing people walking by) and moderate rate of false positives (e.g., shadows, night time video noise, dogs), we believe many users will be dissatisifed with using this for safety and security. The false positives will distub users (often during sleep) and the false negatives will undermine the confidence that the system can truly detect the delivery man or burglar.

While the product offers basic live and recorded video playback online, setup can be problematic when the user's router does not properly support the required UPnP settings (a common condition statistically). Furthermore, during our test period, we experienced significant instability and a day where the hosting service was completely offline for multiple hours.

With many cube IP cameras in the market at about $100, unless Archerfish can deliver video analytics that users value and use over the long term , we believe most users will find it hard to justify the significant premium for their service. 

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Without taking advantage of video analytics, the most attractive element is likely Archerfish's free ongoing service for accessing the on-board video storage. Most competitors charge $10 or more per month for this service. However, their up-front equipment costs are about $200 less, which will still make the sale challenging for customers who look to save on upfront costs for a new service in the market.

Key Criteria / Decision Points

When evaluating Cernium's Archerfish Solo, the following 10 key criteria / decision points should be considered. The below will provide a comparison to other managed / hosted video systems; see our tests to compare to other providers such as ViaaS and Rogo.

Criteria Strength Description
 Pricing Weak (Product cost), Moderately Strong (Subscription cost) $399 MSRP unit price, $5/month + $0.99 per month per device for Premium subscription (monitoring analytics), free for monitoring live/recorded video
Simplicity Moderate  Simple web interface but challenges within setup (depends on UPnP support, configuration and firewall settings)
 3rd Party IP Camera Support None  Not supported, Archerfish is a closed solution that does not support 3rd party IP cameras or VMS systems (Archerfish Quattro supports analog cameras)
H.264 Support Strong  H.264 recording
Analytics Support  Moderately Strong (comapred to VSaaS), Moderately Weak (compared to analytic providers) Compared to managed / hosted offerings. Weak compared to other video analytic providers
Exporting  Weak  Functionality broken during our testing; MPEG-4 format compatible with COTS media players (WM, Quicktime, VLC)
Remote Monitoring Moderately Strong  SMB / SOHO users will easily adapt but limited functionality and granular controls
Run as a Service N/A Server not applicable (hosted)
Multi-camera Playback None

 Not supported

Support  Moderate

 Initially exceptional, end of testing no response for three days

Key Findings

In the section below, we provide an overview of the key findings. Later in the report, we dedicate individual sections to examining and showing in-depth the aspects of each element.

Analytics: Using Archerfish's analytics to know what's happening at your house/business can be problematic: (1) users have to manually set a fixed schedule (a new entry for each day). No means exists to quickly arm/disarm the system. This will certainly lead to nuisance alarms. (2) The system is likely to miss many people that walk in front of the camera, increasing the risk that many valid events are not captured. (3) The system products a moderate amount of false alerts (day and night) that would discourage users from activating the alerts.

Setup:  Users will need to be aware of their router's capabilities, specifically whether UPnP is supported, enabled and firewalls are configured to allow proper communication. Significant amount of time may be spent manually configuring and troubleshooting these items. If not conducted properly, live video and exporting will simply not function. Although, Cernium's support staff provide remote assistance, we found this to be quite troublesome and consistently losing access to basic functionality such as live monitoring.

Live Monitoring / Investigations:  We can recommend the system to those SMB / SOHO environments willing to compromise on factors of storage, live monitoring and investigative functionality. The camera's internal storage (of 2GB) provided no more than four days of continuous playback - even with the lower Standard quality setting. Additionally, customers seeking extensive and/or more granular search capabilities with be limited to a simple jump to search, event and continuous video playback. 

Image Analysis:  The video quality was moderate, at best, even compared to other cube cameras (at 1/4th the price). Specific issues we found:

  • Outdoor video was washed out (both day and night - day washout was extreme)
  • Indoor daytime video exhibited jagged lines through moving objects that looked similar to interlace artifacts
  • Low light (1 lux) controlled lighting displayed high amounts of gain, creating significant yellow visible noice as well as changing colors of objects to 'bluish'

Download a package of 4 sample clips from the Archerfish camera. Two important notes: the captured video was at high resolution, which is not the default but exhibits the 'best case' scenario for the cameras. Secondly, the export functionality failed repeatedly over multiple days on multiple PCs via multiple networks. As such, the video is screencaptured. That being said, the captured video quality is extremely close to the original. More importantly, the problematic video qualities (washed out, jagged lines, yellow gain artificats) were all very clear during the original viewing live.

Product Overview

Computing Platform Support

Cernium's Archerfish Solo is a hosted service and no VMS server is needed and no thick client installation is required. Customers will have access to all capabilities via the MyArcherfish portal. Once logged in, users will have access to continuous video, hosted on the camera's provided MicroSD 2GB card, the event list (with associated video) and search capability. Users will have the option to upgrade the provided 2GB card up to 16GB.

Supported browsers include Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari (we did not test on Apple OS X).

Cernium provides supporting documentation for camera installation and optimization. Additionally, publicly available videos for both home and business environments should provide a sense of the analytic requirements and limitations.The Self Help Tools section will reference those materials.

Third Party Support

The Archerfish Solo is designed to be a standalone system and does not integrate with third parties.

Pricing

Potential buyers can purchase the system direct from Cernium and link to resellers such as Amazon, Tiger Direct, Circuit City, etc. At the time of this publication Amazon has the best deal at $330; otherwise, MSRP is $399.

We find the price point to be a fairly high upfront cost for SOHO customers and comparing to other cube cameras, which can be found for less than $100. Of course, this is contrasted with the Solo's addition of video analytics. However, our tests have proved that performance of the analytics has been quite weak. 

In addition to the initial cost of the camera, customers will choose between two subscription options:

  • Basic (Free):  provides live monitoring and continuous playback only
  • Premium ($5 / month + $0.99 / month for each Solo device):  provides notifications and event-based playback as the main additions

Another factor to consider is the provided 2GB MicroSD card, which hosts the continuously recorded video. In our tests at Standard quality provided no more than four days of continuous storage. Of course, this depends on scene complexity but we still recommend upgrading to a higher capacity card. Cernium confirmed that at High quality settings, the storage consumption increases by 4 - 5x that of Standard. Amazon lists various MicroSD manufacturers between $27 - 45 USD.

Physical Overview

The following screencast examines key concerns when installing Archerfish Solo camera. Key points include:

  • Physical layout and included components (00:15 min)
  • Working with the mount and details on IP rating (01:37 min)
  • Challenges with the 9' 12v psu adapter (02:35 min)
  • Recommendations for physical placement (03:04 min)

Administration

The following screencast examines how to configure/setup Archerfish Solo system. Key points include:

  • Overview of the installation (00:24 min)
  • Configuring UPnP for auto-port forwarding (02:12 min)
  • Configuring the camera, zones and events (02:41 min)
  • Various notification options (05:48 min)
  • Displaying system events (07:24 min)
  • Storage consumption (09:42 min)

Live Monitoring & Investigations

The following screencast examines live video monitoring with Archerfish Solo system. Key points include:

  • Accessing the hosted video (00:13 min)
  • Monitoring live video and events (01:27 min)
  • Playing back video (02:47 min)
  • Searching for events (03:54 min)
  • Exporting up to five minutes (05:21 min)

Analytics

The following screencast examines key concerns when deploying Archerfish analytics. Key points include:

  • No calibration required (00:45 min)
  • Optimizing events (00:59 min)
  • Examining field test results (01:55 min)
  • Sample clips (03:00 min)
  • Key considerations (04:40 min)

UPnP and Live Monitoring

The Archerfish Solo is dependent on UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) to allow auto-port forwarding in addition to firewall settings. This assumes that the home router supports this feature (not all do); additionally, assumes that this feature works (many do not). Those interested in further dialog on UPnP can view our LinkedIn thread on the topic.

Buyers should beware of the potential for manual configuration and time delays that we experienced.

The following screencast provides insight to the behavior of the system when the router is improperly configured or UPnP is not functioning:

2 reports cite this report:

Problems Remain with Cernium's Archerfish Cameras on Apr 14, 2011
In August 2010, we conducted an in-depth test of Cernium's Archerfish Smart Camera. In the test results, we called out problems of analytic...
UPnP Problems for Managed/Hosted Video on Aug 09, 2010
UPnP's indeterminate support presents significant problems. Managed/hosted video providers using UPnP risk widespread customer unhappiness. Two key...

Related Reports

Stealth / UCIT - Remote Video Monitoring Provider Profile on May 18, 2018
Can 2 remote video monitoring companies, Stealth Monitoring from the US and UCIT from Canada combine to impact the market and compete in a changing...
Installing Cameras in Plenums Tutorial on May 15, 2018
There is often confusion about plenum ceilings, with misinformation about what is required when running cables through them and mounting cameras...
Measuring For Security Installation Guide on May 15, 2018
Accurate measurement is a fundamental skill, yet many installers do not know how to do it. Using these tools are a key skill needed for security...
March Networks Targets Cannabis Market on May 10, 2018
Will the next March Networks customer appreciation event be held a steakhouse or at a Taco Bell at 2 am? Can March sell the types of systems to the...
Nortek Acquires IntelliVision on May 08, 2018
One of the largest intrusion manufacturers, Nortek, has acquired the self-proclaimed 'Leader in AI-Based Video Analytics Software',...
Hikvision's Minority Analytics on May 08, 2018
Hikvision has developed and is deploying minority analytics inside China, automatically identifying and categorizing individuals as ethnic...
Hikvision VMD And Intrusion Analytics Tested on May 04, 2018
VMD worked poorly on Hikvision cameras, new IPVM testing found. However, Hikvision ships analytics on practically every IP camera, with intrusion...
JCI / Tyco VideoEdge NVR Profile on May 03, 2018
JCI (formerly Tyco) is one of the largest players in the global security industry, both as a manufacturer and an integrator. The company's most...
IP Network Hardware for Surveillance Guide on May 02, 2018
Video surveillance systems depend on IP networking equipment. In this guide, we explain the key pieces of equipment and features, explaining where...
FLIR Launches Saros on May 01, 2018
Has FLIR solved the video intrusion / remote monitoring problem or have they created an overkill, overly expensive device? FLIR has launched...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Stealth / UCIT - Remote Video Monitoring Provider Profile on May 18, 2018
Can 2 remote video monitoring companies, Stealth Monitoring from the US and UCIT from Canada combine to impact the market and compete in a changing...
Cybersecurity for IP Video Surveillance Guide on May 18, 2018
Keeping surveillance networks secure can be a daunting task, but there are several methods that can greatly reduce risk, especially when used in...
Forced Entry / Duress Access Tutorial on May 17, 2018
Even though access control normally keeps people safe, tragedies have revealed a significant issue. If users are forced to unlock doors for...
ADT Stock Drops 50% Since IPO on May 17, 2018
It has been a brutal 4 months for ADT. They first expected to IPO at ~$18. They IPOed at $14, dropping immediately to $12.39 And now, not even...
Dahua 12MP Fisheye Camera Tested (NK8BR4) on May 16, 2018
Continuing our coverage of 12MP sensor fisheye cameras, we bought and tested the Dahua NK8BR4, examining: Default vs. Optimized...
Worst Manufacturer Technical Support 2018 on May 16, 2018
5 manufacturers stood out as providing the worst technical support to 190+ integrators in new IPVM results. These integrators answered: In the...
Installing Cameras in Plenums Tutorial on May 15, 2018
There is often confusion about plenum ceilings, with misinformation about what is required when running cables through them and mounting cameras...
Top Benefits Of Attending Trade Shows (Statistics) on May 15, 2018
150 integrators told IPVM: What are the top benefits of going to trade shows? The clear top 2 responses in order: (1) Networking (2) New...
Measuring For Security Installation Guide on May 15, 2018
Accurate measurement is a fundamental skill, yet many installers do not know how to do it. Using these tools are a key skill needed for security...
Arecont Files Ch.11, Agrees To Sell To Turnaround Specialist on May 14, 2018
The long-anticipated sale of Arecont Vision is finally happening. After raising $80 million in debt in 2014, a failed sale in 2017 and the...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact