ACTi New Low Cost HD Cameras (TCM)

By Ethan Ace, Published Feb 06, 2012, 07:00pm EST

In the past two years, ACTi has struggled. As we saw last year, their growth has not kept pace with the overall IP camera market. Recent product releases have focused more on the higher end of the market, with a 4MP line introduced in 2011, and recent feature enhancements to other models. However, now ACTi has announced a new line of low cost megapixel cameras.  In this update, we will look at this series, how they compare to existing models and to low cost options from Arecont and Vivotek.

Overview

This new release represents a shift in ACTi's strategy, creating a basic line without advanced features, and very aggressive pricing.

There are four models in the release. Each model supports a maximum resolution of 1.3MP, with a maximum framerate of 18 FPS:

  • TCM-1111: $372 USD MSRP, Indoor/outdoor bullet camera, 4.2mm fixed lens, specified IR illumination distance of 15m
  • TCM-3111: $304 MSRP, indoor dome camera, 4.2mm fixed lens
  • TCM-4511: $253 MSRP, cube camera, 4.2mm CS-mount lens included
  • TCM-5111: $304 MSRP, fixed box camera, 4.2mm CS-mount lens included

Note that while the TCM-4511 and 5111 include CS-mount lenses, the cameras do not support DC auto-iris. Only manual iris lenses are compatible. This series also removes support for audio and digital I/O, which are common on other models in the ACTi line.

Competitive Comparison

This pricing is far more aggressive than ACTi's previous models. The TCM-5111 ($304 MSRP), for example, has an MSRP more than $200 lower than its predecessor, the TCM-5611 ($538 MSRP), obviously a substantial decrease. The removal of audio and I/O may be a concern to some users, but for the bulk of applications, these features are not used.

To get a sense of ACTi's price relative to competitors, it should be looked at in comparison it to Arecont and Vivotek, two often-cited low cost options, as well as Pixord, which we found to be the lowest-cost megapixel camera in our Fall 2011 low-cost camera comparison. These four cameras compare as follows:

  • ACTi TCM-5111: $304 MSRP, approximately $260 street price
  • Arecont AV1315DN [link no longer available]: ~$420 online, no lens included
  • Pixord P600E [link no longer available]: ~$330 estimated street price, 6mm fixed CS-mount lens included
  • Vivotek IP7161~$450 online, 4.5-10mm CS-mount lens included

The 4.2mm fixed lens included with the TCM-5111 may not fit in may applications. Adding a megapixel lens, such as the $75 Pentax Plus lens, brings its total price to about $335. The Arecont AV1315DN ships without lens, and Pixord offers only a fixed lens with their model. Adding the same lens to these two competitors brings their total costs up to about $500 and $400, respectively.

All things considered, these factors place the ACTi TCM-5111 about $70 below Pixord, and even further below mainstream options from Arecont and Vivotek. This is easily the lowest pricing we have seen on a professional, non-consumer, IP camera. For users seeking no-frills cameras for cost-conscious applications, who may normally turn to lesser-known brands, we expect that this pricing from a bigger, better-known brand will be very attractive.

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