airVision 2.0 Reviewed

By Sarit Williams, Published Jun 12, 2013, 12:00am EDT

After disrupting the wireless industry, Ubiquiti launched its attack into video surveillance. However, last year they were derailed by Chinese Counterfeiting craziness. Now, they have launched airVision 2.0. In this note, we review the key features and pricing of the airVision 2, compare it to a popular low cost HD IP kit and assess where this puts Ubiquiti in the market.

Release Overview

The release consists of improved VMS software and a new NVR appliance (previously one had to load their software on COTS machines).

The NVR appliance, and its price, is the biggest standout - at $330, it is one of the lowest in the market.  It includes:

  • 500GB built in storage (far below average even for a small unit)
  • 4GB of memory / 1.86 GHz Dual Core processor (better than comparables)
  • Up to 50 cameras licensed (much greater than most)
  • Throughput of ~40MB/s (320Mb/s) which should be sufficient to handle even dozens of HD streams
  • Small footprint (135 x 190 x 25 mm) - Like a home router, see to the right.
  • iOS/Android 'support' via enhanced browser display but not actual apps. Most competitors offer true apps.
  • The box is 'headless' and does not support direct viewing locally.
  • Auto discovery of their own cameras but no third party camera support at all.

The 500GB storage can (and will most often need to) be expanded via USB to external storage/NAS as it is far too small to handle more than a few cameras for short storage duration.

Finally, the airVision software added several features that most competitors already have (such as camera side motion detection, H.264, audio, storage management).

Here's Ubiquiti's marketing demo/overview:

Competitive Comparison

A popular option for those with a smaller budget is the Q-See’s 4 Channel HD NVR. [link no longer available], priced at $699, including:

  • 4 HD, 720p IP outdoor rated cameras (4 aircam cameras are ~$400 and don’t include IR)
  • 1TB storage (double Ubiquiti's NVR)
  • 4 built in POE ports (saving space, time and money compared to purchasing and hooking up a Ubiquiti Toughswitch (5 ports) at ~$100)

A comparable 4 camera Ubiquit kit would run $800+ and likely more if additional storage is added. Because of that Q-see is still moderately less expensive (plus it has the benefit of built in IR). However, airVision's appliance allows for adding dozens of more cameras to the same appliance, so it may become less expensive for larger scale systems.

Conclusion

airVision is a solid, but not disruptive, step for Ubiquiti. Having the NVR appliance and resolving some obvious deficiencies help. For those looking for a sub $1,000 HD IP kit, this is certainly another option.

The next big thing to look for is Ubiquiti's long discussed 'professional' IP cameras. While the current Aircams are solid for the price (see our test), they need more options, more features (like integrated IR) and higher resolution to deliver a more competitive overall surveillance offering.

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