Arecont WDR Cameras Examined

By Ethan Ace, Published Mar 31, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

Arecont Vision has once again set new low price levels, this time with the announcement of wide dynamic range additions to their MegaVideo Compact line. These cameras claim wide dynamic performance at prices well below mainstream competitors. In this note, we examine pricing and featureset of these additions, comparing to WDR options from competitors Sony and Avigilon.

[UPDATE: See our full test results of the Arecont AV3116dn camera.]

Overview

The AV2116 and AV3116 share similiar featureset to the current AV2115 and AV3115 models, with the addition of WDR. Like current models, day/night and auto-iris models will also be avilable. Arecont has also added ONVIF support to this new release, a change from their previous support for just PSIA.

Arecont's WDR is based on a combination of new sensor and improved software. Arecont uses dual exposures for WDR mode. However, WDR mode is automatically disabled at night to allow traditional low light settings (slow shutter, etc.).

The AV2116 and AV3116 will be available in Q2 2012, with MSRPs of $850 and $1,050 USD, respectively, for color-only versions. DN models with true day/night functionality will be available for about $50 more.

The cameras are scheduled to ship starting in Summer 2012.

In the future, Arecont plans to add WDR offerings throughout its product lineup - domes, bullets, etc. The non WDR models will remain with the xxxx5 numbering while the upcoming WDR models will have a xxxx6 numbering.

New Web Interfaces

The Arecont WDR cameras will feature an improved, more modern web interface as shown below:

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Competitive Comparison

Arecont has two compelling advantages:

  • Resolution: At 1080p and 3MP resolutions, these are some of the highest resolution WDR cameras on the market. Most WDR cameras are 720p/1.3MP (like Axis Q1604, Pelco Surevision, etc.)
  • Price: These are some of the lowest-cost WDR cameras on the market, with estimated street prices of $550 (AV2116) and $700 (AV3116), including separately purchased lenses. The only major manufacturer's WDR camera which comes close in price to Arecont is Avigilon's 3MP H3 camera, with an estimated street price of approximately $750. Options from Sony, Axis, and Pelco are available, but at lower resolutions and higher prices.

However, WDR is all about real world image quality so the ultimate impact will depend on actual performance. WDR can be done in many ways and the quality of a WDR implementation can range significantly. If the Arecont WDR cameras can come close to the premium Sony cameras, it will be a very attractive offering. However, if not, this will be viewed as little more than a marketing trick that will only trick the gullible looking for a 'WDR' label.

Future Test

We are going to do a test when the cameras ships in production. They have strong fundamentals (high resolution and low price), but one needs to see how they truly compare head to head in both bright light and low light scenes to other WDR cameras. If the Arecont WDR offerings can hold its own in such testing, it will be a very compelling offering.

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