Spam, Twinkies and Arecont: Pixels Per Dollar

By John Honovich, Published Dec 20, 2012, 12:00am EST

Measuring ROI can be difficult but Arecont Vision is proposing a new simple metric to do so. Called 'Pixels Per Dollar', it precisely and quickly measure the cost effectiveness of pixels deployed. In this note, we examine whether this should be adopted.

Background

Megapixel manufacturer Arecont Vision has recently released a white paper and marketing campaign to promote this. They simply take a camera's total number of pixels and divide by its cost, so a 1MP camera that costs $400 would deliver 2500 pixels per dollar (1MP / $400).

Here is an excerpt of Arecont's pixel per dollar chart:

av pp$

The only missing column is the assumed price of each camera, which Arecont estimates at ~$200 for analog and ~$550 for 10MP. Those prices are obviously skewed but the general point remains - higher resolution cameras deliver more pixels per dollar.

In this chart Arecont estimates a 10MP camera delivers 12x the 'value' of an analog one, down from 32.7 times in their resolution benefits chart.

Value of Pixels Per Dollar?

This metric best works if pixels are all the same, simply that some cameras can deliver more of them.

Consider calories. You need calories to live and, if you want to save money, looking at calories per dollar is useful. However, if you take it to an extreme, you would probably have to live on spam and twinkies:

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spam twinkies arecont

While the general trend of increased pixel 'productivity' is good, going to the extreme of pure pixels per dollar maximization introduces risks of its own.

Pixels Are Not All the Same

Unfortunately, pixels are not all the same and piling on as many pixels as possible can cause severe problems much like eating lots of calories can lead to diabetes, heart attacks, and death.

As our resolution tutorial examines, pixels are only one element in imaging and often run against overall image quality - low light, WDR, etc. Indeed, a savvy purchaser might want to red flag any camera whose pixels per dollar was too high as it likely indicates other problems - like being the Spam or Twinkies of video surveillance.

2015 Update

Arecont is still using pixel per dollar, though now it shows why the company has lost its competitive positioning. See: Arecont Accurately Predicts Its Own Fall.

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