Axis Camera Companion (1.2) ImprovementsBy Ethan Ace, Published on Sep 05, 2012
Not even 6 months ago, Axis shook up the industry with a new offering that elimated VMS server software when using less than 16 Axis cameras. Now, Axis is back with a series of improvements to their Camera Companion offering. In this note, we will break down the improvements and the new ACC kit, evaluating how significant (or not) they will be in adopting this solution.
Additions to ACC
Axis has made four notable additions to ACC in this release:
- More view layout options: In past versions of ACC, users were limited to single or 2x2 views only. Axis has added 3x3, 4x4, and sequence options to layouts in version 1.20. These options are supported in live viewing only, with playback still limited to a single camera.
- Audio support: ACC now supports one-directional audio from attached cameras, allowing users to listen in via attached microphones. Previous versions did not support audio.
- Public view: ACC now supports public view mode in addition to existing view modes (single or 2x2). In this mode, the application may be configured to auto-start and auto-login to a specific view or sequence when the PC boots. PVM mode is also supported on iOS mobile devices using EyeSpyFX's PVM application for Axis cameras [link no longer available].
- Corridor format: Axis Corridor Format is now supported, for coverage of tall, narrow areas, such as hallways. Users may see our testing of corridor format for more information on this feature.
- Authenticated export: Digital signing of video is now supported, for ensuring authenticity of exported video clips for use in court. This was not previously supported.
ACC 1.2 is available for download, at no charge.
PVM Using Mobile Devices
The ability to attach mobile devices to a monitor for use as a public view monitor is the most novel addition in this release. Typically, users must install a PC or proprietary decoder at the monitor location for this purpose, typically starting at $400 or more. With ACC's PVM mode and EyeSpyFX's PVM application, users may install an iPod Touch (under $200, plus ~$40 for an HDMI adapter) at the monitor location instead of this PC. Though lower cost, many users may still prefer other options, as PCs and decoders allow for more flexibility and remote management, where an iOS device does not.
Perhaps the most significant impact will come from the new M10 Surveillance Kit [link no longer available] that drops pricing by ~$115 (or 15%) when purchasing four M1014 cameras bundled with an Axis Camera Companion CD This kit has an MSRP of $799 USD compared to $900+ when purchasing four M1014s (MSRP $229) separately.
As we covered in our overview of the M1014 release, using ACC wish this camera series is very competitive when compared to even low-cost VMS options, creating a four-camera megapixel surveillance system for under $1,000. This kit pricing discount further extends ACC's price advantage over other IP options, and brings pricing even closer to analog DVR levels.
Features Still Lacking
Though the incremental upgrades in this release help ACC's positioning as a VMS option, two fundamental areas still need to be added to Axis Camera Companion that are nearly universally available and expected in even entry level VMS systems:
- Multi-camera playback support: Unlike many VMS options, ACC allows users to view only one camera during playback. This slows investigation time, as users must switch between cameras to review all angles of a given incident. Other VMSs support synchronized playback of multiple channels.
- Multi-channel export: ACC allows only one channel of video to be exported at a time. Fully featured VMS providers allow exporting of multiple channels at once, speeding this process.
This will not make it fit for bigger deployements (there is still the 16 camera cap and many other limitations) but it would eliminate the most common objections we see for small scale VMSes.
Led by the aggressive package pricing and helped modestly by incremental feature improvements, this is a solid step forward for ACC that will certainly help increase adoption. Now, Axis does not need many more feature enhancements to make this a killer offering but it will be interesting to see if they hold back to not upset their partners. That said, we are hoping that they do as it would provide a much stronger entry level offering and force rivals to match innovations.