Axis New Encoders (M and P Series)

By John Honovich, Published Jun 14, 2011, 08:00pm EDT

In June 2011, Axis announced a major expansion of their network encoder offerings. The release consists of a total of 5 models - (2) 4 channel units, (2) 16 channel units and (1) blade encoder. Compared to their current generation H.264 offerings, the new release provides significantly lower pricing that is quite competitive even with Asian competitors. Inside the note, we examine the features, pricing and positioning of the offerings.

Existing Axis Offerings

Before this release, the primary options for Axis encoders were in the Q series - Axis's most feature rich and expensive series. For instance, the single channel Q7401 appliance, the 4 channel Q7404 appliance and the 6 channel Q7406 blade. Online pricing for the single channel unit was ~$500 and for the 4 channel, ~$1000.

Differences in Series Features and Pricing

The new releases are M and P series encoders. Like their camera counterparts, M and P series are less expensive and have less features than Q series products (with M being the entry level and P being the premium or 'mid level' offering).

Specifically to encoders, the follow major characteristics differentiate the 3 series of encoders:

  • Q series: supports 30fps, multiple H.264 streams, maximum video analytics processing power, I/O and audio
  • P series: supports 30fps, a single H.264 stream, I/O and audio
  • M series: supports 15fps max, a single H.264 stream but not I/O nor audio, only 1 year warranty, other series have 3 years)

All series support PTZ control, ONVIF and AVHS (hosted video).

Here are the key differences in pricing for the 4 channel models:

  • Q7404 MSRP - $1099 (existing)
  • P7214 MSRP - $699 (new)
  • M7014 MSRP - $499 (new)

Clearly, the newer models represent a steep decrease in pricing. While the feature sets have certainly been constrained, we believe that many users will find the P and M series feature sets to be good enough. Audio, I/O, analytics, etc. are niche applications. PTZ support is very commonly needed and is supported even with the least expensive unit.

Other New Axis Encoders

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In addition to the 4 channel units, Axis released 3 other new encoders:

  • (2) 16 channel encoder appliances. Both are 1RU high, one is an M series (M7010, MSRP $1,999) and the other is a P series (P7210, MSRP $2,499). These appliances have their encoders built in.
  • A 4 channel blade (P7224, MSRP $699) that can be inserted into the existing Q7900 rack. This is a lower cost option to the 6 channel Q7406 blade (MSRP $1499). With the new 4 channel P series blade, a total of 56 channels can be used with the Q7900 whereas the 6 channel Q series blade supports a maximum of 84 channels per rack.

Competitive Comparison

Given the significantly lower prices of Axis's new encoders, Axis will be quite price competitive even with the low cost encoders on the market. Vivotek is a good example of this with 4 channel and 8 channel H.264 encoder offerings. Vivotek's 4 channel unit's online price is about $630 and the 8 channel's is about $1000. Both Axis's M and P series offerings have quite close pricing with Vivotek's (on a feature set basis, the Vivotek units are a closer match to the P series, with 30fps, audio and I/O).

In general, we think Axis new encoders will put price pressure on traditionally lower cost Taiwanese and Korean encoder suppliers. Given Axis's software maturity and broad support, if Axis price is similar, we think most end users would face less risk and better overall value with Axis. It will be interesting to see how and if competitors respond with lower prices.

In terms of shifting users from analog to IP, we think this will have a modest shift on migration. On the one hand, Axis's new encoders do not break ground in terms of cost reduction. On the other hand, Axis's marketing power means that 'mainstream' users who prefer to go with a brand will be more likely to use Axis's lower cost. Prior to this, the cost of Q series Axis encoders was generally more than an entire mid level Hybrid DVR including embedded VMS software and storage. Now, the total solution pricing is much more comparable.

One interesting future element is combining these low cost encoders with iomega NAS devices for AVHS deployments. A 1RU 16 channel encoder for $1999, a few TB NAS for under $500 and AVHS service could be an attractive package for retail chains. We suspect Axis is looking at this given their announcement of these new encoders on the first day of the NRF LP show.

[Update July 2011: Avigilon has announced its own 4 channel H.264 encoder which is significantly less expensive than any Axis 4 channel encoder while offering premium features. Read more about Avigilon's H.264 4 channel encoders.]

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