Axis Non-IP Camera / DVR Kit Is Here

By Ethan Ace, Published Sep 17, 2015, 12:00am EDT

Back to the future?

If you can't beat em, join em?

Axis has a new release, the F34 Surveillance System which is unlike any 'system' Axis has released.

In this note, we examine the main strengths and weaknesses of this offering for its intended market of 'small stores and offices'.

Key Elements

There are 5 key elements to the system:

  • The cameras, which Axis calls 'sensor units' but which are essentially proprietary digital cameras (not IP). Included in the kit is the 720p F1004 sensor unit.
  • The cabling which is limited to an industry lagging 15m / 49'
  • The DVR, which Axis calls a 'main unit' that comes with an included (2) 64GB SD cards. The main unit provided is the new Axis F34 main unit which supports Zipstream and other 'sensor units' up to 1080p (not included).
  • The VMS software which is Axis Camera Companion 3.1

You can see it below in Axis' marketing video:

The F series is not new nor is the 'sensor unit' included. However, the Axis F34 main unit is. Below contrasts the differences between the F34 and existing F44 unit.

Pricing

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The MSRP of the system is $799, so expect street pricing in the ~$700-$750 range. That is a roughly $200 discount compared to individually purchasing the items, e.g. the F1004 cameras cost ~$100, the F34 DVR ~$400 and the SD cards ~$80 each.

Advantages

  • Micro Form Factor: These will be the smallest form factor / most covert 'kit' on the marketplace, so it will be quite discrete.
  • Zipstream: Our testing confirms that Zipstream regularly reduces storage consumption 50 - 90%, which will be quite achievable in the low traffic environments of an office or small store.
  • Axis Camera Companion: Now, Camera Companion has easy to setup, cloud-based remote access. While other kits offer this, it is generally not as simple (see IPVM Camera Companion test results).

Disadvantages

  • Short Cable Runs: 15m / 49' is quite limited even for its intended market. Perhaps one can stick the F34 main unit DVR in the ceiling to make it more central to cameras distributed on a site but there is only so much that can be done with such severe distance limitations. 
  • Limited Storage: Storage max is 128GB, based on 2 included Axis 64GB SD cards. We suspect Axis can support more in the future (obviously 128GB cards are available on the market but the SanDisk's surveillance 'specific' SD cards max out at 64GB (which Axis OEMs). Zipstream will definitely help here but even Axis is only promoting this as a one to two-week storage solution, which is limited.
  • Low Resolution: The included 720p cameras are low for 2015, as even 'cheap' 'Chinese' offerings routinely offer 1080p and 3MP.
  • Low Light Limits: The included cameras do not include IR and have a high .4 lux minimum illumination rating, compared to even 'cheap' 'Chinese' offerings with included IR.
  • Higher Price: Compared to other non-IP offerings, like Hikvision TVI and Dahua CVI, you can still get 4 cameras and a DVR for nearly half the price as the cameras themselves are routinely in the $50 range and 4 channel DVRs with 1TB storage in the $200 range.

Non-IP Future?

This move further shows that non-IP is becoming a key player in the small systems market. 

On the positive side, Axis micro form factor and solid VMS software should be attractive but the limitations on cable runs, storage, resolution and low light at a markedly higher price will detract.

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