Axis VMS / Encoder Kits Examined
Axis has announced kits that package their new P series encoders with Axis Camera Station VMS licenses at a highly discounted rate. In this update we look at these releases, how they compare to other VMS offerings and what impact this might have on the market.
Earlier this year Axis announced new M and P series encoders that offered much lower pricing than their traditional encoders (see our earlier update for full analysis). In short, these two lines consist of five models: two 16-channel 1U rack mount units, two four-channel units, and one blade version (P series only). These models are not as fully featured as Axis' Q series encoders, as they are capable of only a single H.264 stream, with the M series capable of only 15 FPS on all channels. However, they are still a fit in many applications.
MSRP pricing on the M and P series is as follows:
- AXIS M7014 (four-channel standalone): $499
- AXIS M7010 (16-channel rack-mountable): $1,999
- AXIS P7214 (four-channel standalone): $699
- AXIS P7224 (four-channel blade): $699
- AXIS P7210 (16-channel rack-mountable): $2,499
The kit is essentially a combination of the new encoders + ACS licenses. Only the appliance (non-blade) models are available in these kits. Here is the pricing:
- AXIS M7014 + ACS: $599 (i.e., $100 for 4 ACS licenses)
- AXIS M7010 + ACS: $2,199 (i.e., $200 for 16 ACS licenses)
- AXIS P7214 + ACS: $799 (i.e., $100 for 4 ACS licenses)
- AXIS P7210 + ACS: $2,699 (i.e., $200 for 16 ACS licenses)
At an increase of only $100 for four channels, or $200 for sixteen channels, this makes Axis Camera Station extremely inexpensive. For four channels, pricing works out to only $25 per channel. Spread across sixteen channels, pricing drops to only $12.50 per channel. Compared to normal Axis Camera Station pricing ($100 and up, depending on channel count), this is at the least a 75% discount.
This move by Axis follows a growing trend of free and low-cost entries, especially those of Milestone. Other VMS providers have released free and low-cost entry level versions, such as Axxon Smart Start, ISS SecurOS Lite (both free), ExacqVision Start ($50), and Avigilon Control Center Core ($80). In comparison to other low cost entries, Axis' pricing is 50% lower or more. The cost per channel for ACS packaged with a 16-channel encoder ($12.50) is only a quarter of the $50 licenses, previously generally regarded as the bottom end.
This is not to say Axis Camera Station is without its limitations. First and foremost, by design, it is limited to only Axis cameras and encoders. While Axis has a very broad line, many users will still find this limiting and prefer open platform VMSes. Second, ACS lacks some features, such as third-party access, POS, and other integrations, and users are limited to connecting to a single system at a time. There is no enterprise-wide client. Users may see more on ACS in our previous tests.
The best fit for the Axis kits is as a DVR replacement. Combine the kit (encoder and VMS licenses) with a PC and you have a DVR replacement. For a 16 channel M series kit, the total pricing is about $3,000 ($2,200 for the encoder/ACS licenses and ~$500 to ~$1,000 for PC/storage). That's fairly price competitive and a drop of ~$1,500 prior to the kit option.
On the other hand, true hybrid DVR appliances (like the Exacq EL) are available at a similar price range with more features and third party IP camera support. As such, we do not think the Axis kits provide best in class overall value. That noted, Axis's marketing power and broad reach should allow them to tap into more lower cost opportunities among those migrating from analog.