Bosch Low Cost Encoders

By Ethan Ace, Published Feb 26, 2013, 12:00am EST

Many lament that encoders are so expensive. Indeed, a recent fascinating IPVM discussion examined why encoders typically are so much more expensive than DVRs even though a DVR is an encoder plus VMS software and storage. During the discussion, we found that Bosch has recently introduced a very low cost encoder. In this note, we compare its spec to previous Bosch encoders and to the lowest cost offerings from Axis and Avigilon, evaluating tradeoffs and potential.

Product Overview

The Bosch X16 XF E is a 16-port 1RU encoder with the following key features:

  • H.264 dual stream at 4CIF resolution on all channels: one stream up to 30 FPS, with a secondary stream up to 7.5 FPS.
  • I/O (4 in/1 out), audio (2 in/1 out), and serial ports.
  • Single Gigabit Ethernet port (10/100/1000).
  • Fixed at sixteen inputs, with no options for lower port counts.

The X16 will be available in Q1 2013, with an MSRP of $1,790 USD, and an estimated street price of ~$1,200.

Compared to Other Bosch Models

Previously, Bosch's only 16-port offering was the modular VIP-X1600 [link no longer available], a single rack chassis which accepts up to four 4-port encoder modules. The X1600 has some features which the X16 lacks, such as two full frame rate streams per channel, redundant power and Ethernet connections, and option integrated analytics. However, it is much pricier, with a fully loaded 16-channel rack totalling about $4,500 USD online, nearly four times the price of the XF E.

Competitive Comparison

The X16 competes favorably with two of the low-cost encoder leaders, the Axis M7010 16-channel encoder, and Avigilon's H.264 encoders. These models compare in price as follows:

  • Bosch X16 XF E: ~$1,200 estimated street price
  • Axis M7010: ~$1,900 online
  • Avigilon H.264 encoder x4: ~$1,200 estimated street price (~$300 x4)

However, users should note there are several feature differences between these models:

  • The Axis M7010 allows for one H.264 stream and one MJPEG stream, but only at a framerate of 15 FPS per channel, versus 30 FPS using the Bosch XF E. The M7010 also supports microSD storage on-board, where the XF E supports "edge recording" via iSCSI. Indeed, the Bosch's feature sets are also comparable to Axis's more expensive P7210.
  • Most notably, when using Avigilon encoders with Avigilon software, users must only pay for one camera license, instead of four, potentially a substantial savings on VMS costs. Avigilon's encoders support audio in and out, as well as digital in and out on each channel, versus the shared ports of the XF E. Finally, Avigilon's encoders are 4-channel units which may be racked together, twelve in a single rack space, so 16 ports would use 2RU, instead of 1RU.
  • Both Avigilon and Axis require an Ethernet port per four channels, as opposed to the single gigabit port used by the X16. Bosch has an advantage in that fewer ports are required, which may be especially key in larger systems, as a 4x increase in port count may lead to additional switches being purchased. Even for sixteen channels, a 100 Mbps link should provide around 4 Mb/s throughput to each camera, which is generally more than sufficient for standard definition streams.

Potential Impact 

Undoubtedly, the X16 XF E does much to strengthen Bosch's position in the encoder market, where they have previously had few low-cost options, if any. Additionally, given its strongly competitive pricing, we expect it to be attractive from integrators and end users, especially considering the price-sensitive nature of analog-to-IP upgrades.

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