Bosch's Thermal Cameras VOT-320 Examined

By John Honovich, Published Mar 31, 2011, 08:00pm EDT

In this note, we examine Bosch's thermal network cameras [link no longer available], the VOT-320 [link no longer available] series. This is Bosch's entrance into the IP thermal market and an extension of the IP thermal camera trend (following Axis and FLIR). First, we will review the key details of Bosch's offering and then contrast them to Axis's.

The VOT-320 series has 8 models. All of them have the same resolution (320 x 240) and all are outdoor rated (-50 C to +55 C). The series has 4 lens options, from as wide as 9mm / 48 degree horizontal FoV to as narrow as 60 mm / 7.6 degree horizontal FoV. Each lens option is offered in a 8.33 fps and 30fps option (the 30fps is subject to export laws as all thermal cameras). With the longest lens option, Bosch lists object (e.g., car) detection at about 4km or just less than 13,000 feet.

Bosch IVA video analytics are pre-loaded on all thermal cameras, providing a turn key video detection system. Video analytics should perform better given thermal's inherent advantage in ignoring glare, shadows and other lighting issues. 

The pricing of all models is approximately $11,000 MSRP with the full frame rate models at a slightly higher price. Given Bosch's historical dealer discount structure, we expect online pricing to be approximately $7,000 USD. Bosch reports that the cameras are already released and available for general purchase.

In comparison to Axis, Bosch will likely be notably more expensive. Axis offers 2 lines - the Q1910e and the Q1921e. The Q1910e has only 160 x 120 resolution (1/4th of Bosch's) but is about 1/2 the price (~$3,500 online). The Axis Q1921e is more directly comparable to Bosch as this series has the same 320 x 240 resolution and the same number of lens options (4). On the positive side, Axis allows running 3rd party video analytics on their thermal cameras but, on the negative side, they need to be purchased and added to the camera. That noted, the Q1921e's online price, about $4,500 is still significantly less expensive than Bosch's projected street pricing.

A major factor we do not know is the overall image quality / imaging performance. Bosch notes their listed thermal sensitivity is superior to Axis's. Bosch cites ~60 mK while Axis cites ~ 100 mK. The relevant calculation for thermal sensitivity is Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference (NETD). The lower the value, the better the camera is able to detect or 'see' lower temperature differences. We cannot provide gudiance on this as we do not know what practical difference this plays or what variation truly exists between the two cameras (and measurements done by different companies). Testing would be required to properly determine.

For related information, see our test results of the 160 x 120 Axis Q1910.

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