Brickcom IP Camera OverviewBy John Honovich, Published on Oct 11, 2011
Camera manufacturer Brickcom, spun off from Taiwanese manufacturer Gemtek in 2009, is aiming to provide users an alternative to the major brands in the surveillance market today. In order to see how well they live up to this goal, in this update we will overview their line and how they compare to Arecont, Axis, Vivotek, etc.
Product Line Overview
The Brickcom line covers all the usual form factors: bullet, box, indoor and outdoor domes, and PTZs, as well as encoders. The entirety of the line is capable of multiple H.264, MPEG-4, or MJPEG streams. To date, not all of the line is ONVIF-compliant, but several models are. Brickcom is also supported by a growing list of NVR providers [link no longer available], including Exacq and Milestone, among others. With the exception of some cube cameras, the line is PoE-capable.
Brickcom's line is divided into two subsets of products, economy and professional. The major difference between these two denominations is maximum frame rate, with economy cameras capable of a maximum of 15 FPS using H.264, while the professional line is capable of a full 30 FPS.
While much of the line is pretty standard, the line does have wireless capabilities which may be of interest to users. Many of the models in the Brickcom line can be equipped with optional 802.11 wireless or 3G, either built-in or via USB connection. There are very few competitors in the industry offering this, and built-in 3G, assuming it performs well, can reduce complexity of remote cameras. See our report on Videolarm's Liberty 4G dome for more information on the technology's limitations.
HD Box Camera Comparison
Brickcom's line contains nine fixed box cameras, in 1MP/1.3MP/720p, 3MP/1080p, and 5MP resolutions. For our purposes, we will compare the economy series FB-100Ae and professional FB-100Ap [link no longer available] to competitive models. Pricing is based on an estimated markup over dealer cost.
- Brickcom FB-100Ae: $345 estimated street price, no lens included
- Brickcom FB-100Ap: $465, estimated street price, no lens included
- Vivotek IP7161: ~$400, including 3.1-8mm CS-mount lens.
- Arecont AV1115DN: ~$380 online, no lens included
- Axis P1344: ~$650, including a 3-8mm CS-mount lens
- Sony SNC-CH120: ~$550, including 2.8-8mm CS-mount lens
- Sony SNC-CH140: ~$800, including a 2.8-8mm CS-mount lens
This places the FB-100Ae camera at the low end of the spectrum, only higher than Vivotek (after purchasing a lens, an additional $100-150 dollars). Keep in mind it has a frame rate limitation of 15FPS using H.264, however. The FB-100Ap, on the other hand, is roughly equivalent to the Sony CH120, a similarly spec'd camera.
HD Outdoor Dome Camera Comparison
Similar to the box camera line, the outdoor dome line consists of multiple models in 1MP/720p and 3MP/1080p resolutions. For comparison, we will use the VD-100Ae and the VC-100Ap [link no longer available].
- Brickcom VD-100Ae: $458 estimated street price
- Brickcom VD-100Ap: $600 estimated street price
- Vivotek FD8361L: ~$650 online
- Arecont AV1355DN: ~$760 online.
- Axis P1346: ~$1,100, 3.5-10mm P-Iris lens included
- Sony SNC-DH160: ~$780 online
Both of the Brickcom models are less expensive than the competition in this case, making them very competitive options.
In addition to network video products, Brickcom also provides a line of accessories, including networking gear such as wireless access points and switches. When combined with one of their wireless cameras, their line of access points is intended to make setup simple, with Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) buttons on both camera and WAP. Users needing to add a camera across a parking lot, for example, should be able to install the camera and WAP, aim antennas, and push the WPS button to connect the two.
One last accessory worth mentioning is the BP-1000 battery pack. [link no longer available] Essentially, this device is a battery-backed PoE splitter. The Ethernet cable is plugged into the unit, and data and 12VDC power are sent from the unit to the camara. If the PoE switch the camera is attached to goes down, the BP-1000 is able to supply power to the camera for up to half an hour, allowing it to record to the SD card so no video is lost during that time. It's an interesting option for smaller installs which can't afford a UPS or only want to backup a few select cameras.
Based on competitive analysis alone, we expect the economy line would be an attractive option for price-conscious users, as it is less expensive than the bulk of the market. In addition, some integrators will find their wireless options attractive in specific applications, as it is a simpler and more cost-effective method than installing access points external to the camera.