Budget IP Camera Competitive Comparison 2010

Author: IPVM Team, Published on Jul 29, 2010

This report provides an extensive comparison of budget, home and SMB IP cameras. Inside the premium section, we examine and rank the results of 8 IP cameras available for sale on the Internet (and through Amazon where we purchased most of the cameras).

Vendors Compared

This comparison is based on the following test results:

  • Archerfish Solo
  • D-Link DCS-920
  • Linksys Cisco WVC-80N
  • Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000
  • Lorex LNE1001
  • Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB
  • Panasonic BL-C210A
  • Trendnet TV-IP110
  • Viaas

This collection provides a broad range for very inexpensive ($50) to advanced functionality including analytics, megapixel video and hosted/managed video support.

Criteria Description

The following is a list of the top 10 differentiators for budget / home / SMB IP cameras. We used these differentiators as a starting point to identify patterns within our budget camera tests.

Daytime indoor image quality

The strongest rating was provided to cameras with exceptional indoor image performance for human identification, facial identification, environmental details, vibrant and accurate color representation, and fluid frame rate (up to the maximum the camera can support) under default settings.

Daytime outdoor image quality

The strongest rating was provided to cameras with exceptional outdoor image performance for human identification, vehicle identification, environmental details, vibrant and accurate color representation, and fluid frame rate (up to the maximum the camera can support) under default settings. Considerations were given if the camera featured additional lighting / exposure profiles for outdoor environments.

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Low light image quality

The strongest rating was based upon the camera's default low light (measured at 1 lux) performance for human identification, facial identification, and environmental details. Considerations were given if the camera featured additional lighting / exposure profiles.

Codec

The strongest rating was provided to cameras that supported the most bandwidth efficient codec (H.264), and a weak rating was provided for supporting a less bandwidth efficient codec.

Remote access

The strongest rating was provided to cameras that not only support remote access functionality, but automate and maintain the process. An example of a weak rating is when an end user must register a DDNS account, access the network router, and manually port forward network ports so the camera may be accessed from the Internet.

Third party VMS support

The strongest rating was provided to cameras that support "professional" VMS systems (e.g., Milestone, ExacqVision, and Genetec), as well as "budget" systems (e.g., Blue Iris, Argus, and WebcamXP).

Setup simplicity

The strongest rating was provided to cameras that could (A) easily be identified over the network (using its own IP finder application), (B) included a step by step setup wizard (either included in the camera's web interface or as an executable software), (C) simple physical adjustments (lens focusing, mounting considerations).

Advanced features

The strongest rating was provided to cameras that support advanced features like wireless connectivity, Pan / Tilt functionality, video analytics, on board storage, etc.

Price

The strongest rating was provided to cameras with the lowest street price (all cameras on list may be purchased through direct channels). Consideration was given toward ancillary costs (USB extension cables for USB cameras) and recurring fees (monthly VSaaS service charges). No consideration was associated to camera features versus the price.

Included VMS

The strongest rating was provided to systems that offered advanced features (e.g., event monitoring, motion based search) in addition to basic support. A weak rating applies to systems that lack in basic functionality (e.g., live monitoring, searching, exporting video).

Levels

For comparing products, we used the following 6 levels to rate products:

  • None: Camera does not support
  • Weak: Camera does support, but is of limited use
  • Moderately Weak: Camera does support, but has major constraints
  • Moderate: Basic support, but not outstanding when compared to competitors
  • Moderately Strong: High degree of functionality, but lacking when compared to a few competitors
  • Strong: The highest level of functionality compared to competitors

Budget / Home / SMB IP Camera Vendor Overview

The following screencast overviews each of the 8 cameras tested including their strengths and weaknesses:

Budget / Home / SMB IP Camera Recommendations

For a 1 - 2 camera solution where cost is the driving factor, we recommend the D-Link DCS-920 because of its price point of $95 USD, relatively easy setup, and VMS functionalities. The trade-off is in the image quality- especially in low light environments. At a $24 USD price difference, the Linksys\Cisco WVC-80N ($119 USD) will provide better image quality in day and low light, but with the trade-off of price and included VMS functionality.

Another low cost, low camera count solution is the integration of USB cameras for surveillance. Assuming the distance from the surveillance area to your computer is short, then either the Microsoft Lifecam Cinema ($49 USD) or the Logitech HD 9000 ($64 USD) will provide moderately strong video images, but with the trade-offs of not being an inclusive kit (integration will be necessary) and remote access functionality (unless a compatible third party VMS has remote access support).

If the driving factor in your search is for a turnkey solution, we recommend the Viaas camera and hosted service. The user benefits from, (1.) a setup that does not require any IT experience, (2.) convenient access to VMS functions using an Internet browser, and (3.), strong low light performance due to a mechanical cut filter. This comes at a monetary expense of a recurring monthly cost ($9.95 USD/month per camera).

As an alternative, you may want to consider the Lorex LNE1001. Although not as much a turnkey solution in the setup process as the Viaas, the remote access functionalities are notable because very little setup is required to get it up and running. In addition, the remote access service (through third party provider, Yoics) basic plan does not have a recurring cost and does not expire. The main trade-offs to consider is the setup process when compared to Viaas (Lorex is not plug n' play), and its weak included VMS (recording is manual only, and no search functions available).

For a small to medium sized business needing a 4 - 8 camera solution and self maintained VMS, the Panasonic BL-C210A is a notable choice. It's VMS will be adequate for live monitoring, recording, and investigations; In addition, the camera's mechanical pan / tilt functionality will provide additional coverage. This comes at an expense of price ($170 USD), and scalability (third party enterprise level VMS support is lacking).

Master Comparison Table

Vendor Daytime indoor image quality Daytime outdoor image quality Low light image quality Codec Remote access Third party VMS support Setup simplicity Advanced features Price Included VMS
Archerfish Solo Moderately Weak Weak Moderately Weak Strong Moderate None Moderate Moderately Strong Weak Moderate
D-Link DCS-920 Moderately Weak Moderately Weak Moderately Weak Weak Weak Moderately Weak Moderately Strong Moderately Weak Moderately Strong Moderately Strong
Linksys\Cisco WVC-80N Moderate Moderate Moderately Strong Weak Moderate Moderately Weak Moderately Weak Moderately Weak Moderate Moderately Weak
Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000 Moderately Strong Moderately Strong Moderately Weak Weak None Moderately Weak Moderately Strong None Moderately Strong None
Lorex LNE1001 Moderate Moderate Moderately Strong Weak Moderately Strong Moderately Weak Moderately Weak Weak Moderately Weak Weak
Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB Moderately Strong Moderately Strong Moderately Weak Weak None Moderately Weak Moderately Strong None Moderately Strong None
Panasonic BL-C210A Moderate Moderate Moderately Weak Moderate Moderately Weak Moderately Weak Weak Moderately Strong Moderately Weak Moderate
Trendnet TV-IP110 Moderately Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Moderately Weak Weak None Moderately Strong Moderately Weak
Viaas Moderate Moderately Weak Strong Strong Strong None Moderately Strong Moderately Strong Moderate Moderate

Comparison Tables by Differentiator

Vendor Daytime indoor image quality
Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000 Moderately Strong
Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB Moderately Strong
Linksys\Cisco Moderate
Lorex LNE 1001 Moderate
Panasonic BL-C210A Moderate
Viaas Moderate
Archerfish Solo Moderately Weak
D-link DCS-920 Moderately Weak
Trendnet TV-IP110 Moderately Weak
Vendor Daytime outdoor image quality
Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000 Moderately Strong
Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB Moderately Strong
Linksys\Cisco Moderate
Lorex LNE 1001 Moderate
Panasonic BL-C210A Moderate
D-link DCS-920 Moderately Weak
Viaas Moderately Weak
Archerfish Solo Weak
Trendnet TV-IP110 Weak
Vendor Low light image quality
Viaas Strong
Linksys\Cisco Moderately Strong
Lorex LNE 1001 Moderately Strong
Archerfish Solo Moderately Weak
D-link DCS-920 Moderately Weak
Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000 Moderately Weak
Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB Moderately Weak
Panasonic BL-C210A Moderately Weak
Trendnet TV-IP110 Weak
Vendor Codec
Archerfish Solo Stong
Viaas Strong
Panasonic BL-C210A Moderate
D-link DCS-920 Weak
Linksys\Cisco Weak
Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000 Weak
Lorex LNE 1001 Weak
Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB Weak
Trendnet TV-IP110 Weak
Vendor Remote access
Viaas Strong
Lorex LNE 1001 Moderately Strong
Archerfish Solo Moderate
Linksys\Cisco Moderate
Panasonic BL-C210A Moderately Weak
Trendnet TV-IP110 Weak
D-link DCS-920 Weak
Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000 None
Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB None
Vendor Third party VMS support
D-link DCS-920 Moderately Weak
Linksys\Cisco Moderately Weak
Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000 Moderately Weak
Lorex LNE 1001 Moderately Weak
Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB Moderately Weak
Panasonic BL-C210A Moderately Weak
Trendnet TV-IP110 Moderately Weak
Archerfish Solo None
Viaas None
Vendor Setup simplicity
D-link DCS-920 Moderately Strong
Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000 Moderately Strong
Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB Moderately Strong
Viaas Moderately Strong
Archerfish Solo Moderate
Linksys\Cisco Moderately Weak
Lorex LNE 1001 Moderately Weak
Panasonic BL-C210A Weak
Trendnet TV-IP110 Weak
Vendor Advanced features
Archerfish Solo Moderately Strong
Panasonic BL-C210A Moderately Strong
Viaas Moderately Strong
D-link DCS-920 Moderately Weak
Linksys\Cisco Moderately Weak
Lorex LNE 1001 Weak
Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000 None
Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB None
Trendnet TV-IP110 None
Vendor Price
D-link DCS-920 Moderately Strong
Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000 Moderately Strong
Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB Moderately Strong
Trendnet TV-IP110 Moderately Strong
Linksys\Cisco Moderate
Viaas Moderate
Lorex LNE 1001 Moderately Weak
Panasonic BL-C210A Moderately Weak
Archerfish Solo Weak
Vendor Included VMS
D-link DCS-920 Moderately Strong
Archerfish Solo Moderate
Panasonic BL-C210A Moderate
Viaas Moderate
Linksys\Cisco Moderately Weak
Trendnet TV-IP110 Moderately Weak
Lorex LNE 1001 Weak
Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000 None
Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB None

Differentiator Tables for Each Manufacturer

Archerfish Solo

Criteria Strength Description
Daytime indoor image quality Moderately Weak Video exhibited "interlaced" effect lines around moving objects

Daytime outdoor image quality

Weak Image was significantly washed out from natural light

Low light image quality

Moderately Weak Visible noise and color artifacts but fairly bright image
Codec Strong H.264 support
Remote access Moderate UPnP dependent, check network router compatibility
Third party VMS support None Designed as a standalone system
Setup simplicity Moderate Simple setup dependent upon network router support for UPnP and firewall settings
Advanced features Moderately Strong Video analytics, event monitoring, search functions
Price Weak $330 USD. Basic service is free, Premium service is $5 USD / Month + $0.99 for each device
Included VMS Moderate Hosted service UI is accessed through internet browser, simple to navigate, provides live monitoring and playback of video, exporting video is limited to 5 minutes

D-Link DCS-920

Criteria Strength Description
Daytime indoor image quality Moderately Weak Soft details, muddy color representation

Daytime outdoor image quality

Moderately Weak Soft details, muddy color representation, and field of view is too wide for fine details

Low light image quality

Moderately Weak At 1 lux, subject is too dark to see details, but environmental details may bee seen
Codec Weak Supports only MJPEG
Remote access Weak All port forwarding tasks must be performed manually
Third party VMS support Moderately Weak Compatible with Luxriot software, but lacks support from enterprise level systems
Setup simplicity Moderately Strong Setup wizard included, and automatic camera discovery worked in all PC setups we tested
Advanced features Moderately Weak Model has wireless G connectivity
Price Moderately Strong $95 USD, one of the most inexpensive budget IP cameras we tested
Included VMS Moderately Strong VMS is a stripped down version of NUUO, which supports basic live monitoring, playback, and exporting. Advanced features include searching (date/time), map support, and scheduling. Software is not compatible with 64 bit operating systems, new version may be downloaded from Internet.

Linksys/Cisco WVC-80N

Criteria Strength Description
Daytime indoor image quality Moderate Good image detail and color representation, but under performed on max frame rate

Daytime outdoor image quality

Moderate The camera provides good image quality for general use, but field of view is too wide to view minute details like license plates

Low light image quality

Moderately Strong At 1 lux, image is bright enough to see subject and environmental details
Codec Weak Only MPEG-4 and MJPEG codecs are supported
Remote access Moderate The setup wizard (on the CD) performs port forwarding tasks on the network router and registers the camera to the third party TZO dynamic DNS service
Third party VMS support Moderately Weak Compatibile with Luxriot software, but lacks support from Enterprise level systems
Setup simplicity Moderately Weak Includes step by step setup wizard, but automatic camera discovery did not work in all PC setups
Advanced features Moderately Weak Model includes wireless N connectivity, but support is limited to 2.4GHz wireless band
Price Moderate At $119 USD, moderately higher price point than most budget cameras
Included VMS Moderately Weak The monitoring software did not allow video exporting. Basic live monitoring features like changing layouts, image quality control, screen capture, and mic level controls. No instructions or manual provided

Logitech HD USB Camera Pro 9000

Criteria Strength Description
Daytime indoor image quality Moderately Strong Quality comparable to professional IP cameras

Daytime outdoor image quality

Moderately Strong Outdoor quality comparable to professional IP cameras

Low light image quality

Moderately Weak Subject is too dark to see details, but environmental details may bee seen
Codec Weak Supports only MJPEG
Remote access None no remote access functionality through camera
Third party VMS support Moderately Weak Most budget VMS systems support USB cameras, but is limited in support for enterprise level systems
Setup simplicity Moderately Strong USB is plug n' play, no technical experience necessary, but consideration is necessary for wall or ceiling mounting
Advanced features None No notable advanced features
Price Moderately Strong $64 USD. Competitively priced even with the added cost of USB extension cabling
Included VMS None Provided CD includes installation drivers, and non applicable social/entertainment software

Lorex LNE1001

Criteria Strength Description
Daytime indoor image quality Moderate Clear details, with good color representation

Daytime outdoor image quality

Moderate Image washed out under default profile; Change to "outdoor" profile in lighting settings

Low light image quality

Moderately Strong At 1 lux, image is bright enough to see subject and environmental details
Codec Weak Only MPEG-4 and MJPEG codecs are supported
Remote access Moderately Strong Remote access available through third party service, but registration to service is performed manually on camera interface
Third party VMS support Moderately Weak Camera connected to NUUO and Blue Iris, but lacks enterprise level vms support
Setup simplicity Moderately Weak No setup wizard, but step by step printed instructions are included. Automatic camera discovery did not work in all PC setups
Advanced features Weak Model has an audio jack for speaker output
Price Moderately Weak $130 USD. Moderately higher price point than most budget cameras
Included VMS Weak Software is very limited in functionality (manual recording, no search, no formal video exporting) and relies entirely on the automatic camera discovery utility (no manual input of camera's ip address)

Microsoft Lifecam Cinema USB

Criteria Strength Description
Daytime indoor image quality Moderately Strong Quality comparable to professional IP cameras

Daytime outdoor image quality

Moderately Strong Outdoor quality comparable to professional IP cameras

Low light image quality

Moderately Weak Subject is too dark to see details, but environmental details may bee seen
Codec Weak Supports only MJPEG
Remote access None no remote access functionality through camera
Third party VMS support Moderately Weak Most budget VMS systems support USB cameras, but is limited in support for enterprise level systems
Setup simplicity Moderately Strong USB is plug n' play, no technical experience necessary, but consideration is necessary for wall or ceiling mounting
Advanced features None No notable advanced features
Price Moderately Strong $49 USD. Competitively priced even with the added cost of USB extension cabling
Included VMS None Provided CD includes installation drivers, and non applicable social/entertainment software

Panasonic BL-C210A

Criteria Strength Description
Daytime indoor image quality Moderate Clear details, with good color representation

Daytime outdoor image quality

Moderate The camera provides good image quality for general use, but field of view is too wide to view minute details like license plates

Low light image quality

Moderately Weak At 1 lux, camera suffers from noise artifacts, but environmental details may be seen
Codec Moderate Supports H264, MPEG-4, and MJPEG, but H.264 stream is not supported in third party VMS
Remote access Moderately Weak Automatic port forwarding did not work in our tests. Camera uses its own DDNS service, but relies upon UPnP for automatic port forwarding tasks, which may not work in all network setups
Third party VMS support Moderately Weak Compatible with Luxriot, Blue Iris, and Argus, but lacks support from enterprise level systems
Setup simplicity Weak No setup wizard, and automatic camera discovery did not work in all PC setups we tested
Advanced features Moderately Strong Camera includes pan / tilt functionality and multiple sensors for motion, sound, and temperature
Price Moderately Weak $170 USD. Higher price point than most budget IP cameras
Included VMS Moderate Two versions of monitoring software included on CD, but both do not support the camera's H.264 stream. Both versions share functionalities of live monitoring, manual recording, motion based recording, alarm/sensor based recording, search, and video exporting

Trendnet TV-IP110

Criteria Strength Description
Daytime indoor image quality Moderately Weak Soft details, muddy color representation

Daytime outdoor image quality

Weak At default configuration, daylight causes image to be washed out

Low light image quality

Weak At 1 lux, video quality is severely dark, so no details can be observed
Codec Weak Supports only MJPEG
Remote access Weak All port forwarding tasks must be performed manually
Third party VMS support Moderately Weak Compatible with Luxriot software, but lacks support from enterprise level systems
Setup simplicity Weak Basic setup wizard on web interface, automatic camera discovery did not work in all PC setups we tested
Advanced features None No notable advanced features
Price Moderately Strong $73 USD. One of the most inexpensive budget IP cameras we tested
Included VMS Moderately Weak By default, recording is manual, but a recording schedule may be set up. Does not support searching, and exporting clips is done manually by navigating to directory folder

Viaas

Criteria Strength Description
Daytime indoor image quality Moderate Good image detail

Daytime outdoor image quality

Moderately Weak Good image detail, but colors look muted

Low light image quality

Strong Camera has a mechanical cut filter, strong nighttime performance at 0.3 lux, light sources appear slightly washed out
Codec Strong H.264 support
Remote access Strong No port forwarding setup necessary
Third party VMS support None This is a VSaaS device; This is meant to integrate with its own hosting service
Setup simplicity Moderately Strong No IT experience required, but focusing the camera's lens may be challenging
Advanced features Moderately Strong MicroSD card support, bandwidth shaping functionality, vari focal lens, live and recorded video support for viewing on mobile devices
Price Moderate $99.95 USD. Monthly service is $9.95 USD
Included VMS Moderate Hosted service UI is accessed through internet browser, no option for continuous recording, multiple search options, exporting is done via selecting tagged events, basic case management functionality

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