Camera / Card Reader Combo Reviewed

By: John Grocke, Published on Aug 30, 2013

When IPVM recently reviewed a wall camera for capturing better facial images, several readers commented that a wall-mounted camera would be extremely useful when mounted near access control system card readers. One manufacturer, Geovision, has recently released an ONVIF conformant version of their card reader with an integral 4MP camera [link no longer available], which would eliminate the need for the separate camera. In this update, we'll examine this combination card reader/camera.

Product Overview

Key specifications of the Geovision GV-CR420 Camera Reader [link no longer available] has

  • A narrow format measuring about 2-1/2" x 5-1/4".
  • 1/2.5" day/night CMOS imager
  • 1.05mm fixed focal length wide-angle lens and WDR.  
  • H.264 or MJPEG at up to 2048x1944 resolution @ 15fps.
  • Built-in microphone and speaker for two-way audio.
  • Supports MIFARE DESfire, MIFARE Plus, and MIFARE Classic card formats.
  • Claims WDR but also notes not to have sunlight behind the person's face with indicates fake WDR.
  • Price: MSRP of $750.

When used with Geovision's GV-AS Controller and Manager the camera reader can be used in a "card and face" mode, which requires that a valid card is read and a face detected before the system grants access. However, it can be anybody's face, not specifically the cardholder's. According to Geovision, their software does "face detection and not face recognition". This provides little benefit other than making sure a facial image is detected and recorded when access is granted.

Pros: 

  • Aesthetics: The camera reader is very compact and unobtrusive and requires less wall space than a stand-alone card reader and separate camera.
  • Effective: Mounted at normal reader mounting height with a wide angle lens, it is well-positioned for a good facial view.
  • Audio Enabled: Two-Way communication via the internal microphone and speaker is a handy feature.  Geovision claims the audio features are supported by ONVIF.
  • Cost: at $750 MSRP, it is similar or lower in cost to a stand-alone reader and economy IP dome camera with 2-way audio.

Cons:

  • Card Formats: The reader only supports MIFARE card formats, which is great for installations in the EMEA. However, in North America MIFARE is not as predominant and is seldom used in favor of Prox, iClass and Indala formats. Geovision has no plans on the roadmap to support other card formats.
  • Wiring Distance: The Weigand interface distance is limited to 30 meters, it will need to be located close to an access control panel or door controller.
  • Indoor Only: The camera reader is not rated for outdoor use, making it ineffective for exterior doors.
  • Mounting: Geovision tech support could not provide any specifications of junction boxes that the camera reader mounts to.  However, it could possibly be door frame or mullion mounted.
  • Not PoE Powered: The camera reader requires 15W of 12VDC power. A power adapter is included.

Comparison

The Geovision combination camera and card reader is fairly unique, the closest unit we can compare it to is the Mobotix T24 door station.  While the T24 is weather-proof it is also substantially larger. The T24 configuration with a built-in card reader has an MSRP of $1685 and requires a door master station for an additional $384. The Mobotix unit only supports the MIFARE card formats as well. It is also difficult or not possible to export the MxEasy video stream from Mobotix to many 3rd party VMS's for recording, but it can be viewed with a PC or smart phone. 


Mobotix T24 Door Station

Conclusion

The Geovision camera reader is a very clever concept that many people in the security industry would be interested in. For non US installations where MIFARE is the predominant card format, this product should be well-received. However, in the US, unless an EAC system is using MIFARE cards, this camera reader is unusable and we can only hope that Geovision or another manufacturer will make a version that supports the card formats that are popular in North America.

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